In a move resembling the fee increases that the banks periodically inflict on their customers the major Australian telecommunications company, Telstra, has announced that its broadband subscribers will have to pay extra for their personal web sites from September 2009.
An associated decision in the deliberately low-key announcement informed subscribers that they will not be able to keep their existing web addresses.
Melbourne author Nick Renton, who maintains this large web site dealing with public interest issues and with some of his pro bono services, has made a detailed submission to Telstra urging a rethink of its disastrous proposal - see below.
This significant change of policy is sure to infuriate Telstra customers as soon as they realise the great inconvenience and additional costs that it will mean for them.
SUBMISSION TO TELSTRA FROM A CONCERNED CUSTOMER
I refer to the June 2009 issue of BigPond's marketing e-newsletter "Ponderings" and in particular to the important announcement buried at its end.
I must protest in the strongest possible terms at Telstra's decision to close down its hosting of personal web sites from next September.
Even if Telstra wishes to change the rules for new subscribers it should not do so for existing customers.
This excellent facility has for many years been an integral feature of Telstra's broadband product and it is included in the current pricing.
Telstra should immediately reverse this closure decision, which would result in a breach of the understanding which was given to customers at the time they signed up with BigPond.
Most of these would have come to Telstra in the belief that their web pages would be safer in perpetuity than if they were to be hosted on one of the smaller ISPs.
This change will be a of great inconvenience to the loyal subscribers for Telstra's existing service. Worse still, it will also be very frustrating for the many users of these web sites, especially as Telstra has indicated that no redirection facility is to be provided after the changeover - an aspect which itself is quite outrageous.
In my case there are links to my 156 BigPond web pages on numerous sites maintained by other people. To illustrate further, my Common Latin Phrases page http://nickrenton.com/310.htm has had about 190,000 hits and many of its users will have bookmarked this address.
The links are also set out in about 70 of my books - it will be impossible to notify a new web address to each of their readers.
It would be quite impracticable to convert my site to a blog.
Telstra's decision amounts to a blatant grab for additional revenue in the form of replacement plans costing up to $240 a year extra in perpetuity (no doubt subject to upward increases as Telstra sees fit from time to time). But even customers willing to make such an expensive switch are not going to be allowed to keep their existing URLs.
It also seems highly likely that customers forced to give up their existing arrangements will decide that in that case they might as well use a different ISP, so that Telstra will not even achieve the expected revenue gain. It will just have lost an enormous amount of customer goodwill for little commercial advantage.
The company's greedy action also completely overlooks the fact that each reference to BigPond constitutes a free advertisement for Telstra.
Apart from the inconvenience and time commitment which the closure will force on its existing customers this will also cost them money in reprinting stocks of letterhead, business cards and other items setting out their URLs - all without any compensation.
Furthermore, if Telstra cannot be trusted to honour its undertakings in regard to small things, how can it expect to be trusted in regard to its ambition to provide a $43 billion National Broadband Network?
To sum up, Telstra should now reverse its unpopular decision to cancel hosted personal web sites for its many loyal broadband subscribers. Telstra should also make a public announcement to that effect as soon as possible.
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