Breathe Networks administrator to hold creditors' meeting
Playing leapfrog with a Unicorn
Exclusive Administrators will hold a creditors’ meeting for defunct ISP outfit Breathe Networks Ltd (BNL) on 3 September, The Register has learned.
A document filed with Companies House on 18 August reveal that the firm’s administrator - Neil Chesterton at The MacDonald Partnership (TMP) - has proposed that BNL be shifted into voluntary liquidation only if money can be paid to unsecured creditors.
“If, however, it is not possible to make a distribution to unsecured creditors then I propose to move straight to dissolution as soon as the activities of administration are concluded,” wrote Chesterton in his report.
Meanwhile customers, who saw their emails shunted over to Breathe Internet Ltd in a management buyout undertaken by BNL boss Steve Kaye in July, have been loudly complaining that the service still isn’t working for them.
Anyone attempting to contact Breathe Internet Ltd's helpline is currently greeted with a recorded message.
It simply confirms that the firm is still trying to recover emails for customers to ensure "no content is lost from before 19 July".
We've heard from several users of the service who are struggling to gain access to their Breathe inbox.
"Breathe.com email is not working and has not been working properly for nigh on 24 days. I personally have not received any emails since 10 August and all attempts to speak to Breathe or get them to respond have failed miserably," one Reg reader told us.
"If Kaye believes the 'email issue is being blown out of proportion' he is delusional and he is doomed to see Breathe fail - yet again," he added.
In 2008 BNL acquired UK-based business-to-business ISP Zetnet Ltd, which brought with it "financial difficulty" and "mounting debt", according to Chesterton.
"The due diligence conducted on this business was negligible and as a result the creditor position was severely understated at acquisition," he noted.
As we first reported last month, administrators were, on 16 July, called into BNL's offices. The beleaguered ISP has yo-yoed back and forth under several changes of ownership since the dotcom peak.
Next page: Unicorn takes deep breath
Does Kaye have any connection with the Virgin Islands?
Read lots of speculation going around that Steve Kaye might be in some way related to this Unicorn company since it was the only secured creditor and seems very odd that they'd happily fund a management buyout by a guy who's sent so many ISPs to the wall.
Just waiting for the dust to settle before bailing out of one of the ISPs he bought.
A correction to this story - Zetnet was a public & business ISP rather than business to business.
Better regulation necessary
There really is a case for much better regulation of ISPs.
Zetnet had a remarkably loyal customer base -- many of them customers since the mid-1990s and happy to pay somewhat over the odds for a very personal service from kind, helpful staff who were personal friends of many of the customers.
Following the rather-forced takeover by Breathe, Breathe apparently brought in outside "consultants" to migrate Zetnet clients on to the Breathe system. Suffice it to say that
(i) the said "consultants" stopped the email of most Zetnet customers in the last days of June
(ii) the said "consultants" entirely marginalised the few remaining Zetnet staff
(iii) the said "consultants" didn't (and it appears don't) have a clue about the proprietary Zimacs software still used by many Zetnet customers and probably used by almost all of the long-standing Zetnet customers at some point in time
(iv) POP3 email of many customers was being mistakenly directed into the proprietary Zimacs software, whence it could not be extracted for weeks by conventional methods and still can't be reliably extracted by conventional methods
(v) It became all but impossible to make contact with Technical Support which was switched to a (very) premium rate number which gave an "unobtainable" tone, a recorded message telling callers that they were busy, or kept callers on hold indefinitely. Emails and faxes, in the main, went unanswered
(vi) Many people still have about a month's worth of email missing
(vii) It's hardly surprising that the Breathe servers are overloaded, because they're not releasing the email to Zimacs reliably.
I'm less badly affected than most:
(i) my website stayed up, unlike those of many others
(ii) I was able to use Nominet to reclaim a domain hosted at Zetnet: full marks to Nominet -- all I paid them was the nominal fee of £11.50 including tax. They couldn't have been more helpful and that's worth recording. And all I lost on that particular matter was the cost of a year's hosting paid in advance to Zetnet
(iii) Thanks to the community spirit of Zetnet customers, a kludge to provide a reliable way of sending email and receiving news using Zimacs and another Zetnet server was revealed and likewise a method of downloading and decoding mail from the Zetnet servers using ftp was also revealed
(iv) Eventually, thanks, afaik, to the persuasive efforts of one of the old Zetnet staff who I managed to contact early one morning, it appears that the "consultants" did manage to restore my POP3 email which is now being forwarded reliably to an address outside Zetnet
(v) I wasn't relying on Zetnet for my internet connection anyway, so I didn't lose my internet connection
I'm sorry for the handful of Zetnet staff still employed by Breathe -- nobody doubts they'd do whatever they could if they were allowed to. But the only people to come out of this with any credibility are Nominet. I really can't fault them at all
What use are OFCOM if they can't step in to deal with a mess like this? And surely there's a measure of control needed over such a situation? And shouldn't we know the identity of these "consultants" who've made such a monumental mess of the lives of so many people?
But it's been shite for 8 years
I had a breathe account back in 2000 - I left it very very swiftly when it became obvious that they couldn't run a piss up in a brewery, and certainly not do anything as complex as running amail server without constantly losing email. Hate to say it, but if you're hurting now because you're relying on these guys to support business or personal hosting or email, you must have been asleep for the last 8 years.