Four days to write a letter.

December 4, 2007

The letter was dated 3rd December, yes that means it was printed on Monday.

Now forgive me if I seem a little sceptical, but if I had just locked my customers out of the system on a Thursday evening, and promised them all passwords by snail mail, I would have every person back in the office as early as possible the next day, and have them all stuffing envelopes until the last post had gone.

This would seem to be the normal thing to do, just to make sure my customers interests were covered.  I mean can you think of any reasonable reason why you would not do this?

 Perhaps the letter took a long time to print?  This could only be for three reasons:

  1. The letter is a full page long.  But why?  All we wanted was the password, not some disingenuous explanation.  That could have come later, in the follow-up patronising press releases.  The decision to make the letter long and very very dull was not in the interest of the customer, and barely served the needs of Fasthosts public relations machine.
  2. There were so many letters to print.  Really?  How many?  Fasthosts said that only a ‘few’ accounts had been modified.  If it was more than a ‘few’, then this is misrepresentation.
  3. They didn’t have the print hardware for the job. (Bob’s Lexmark ran out of ink).  In which case, can the decision to send the passwords by post be considered a good executive decision, and not one which neglects the customers expectations?  Same question if they had to buy mass printing services.

I expect what happened is that on Friday morning, some execs met to draft a letter, or to review a draft that had been prepared overnight.  This was not ratified on Friday because of disagreements or because the executive were busy fielding calls from customers, journalists, lawyers and other interested parties.

Nothing was done over the weekend, except to leave the Technical Support people holding the fort.

On Monday the letter was finalised and printing began.

If the letter was ratified/finalised on Friday, the company then had to buy in the services of a print, finish and post company, and this is not easy, particularly because they would have had to supply a letter template and names/addresses/passwords etc to a third party.  Lets hope they didn’t bike them over on CDs.

Now we are all business people and/or experienced techical people, and no matter which way we look at the motivation for delaying the letter until Monday, it simply does not make any sense.  What do you think?

Could this be negligence of duty?  Incompetence?  Self-Interest?  Bear in mind that any of these would constitute breach of contract no matter what clauses Fasthosts publish in their Terms and Conditions.

We’re taking legal advice later this week, so your opinion may count.

UPDATE : We received and read a few comments about inaccuracies in the letters, like wrong account password sent to the wrong address, password not working, password sent to people who no longer have an account, that sort of thing.  If you have any stories like this, please post them here.

One laughable example from the October letter: http://community.plus.net/blog/2007/11/30/fasthosts-password-compromise/

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2 Responses to “Four days to write a letter.”

  1. miss_lol Says:

    AArrghh the Fasthosts Cold War Lockout!

    Have 3 sites with them, have always rec’d good cust service and ok-to-dissappointing server reliability;

    Got emails warning of Pwords changes, then my 2 sites requiring MySQL databases went down (5 days ago!). Still down!! Just an error message…

    For 4 days now there’s been about 36 people in Fasthosts phone queue at 1am and 56 people at 1pm! (That would cost £18 – £35 to maybe get through, and 4 hrs…)

    I have rec’d two of my three letters (where’ the other one?) and the new passwords in the letters DONT WORK AT ALL!! almost laughable/cryable now. 3 weeks before Xmas!! help and @$~~** **£* BLLEEEP

    Hope lots of people sue their butts and I’m LEAVING! (Ave been recommended GoDaddy.com USA as reliable and cheap.) How to seriously ruin a good thing. Good Luck to all those others lost in the Fasthosts Fog. Lol. 06.12.2007

  2. Johhny Wogan Says:

    It’s been over a week and there are still hundreds, if not thousands of webmasters affected by this. On the first day, Fasthosts held firm and said that they would only issue passwords by post.

    Hundreds of callers, including myself, spent more than £20 on Fasthosts premium rate support line to hear this statement. It has clear that they climbed down from this policy on Monday when it became evident that they had still not posted the letters, and started issuing passwords over the phone.

    Will the people who called for the first three days receive a refund for their phone bill? When will Fasthosts admit to doing something wrong and pay out?


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