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Big Fish Eat The Little Ones

Careful there little fish, getting what you want might be the last thing you should want…

Long story (not so) short:
This all started out with me taking the initiative to have the two shared ADSL lines of the office commune I’m part of replaced with a single high quality 100/100Mbit optical fiber based subscription.

Our office commune is housed in two apartments on the first floor that we’re letting from a housing cooperative (andelsboligforening in danish). And ten days prior to the fiber line installation, the chairman of this housing cooperative contacted me about him having noticed that there was fiber being dug into our street(!) and about him having secured a deal at a “lucrative” (but at that time undisclosed) price that we could be in on if we wanted to. I wrote him back that it was something we were already having installed and gave him my phone number and told him to call me if there was anything he’d like to know about what was going on. I also made the mistake of suggesting that if he was interested, I could probably sell him part of our Internet capacity at a lower price than the price of getting their own dedicated line.

The fiber company installed one cable with 12 fibers, of which we are using one, and since the chairman had expressed interest in getting a fiber installation for the housing cooperate, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to terminate the cable in a wiring closet in the basement so that others could have access to the remaining 11 optical fibers.
Our optical fiber was run through already existing cable trays up to the first floor where we had our fiber-router installed inside one of the apartments we’re letting. And all was good… For a few days.

I was contacted by the guy acting as the primary liaison between the office commune and the housing cooperative, that the chairman was going ballistic about us having installed something in the basement and using their cable trays without their prior written consent.
So after some difficulties of getting hold of the chairman (he claimed that he’d had to change phone numbers because of a job-change…) I talked with him on the phone for about half an hour.

I had the feeling that the conversion was going really well, as I was able to counter any claim he made, of which some where really ridiculous, with sound technical arguments, and clearly showed him that the installation was in fact to their advantage, as they now could get optical fiber based Internet at a reduced price because I had decided to pay a premium price for the initial installation to our address. However, it turned out he didn’t quite share my impression of how the conversation was going, as every time I refuted one of his claims he defaulted back to “but you didn’t get our prior written consent” and he abruptly ended the conversation by saying “this isn’t going anywhere, I’m going to talk with [the liaison guy] instead!”

Extortion at play

It’s a really nice Internet Connection you’ve gotten yourself there. It would be a real shame if I would have to force you to take it down…

This was the first very clear indication to me that he is trying to extort me for free Internet access.

Then the liaison guy talked with the chairman, and reported back to me that the chairman was now all smiles and sunshine and was going to contact the Internet Provider to find out what sort of advantageous deal the housing cooperative was eligible for.

Then he got angry again when he found out that the very reasonable price of 1130 danish krones (approx €152) for a unmetered optical fiber based 100/100 Mbit professional grade connection that he had already been given 5 days prior to contacting me, was already based on the fact that there was an existing fiber installation in the building (the one I accepted to fork out extra for).

So a few days later the liaison guy and I receive an e-mail that primarily stresses that there is no economic advantage for the housing cooperative in having the wiring closet (which he erroneously believes to be a fiber-router) in their basement, and that the hole through which the fiber-cable enters the basement (less than 2cm in diameter and filled with a cable) is increasing the basements exposure to moisture, which they’ve had troubles with in the past. This would clearly not have been a problem, had the same company made the installation on behalf of the housing cooperative… An installation he did seem very keen on only a few weeks earlier…

I’ve included the e-mail below, slightly censored, to give danish readers an impression of how annoying it is to deal with someone who clearly wants you to give him something, but is careful not to express what that is directly. It’s a real shame my “extortion-ese” is so poor that I’m unable to understand and give him what he wants…

Hej [liaison guy] og Daniel

Opstilling af udstyr og kabling i bygning:
Som nævnt i telefonen er jeg utilfreds med, at i har trukket kabler i vores kælder uden vores skriftelige tilladelse. Jeg går ud fra at jeres kabelføring har medført at der er lavet hul i vores væg/sokkel. Da vi har problemer med vand i kælderen, har vi ikke brug for yderligere problemer. I har opsat en boks med en Cisco ME3400 switch i kældergangen, som er koblet til lysnettet – og hvem skal betale for det?

Det var hele tiden min forståelse at i ønskede at samarbejde med os omkring etabelering af internet via [Internet Provider], men da i allerede har installeret udstyr og indgået aftaler med [Internet Provider], kommer man frem til en løsning, hvor der ikke er nogle fordele for os.
Switchen er leveret af [Internet Provider]. I følge [Internet Provider] kan denne switch ikke deles mellem os af kommercielle grunde; derfor skal der opsættes endnu en switch i kælderen, hvis andelshavere skal kobles på [Internet Provider]. Så ved denne løsning, er der ingen kommercielle fordele ved at beboere kobler sig på [Internet Provider].
Jeg vil nu tage kontakt til vores advokat for at høre hvordan vi skal håndtere denne sag.

