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Return Telocity gateway or it will cost you $500.00

By fence in Internet
Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:52:30 PM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

I was a happy customer of Flashcom DSL for almost two years, with only one network outage during that period. However, in late December of 2000 my DSL service was "slammed" over to Telocity. By my book Telocity's service was poor, with frequent outages and DNS problems almost daily. Then, as we all know, Northpoint's bankruptcy forced many small DSL companies to scramble for another last mile provider.

After three and a half months of poor service, Telocity terminated my DSL with a promise that they would get back to me in 60 days with a better service and that they would make it up to me, the unhappy customer.

Fast forward to today:
Today, I received in the mail a box from DirecTV and a letter with instructions on how to return their gateway at no cost to myself.

This initially seemed fine, until I read that if I don't return the gateway by July 15, my account will be charged $499.00.

It said that our service agreement allows the charge. I don't recall any such clause in any such agreement with Telocity. Again, I was "slammed" over to them from Flashcom.

I'm sure that many of us have already hacked/sold/lost/destroyed our old Telocity gateways. So, what are we to do?

Has anyone else received this letter from Telocity? What is the K5 community's take on this?

Here is the text of the letter:
Dear Telocity Customer,

Thank you for choosing Telocity to provide the DSL service to your home in the past. We sincerely apologize that the bankruptcy of NorthPoint Communications earlier this year caused us to lose your business.

We are writing today to request that you return your Telocity gateway modem to us in the prepaid shipping materials enclosed in this mailing.

As you may recall, the gateway was loaned to you as part of your monthly service charge. Other compainies require customer to pay hundreds of dollars upfront in order to use their DSL modems. We provide the gateway to our customers as part of their service agreement so they can enjoy our services and not suffer any out-of-pocket expenses to purchase the equipment.

Returning the gateway is as simple as one, two, three

(1) Place only the gateway in the convenient mailing container. Please do not include the power supply or the cables. They can be thrown away.

(2) Call Airborne Express at 1-800-247-2676 to arrange for the package to be picked up. (You could also place the package in the Airborne Express drop box near in your neighborhood.

(3) Keep a copy of the air bill for your records indicating that you returned the modem.

Telocity is proud of our award-winning gateway. We hope you can return your gateway to us by July 15 so that we can clear your account. Our service agreement allows us to charge $499.00 to your account if the gateway is not returned. We will charge your account if we do not hear back from you.

We hope in the near future we'll be able to offer service in your area once again and that you'll chose Telocity. We sincerely appreciate your past business.


Vicki Foshee
Senior Vice President, Service Delivery


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o already hacked/sold/lost/destroyed our old Telocity gateways
o Also by fence

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Return Telocity gateway or it will cost you $500.00 | 44 comments (34 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Redundant, I'm sure... (3.66 / 3) (#2)
by starbreeze on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 09:34:45 AM EST

If you didn't actually pay for the gateway with your service, I'd be willing to bet it was in your service contract, you'd better dig it up to be sure...

Maybe I'm missing something, how is this an Ask K5, if you haven't even confirmed this clause was not in the service contract?

"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor

practical non-payment (3.83 / 6) (#8)
by buridan on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 09:58:59 AM EST

figure out which card/account you used to secure the item
pay off that card/account
cancel that card/account
option 1
Wait for the Bill to arrive in post
ship bill and obviously destroyed item back in same box via post
option 2
ship box and a sawbuck back
Option 3
pretend to be dead

Option 3 (4.71 / 7) (#16)
by pallex on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:54:35 PM EST

"pretend to be dead"

Incidentally, that works for the monsters under the bed too.

[ Parent ]
option 3 (4.85 / 7) (#20)
by buridan on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:02:07 PM EST

only if the monster is not a scavenger, you have to explain these things to children. some monsters eat dead things as well as live things, but certainly all monsters eat anything that makes noise or moves on the bed and certainly they are naturally quicker than humans.

for the first 10 years of my life, my room looked out over some foothills, the window was about 10 ft off the ground, and there were two lights about 3 miles away that hit my window appear to be about 7 inches apart, just the right size for a 10ft monster.

[ Parent ]
Modem? What modem? (4.00 / 6) (#9)
by Perianwyr Stormcrow on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:10:03 AM EST

If there's nothing in your contract (and they didn't change it online- beware of "we may change this contract without notice" clauses) saying you have to return the modem, fuck them. Keep the damn thing on principle. If they have your credit card number, cancel your credit card as stolen, and let them bill you until they go under. Dispute any charges that may have crept in. Then, ignore any bills they may mail you- anyone can bill you for anything, but you don't have to pay them just because they can throw paper at you. They won't sue you over $500, either.

