10 October 2000

Allegedly “abnormal demands” on its unmetered internet access service has prompted FreeServe, the ISP owned by Dixons Stores Group, to terminate the memberships of hundreds of its subscribers.

A statement posted on FreeServe’s website blames a minority of the claimed 250,000 subscribers to its Unlimited Freeserve Time service. These heavy users had imposed “abnormal demands” on the network by purportedly staying online for an average of seventeen hours daily. Deeming this “unacceptable”, the ISP said it was writing to the offenders, serving one month’s notice of termination of their membership.

The statement invited the “abnormal” users instead to subscribe to Freeserve's standard 'no ties' service where phone calls are charged per minute – or subscribe to its new high-speed 'always on' service costing £40 a month.

The Consumers’ Association was scathing, accusing FreeServe of promoting an offer that promised more than it could deliver: “If Freeserve has found itself caught out by the heavy usage of its customers it should accept its share of the blame,” said the consumer watchdog.

“Rather than luring consumers in and then kicking them off schemes, what is needed on their part is better planning, realistic projections of customer usage and clearer advertising for new schemes.”

Freeserve officials were unavailable for comment all day yesterday.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)