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Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

br1anstorm
Grafter
Posts: 115
Registered: 24-06-2007

Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

Apologies if this is not the right forum for my query, but I think it's about a technical issue that I don't quite understand.
First, the basics.  I am a domestic customer, not using any kind of corporate network.  I have three computers at home, all accessing the internet via my router, with Plusnet as my ISP.  I normally use Firefox to browse, but have Internet Explorer and Chrome too.
Last week I accessed a travel company's site (Railbookers).  This is a UK company based in London.  It also has offices in the US, in Australia, and New Zealand.  So in addition to its railbookers.com site, it has railbookers.com.au and railbookers.co.nz websites.
Last week I was taken to the UK site.  Prices in pounds sterling, language UK English (eg tab heading "Holidays"), a UK contact phone number.  I even bookmarked the webpage I was particularly interested in:  it was at  https://www.railbookers.com/holidays/-/great-continental-railway-journeys-spain-portugal#tab-detail-...
This week I wanted to revisit the same page.  But whatever route I tried, I could not do so.  Every attempt I have made over a period of the last three days - using the bookmarked URL, using a search engine for Railbookers UK, or using links from other sites - has redirected me to the US website for the same company, at the URL https://us.railbookers.com/.  The site looks broadly the same (it is the same company), but lists "Vacations", not holidays, has a US contact phone number and the US equivalent of the ABTA/ATOL logo.
I phoned the company office in London to ask why the redirection or default to their US website.  They were baffled, said it was nothing to do with them, and suggested it was either because of some setting or blocking in my browser, or it was because of my ISP "giving an IP address which suggests that you are in America".....
To check out the first of those two possibilities, I cleared my Firefox browser cache and cookies, and tried again.  Same result - I was taken to the US site.  So I then tried on another computer, using IE which I know has nothing cached and no whitelists or blacklisted sites.  Same result.  I tried with Chrome.  Same again.
So I assume that it is not some setting, or cookie, or block, in my browser which is preventing me accessing the UK website of this company but sending me instead to their US website.
Hence this enquiry.  Is it possible that Plusnet is somehow responsible?  I understand next to nothing about IP addresses, how they are set, and how other sites happen to know where in the world I am located.  But my 'search' for the Railbookers UK website is obviously going through Plusnet's servers.  Is that the reason for the problem?  And if so, what can be done about it?
8 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,460
Thanks: 1,030
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

Your IP address beginning 146.199.184 is showing as an Infonet Plusnet USA
This is the problem being discussed here http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,130918.0.html
I will flag this post up in there but in the meantime go into your router interface http://192.168.1.254/cgi/b/bb/?be=0&l0=2&l1=-1 (assuming that you have a Plusnet supplied router) and click on Disconnect leave it for a couple of minutes then click on connect and see if that fixes it by putting you on a different IP address
br1anstorm
Grafter
Posts: 115
Registered: 24-06-2007

Re: Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

Thanks oldjim, for at least shedding a little bit of light on the problem.  As I said, I have no real understanding of the mysteries of IP addresses, but it's some consolation to know that the problem is not of my making.
For what it's worth, I am still using an old Netgear router that predates my signup to Plusnet some 7 years ago.  I continue with it on the "if it ain't broke...." principle and because I really din't relish having to set up an new router.  So the Plusnet supplied router sits on the shelf unopened.  Hope that's not a sin!
The thread to which you linked paints a worrying picture.  Redirection of the kind I encountered is a puzzling inconveneience (though i should not have given Railbookers office such grief on the phone, as it wasn't their fault ....).  But the issues of credit, banking and so on do rather suggest that Plusnet are putting quite a few of their customers into potentially serious problems by assigning them IP addresses which because of the complex registration arrangements and the geolocation systems, appear to be misleading.
So I hope Plusnet sorts this out swiftly.  Their reputation has been built on reliable and quality service.  This situation looks to be taking them into some dodgy territory.
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,718
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

It's not something that is under Plusnet's direct control - other websites are using out of date information to determine your location.
Have you done as Jim recommended (disconnected and then connected again)? http://www.whatsmyip.org/ will tell you your current IP - you need to disconnect/connect until you see different numbers in the first three parts.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
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br1anstorm
Grafter
Posts: 115
Registered: 24-06-2007

