How to Avoid the Usenet.nl Scam
3rd March 2018
The best way to avoid what might have happened to me is not, under any circumstances, to do business with Usenet.nl. If, however, you are careless enough to find yourself in my position, here is how I seem to have got out of it.
On the 28th August 2017, I joined Usenet.nl. This is a service that promises unrestricted access to the newsgroups. The deal was that I was allowed a free trial fortnight, in which I could download up to 5Gb of data. After that, I would pay £7 a month to keep the service. I had to give my real name and address, and to set up a PayPal standing order.
I suppose most people sign up for this kind of service in the hope of open access to smutty pictures and videos. What lets me speak so openly about my own experience is that I was hoping instead to feed my Wagner habit with an unlimited supply of Tristan and The Ring. For the avoidance of doubt where any copyright cop is concerned, my custom is to download free recordings, and then, if I like them, to upgrade to CDs bought on Amazon or E-Bay. I had a look round. I downloaded a Karajan recording of Die Meistersinger. It came down so garbled, it was a pain to listen to. So I deleted everything, and then went to the Usenet.nl site to cancel my account – well within the trial period.
Here, I found that there was no easy way to cancel. Whenever I tried, I was directed to a 404 error. But I thought nothing of this. I cancelled my standing order with PayPal, and sent an e-mail of notification.
On the 11th September 2017, I had this e-mail:
Hello Sean Gabb,
we have tried to deduct the membership fee for your usenet.nl account on 12/09/17 00:47, but this has not been successful.
Your account has been suspended.
Please ensure that:
a) that PayPal has permission to debit your bank account or credit card.
b) that the data stored at PayPal is correct.
Please note that unfortunately PayPal accounts that are topped up manually by money transfer cannot be accepted.
As soon as verification has been successfully completed, your test account will be activated and you will be able to use your login data to surf Usenet with Highspeed.
Verify payment details here → In case you want to transfer the amount, you can do this with the following data:
Transfer here →
Do you have any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us or to use our contact form.
Have a nice day and best regards,
I sent back a quick reply that I had cancelled my account. That same day, I had this:
Thank you for your e-mail.
You have registered with Usenet.nl for an account on 28th of August 2017.
Maybe you overlooked that you had to terminate within the 14-day trial, if not wanted, and it automatically turned into a regular package on 12th of September 2017 with the normal running time of one year. This you agreed to in accepting the terms and conditions expressly.
If you have the suspicion though, that someone else used your private data to open this account liable to pay costs, we must advise you to file charges at your local police against “unknown” and send us a copy of that report. We will then close your file and erase your dates from our server
For further questions please contact us any time.
Tel. + 49 2261 6066-367 | Fax. + 49 2261 6066-198
Via XXV Marzo, 4
C.O.E. SM 22403 Executive
Geschäftsführer: Giacomo Boria
I told Usenet.nl to go away. They refused, and there was a desultory correspondence. Then, on the 22nd November 2017, I received this letter by e-mail and in hard copy from Tesch Inkasso Forderungsmanagement GmbH, a purported debt collection company:
Claim of Usenet.nl S.r.l. , file number NX17/61369, your customer number 8535186
Dear Sean Gabb,
regarding the above mentioned matter, we would like to inform you that our client Usenet.nl S.r.l., has commissioned us with the collection of their overdue claims. You have not yet paid the current invoice for the Usenet services provided by Usenet.nl S.r.l. .
Referring to the documents submitted to us, our client has complied with his contractual obligations with respect to you. Our client has duly performed his services and furnished you with his statement of account.
Unfortunately, you have not yet carried out the complete settlement of the outstanding balance in spite of repeated reminders from our client and you are already considerably in delay of payment.
The outstanding total claim is specified as follows:
1. Principal claim for services provided according to invoicenumber 11290956 incl. chargeback fees 76,47EUR
2. Interest (see attached interest statement) 0,35EUR
3. Dunning costs according to §§ 280, 286 BGB 11,54 EUR
4. Costs of our commissioning according to § 4 (5) RDGEG claimed as damage caused by your delay according to §§ 280 I,II, 286 BGB:
a) 1,0 Business fee according to § 4 (5) RDGEG in conjunction with No. 2300 VV RVG of EUR 45,00EUR
b) Flat fee for post and telecommunications according to No. 7002 VV RVG 9,00EUR
Total claim 142,36EUR
To avoid further additional costs and measures, we kindly ask you to pay the above mentioned debt until 03.12.2017 at the latest.
