RealTime IT News

A Dial-Up Mess In The E-Aisles

Millions of online KMart Corp. shoppers will find a mess that needs clearing up in the e-aisles when they try and fail to log on this morning.

BlueLight.com didn't have a good weekend, ending its relationship Monday to dial up-provider Genuity, Inc., and scrambling to sign deals with WorldNet and PSINet, Inc.

BlueLight.com officials would not release details of the failed arrangement and were not available for comment. AT&T Corp., Level 3 Communications and StarNet users are unaffected by the change.

With Christmas only 14 days away, its not what any e-tailer would call "good timing."

The announcement means interrupted service to the more than six million registered users of the popular free Internet service provider, which just last week got bought out Spinway.

It's not a good start for the KMart-owned company, which will now have to ask many of its online shoppers, as well as the registered users of its retail partners, to change their access numbers. Barnes & Noble, a major online e-tailer, is one of the affected companies.

Mark Goldstein, BlueLight.com chief executive officer, said the fault lies with Genuity.

"We are dedicated to providing our subscribers with online access to enjoy the Internet and shopping at BlueLight.com," Goldstein said. "While the Genuity Grinch was about to steal Christmas from millions of online holiday shoppers, we acted quickly with PSINet and WorldNet to maintain our nationwide Internet service."

Vaughn Harring, Genuity spokesperson, said he and everyone were surprised by the negative manner in which BlueLight.com ended its contract, which was basically an extension of the Spinway contract.

"As you're aware, we had a contract with Spinway, and in spite of the fact that Spinway owed us a lot of money, we decided to offer the same pricing to BlueLight.com when they took over recently," Harring said. "We offered to transfer over the account at the same price and they refused it. We then offered to set up an interim contract until we could negotiate a long-term deal and they rebuffed those efforts also.

Harring went on to say Genuity provided the coverage to a majority of the dial up customers using Spinway's service, so by extension, the transfer from Genuity to PSINet and WorldNet means a major connectivity overhaul across the nation, affecting millions.

Genuity would not comment on charges of being the Grinch.

BlueLight.com new access numbers will be automatically downloaded into every user's computer the next time they try to log on to the Internet, officials said, but customers will have to "take proactive steps to ensure they have active numbers."

For the lucky ones, this means the customer manually editing the dial up settings from Genuity's access numbers to reflect the new PSINet/WorldNet numbers.

The unlucky customer who can't get his or her setting changed will have to go through the entire new user set up process again, filling out the online questionnaire and getting a new user name and password registered.