iiNet deals with unlimited fallout

Customers take to forums to vent anger over transition

Plans to axe unlimited quota plans for AAPT customers on the iiNet network has sparked fierce debate among those fearful they will be forced onto a relatively limited monthly quota.

iiNet chief executive, Michael Malone, signalled last month the service provider would likely cut the AAPT plans once its acquisition of the ISP was completed on 30 September, saying the plans were “drastically loss-making” even for a large service provider.

“When other [users] say, ‘you’re ruining it for the rest of us’, [the heavy downloaders] quite correct response is, ‘well, I paid for unlimited, so I’m going to use it,” he told Computerworld Australia.

Though some service providers offer quotas of up to 1100 gigabytes, AAPT remains the only local ISP to offer a fully unmetered plan for $99.95 per month, while iiNet's equivalent is a terabyte plan for the same price bundled with its BoB device. Some users having bragged they downloaded up to five terabytes in a month on the AAPT plan.

However, the acquisition has incited debate on the Whirlpool forums, with AAPT users debating about whether the plans are a breach of user agreements in place with the service provider.

“I absolutely! love my 24/7 plan and if i am forced out of it then i will kick up one hell of a stink i can promise you that right now ..while i am sure your not to worried about little old me iinet really should be ..this absolutely! SUXS :o/ If my contract is broken i hope iinet will be paying for all the costs to transfer me over to a new ISP plus any setup cost that i may incur?” said one user on the forum.

The AAPT standard form of agreement states that either the ISP or the user can break contract, either due to breach of the agreement or “without cause”, provided they offer 30 days’ notice.

AAPT sent an email from general manager Consumer and Corporate Marketing - and effective leader of the consumer business - Nick Saphin, to users on 1 September informing them of iiNet’s acquisition and the transition process.

“We're expecting the sale to be completed on 30 September 2010; as per the terms and conditions of service we hereby notify you of our intention to assign our agreement with you to iiNet Limited on completion of the sale,” the email reads.

The debate prompted Steve Dalby, iiNet’s chief regulatory officer, to step in.

“The sale hasn't completed yet, no official announcements have been made about the conditions around the termination or variation of any plans, but you are very aggressively shooting wildly from the hip.”

Dalby confirmed both on the forum and to Computerworld Australia that the unlimited plan was the only plan likely to get the axe - internet for all other AAPT users would continue to be business as usual. Even then, however, Dalby said final plans on how to transition those affected wouldn’t be known until iiNet was afforded “a more granular view” following the completion of the acquisition.

“Some of those [options] may be migration options but there will be a selection, not an infinite variety,” he said on the forum.

“There are a host of variables including plan types, availability of ports, what DSLAM you are connected to, and so on. Again, don't expect a lot of changes in a short timeframe.”

The complaints so far appear to be isolated to the forum. Both Dalby and a spokesperson for AAPT confirmed the service providers had not seen a significant increase in queries about the acquisition or transition plans by their respective customer support staff.

Some users have threatened to refer their complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). Computerworld Australia contacted the ombudsman but did not receive a response at time of writing.

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