If they will bill you for imaginary costs, they can be paid in imaginary money :)

Otherwise... As a soon to be slammed person I sympathize with your loss of DSL. I've been a happy residential customer of CapuNet for roughly 1.5 years, but they recently decided to stop providing residential service. So, they're going to switch me over to Earthlink.

Never mind the fact that Earthlink's only plan at the price I've paid is far less capable- only 1 IP as opposed to 4 (and extra ones cost $15 *each*,) many weird restrictions, possibility that I may have to buy another gateway and pay an extra $10 a month to use multiple machines (of course, who's to know...)

CapuNet has been completely brilliant thus far. Only two or three outages that I can recall in the whole history of their service to me. Also, I could call their office and be sure of instant service. They agreed to bill me quarterly instead of monthly, which greatly assisted my cashflow, since it was then intentionally out of step with my other bills and therefore payable every time (try THAT with earthlink...)

So now I'm going to an ISP where I'll be another account number, to be served or ignored at will. I'm planning on switching to Speakeasy, I like what I've seen and heard about them, and I think I can cobble together a plan from them that costs only a little more than what I've been paying for what I have now.

Same boat (4.50 / 2) (#11)
by theR on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:27:25 AM EST

I'm in the same boat. Don't let them slam you over to Earthlink, because PPPoE is ugly and you don't want it. Check out my diary about Capunet, and the comment thread that is linked to on DSLReports front page.

From talking to Earthlink, even if you have a contract with Capunet that has not expired, you are under no obligation to go with Earthlink. That comment thread on DSLReports had two suggested ISPs, both of which I emailed yesterday and plan on talking to today. Both Toad.net and Atlantech have gotten good ratings on DSLReports and seem to be good alternatives as long as you are in an area they cover.

Unfortunately, prices are not going to be the same, but it is virtually impossible to find good DSL anymore without DHCP or PPPoE at the price I was getting from Capunet.

[ Parent ]
Hrm (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by delmoi on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:08:58 PM EST

anyone can bill you for anything, but you don't have to pay them just because they can throw paper at you. They won't sue you over $500, either.

Damn, I should try that.

One thing to note, however, is that while they won't sue you, they can give you bad credebt.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Not always the best idea.... (5.00 / 2) (#33)
by claudius on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 09:02:41 AM EST

Keep the damn thing on principle. If they have your credit card number, cancel your credit card as stolen, and let them bill you until they go under. Dispute any charges that may have crept in. Then, ignore any bills they may mail you- anyone can bill you for anything, but you don't have to pay them just because they can throw paper at you. They won't sue you over $500, either.

Having just been involved in getting a mortgage on my first house, I can assure you from firsthand experience that these things you may do "as a matter of principle" do come back to haunt you--it may be best to settle the matter now and be done with it. Though they won't sue you over $500, they probably will send a collection agency after you, and the collection agency folks routinely report your delinquency; your credit rating will be stained over that $500. This happens regardless of which party is in the right, and it's a form of blackmail that the companies can use against its more "principled" customers. The folks who manage your credit report are under no obligation to ensure the information is accurate, and they treat all information from corporations/lenders as sacrosanct. The only way to remove blemishes like this from your report is to go to the company and do what is needed (sometimes paying them off even when you know you are "in the right") to get the stain removed. This may or may not be important for someone in your situation now, but it's food for thought if you are planning to borrow money sometime in the next seven years.

[ Parent ]

Not always such a bad idea, either (none / 0) (#41)
by localroger on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 09:15:56 PM EST

You should move to protect your credit, but you also have powerful tools on your side. My credit is perfect despite a string of blistering conflicts with CC companies.

First, if you know you are going to have a problem, wait six months or so and get copies of your credit reports. If they did indeed report you, you have the right to file an explanation which must be attached to the item on your report. This can go a long way toward defusing the negative impact of one or two items on an otherwise good report.

Forget using the Internet or the phone for this correspondence. Conduct all correspondence of this type by registered mail. Credit companies, especially if they know they are at a disadvantage or in the wrong, will try to contact you by phone and will be very reluctant to correspond by mail, because they know your rights are much better protected if there is hard copy with certified delivery receipts.

If they send a collection agency after you, you have rights there too. Get a dongle that will let you tape-record your phone conversations, and if they step out of bounds (they often do) congratulate yourself on the collection you're about to make when you sue them.