Please use the following payment methods:
IBAN: DE82 3844 0016 0722 0809 06
To make payment even more convenient for you, we offer to make money transfers directly to our London Account: Sort Code 406201, Account number 30544830, Favour of: Tesch Inkasso Forderungsmanagement GmbH. The total claim would be then 126,61 GBP.
PayPal account: email@example.com
Please note: If you decide to pay via PayPal we have to charge handling fees in the amount of 8,00 EUR. The total claim would be then 150,36 EUR.
Payment can also be made via transfer to the bank mentioned in the footnote of our letter.
We would like to draw your attention to the fact that we have the authorisation to collect outstanding debts, so that payments should only be made to our account and further correspondence should also only be directed to our address.
We herewith indicate that the above mentioned deadline has to be absolutely kept.
Should there be any problems with the payment or discrepancies concerning the demand, please feel free to contact us at any time by e-mail or telephone.
Together we will find a solution.
Tesch Inkasso Forderungsmanagement GmbH
Registered legal services provider for debt collection services pursuant to Section 10 of the Legal Services Act (Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz)
Registry Court Cologne Reg. No. 39598, Managing Directors: S. Ludwig, VAT ID NO. DE 215665473
To summarise everything so far, Usenet.nl was claiming that my not having cancelled exactly as directed – that is, as had been impossible – had meant I was signed up for its regular service. My non-payment on the specified date had made me liable to pay the entire annual sum. Because I had not paid this as required, Tesch Inkasso was now threatening me with unlimited escalation of the original purported debt, followed by court action and bailiffs.
I had a momentary wobble, then common sense came to the rescue. No company would sue, even in the Small Claims Court, for so small a sum. No English court would find against me. I had taken reasonable action within the trial period to cancel. I did not use the service outside the trial period. Indeed, Usenet.nl had told me my account was suspended. It had no claim for payment.
I did some research on Usenet.nl and Tesch Inkasso. What I found prompted this reply:
I have received your letter dated the 20th November 2017, demanding that I pay you the sum of E142.34. I notice that your letter is in the same form as this one that you sent to another Usenet.nl subscriber in 2016: https://www.reddit.com/r/usenet/comments/554uhn/usenetnl_is_a_scam/
I will not pay you, because I do not owe you or your client any money. I signed up for a free 14-day trial of your client’s service in August 2017. I then attempted to cancel within the free period. I was unable to cancel, and unable to contact your client.
I am not alone in this. Here is a forum of other people who also tried and failed to cancel: https://toughnickel.com/scams-fraud/Is-Usenetnl-a-scam. Here is another one: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/usenetnl/internet/usenetnl-tesch-inkasso-still-scamming-in-2016-internet-1309769
It seems that the Usenet.nl website is configured to make cancellation unreasonably difficult. I therefore cancelled my subscription via Paypal and uninstalled the relevant software. I did both within the 14-day free trial period. Since then, I have not used your client’s service. Our agreement was terminated when I cancelled via Paypal – within, I repeat, the 14-day free trial period.
I am advised that your business model is to send me the letter that I received today. After the 3rd December, you are planning to send me another letter in stronger terms. There are copies of these also all over the Internet.
I therefore tell you that, if you contact me again, I will report you to the British and German police. You and your client have been running this scam since at least 2007. I regret that I failed to check out your client before signing up for its service. But I repeat that I am now fully aware of your business model, and that you will at least be wasting your time if you continue harassing me for payment of this fraudulent invoice.
I have heard nothing since. I may get more threatening letters next week, but suspect I shall not. The Internet is haunted by companies that offer a service, but are in fact scams. I do not think there should be regulation. I simply think little of the people concerned. I hope the correspondence given above will serve as a warning to the unwary, or at least as a template for making these people go away.
© 2018, seangabb.
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