Pipex on determined route to self-destruction

Pipex is one of the UK’s biggest Internet companies and it appears to be on a determined route to self-destruction. I have already started shifted my domains and hosting deals.

I’m not a business journalist so I haven’t really bothered to follow Pipex’s business, although they do appear to be going for the bulk mainstream audience of Internet users. And the result for my perspective has been that the very best company in the UK for domains – 123-Reg, which is now owned by Pipex – has gradually been destroyed by corporate shenanigans.

I first wrote about 123-Reg’s problems two months’ ago. I got a nice call from Pipex’s PR people and was assured that everything was fine but you need only look at the continued stream of comments on the blog post to see that if anything the situation is getting worse.

But the past week has shown that the problem really does lie with Pipex the parent company.

I have a range of hosting accounts, and one of them is (or rather was) with Pipex.

I received an email last week from Pipex stating: “Dear Kieren McCarthy, We have today tried to process a payment for services hosted with us, using the card, last 4 digits xxxx, securely held on file. Unfortunately we have been unable to complete the transaction due to the following reason…”

This email was followed literally one minute later with an invoice from Pipex for the web hosting deal: “Please find attached the Invoice relating to your Webhosting and/or Domain Name Renewal/Registration…”

Now there are several things here that I *really* don’t like. One, Pipex did not tell me the hosting was about to expire, it simply tried to charge my credit card. And it tried to charge it before informing me or sending an invoice. Not only that but it tried to take payment on 24 November when it was due on 1 December – and when I should have 30 days to pay anyway. This is outrageous behaviour.

But that wasn’t why I shifted my account. I shifted it because Pipex’s hosting deal is rubbish. They want £105.69 for a hosting deal you can buy anywhere else for literally half the price. So that’s what I’ve done – shifted to Bluehost.com, who offer more than the Pipex deal for half the price. It’s no wonder Pipex is trying to charge you first and ask questions afterwards. I see it as extremely fortunate that my credit card was stolen so I got a new card and Pipex wasn’t able to rip me off for another year.

But it gets better. I replied to the email with the invoice on saying I had decided to take my business elsewhere – and explained why as well. This morning – a week later – I received this email:

Thank you for your email. Our Customer Service team deal with the closure of accounts and they can be contacted on 0115 9170000, option 6 (9.00 – 5.30pm Monday to Friday).

Please contact them regarding this query to begin the 30 day notification which is required for the closure of all accounts as per our terms and conditions.

In fact, I had tried to find a way of cancelling my order online and was unable to. I had mentioned this in my email. So, to recap:

  • Pipex tries to charge your credit card a week before an invoice is even due
  • Pipex doesn’t supply you with a way to cancel your account
  • Pipex then says you have to give it 30 days’ notice to close any account

This is really just a scam. This is the company that Pipex has become. And it is dragging 123-Reg down with it. Can some tech-heads please set up a new 123-Reg and then email me about it? I am in the market for shifting domains.

My response to Pipex’s email was blunt:

I’m sorry but I consider replying to the email that I was sent with the invoice is sufficient response to Pipex.

You are welcome to have whatever convoluted internal structures you like, but as a now ex-customer, you won’t find me playing along. As far as I am concerned our business dealings are over and completed.

Yours sincerely, Kieren McCarthy

We’ll see how unpleasant Pipex wants to be about this. The more unpleasant they are, the more they will live to regret it.

  1. Have you checked the contract that you originally signed up to with your hosting? I’m not saying it’s good business practice, but they way Pipex billed for renewal **might** have been in accordance with their contract, and it was up to you to cancel, not up to them to tell you it was coming up for renewal.

  2. Oh, I think that’s more than likely.

    But it certainly wasn’t what I thought I was signing up to. Plus, the concept of charging people *before* you invoice them is not exactly going to be a popular policy — once people are made aware of it.

    I’m sure that Pipex is right – according to its own rules, living in its own world – but they will find that I’m not prepared to follow them. It depends whether they think it is worth their while trying to force me to comply with their dreadful system.

    I also recognise that this lock-in approach is nothing new in modern business – mobile companies for example do it all the time. But what they find is that it is worth letting the person that makes a fuss go, just so that all the people that won’t make a fuss don’t become aware of what they are being forced into signing up to.


  3. Pipex is hopeless with billing and provisioning of hosting.
    I first had the misfortune of dealing with them over a year ago.
    Their hosting sales team said they would be able to set up a box next day.
    Over a month later it still hadn’t happened, thus Pipex had frustrated the contract and I notified them I would no longer do business with them.

    They continued to charge my credit card for several further months.
    I contacted the credit card company to cancel each payment.
    I eventually sent a letter to Mike Reid, their Managing Director,
    which seemed to clear up matters for a while.
    However, I’ve since received a final demand before proceedings.

    I suggest you write the MD, asking some probing questions,
    in the spirit of journalistic enquiry.

  4. SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME!!! I am so glad I left – hosting is cheaper elsewhere and you get genuine customer service too!!!! Pipex has lost me for good – 20 years future business down the drain! Okay I am only a small fish – spending about £400 a year with them previously – but how many others are abandoning a sinking ship?? Good on you for exposing these bully boys / drowning rats.

  5. Why not pick a month for early next year and we can all leave Pipex and 123-reg en masse? Vote with your feet. That’s what will hurt them. Blabbing on a blog does little because few people see it. But publicise the walk out on a few blogs and key forums and bingo!

  6. Pipex!

    I’m still waiting for refunds from July, they have not responded to countless emails.

  7. The people who originally set up 123-reg and then later sold out did go on to set up another VERY successful and in my opinion better company. http://www.HeartInternet.com – MUCH much better than 123-reg.co.uk ever was. I hope this helps.

  8. It does indeed. Looking at the site now.

    Cheers Andrew


  9. They may have fallen at the first hurdle. I’ve been waiting 35 minutes for an email with my username and password on.

  10. heh… yes, that happened to me when I signed up for their affiliate scheme… the email arrived eventually though.

  11. […] Following problems with 123-Reg and its parent company Pipex, which, it turns out stem from the same problem of the company trying to cut costs – I have started shifting my domains to another company. […]

  12. I am a home user of Pipex broadband but am compelled to add my tale of woe. After Pipex failed to collect my payment in August I had to make a separate payment over the phone for that month. Now 4 months later they have taken August’s charges again from my credit card. Their call centre say I have to send them my credit card statement to prove I have already paid for that month. They have taken my money without authorisation or consultation. Needless to say I’ve told them it’s not me that has to prove anything and sent a Mrs V Angry email. I’ve received a reply today to say that in fact I owe them more than they thought and have now taken an amount for VAT and some oustanding postal charge from 2005!! Unbelievable. Am now writing to Mike Reid, CEO.

  13. I shifted all my domains from 123-reg to heart last year – I never got replys from 123-reg support over renewal issues – I nearly lost a domain name – glad I took the time to move.

  14. Amazing! This company are so terrible, somebody was compelled to set up a website and forum to let off steam!! I keep giggling now! http://www.pipexproblems.co.uk

  15. Thanks for saving me some money and prompting me to move! Sadly I think that they’re doomed.

  16. Pipex are a total scam, they charged me for 2 accounts when I only had one, they limit your download speed to 20kb/s when I’m paying £24.99/m for 8mb Broadband. Now they won’t let me log into their site to actually cancel my account this is unbelievable! They can’t do this for long as I’ll be well gone in a few weeks, jokers.

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