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PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

middlewareman
Newbie
Posts: 2
Registered: 16-11-2008

PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

This week I noticed an inconspicuous email dated 12/11 in my alternate (hotmail) mailbox saying "a question has been created in association with your account". When I follow the link to PlusNet and was shocked to read the following:
Dear Mr Nyberg,
It has recently come to our attention that you have large volumes of email stored on our mail servers.
We have emailed you at your administrative email address to inform you of our intention.
We have taken action and deleted any emails that are more than 30 days old.
This has been deleted from your default inbox.
All other email remains unaffected.
Please let us know should you require any further information.
Kind regards,
link:csa removed

I then start digging and find another email from PlusNet dated 17/10 that I had not read informing me that I have large volumes of email stored, and suggesting that I "black hole" the "catch-all" mailbox etc. I fear that I would not have been aware of this impending disaster even if I had opened the verbose email in question.
I have of course pointed out that the years of email history contains some valuable correspondence including contacts, agreements, receipts, licenses, etc, and the loss is considerable. PlusNet has so far just referred to the message 17/10 and tell me they cannot restore any of my lost messages, and closed my ticket. I have paid £22.99 per month for 3 years, and PlusNet cannot bother making a phone call under these circumstances.
Has this happened to anyone else? What is the legal situation with regards to damages if PlusNet cannot or refuse to restore the lost messages?
/Andreas
cp:red Customer service agents name removed from post inline with the link:rules md;end
15 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

mod:note
Moved to the `Rants` board as this is not a testimonial.
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Playing devils advocate. These e-mails "including contacts, agreements, receipts, licenses," were so "valuable". That you did not keep a backup?
And the mailbox was so important to you that you had not read the earlier warning e-mails?
Chilli
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,850
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Hi there.
I'm sorry that you feel we've handled this badly.
To be clear, this action relates to a residential account and not a business account. We did , as you have pointed out, notify you of the intended action on 17 October to your Plusnet email address and your external address.
What I need to understand is how often you access this email account and when was the last time you picked up the email. When we carry out this type of activity it's generally due to the fact that the amount of email stored is huge and containes a large volume of untouched or unread spam.
Due to the resources required to handle such high quantities of email, this has the potential to negatively affect other users of the mail platform and cause service problems for customers.
In our communication of the 17 October we gave detailed advice on how to act but it would appear that you did not collect or read this advice.
I see that you have raised a ticket regarding this and I fully understand your frustration at our actions.
I will speak with networks tomorrow to see if the email has actually been deleted, although I suspect that to be the case. While it isnt much help to you just now, we would always advise that customers keep local back ups of any data, including emails, which are hosted externally on servers where no SLA exists.
Once again I am sorry that you are unhappy with this experience and I will discuss our procedure with my colleagues tomorrow morning.
geewizz
Grafter
Posts: 1,125
Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Quote from: middlewareman

What is the legal situation with regards to damages if PlusNet cannot or refuse to restore the lost messages?


It turns out that the legal situation is quite straightforward. I don't know what product you are on but you did give an idea of when you signed up and the price of your product. The terms and conditions from 3 yers ago included this :
Quote
14.3 Where we provide you with Services that involve providing storage space (temporary or otherwise), or transfer capabilities on our systems, we may impose limits (which we may vary from time to time) on the storage space, or transfer capability we provide to you in order to ensure the quality of the Service to you and any other Customer. We may suspend, reject or delete material that exceeds these limits
techguy
Grafter
Posts: 2,540
Registered: 12-09-2008

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

I think you maybe better with a Microsoft Exchange account from another supplier if you wish to store your mail and contacts on a server as POP3 hosts operated by ISPs are for the temporary storage of mail so that you dont have to leave your PC running 24/7 or run your own mailserver, they are not suitable for long term storage of mail.
middlewareman
Newbie
Posts: 2
Registered: 16-11-2008

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Quote from: Mark
[...]
I'm sorry that you feel we've handled this badly.
To be clear, this action relates to a residential account and not a business account. We did , as you have pointed out, notify you of the intended action on 17 October to your Plusnet email address and your external address.
[...]
In our communication of the 17 October we gave detailed advice on how to act but it would appear that you did not collect or read this advice.
[...]

