Broadband News

PlusNet expels two users.. Two forum moderators resign in protest..

PlusNet operate their own unofficial support forums run on company servers, but moderated by volunteers from the PlusNet user base. In the last 48 hours two consumers have being given their marching orders by PlusNet over postings on this support forum.

" Two customers have been contacted as a result of their disruptive activities over a number of months in our customer support forums. The forums are a community for self support and a way for our customers to give constructive feedback, both positive and negative. These two customers required an unsustainable level of attention which was impacting our ability to address other customer's feedback.

We have repeatedly answered these customer's questions and feel we have not reached a common understanding. Therefore we have offered these customers an opportunity to migrate to an alternative ISP of their choice, at no cost to them. We have no plans to contact any further customers in this manner."

PlusNet statement

The two users have been offered migration authorisation codes which allow them to migrate to another provider within the next 30 days, or face termination of their connections thereafter. It seems that this has arisen from the repeated questioning of PlusNet policies over the last few months which PlusNet staff have tried to address on their forums. According to PlusNet, they feel that with the differences of opinion and the persistent questioning on the same issues over and over again, the users would be better served by an alternative service provider.

This move has angered two moderators on the PlusNet customer forum who have resigned from their posts in the forum. At least one of these has requested their MAC codes in preparation of a move to another ISP. They feel that PlusNet should have contacted the moderators prior to making an unilateral decision to terminate their contract since this may be seen as undermining their role on the forums.

One of the moderators writes: "Moderators received no prior notification, which I am not all to bothered about, due to the fact it relates to product termination and not just the forum account. What does bother me though, is that the termination is being instigated truly based on the forum content. As a result, I am leaving my role as a moderator and as a PlusNet customer. The methods used are simply diabolical"

PlusNet does admit that the way in which this was handled, with respect to keeping moderators of its forum in the loop was not ideal and they will be taking steps to ensure that they are kept better informed in the future.

"The key issue for us is that providing negative feedback and constructive criticism is one thing which we're completely open to. Hundreds of increasingly negative posts is another. A customer, for example, paying £21.99 a month shouldn't have the right to consume hundreds of pounds worth of man-hours month in month out, as this directly impacts our ability to provide a good service to the 99% of other customers out there. We didn't believe we were in a position to meet these customer's expectations of service and therefore advised them to find another ISP."

Neil Armstrong, PlusNet Plc

While this only directly affects two customers out of around 120,000 ADSL users, many users have expressed concerns that it may be the start of a slippery slope of discouraging dissenting voices, not only by risking losing access to a forum, but also their ADSL account. We will as always keep an eye on the situation.

25/08/2005 05:39 [seb]

Update 25/08/05 12:40 [seb]: Moderator changes mind

We believe that one of the moderators has now decided to stay on after users have been in touch to ask them not to leave.


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