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UK Online sends out email about changes to Terms and Conditions
Friday 03 March 2006 10:28:00 by Andrew Ferguson

UK Online has spent the last few days sending out emails to its customers informing them of a change to the terms and conditions, in particular the Fair Usage Policy for their broadband service. A copy of the email is reproduced below:

Dear Customer

Just a quick note to let you know that we've made a few changes to our terms and conditions.

The changes we've made include helping you understand what happens when you move house and also letting you know about our Fair Usage Policy which will make sure that you always have the best possible service by us treating every customer fairly.

The terms will apply to you from the date of this email and you will be bound by them. You should read them in full and you can do so at

If you feel that you have been disadvantaged by the changes you have the right to terminate your agreement with us by notifying us at within thirty days of the date of this e-mail. Otherwise we will assume that you are happy with the changes and agree to comply with the updated Terms and Conditions.

Kind Regards

Copy of email to UK Online customers

A very good point is that UK Online are giving a 30 day period during which customers who feel disadvantaged by the changes can terminate their agreement. Thirty days should be long enough to let people digest the changes and ask any further questions that the changes raise.

Changes to a service providers terms and conditions can be both a good and bad thing, and it is very much a case of the customer reading the conditions and making their own mind up. Reading the comment we got from UK Online when asked about the changes to the Fair Usage Policy, it would seem that how the usage policy is interpreted will be be very personal, rather than drawing an immovable line in the sand.

"Essentially UK Online has and will not set a visible benchmark per month and there is no capping.

This is because each customer is dealt with on a case by case basis. There are lots of different criteria that will be examined – time of day/how long online etc

UK Online feels this is the fairest system to put into place and is fair to all users"

Customer spokesperson, UK Online

Woolly fair usage policies if used well can allow people to have very high usage for a period of perhaps a month, and then if people settle back down nothing happens. Generally most providers with a fair use type policy only act on those that are consistently well above what could be called average use. The downside is that sometimes fair use policies are used to allow an ISP to market using the word 'unlimited', when in reality the way their fair use system works, the actual usage possible may be lower than a competitors clearly defined limits. At this time we believe the UK Online policy is in the former camp, i.e. only looking to deal with the persistent 24/7, month after month downloaders.

Is there a lesson to all this. Yes, for existing customers of an ISP, always make sure you are subscribed to email updates on your product, and for prospective customers to use the Internet and forums like our own to see what others are saying about how an ISP actually interprets its fair use policy.


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