Nothing to stop sale of Zfree accounts to new users

Users trading Zfree accounts on Trade Me website for up to $200 a pop

Clear's decision to stop offering new subscriptions to its free internet service Zfree has inadvertently created a black market in old accounts.

There are around 20 listings on the auction site Trade Me from people wishing to sell and buy Zfree accounts, some for as much as $200.

Clear Communications public affairs manager Ralph Little says there’s nothing in Zfree’s terms and conditions that prevent such trading.

“We have no plans to stop this but we’ll be looking at it ... to better understand the implications it has on good commercial practice.” Little wouldn’t elaborate what he meant by this, nor would give any indication as to whether subscriptions to Zfree would ever be reopened.

Zfree launched in April 2000 as part of Clear's response to Telecom's 0867 internet access renumbering scheme. By December last year, Zfree had reached 250,000 users and Clear stopped accepting new members.

In May, however, Clear hinted that the membership may be re-opened following the testing and rollout of IP-enabled switches, but there has been no official confirmation of any such move.

Trade Me managing director Nigel Stanford says as long as users aren't selling anything illegal Trade Me doesn't interfere. "So long as it's legal we can't really stop it and don't have any interest in it as such."

Stanford says the current level of activity isn't out of the norm for Zfree auctions.

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