Plusnet/Metronet and their fuck awful billing system

A long time ago, before cocktails and skateboards, and John Travolta, back in the early 2000s, someone had a brilliant idea. Which was to live in Sheffield... well, OK, perhaps it wasn't quite as brilliant as all that... and be an ISP, called Metronet, who didn't take the piss like so many other fuckers did.

And it was great. They handed out static IPs. They didn't do port blocking. They didn't moan and bitch if you wanted to use P2P networks or run your own servers. Their support department was staffed with people who understood the technical details of what they were dealing with, didn't assume you were a moron, and didn't beat about the bush if it turned out you actually were; they were not corporate smarmbots who are too thick to do anything except follow a script, assume that everyone else is at least as thick as they are and are totally lost with anything their script doesn't allow for. And paying for the service was simple and straightforward and never gave me any difficulty in doing it.

Then, in 2005, it all went to shit. Metronet got taken over by some bunch called Plusnet, who are a bunch of fucking clueless twats. Their support department is staffed by divots who don't know their arse from breakfast. You can't contact them by email. And their billing system is the biggest pile of useless fucking wank in existence, makes it as hard as possible to pay by introducing stupid deliberate awkwardnesses and refusing to do anything that every other fucking website does that accepts payments, and is buggy as fuck to boot - and as I write this 10 years later, they still have not done one fucking single thing to fix any of its stupid shitness and it is no whit less fucking shite than it was in the beginning.

It is notable that a Google search - once you have sufficiently refined the search terms so as to exclude spurious results relating to unrelated outfits with the same fucking name - still pulls up, 10 years after it happened, a whole slew of results, from what looks like every single forum concerned with UK ISPs, of people complaining that the Plusnet takeover has fucked Metronet to the wide, here's another good ISP gone down the drain, etc. And all the complaints are still equally valid 10 years on because the useless fucks have done precisely sod all to make themselves less shit.

Fortunately I have avoided at least some of the shitness by reason of still having the same Metronet service that I signed up for in the first place, which they are obliged to keep providing, and by reason of simple luck, in that the technical faults I have suffered have been BT's fault - largely because the pole which supplies my phone line has a fucking tree growing round it, which pulls and tugs on all the wires and fucks up the connections, and despite there being ten or so different people's phone lines all suffering from this problem and the associated service calls generated by it, BT refuse to acknowledge that there even is a problem, let alone move the fucking pole so the lines don't go through the tree.

But the fucking billing system, that is a different matter, and it is unbelievably shit.

Here is an example of a billing system which is not shit, because it isn't Plusnet's: that of the outfit from which I rent my rack server. At the start of the month, they send a bill, which tells me how much money they want. I can then send them a postal order for the appropriate amount, and the day after I post it I get an email confirming that the payment has been received. Or alternatively I can go to their website and stick in some card details and do it that way. As long as I do this within a month of getting the bill - which even for me is plenty of time to get the money together - there is no problem and everything is hunky dory. Simple.

Or there is the line rental for the phone line, which is even easier to pay, because all I have to do is toddle up to the post office and pay it over the counter. As with the server bill, the BT bill says how much money they want and allows a reasonable time for me to give it to them; on the bill itself it usually says they want it within a week or so, but in practice they don't start panicking unless I leave it for nearly a month, so again there is plenty of time to get the money together.

And then there is FUCKING PLUSNET, who make the whole thing a total and complete pain in the arse.

The root cause of the problem is that they take it for granted that everyone is a fucking rich cunt who has so much money that they don't have any problem with leaving chunks of it sitting around in some fucking account or other for other people to grab arbitrary and unstated amounts without notice and without so much as a by your leave. Well I fucking don't. At the moment, for instance, I have something like 12 quid and a few strange policemen odd coppers, and I won't be getting any more for over a week. The bill is usually something over twice that. They simply cannot grab money off me whenever they happen to decide they want it, because it ISN'T FUCKING THERE. They need to tell me in advance how much they want, and then fucking wait until I have got a large enough chunk to pay it without leaving myself short of food and shit. Which is what every other fucker does, so Plusnet can fucking well do the same fucking thing, except they don't because they're a bunch of cunts.

What they do is: Announce, two or three days in advance, that they are going to be raising a bill - but WITHOUT saying how much it's fucking for, so the announcement is a complete fucking waste of time.

