Internet free speech is not all it's cracked up to be, says beaten Egg

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The Independent Online

Egg, the branchless bank, has finally cracked. After months of critical postings about its poor service appearing on its bulletin boards, it has pulled the plug on the sites ­ stung by a torrent of abuse from disgruntled customers.

Egg, the branchless bank, has finally cracked. After months of critical postings about its poor service appearing on its bulletin boards, it has pulled the plug on the sites ­ stung by a torrent of abuse from disgruntled customers.

The internet and telephone bank, which is 80 per cent owned by Prudential, yesterday admitted that it had made the decision just over a week ago after a series of damning postings appeared unedited on the website.

The bank had become unhappy with the self-imposed rules of the boards, called "Egg Free Zone", which permitted customers to write completely what they wanted, but did not allow Egg to respond to the comments on the boards.

The criticisms included a barrage of negative comments from customers who were unable to carry out basic transactions like paying bills for nearly a week in January. This was because technical difficulties at the bank made it difficult to access the site.

A spokeswoman said: "We have 1.5 million customers so of course issues arise and, by their nature, bulletin boards attract negative comments."

A further problem, she added, was that customers were using the sites to air individual problems which would have been more easily resolved if they had contacted Egg's customer services department. The bank will replace the old bulletin boards, which were run independently of Egg, with a new service. The new site will probably be controlled by Egg and will allow customers to write about the bank, but will put forward the bank's point of view as well.

Egg said that in the mean time customers who wanted to register a complaint or any other comment could still do so, via an e-mail link on its home page. It said there was no planned date for the launch of the new bulletin boards.

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