If the rest of your credit is spotty you might have to succumb to blackmail to keep your record tight enough for future use, but if you otherwise pay your bills on time (and especially if you're a "good customer" who occasionally racks up a reasonable balance and pays some interest clearing it out, without missing payments) then you can give the occasional creditor the middle finger without taking a hit yourself in the credit department.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

What did you do to get that letter? (4.71 / 7) (#10)
by theboz on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:20:02 AM EST

I use telocity and haven't had any problems except for occasional routing problems, I've had perhaps two days of downtime in a year since I've gotten Telocity's service. Well, actually I had more but that was because BellSouth deprovisioned my DSL line behind Telocity's back in an attempt to get me to switch to BellSouth.net's garbage DSL.

Anyways, the point I am wanting to make is that Telocity sold to DirecTV but they are still supporting their stuff. I never heard of them shutting down for 60 days to provide better service to anyone. That doesn't sound like the way a business operates.

Also, how did you get the telocity gateway from flashcomm? It would seem to me like you would have recieved the telocity one through the mail just like a new subscriber. If that is the case, then you KNEW that you were basically "borrowing" their property and that if you cancelled their service, you have to return it. I remember when I signed up they repeated that to me a few times on the phone, and it was in the paperwork they sent me with the box itself. I find it hard to believe that you could do anything but ignore all of the times they would have told you that you don't own it.

So, the bottom line is that I think you lost or destroyed the box even though you knew it didn't belong to you, so now you are whining about it because you don't want to give it back even though they clearly stated the terms of service when you signed up. I don't see the problem on their end here. If you borrow something from me, and I want it back, if you don't return it you are stealing. It's that simple.


by "slammed", what do you mean? (4.57 / 7) (#12)
by Speare on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:45:22 AM EST

The typical definition of "slamming" in the telco industry is when a service is transferred from one provider to another without your permission. It gets its name from telemarketers who dial you but hang up on you before you have time to say 'no'.

I've never heard of DSL being slammed, but then again, most places are just starting to get overlapping DSL providers.

If the equipment did come from Telocity, it's theirs. They can ask for it back. If you were "slammed" but then accepted their equipment, it sure sounds like the switch in service was consensual. Give it back to them.

If your old provider was bought out, it's not slamming. It's just a buy-out. You're bound only to the things you've signed. If those agreements tell you the equipment is on loan, it's still on loan from the new owners. If they say you're bound to something you haven't specifically signed, have a lawyer friend respond to them on the legal letterhead. That's usually enough to get them off your back.
[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ] spare time? know java? earn cash

Who? Wha? (4.25 / 4) (#13)
by jabber on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 11:12:22 AM EST

Did you ever SIGN anything with this company? Do you rent/lease the equipment? If your neighborhood prone to break-ins or flooding? Have you moved (dropped) the unit recently?

"Slamming" sucks, but if you never signed anything, and the policy they are enforcing differs from that of the original provider, I don't see how it can be legally binding?

A friend of mine had his loan bought by another bank. They tried changing the overpayment policy. He raised hell, and got his way, since he never signed anything to give the new loan owner power.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Huh, no cables (3.60 / 5) (#15)
by weirdling on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 12:52:43 PM EST

It seems to me odd that they don't want any cables back. Maybe there's some legal reason they need to collect all the old boxen...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
These boxes no longer cost $500 (4.00 / 5) (#24)
by your_desired_username on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:26:15 PM EST

I think they are gambling that many people will not return the box and thus get cheated out of $500. They are just looking at money from failures to return, and have not figured out a way to make money off of the actual boxes.

[ Parent ]
Telocity DSL and gateways (3.75 / 4) (#17)
by Orion Blastar on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:47:47 PM EST

Well I joined Telocity a few months ago. It seems like they rent out their Gateways, but they did charge me $75 to ship it and the software to me.

Don't tell them, but I set up a little DSL Router to share between my two systems instead of paying the extra $10.99 a month for renting their own DSL Router. ;)

The only thing that changed with them was the NetMask when the DirecTV company bought them out in the little DSL HotPatato game. We get shuffled off to another DSL company anyway. My predictions is that most DSL companies will be owned by Telco companies, Cable companies, Satelite companies, or those big corps like AOL/Time/Warner/Turner/Bubba/JimBob or Microsoft/MSN/NBCi/Borg/DeweyCheatham&Howe anyway. ;)
*** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***

A little correction (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by scheme on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 01:11:00 PM EST

I maybe wrong but the $75 fee is for the first month's service and a $25 shipping/handling fee for the gateway. Also the extra 10.99 a month includes 3 additional static ip address which you don't get by using a router and NAT'ing your computers.