Re: Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

Thanks jelv, and yes, I have indeed done as oldjim suggested and disconnected/reconnected my router.  I do now have a different and "clean" IP address.  I have checked and it is one that shows on http://iplocation.net as being in the UK.  And I can now access the UK site of that travel company again, rather than being forcibly redirected to their US one.  So all is well.
As for your other point about Plusnet's responsibility, well, yes up to a point, your honour.  But this situation is a bit like buying a second hand car.  If you do that, it makes sense to check with the DVLA that it's properly registered, and to check with HPI that it's not still under a outstanding loan or hire purchase agreement.
In the same way Plusnet has "acquired" some blocks of second-hand IP addresses that were first owned or allocated to Infonet in California.  When they took them over they should have checked, or insisted, that these numbers were free and clear and correctly re-registered before putting them out "on the road" for allocation to customers.  I think it's called "due diligence".  On that count, Plusnet has fallen short, and given their own customers poor service as a result.
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 2,885
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Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

br1anstorm, you're a little out on your analogies.  To take your 2nd hand car, Plusnet have done all that you have said, but the issue here is then someone is taking the details of your new car from an out of date list, rather than what the DVLA has registered.
Phil
Community Gaffer
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Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

Quote from: br1anstorm
In the same way Plusnet has "acquired" some blocks of second-hand IP addresses that were first owned or allocated to Infonet in California.  When they took them over they should have checked, or insisted, that these numbers were free and clear and correctly re-registered before putting them out "on the road" for allocation to customers.

If you read some of my posts from the thread Oldjim linked to, you'll realise it's not quite that simple. The troublesome IP's are governed by ARIN who oversee IP assignment in the US. For that reason, I don't think it's even possible to physically register the range to an address in the UK. Neither is there a recognised process for transferring IP ranges from one registration authority to another i.e. from ARIN to RIPE (RIPE look after address assignment in the UK).
Add to this the fact that RIPE don't really have any IPv4 address space left to assign.
For those interested, there is a working group who are pushing for a process that will allow inter-RIR transfers of IP ranges. Should this come to fruition, problems like those you've experienced with railbookers.com would cease to exist. The latest policy proposal can be seen here.
In the interim, there's no simple solution other than for us to try our best to get the various geo-location databases updated ahead of these IP ranges being introduced (something we're already doing).
I'll reach out to railbookers.com and see if I can get them to update their geo-location data.

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Product Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

Community Veteran
Posts: 26,718
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

Quote from: br1anstorm
As for your other point about Plusnet's responsibility, well, yes up to a point, your honour.  But this situation is a bit like buying a second hand car.  If you do that, it makes sense to check with the DVLA that it's properly registered, and to check with HPI that it's not still under a outstanding loan or hire purchase agreement.
In the same way Plusnet has "acquired" some blocks of second-hand IP addresses that were first owned or allocated to Infonet in California.  When they took them over they should have checked, or insisted, that these numbers were free and clear and correctly re-registered before putting them out "on the road" for allocation to customers.  I think it's called "due diligence".  On that count, Plusnet has fallen short, and given their own customers poor service as a result.

To follow your suggestion and not allocate ranges until everything was sorted would mean Plusnet not having enough IP addresses for all of their users. That would mean some Plusnet users would be unable to connect at all. Do you think it better that Plusnet lets ALL it's users get a connection with a very, very small number of sites who are using out of date data giving issues or that some users volunteer to do without a connection (while still paying for the unusable connection)? If the latter can we put your user id at the top of the list to do without?
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
br1anstorm
Grafter
Posts: 115
Registered: 24-06-2007

Re: Redirection to US internet sites - is this Plusnet's doing?

The replies to my recent post suggest that my comments (about second-hand cars...) were a little harsh.  Maybe so. 
My own issues about accessing a particular site were minor in the grand scheme of things.  But I think those who flagged up the implications for banking, credit references and so on had a serious point which deserves attention.
It's clear that the problem is not of Plusnet's making.  There appear in fact to be two problems,  First, the lack of a mechanism or capacity to transfer the registration of IP blocks from ARIN to RIPE.  This seems to be a policy failure.  Could the registration authorities not have foreseen, or made contingency arrangements, to enable this?  Second, the inefficiency of (some?) databases/directories which are not updating their geolocation information properly.
It's also clear that Plusnet are doing what they can to grip this.  The reaching-out to those databases which peddle obsolete geolocations and to those website-proprietors which have been relying on them is commendable, so fair play to Bob Pullen and his colleagues for their efforts.
With respect, I don't think jelv's comments about customers who have difficulties as a result of the assignment of "dodgy" IP addresses being first in line to have their connections axed is either appropriate or constructive.  I do accept that Plusnet is doing the best it can, and I appreciate that.  It's just a pity that the wider global management of IP address allocation, and of geolocation data provision, doesn't seem to be keeping up.