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Tiscali/LineOne shafts its customers

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LineOne - Tiscali UK's consumer ISP - is threatening to evict 103 users from its unmetered service accusing them of "abnormally high" usage.

In an email sent to users of LineOne's SurfTime service (a product which provides fixed-rate unmetered access to the Net during evening and weekends) the Tiscali UK-owned ISP threatened to give users the heave-ho unless they moderated their usage.

The email reads: "Following [a] recent audit it has come to our attention that your particular usage of LineOne SurfTime is abnormally high, which we believe is adversely affecting the service we can offer other users of this access package.

"We will also be monitoring the amount (but not the nature) of your use of the LineOne SurfTime Package for the next 14 days and periodically thereafter.

"Unless we see a significant reduction in your abnormally high usage level, (average usage of LineOne SurfTime is around nine hours per week) we may be forced to terminate your LineOne SurfTime account in accordance with Clause 5.4 of the LineOne SurfTime terms and conditions. This is regrettable but necessary in order to ensure continued high levels of service for all LineOne SurfTime users."

This contradicts information LineOne's own portal which says: "Just pay a fixed £9.99 a month, and you can go online as much as you like in the evenings, and all weekend – and you won’t be racking up ££££s on your phone bill."

So let's get this straight shall we? LineOne's SurfTime users can "go online as much as [they] like in the evenings, and all weekend"...as long as they don't spend more than nine hours a week doing it.

What at rip-off.

Not surprisingly, no one from Tiscali UK or LineOne was available for comment by press time.

However, a Q&A seen by El Reg appears to answer the question: "Why do you state 'unlimited' when clearly you are trying to limit people's usage?"

The reply is unconvincing.

"The decision to advise certain customers of that their usage profile is particularly high has only been taken after a detailed review of the service. We do not wish to limit customer's usage of a SurfTime session, but must protect the majority from the actions of a few. In doing so we have found that some customers are using SurfTime almost constantly - and it is this usage that is concerning us. Our opinion is that some customers are treating the SurfTime product as an 'always open' service in that they may be simply leaving themselves logged in at all times regardless of their actual usage. The service was never intended to accommodate this kind of usage."

Well if it was never "intended to accommodate this kind of usage" perhaps LineOne should not mislead people by saying they can "go online as much as [they] like in the evenings, and all weekend".

Anyway, this is exactly the kind of excuse used by breathe and Freeserve and 24/7 Freecall and all the other ISPs that booted off users last year for spurious reasons. It was a lame excuse then - it's a lame excuse now. ®

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