Sheffield-based ISP PlusNet has disconnected over 1,000 users from its unmetered access service.

The ‘24 Surf’ access package offered users unmetered internet calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a charge of £20 a month. It turns out that, strangely, 24 Surf doesn't mean you can surf 24 hours a day. The company claims that those users who were disconnected were abusing the service.

But PC Advisor has received several emails and letters from disgruntled PlusNet customers, who believe their accounts have been unfairly terminated. It's an old story, and several companies offering unmetered access have taken the same seemingly contradictory route.

The problem is perhaps in the initial terms and conditions, where no mention is made as to exactly how long a 24 Surf customer may stay online.

Gary Chapman, an ex-PlusNet user, claims his account was terminated wrongly. "Apparently my connection to a busy IRC [internet relay chat] server for 5 hours and polling for mail every minute was deemed ‘no data flow other than to keep your connection open’," said Chapman.

Despite PlusNet’s claim to offer a 24-hour customer service line, our attempts to speak to someone proved unsuccessful. After many frustrating attempts to speak to someone at PlusNet we were eventually told by a PlusNet spokesperson that no one “was or would be available” for comment.

On the ISP’s web site, in the discussion forum, there is complaint after complaint about the customer service support, or rather lack of it, by customers whose accounts have been terminated.

Here's the bizarre explanation:

Managing director of PlusNet Lee Strafford says in a statement on the site: “Customers were warned last month that if they left their Net connection open 24/7, then they would be ejected.”