Once they do decide how much it's for, they then IMMEDIATELY try and grab that amount off a card number which they expect to have been entered into the website in advance. Of course, they can't, because they haven't said how much it's going to be in time for me to make sure it is there to be grabbed, and so indeed it isn't there. And the first indication I have of how much the cunts want is when they send me an email saying they have failed to grab it, and are threatening to cut me off because their unrealistic assumptions have not panned out.

Still, now that I know how much the fucking bill is actually for, I can now go to the post office and send them a postal order for the amount. And you would think that would sort it. But does it fuck.

For a start, even once they have received the fucking thing they piss around for ages before the fact that they have been paid percolates through their neutronium skulls. Remember how I mentioned up above that the hosting company I rent a rack server from acknowledge receipt of my postal orders the day after I post them? Plusnet fucking don't. It takes half a week or so before the bill starts showing up as "paid" on their website. (Note that I have to look and find out for myself; they don't send an email to let me know they've received it.) And even that is not the end of the story.

Because EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME, WITHOUT FAIL, a few days AFTER they have received the payment and marked the bill as "PAID" on their website... THE SHITEING CUNTS CUT ME OFF FOR "NOT PAYING". EVEN THOUGH IT ISN'T FUCKING TRUE.

This is because their billing system is a BUGGY PIECE OF SHIT. There is some fuckarsed bollocks about me having "two accounts" which I do not understand since I only ever signed up for one. As far as I can make out, what happens is that both accounts get marked as "unpaid", but when I do pay, only one of them gets marked as "paid" because their own fucking system is too stupid to understand this "two accounts" bollocks even though it was them who created it. I then get cut off because this so-called other account, whatever it is, is still erroneously marked as "unpaid".

If I am sounding a bit vague about this it's hardly fucking surprising since Plusnet themselves don't fucking understand it. This shiteing "other account" thing is somehow buried in their system and they can't fucking find it themselves. When I contact them to complain about being cut off even though I have paid, the first response is invariably from a divvy who says "yes, you have paid, it's all OK". This despite the fact that I wouldn't be fucking complaining if it was all OK, would I, you stupid cunt. The divvy then has to go and find someone slightly more intelligent to talk to before they are even able to find where their stupid piece of shit system has fallen over. And when they do eventually work it out it still isn't guaranteed that they know how to turn my fucking connection back on again. Half the time they say they have but it isn't fucking true and I have to contact them yet again to tell them that whatever they have done it hasn't fucking worked and they need to fucking do it properly this time.

This is not just an intermittent problem. It happens EVERY FUCKING TIME. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING MONTH. You may be sure I have submitted numerous complaints over the years but it never does any fucking good. I have even tried sending a letter along with the postal order telling them what is going to go wrong and warning them to be on the lookout for it and make sure it doesn't happen, but the ignorant fucks are so bloodymindedly certain that nothing can possibly be wrong with their oh so wonderful system that they ignore the fucking letter and I still get cut off anyway. Fucksake half the time they won't even believe that it's gone wrong even after it happens and I've contacted them to tell them about it.

A postal order is the only realistic option, too, because although their website allows you to enter card details from which they unrealistically hope to be able to grab money unannounced without giving any notice so I can make sure it's there, that is ALL those details can be used for. There is NO WAY to get them to take payment using those details at my instruction once I have made sure the money is there. The stupid cunts just won't fucking do it. There is no facility on the website to say "pay this bill from this card". And it doesn't help to enter a support ticket and tell them to take the payment because they refuse to do it. For Fuck's Sake. On the one hand they are complaining because I haven't paid and on the other they are refusing to take the fucking payment when I tell them to do it. Just how fucking moronically useless can you fucking get?

What they try and make me do in that case is to fucking ring them on the fucking phone and tell them to take the payment. To which I reply (without the swearing) that I've already told them to take the fucking payment so fucking just do it already and stop pissing about. They then insist that they "can't" even though they already have all the necessary information to do it and have moreover been specifically instructed to do it. I tell them that of course they fucking can and stop talking such ridiculous fucking arse. But they continue to insist that they "can't" and don't seem to care that they are not making any fucking sense at all.

