- Ratbags from another continent
- Kiss and make up
Ratbags from another continent
Last week it was Aussie ratbags trying to lure sweet innocent Kiwis into registering domain names for a small fortune.
This week it's American web developers apparently claiming Kiwi developers' work as their own in an attempt to sell their e-commerce solutions.
If this is true you have to ask yourself: do they think we're an easy target down here or what?
Utah-based StoresOnline arrived in Auckland this week for a series of seminars to introduce New Zealanders to its product. Nothing unusual in that - it happens all the time. These guys ran a series of 90-minute presentations and if you liked what you saw you could sign up for a full-day affair for $99. If that tickled your fancy, you could spend about $2500 on a website that would allow you to "make millions on the web in your spare time" or something like that. You know the drill.
According to Alex Cowdell and Susie Anderson, who both attended the 90-minute session, the whole thing smelt like yesterday's fish.
After asking IT people to leave, although they begrudgingly let ISP staff stay if they wanted, the StoresOnline folk apparently showed off four websites as examples of their own work. Two of those examples are New Zealand websites (www.beerinmind.co.nz and www.floristnz.co.nz), neither of which were built using any of StoresOnline's products.
Here it gets a bit murky. According to Chris Barton's story in the NZ Herald, StoresOnline staff say they weren't showing the sites as examples of StoresOnline's work but rather as examples of how to make money on the internet.
However, Cowdell says that's not right and he has someone else backing him up. After seeing the session, Cowdell emailed the guys at Dunedin-based e-Media, which built the Beer in Mind site. They called a reseller partner of theirs in Auckland who attended the session later in the day.
Shane Walls-Harris, of Webtech International, not only says they were definitely claiming the sites to be their own work but goes further: he says Beer in Mind was presented as an example of a site that is only doing well since using StoresOnline software. He's laid a complaint with the Commerce Commission, which is looking into the matter and could institute a full-blown investigation.
StoresOnline hasn't returned any of my calls, including the one I made during Utah's normal business hours at great cost to my REM pattern. The presenters have since left New Zealand bound for Australia, but they are due to return to give the full-day sessions later in the month. We'll see what they have to say then.
In the meantime, Consumers Institute chief executive David Russell says steer clear of such schemes as they can only lead to pain and anguish.
Kiss and make up
Aww, isn't it lovely? Only days after dragging each others' names through the mud, declaring each other to be the modern day equivalent of a robber baron and not worth crossing the street to spit on, Telecom and TelstraClear have come up with an interim agreement on interconnection to see them through until the telecommunications commissioner comes up with a ruling.
Sadly, they're a bit reluctant to tell us what the agreement is, but it does mean the court case has been called off.
You may remember Telecom spitting the dummy and claiming TelstraClear wasn't negotiating in good faith and that the newly merged telco owed tens of millions of dollars in unpaid bills and it was all too much so they'd called on the commissioner to sort it out.
And TelstraClear threw all its toys out of the cot and stamped a foot declaring Telecom wasn't provisioning lines and was acting in an anti-competitive manner and it HAD paid all its bills, if not more and it too had called on the commissioner and had filed in the High Court so there.
The Herald says TelstraClear is going to be paying more, $12 million a month instead of the $6 or $7 million, but it will mean TelstraClear will get its 0800 line access. That's been a sticking point for TelstraClear because it couldn't provision its burgeoning call centre business and even its own help desk phones were going unanswered.
As to what the commissioner makes of it all, we'll just have to wait and see. Already a paper released by the commissioner's office indicates that it thinks Telecom charges too much for its interconnection rates and could signal much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
An announcement on interconnect is expected by August.
I think Ernie Newman, chief executive of the users association TUANZ, has it right. "Users will be hopeful ... that this spells the end of the interminable litigation over interconnection."