A CompuServe user has claimed he was overcharged after dialling in to the on-line service via another Internet Service Provider.
Benjamin Rietti, who has been a CompuServe customer for four years, claimed he had been overcharged by "well over #100" during a three-month period.
He supplied PC Week with copies of his telephone and CompuServe bills, for the period October 1996 to January 1997, which reveal several anomalies.
In one instance, where Rietti dialled in to CompuServe using ISP Direct Connection, the BT bill showed Rietti was on-line for 19:38 minutes. But the CompuServe bill showed that Rietti was logged in for 123 minutes.
Rietti said: "I think that when you connect via another ISP, CIS acknowledges the fact that you've logged on, but when I drop the phone line it doesn't register properly at CompuServe."
CompuServe denied any problem with its service and insisted that it had never come across a similar case before.
"CompuServe is not at fault in this instance," said a company spokesman.
"This is a rare and individual case and is not typical of members using two ISPs - many CompuServe customers connect to our service using another ISP with no complaint."
However, a source close to CompuServe admitted there was a chance of lines not clearing properly if a customer used another ISP's software.
The phone may disconnect, but CompuServe may not pick up the signal.
Ben Knox, managing director of Direct Connection, similarly denied any problem with his company's system. He said: "The connection closes automatically when a customer cuts off. I don't know how the CompuServe software actually works, but I can assure you our software does work properly.
"If a customer dials into Compu-Serve through Direct Connection, it is CompuServe's software that is responsible for dropping the session."
- See Net.news, page 18.
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