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein

[ Parent ]
Why do I need three more Static IP addresses? (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by Orion Blastar on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 10:00:29 AM EST

I'm using a private network already, I don't need a static Internet address so someone outside of my private network can access my workstations. The one static IP is assigned to my router. The Script-Kiddies can DoS it and try to break into it. But it won't get them into my workstations, will it?
*** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***
[ Parent ]
Servers (none / 0) (#36)
by scheme on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 09:29:59 AM EST

The biggest reason for the extra static ips is to run servers that can be accessed from outside your network. You know, mail, web, etc. services. In any case 3 ips for $10/month is really cheap considering other places charge $10 per ip address.

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein

[ Parent ]
But I want privacy (none / 0) (#38)
by Orion Blastar on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 11:02:23 AM EST

I don't want people messing around with my systems, trying to break into them. If I run a server, I may change my mind later.
*** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***
[ Parent ]
Clearing up the IP Confusion... (none / 0) (#37)
by iria on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 10:52:45 AM EST

The $10.99 monthly 'extra' you're referring to is a service called "Connect & Protect". With it, Telocity does not give you any additional IP's. As a matter of fact, you lose the ability to use any static IP's with this plan.

Connect & Protect provides you with a different Telocity Gateway, with additional ethernet ports. It takes care of all the NAT work for you, and you either set it up through the Gateway's web interface, or software running on a Windows machine. Additionally, it provides some Windows-only Anti-Virus software.

If you chose Telocity because of their assignment of static IP's (as I did), do not get this 'extra'. You will be essentially forfeiting your static if you do.

My system (in case it inspires someone out there), gives me the best of all possible worlds, on the cheap. I have a slightly older computer running OpenBSD 2.9. This computer serves as my web and mail server. Additionally, I installed an extra NIC, which allows me to use it for firewall/nat duty for my workstations. It keeps my internal computers safe, and provides me with global connectivity, 1997-style. It works great, the only thing I have to worry about is Telocity's uptime. I only got it recently, and it's been good so far...

NOTE: All of the above statements regarding Telocity's service offerings were confirmed by the Telocity Technical representative when I called to sign up for basic DSL service.

[ Parent ]
Did you borrow or buy the modem? (4.16 / 6) (#18)
by gbroiles on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 02:31:55 PM EST

If you borrowed it or leased it, you should give it back to the people you borrowed or leased it from, or the people who bought their assets/accounts.

If you bought it, it's yours. Do you have a receipt?

How hard is that?

Keeping receipts (3.75 / 4) (#29)
by aphrael on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 11:50:14 AM EST

how long do you keep yours? I know mine vanish relatively quickly, and I couldn't prove i'd purchased anything i'd owned for more than a month or three, except (a) my motorcycle (registration) and (b) my laptop.

[ Parent ]
I pretty much just toss receipts also (3.66 / 3) (#32)
by coffee17 on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 02:01:46 PM EST

While perhaps I might be able to make use of credit card statements with online orders things get lost pretty quickly at my place. Crappily I found out that my VCR of 3 weeks suddenly refuses (or fails) to autotrack, and there's no manual tracking, and it currently displays more static than content. Luckily I actually had the receipt for this piece of crap, but while looking I noticed that I didn't have receipts for my computer, TV, dvd player, PS2 or just about anything. It was only a matter of luck that I still had my VCR receipt; I'd missed throwing it in the garbage can and it was in a corner.


[ Parent ]

The answer is: filing cabinets (none / 0) (#43)
by dasunt on Sat Jul 07, 2001 at 11:21:53 AM EST

A filing cabinet goes a long way in helping to keep papers organized. I *know* that in my lovely monstrosity at home, I have all my vehicle titles, employment history, records, and manuals for a few dozen items (electronic equipment, games, vehicles, etc). I don't remember putting most of the stuff there, since I'm basically an absentminded and disorderly person, but I learned quite some time ago to keep the important stuff.

