RealTime IT News

Customers Last To Know of PSN.net Closure

National Internet service provider Planet Systems Network Inc., officials are telling its former customers, "don't call us, we'll call you," after shutting off all Internet services Thursday.

A former customer, who wished to remain anonymous, said the dial up and broadband ISP hosted two of his Web sites, which were shut off at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Not only was he not contacted, he said, but he is unable to switch his services to another ISP until PSN.net resolves the problem on its own.

A recorded message to PSN.net's main phone line greets customers with a cheery "PSN.net is no longer offering Internet services. All customers will be transferred to other Internet service providers." The message also tells customers that officials will contact them in the future if a refund is available.

The Web site was shut down early Friday morning.

"My main concern is that no warning was given, and now that we can't get email from our PSN.net account, how is the company going to contact its customers?" the customer said. "Two, no real information about transfer of service is being given -- from timetables to the names of companies at the PSN.net website. Three, because of the disruption, as it takes time to set up new accounts, etc., there is a serious loss of communication, not to mention that my Web sites are down."

Not only are all his e-mail accounts handled through PSN.net, but in order for Network Solutions to transfer the domain information to the next ISP, he said, they will need email confirmation from the ISP. That's not possible until PSN.net responds.

Reports indicate the troubled ISP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, but PSN.net Michael Almond was unable to prevent the company from going under.

Martha Sessums, Covad Communications Group vice president of corporate communications, would not comment on the status of PSN.net's account. Covad, with its share of deadbeat ISPs, has been trying unsuccessfully to come to financial terms with these ISPs.

Sessums suggested PSN.net customers who are having difficulties connecting to their service sign up to Covad's Safety Net program at www.covad.net. Affected customers will be given the status of their connection and allowed to switch without incurring additional setup fees, she said.

NorthPoint Communications, another PSN.net DSL provider, was unavailable for contact, but reportedly shut down all DSL lines to the ISP last month.

The dial-up and broadband provider has been under fire all year for what customers and the Better Business Bureau of Arizona call false and deceptive advertising.

Amy O'Brien, BBB director of communications, said anyone who has a complaint can report it to her office, but the bureau is not the place to go to pursue legal options. "We only report claims," O'Brien said. "That's why we encourage people to visit our site before signing up with an ISP, not after."

But legal options, in the form of class action suits, might not be far down the road for the former ISP.

In August 2000, the Attorney General of Arizona issued an Assurance of Discontinuation for allegations that PSN.net "has directly or by implication promulgated advertisements that are false, deceptive and misleading. The infractions include making up price comparison offers with an expiration date and vague and misleading purchase orders/refund policies.