ISP purchase confuses users

Earthlink acquires former Colorado Mountain Network

Frances Hohl

— Mergers, buyouts and bankruptcy have several thousand Internet customers in the Steamboat Springs area frustrated with their service.

Customers of the original Colorado Mountain Network recently received notices that national provider Earthlink bought the rights to run their Internet service. That actual transition happens Aug. 19.

In the meantime, customers were getting conflicting e-mail notices from Earthlink that they wouldn’t be allowed to keep the same e-mail addresses.

“If we were going to have to change our e-mail address, we wanted to deal with a local provider,” said frustrated customer Tami Havener.

Havener said her family is in the middle of changing to Springsips, a local Internet S ervice Provider, because of the confusion.

But IC&C, which is selling its dial-up networking clients to Earthlink, said CMN clients will be able to keep their old e-mail addresses.

IC&C Marketing Manager Andrea Scott explained that the confusion came when Earthlink decided not to buy the domain names like The company then changed its mind.

“If you’re a current customer of CMN with a address, you will be able to keep your current e-mail address,” Scott said.

That reassurance may be too late for many customers like Havener who have also had billing problems.

“I cannot tell you the number of different bills I’ve got from them,” she said.

CMN, which started as a Steamboat Springs Internet service provider, was later purchased by RMI, which later became IC&C.

In the past two years, Denver-based IC&C bought 23 companies. The result was a big billing nightmare for the company.

“When we converted them to one billing platform, we did have problems with the information converting correctly,” Scott said. “We’re working on the problem as we speak.”

To make matters worse for Internet customers and others caught up in Earthlink’s purchase of IC&C, e-mail notification to 100,000 customers went out at the same time.

“We didn’t stagger the e-mail notices,” Scott said. “So 100,000 customers received notices on one day and that generated a lot of calls. There were 30- to 45-minute hold times in customer service.”

Scott said IC&C is still handling customer service problems until Earthlink takes over Aug. 19.

“Customers will receive 30 days’ free service from Earthlink for their troubles,” Scott said.

In the meantime, IC&C is having problems of its own. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to keep its creditors from turning off “its circuits.”

While IC&C has sold its dial-up Internet access customers to Earthlink, it has kept its Web base customers as well as its networking base customers.

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