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iiNet wants your money to give you back your money

iiNet is in many ways a unique ISP. It is one of the few that started life in a garage, following the Silicon Valley model. It used to be very good at providing service. But after being bought by TPG, it only seems to be obsessed with money.

In fact, that obsession with the green stuff runs so deep, that even after you have left iiNet, the staff have a means of extracting money from you. Like a vampire stalking its victim, the ISP stands over you and demands your cash to get your cash back. I guess you could call it a win-win situation – for iiNet, that is.

It doesn't seem to matter if you have been a regular for more than a decade; no, all that matters is a beggarly sum of $10. It seems rather petty.

iiNet is happy to deduct your monthly charge from either a bank account or a credit card. But if you do happen to leave, then suddenly it becomes the case that only credit card customers will get back whatever is owing to them without paying.

Bank payments mean that the ISP stands ready with a gouge: pay $10 to get your money back else we can't do it. No indication of this at the start of your subscription, though. At that time, the staff fawn on you, using mellowed tones to draw you in.

You'd have to wonder: why does a man like David Teoh, the owner of iiNet (and a whole ISP empire), need beggarly sums like this to shore up his bank balance? Isn't reputation a little more important?

Why would a customer who has left an ISP be willing to give credit card details in these days when unauthorised use of credentials is more common than the sun rising at dawn?

When I closed my subscription in mid-October, it was because the iiNet had no business plans for connecting people to the NBN over HFC. Else, I would have probably stayed on. And why would one pay $110 for a residential account offering 100/40Mbps when any number of smaller outfits offer the same for $40 less?

So that $10 looks like a payback. You leave us, you will pay for it. At the time I joined, paying from a bank account was the common method. But then I doubt that iiNet is bothered about anything other than money these days.

Truly, Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge could take a lesson from iiNet and Teoh. Fitting indeed, seeing that Christmas is around the corner. Bah, humbug.

In response to this article, iiNet media has sent iTWire the following statement: "iiNet is currently undertaking a review of this old handling fee policy, which has existed from prior to the acquisition of iiNet."


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.