Horrible Service Agreements

Phil Howard phil at charon.milepost.com
Sun Nov 30 04:59:17 UTC 1997

> So far, we have accepted a proposal pending contract approval for TWO
> different potential upstreams.  Both quoted a price of around 2500 per
> month including local loop.  However, the contract terms include what I'm 
> terming an anti-spam clause which generally states that if us or any of our
> clients or their clients decide to "prevent others from enjoying the
> internet" (paraphrasing) they can terminate us immediately and make us pay
> for the remainder of the year term. 

Unless you're just new to the Internet, you know that spam is a very
pervasive problem.  I'm very glad to see at least some hint that some
backbone providers are starting to clamp down.

> Each (or maybe better said one or more) of the contracts also included
> other terms which I felt were totally unreasonable. Such as not being able
> to mention the name of your upstream.  Makes it kinda hard to tell
> potential clients who you are connected to.  Another required us to
> upgrade our equipment based on whatever specifications they felt was
> necessary at that point.  And there were more.

You must convert to BGP5 if/when such an animal comes out, for example.

As for not mentioning the name, I do find that kind of quirky, especially
since it's easy to figure out (well at least for the net savvy among us).

> Now, I understand the need to be able to terminate spam havens.  I also
> understand the need to require your customers to use compatible and
> reliable equipment. 

So do I.

So is the strange clause about hiding the backbone name the one you are
worried most about?

> Let me explain my problem -- Lets assume that customer "a" decides to
> purchase an account on our system to send out spam.  We don't know he's
> planning to do this, but he does succeed in sending out 10,000 messages
> before we find out.  Under both agreements, we can be immediately
> terminated without notice and be required to pay for the remaining time on
> the 12 month agreement.  Regardless if we terminate the offending user as
> soon as we find out or not.

You make contract clauses all your customers have to sign that requires
them to pay all costs and overhead for any problems they cause.

> Another example.  Lets assume that someone in our upstream decided that we
> MUST have a $250,000 router to connect to their system.  If we can't
> provide such a beast, we are immediately terminated and required to pay
> for the remaining year term.

On a T1?  Not likely.  I can't see them requiring any kind of upgrade that
isn't required of all other like customers.  More likely this clause is
there to make sure that you don't run some buggy version of software and
not do something about it.

> Both of the potential upstreams have been wholly unwilling to negotiate a
> contract in good faith to resolve these issues.  

If they perceive you as a "mom and pop" outfit, they are likely to do this.
What is your relationship to The Montana Internet Cooperative?

> I know that nanog is probably not the best forum for this, but I figured
> it might be a good place to start to look for a provider which can:
>    a)  Sell us a T1 line, with BGP4, with local loop to NPA NXX 406 443
>        for about $2500/month, on a year term or less.
>    b)  Not have such rediculous contract language.

Given the remoteness of Montana, local investment by the backbones does
not generally give good returns.  I can't give you a T1+loop at that price
because hauling the line in is too expensive.

There has to be a market there to make it worth while.

If you had ALL of Helena signed up as a customer, could you afford the cost
of hauling your own T1 all the way to Denver or Seattle or Minneapolis to
connect up to a major backbone there?  Would a T1 be enough for the town?

> I'd also like to hear what types of contracts are actually signed by
> providers and if they are actually read before they are signed.

In my previous job, contract terms were negotiated.  But it is a lucrative
and competitive market here in Dallas Texas.  It was a non-ISP business and
a backbone eager to get lots signed up.

What providers have come to Montana?
Where are you willing to haul your own line to?

You might need to expect to pay more.

Phil Howard | no7spam3 at no9place.com no87ads9 at lame4ads.com end5ads0 at s1p5a2m7.net
  phil      | stop9it3 at nowhere7.com stop3ads at spammer2.org ads1suck at no9where.org
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  milepost  | no6spam1 at spam2mer.com ads6suck at no12ads9.net stop8it2 at no0where.com
    dot     | no9spam1 at no3where.com w0x5y9z5 at lame2ads.edu die0spam at spammer5.com
  com       | stop1068 at anyplace.edu a8b2c2d1 at dumb1ads.edu end2it60 at s8p0a9m2.net

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