Horrible Service Agreements

Phil Howard phil at charon.milepost.com
Sun Nov 30 06:15:02 UTC 1997

Jon Lewis writes...

> I don't think anyone disagrees that spam is a major problem and not an
> acceptable thing to have customers doing.  What Forrest was complaining
> about was much too harsh an anti-spam policy.  I doubt Forrest would have
> a problem with "If your network is repeatadly used to distribute spam and
> no effort is made to stop this, service may be terminated."  What he was
> complaining about was that they were basically saying "If your network is
> ever used to distribute spam, we have the right to terminate service
> immediately and levy severe financial penalties."  This would mean that if
> they ever have a customer spam, even if they nuke the account as soon as
> they know about the spam, they might lose that T1 and a lot of money.
> Whoever wrote those clauses was either way too naive, militant, or just
> entirely without clue.

But it is very common for lawyers to write the terms that way for many
contracts.  It gives them leverage.  They don't usually exercise it, but
should there be some extremely severe case, they want to make sure they
have the power to do so without having to balance it against the losses
relative to their financial planning.

I don't like it, but that's the way it works.  If you are in a position
to be able to bargain terms, most businesses generally do so.  It sounds
like Forrest's problem is that he is not in such a position.

> > You make contract clauses all your customers have to sign that requires
> > them to pay all costs and overhead for any problems they cause.
> Good luck collecting on that when some 12 year old sends out make money
> fast.  Are you willing to bet your connection to the net on that?

I didn't agree with it.  I just pointed it out as a fact of life.  You'll
find lots of lousy contracts in business when you look at them in terms of
what _might_ happen.

The pendulum certainly has swung the other way as providers have discovered
that they are getting stung bad with regard to spam.  Even AGIS has discovered
they are sinking in the quicksand and are trying to get out.

Maybe we should take an assessment on just what terms are in NEW connection
contracts being let these days.

> Especially considering his remoteness.  $2500/month for port and loop sounds
> pretty good to me.  Many of the "bigger" backbone providers charge that just
> for the port fee.

I'd let him have a T1 port into my two T1 ports for just $1000/mo if he would
haul his own line here to Texas.  But he'd be the fool to do that.

Given that price, it might well be a near loss for the backbone.  He needs
to find the price level that will get his sales rep dialing up the legal

Phil Howard | stop6it7 at anywhere.org w2x4y3z9 at s5p1a1m8.edu stop6886 at dumb4ads.net
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  milepost  | stop5640 at lame4ads.net end7it05 at no5place.edu stop3it2 at spammer0.net
    dot     | w0x3y3z9 at lame6ads.edu ads9suck at lame3ads.net w7x5y6z7 at anywhere.net
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