To say you handled this "badly" is an understatement.
I am primarily a business, and I believe the name of my limited company is at the top of the bill. The account may still be "residential" as the broadband is in my home, where my business is registered. But what does it matter? Don't you arbitrarily and irreversibly wipe out the data of "business" customers, but think it is appropriate for "residential" customers?
Yes, you sent a single inconspicuous and verbose EMAIL to another address, and I fear that I would not have realised the gravity of the impending even if I had opened it. Now you say I have no-one but myself to blame for not receiving and acting on your "advice" in time. It is tempting to translate this into a scenario where a tenant who has never missed a single hefty rent payment in all three years he has lived there returns from a vacation to find his flat cleared out and all his belongings permanently destroyed, and his landlord refers to having "left a note" the month before at some other address. Interesting court case?
The most worrying part is that it just gets worse. Anyone can make a mistake and delete something, and hardware failures happen; that's why we make backups. In my blissful ignorance, I thought PAYING this much for this kind of service meant some basic measures and competencies where in place to take reasonable precautions against this. As it turns out, the storage is outsourced without any SLAs, and the data you actively deleted less than a week ago cannot be restored. Are your customers aware of this? I don't think most FREE providers would fail so miserably in a million years.
I will of course look carefully at the conditions I signed up to, and not just the current ones that PlusNet is pointing me to. I'm not a lawyer, but I do believe reason plays a part in the interpretation of contracts, especially the "we accept no responsibility for anything whatsoever" in combination with accepting your cash, and I think what you have done is far from what I should reasonably have to expect.
/Andreas
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,850
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Quote
As it turns out, the storage is outsourced without any SLAs,

Hi there
It's not outsourced it's handled in house. I think "storage" is key here. We do not offer a data storage service. We provide an email delivery and collection service and this is clearly where the difficulty in perception has arisen.
Our mail service is not offered as an offsite back up or storage service and we make no claims to that effect.
We have to police the amount of data held on our mail platform. To not do so would impact other customers both in terms of service and cost. I have to be clear, when we take action, such as in your case, it is only because the amount of mail stored has reached a huge volume and goes beyond what anyone would class as normal mail delivery volumes.
We do occasionally have to take these steps with our business customers also, however as email is a vital tool to most businesses it tends to get read and checked every day and perhaps several times per day.
In your case it had been quite some considerable time since you last logged into that mail box to collect email and this is how the situation arose.
I appreciate that you are unhappy at this situation and for that I am sorry. I have taken on board your comments regarding the perception of the "inconspicuous" warning email we sent on 17 October and I will review that and see if there is indeed room for improvement in the title and the content. I dont have access to that content right now but I will do in the morning.
Once again I am sorry that this has caused you difficulty. We do not ever want to have unhappy customers but I hope you can appreciate our position and the sometimes difficult decisions we have to take to safeguard our platform and the service delivered to other customers.
If you have further queries don't hesitate to get in touch.

itsme
Grafter
Posts: 5,924
Thanks: 1
Registered: 07-04-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Quote from: middlewareman
...., and the data you actively deleted less than a week ago cannot be restored. Are your customers aware of this?
/Andreas

I would say quiet a few customers know this as there was a major lost of data approximately 18 months ago. This did not affect me as I decided to run my own email server because of reliability issues 30 months ago and the fact that  I use imap and PN limit for mail storage is low.
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Quote from: Mark
Quote
As it turns out, the storage is outsourced without any SLAs,

Hi there
It's not outsourced it's handled in house. I think "storage" is key here. We do not offer a data storage service. We provide an email delivery and collection service and this is clearly where the difficulty in perception has arisen.
Our mail service is not offered as an offsite back up or storage service and we make no claims to that effect.


did you not read the above
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,718
Thanks: 931
Fixes: 10
Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Quote from: middlewareman
I am primarily a business, and I believe the name of my limited company is at the top of the bill. The account may still be "residential" as the broadband is in my home, where my business is registered. But what does it matter? Don't you arbitrarily and irreversibly wipe out the data of "business" customers, but think it is appropriate for "residential" customers?