EVERY SINGLE OTHER FUCKING WEBSITE that sells stuff - any kind of stuff - over the fucking internet makes it possible to pay by entering card details on the site. NO OTHER FUCKER comes out with this moronic shit of trying to make out they "can't". NO OTHER FUCKER tries to insist that I have to ring their fucking phone to tell them all over again the same fucking details I have already entered on their website. So WHAT THE PISSING FUCK IS WRONG WITH PLUSNET that they try and pull this fucking idiotic stunt? What the fuck do they hope to gain by it? Imagine if fucking Amazon allowed you to enter card details on their website and then refused to take payment from them unless you told them the same fucking details all over again over the fucking phone. Well, there wouldn't be a fucking Amazon if they did anything so pissing stupid. So why the FUCK do FUCKING PLUSNET do it?

And what the fuck is wrong with them in the first place to even consider that trying to force people to use the fucking phone is in any way even remotely acceptable? Fuck the fucking phone. The only reason I even have a fucking phone line in the first place is so I can get internet service on it. I do not fucking use it for making phone calls. I never make phone calls. I can't fucking understand them. Fucksake it is difficult enough to participate in a conversation face to face. I can't process speech well enough to keep up, I can't figure out what sort of an answer someone is expecting fast enough to provide it, and I can't remember what anyone said more than a couple of sentences ago without having a written copy to look back at. And over the phone it is ten times fucking harder. I just don't have a clue what the fuck is going on. I can't fucking cope, I can't fucking understand it, and so I don't fucking do it. And I am NOT going to be forced into using a means of communication I can't fucking understand to redundantly supply some cunt with information that they ALREADY FUCKING HAVE.

Maybe they are too bloody ignorant to understand that some people get totally lost and headfucked trying to cope with real-time communication. But that doesn't fucking matter because the same situation can just as easily arise for a reason that everyone fucking understands. What if I was FUCKING DEAF? What if instead of being unable to process the speech properly, I simply couldn't fucking hear it in the first place? The result would be the same. And in fact what Plusnet are doing is probably fucking illegal, because it amounts to discrimination against people with communication difficulties, whether those difficulties arise from a deficiency in the transducers or a deficiency in the processing capability.

And this rant would hardly be complete if I didn't mention another outrageous piece of shit that Plusnet's fucking useless so-called billing system comes up with: RANDOM FAKE BILLS. Every so many months it comes up with this spurious charge of £13.75 which I don't even fucking owe at some random time which is not related to when the real bill is supposed to happen. It just makes up this fucking nonexistent charge and then cuts me off for not paying it. So then I have to contact the useless bastards and try and get them to understand that their oh-so-wonderful-and-infallible shite-arsed system has cut me off for not paying something which I'm not even supposed to be paying in the first place. Which is unnecessarily difficult because the fucking shitheads start from the assumption that their system can't possibly have fucking gone wrong - fuck only knows why - and it is necessary to get them to drop that piece of stupidity before they will even start to consider fixing the problem they have landed me with. Again, of course, I have submitted numerous complaints about the "£13.75 bug" over the years. Again, of course, it hasn't made the slightest bloody difference and it still keeps cropping up randomly when I'm not expecting it.

Their corporate denialism of any deficiency in their systems even extends to pretending that nothing can possibly have gone wrong in the face of overwhelming evidence that they have BEEN HACKED. Towards the end of 2014, Plusnet's customer database was hacked and some fucking spam cunts got hold of everyone's email addresses. Now, every time I need to provide some outfit with an email address I stick a new entry in /etc/aliases which is specific to that outfit, so that if they get hacked or decide to sell their mailing list to spam cunts then (a) I can simply delete the entry to stop the spam, and (b) I know which particular bunch of cunts is to blame. Well, I am not alone in this. So when Plusnet got hacked and loads of people started getting the same spam to email addresses which they used for nothing but Plusnet, they got flooded with complaints about it. And what did they do? Insisted that it was everyone else's fault and refused to even admit the possibility that they might have been hacked. If it had been only one or two people affected this might have been sort of reasonable. But when there are fucking hundreds of people all reporting the same problem at the same time, it is fucking obvious that it was Plusnet at fault, and all that they achieved by trying to deny it was to make themselves look even more like a bunch of clueless cunts than they normally do.

So that is fucking Plusnet, and they are fucking shite. Incompetent, bloodyminded, fucking stupid to an unbelievable degree, can't keep their own internal systems either functional or secure, and probably in breach of anti-discrimination legislation purely through being too utterly fucking useless to do the same simple things that every other commercial website has no fucking problem with. Fucksake.

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