Of course, since I'm basically a disorderly person, and since the cabinet is a large 4 drawer that I picked up on the cheap, the bottom drawer is filled up with national geographics and the top drawer has a collection of old drives, cards, cds, and floppies. :)

[ Parent ]

too bad for Telocity (3.60 / 5) (#23)
by tforce76 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:18:58 PM EST

i called Telocity in spring of '99, asking for DSL. they said "no problem, we'll get the process rolling". a month goes by. two months. three months... six... nine...

a year and a month later, i'd heard that they were going to hook up my DSL. unfortunately, i'd moved out of the residence by then, and sorry but we can't provide you DSL at your new place. however, i did get the gateway, as promised, free of charge.

fast-forward to this february, when i get the exact same letter as above. i still haven't returned the modem, and i still haven't heard whether or not my "account" was charged.

i think maybe this fall, or even Christmastime, i'll get around to mailing their gateway back to them.

sorry to rant, but i'm in a bad mood anyway..

Telocity is right: you must return it (3.28 / 7) (#26)
by dave920 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 06:47:36 PM EST

Unfortunately, you are legally required to return your modem to Telocity. Regardless of whether you didn't physically sign an agreement with Telocity, they know enough about the legal game to cover their ass. When they bought your account from Flashcom, they also bought your service agreement. Flashcom, in the sale to Telocity, gave you over as their customer. And as soon as you decided not to cancel your service and continue payment with Telocity, you automatically (and legally) agreed to the terms of service set forth by Telocity. Thus, you are required to comply with their rules and return the modem.

Umm, no (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 09:05:44 AM EST

If the moden is his (if he actually bought it or was given it by Flashcomm) there's nothing Telocity can do to get it back from him. While he has to accept their rules regarding the use of their services, they can't take posession of equipment that belongs to him.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
The modem was on loan -- read the article (none / 0) (#39)
by dave920 on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 03:12:04 PM EST

As you may recall, the gateway was loaned to you as part of your monthly service charge. Other compainies require customer to pay hundreds of dollars upfront in order to use their DSL modems. We provide the gateway to our customers as part of their service agreement so they can enjoy our services and not suffer any out-of-pocket expenses to purchase the equipment.

Thus, you can see that he was leasing the modem, and he did not own it.

[ Parent ]
Its not clear (none / 0) (#40)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 05:44:29 PM EST

That letter is from Telocity. His agreement was with Flashcomm, and he claims Telocity did not notify him of the need to agree to new terms of service. If thats so, its the terms in his original agreement with Flashcomm - of which we know nothing - that matter.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
His legal agreements are now with Telocity (none / 0) (#42)
by dave920 on Sat Jul 07, 2001 at 02:43:55 AM EST

Correct, he formed an agreement with Flashcom. However, Telocity bought Flashcom's customers, as well as their service agreements. At that time, the author of this article had the choice whether or not to continue the service. Because he chose to continue the service, he became legally bound to the agreement set forth by Telocity. It is the basics of contract law that you automatically are legally bound to the terms and conditions if you continue paying the bill (i.e. signaling that you would like to continue subscribing to their services). The author neglected to learn of the new service terms before paying for the service for which he agreed to -- and ignorance is not a defense.

An example of this is when WorldCom bought MCI. Do you think that all of a sudden MCI customers were no longer legally required to pay their bills, simply because another company bought their long distance provider? Of course not: as soon as each customer paid their bill, they were legally agreeing to continue the service and are thus required to pay for it.

[ Parent ]
It is clear he *originally* leased (none / 0) (#44)
by mordor on Sat Jul 07, 2001 at 07:04:19 PM EST

If he orginally leased the equipment from flashcom you may have some point. But it is not clear he leased the equipment.

To get to your Worldcom/MCI analogy. He did continue paying the bill since he wanted service but that doesn't mean that Worldcom can repossess his phone.


[ Parent ]
Return it, it's theirs... (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by cnvogel on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 03:48:54 AM EST

I think it's the same situation that we have
here in Germany. The DSL-splitter and modem you
get from the telco is legally owned by them and
normally your contract explicitly says so.

Directv You Say? Dave's not here! (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by shark1138 on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 05:43:52 AM EST

That's interesting, I've run across several accounts of Dave's policy concerning the handling of DTV boxen. Suffice to say, Dave's policy has been likened to that of the credit card company that requires a deposit to give you a card; IE: you'll find all kinds of "special charges" on your bill that are just barely legal...

Well... (4.66 / 3) (#30)
by mindstrm on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 12:23:11 PM EST

First, you may not recall, but if you go back and read, you may find that your contract specifies who owns the equipment and how it must be returned.

Secondly, you should be happy they made it easy to return, rather than simply saying 'if you don't return our unit to us we will send you a bill, then send you to our collection agent'

Thirdly, what are you complaining about? You didn't buy it.. it's theirs..... are you saying they don't have a right to ask for it back?

Return Telocity gateway or it will cost you $500.00 | 44 comments (34 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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