As you are in contravention of PlusNet Terms and Conditions for Internet Services and/or the sale of Equipment ("Conditions"), Annexe 1 ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY, section 1 do you really have a leg to stand on?
Quote
1. Application of the Service
1.1 You are required to sign-up to an appropriate account type depending on your required utilisation. Home accounts are provided for Consumers. If you wish to use your account commercially then you must sign-up to a Business account or Teleworker account where appropriate. For guidance, we consider commercial use to be at a level above that which is running a part time Business or supporting any kind of hobby. Business accounts must be used if the account is to be used from any official Business Premises while Teleworkers are considered to be commercial use of a residential connection.
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)
techguy
Grafter
Posts: 2,540
Registered: 12-09-2008

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

If I may comment further as someone whose 'day job' involves supporting a message board type system which includes a mail function.
Many users do not realise the amount of equipment it takes to provide storage for these systems, in the case of the system I support a good half of one of the data centre (a controlled environment both in terms of temperature and power supply used to house servers, storage devices and networking equipment) rooms is take up with devices that constitute what is called a Storage Area Network.
These devices are often called filers and are a device with several hard disks inside and a dedicated operating system that deals with management of the disk devices (health monitoring for signs of impending failure, data management across the array) and communication with the network
The two companies below are examples of those that manufacture these devices among others:
NetApp http://www.netapp.com
EMC http://www.emc.com

We had quite a few users that used their accounts as the OP describes and we found that we kept having to add more and more storage and we were running out of space.
Therefore a decision was made to cap space usage, all users were given notice that a cap of 50 MB was being imposed and were given two weeke to resize their mailbox by moving stuff off or we would run an audit process to resize the box for them as it also states in our computing service guide it is not an offsite storage facility.
A great many peeople ignored the notice and lost several gigabytes of data, needless to say I took calls from very miffed users and I explained to them the same as I've done above.
One retort was that his hotmail account offered him unlimited space, I pointed out that Microsoft along with Google are engaged in a massive data centre building programme and that I reckoned a good proportion of this space would be taken up by storage and that we did not have that space and we haven't even got to the power or network connectivity requirements.
Have a look at the following site which will tell you all you need to know http://www.datacenterknowledge.com
I dread to think how many devices PN have to use.
fred
Grafter
Posts: 57
Registered: 27-02-2008

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Quote from: Mark
We do not offer a data storage service. We provide an email delivery and collection service and this is clearly where the difficulty in perception has arisen.
Our mail service is not offered as an offsite back up or storage service and we make no claims to that effect.

But you do offer IMAP and Webmail access to this email. IMAP is designed to leave all mail on the server for access from wherever. Webmail equally requires email to be kept on the server. If you only provided an email collection and delivery service, you would only provide POP3 and SMTP, not IMAP, not webmail.
Not that I leave any mail on a PlusNet server any longer than I can help it. Not after they let the pikeys roam around helping themselves to anything they could in May 2007. I still suffer the spam consequences of that outrageously sloppy bit of in-house code modification.
The original poster might be better using a service like fastmail.fm or lavabit.com Their storage is specified, and paid for at reasonable prices. Makes for easier ISP transfers too!
To the moderator who moved this to the rants section - surely it is the sort of testimonial that potential customers should see before they sign up. Then they can make competent decisions about the service they are likely to get, and match it against the price they will be required to pay. Giving only glowing, saccharine sweet views about the sainthood of PlusNet will only lead to more disgruntled customers when they discover the feet of clay!
gswindale
Grafter
Posts: 942
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

But webmail access is handy if on holiday without your primary computer to hand.
I feel that this is a better location for the topic than "testimonials", as, from my reading, the testimonial from the OP is:
"I signed up to run my business through a residential account.  I didn't read the T&C properly at the time of signup and neither did I take reasonable steps to ensure my business data was backed up.  I then discovered that my ISP followed their procedures and deleted my emails."

Community Veteran
Posts: 6,735
Thanks: 12
Registered: 02-02-2008

Re: PlusNet deleted most of my business email without my consent

Quote from: Mark
this action relates to a residential account and not a business account.

As has already been noted.
Bad business mangement.  Cry