Med venlig hilsen
[The Extortionist]

Now I no longer have any doubts that this is all about extortion. But [liaison guy] seems to be perfectly fine with that, pointing out that it’s all our fault for not getting the prior written consent (WTF?).

Initially I’m like, sure we’ll try to figure this out somehow, then it starts growing on my that I’m being coerced into doing something for free for someone who’s starting more and more to resemble the incarnation of a perfect asshole, and I realise that I at least have to put all his misunderstandings right in writing, because being enlightened on the technical intricacies of optical fiber network installations is clearly what this guy is after, right?

So I write him a lengthy e-mail where I basically point out that

a) You have already been offered high quality fiber Internet access at a reduced price because of us, so there is an economic advantage in this for you and

b) We could have asked to have the wiring closet in our apartment, but that would have meant that you would have been denied access to getting any fiber, surely that is not what you want

c) I’ll happily pay for the electricity used by the wiring closet out of my own pocket until the day when the co-operative housing decided to order their own fiber line from [Internet Provider]

Hej [The Extortionist],

Nu hvor jeg har undersøgt tingene nærmere og været tilbage og genlæst
vores korrespondence, er jeg blevet overbevist om at der er nogle helt
grundlæggende ting omkring forløbet som du har misforstået.

Det første du må forstå, er at den eneste grund til at [Internet Provider] lagde
fiber i [Office Street], er at jeg bestilte dem til at gøre det.
De kom ikke tilfældigvis forbi i et andet ærinde, hvor jeg så var så
heldig at lave en aftale med dem. Da jeg kontaktede dem befandt vi os
ganske vidst i den heldige situation hvor de alligevel var ved at at
projektere gravning i området i samme uge, hvilket gjorde at jeg kunne
få en aftale til en bedre pris end normalt, men det drejede sig stadig
om ca. 130 meter ekstra de skulle grave for at komme frem til os i
[Office Address].

Ud fra den forudsætning er det også klart at det tilbud på ca 1130
kroner eks. moms som du indhentede fra [Internet Provider] d. 20 august, var en
særligt gunstig pris som I kun kunne få, fordi jeg allerede havde
bundet mig til at få leveret en fibernetforbindelse til 1400 kroner
eks. moms per måned.
Til sammenligning tager TDC 2500 kroner eks. moms for en næsten lige
så god forbindelse (se deres priser her:
http://erhverv.tdc.dk/element.php?dogtag=e_prod_bb_bb )

Det er med andre ord fuldstændig forkert når du påstår at
andelsforeningen ikke har nogen fordel af at jeg har fået etableret en
fiberforbindelse til [Office Address], da det tilbud I fik på
fiberforbindelse var bedre end den aftale jeg havde fået, som jeg
allerede syntes var et kup.

Mht. til din utilfredshed med at fiberkablet er blevet termineret i et
krydsfelt kælderen, så er det meget nemt at argumentere for at både
[Internet Provider] og jeg handlede i god tro og med andelsforeningens interesse
for øje.

Jævnfør det at du indhentede et tilbud fra [Internet Provider] d. 20. august og
skrev til mig d. 25. august at I var interesserede i en
fiberforbindelse, gav det rigtig god mening at placere krydsfeltet i
kælderen torsdag d. 4 september. En placering hvorfra både vi og
andelsforeningen kan føre en fiber videre til en fiberswitche som den
vi nu har stående på 1. sal.

Kablet med alle 12 lysledere kunne sagtens være blevet terminer oppe
hos os på 1. sal, men så ville vi samtidig have udelukket jer fra at
kunne lave en seperat aftale med [Internet Provider]. Det er muligt at det stadig
kan lade sig gøre at ændre termineringen så alle 12 lysledere ender
oppe på 1. sal og derved udelukke jer fra at komme til at bruge dem,
men det burde heller ikke være i jeres interesse.

Mht. hvad der kan deles, så har du misforstået hvilken slags udstyr
der er blevet installeret i kælderen. Det der står i kælderen er et
fiber-krydsfelt, ikke en fiberswitch. Vi har en meget larmende og
strømforbrugende fiberswitch fra [Internet Provider] stående oppe hos os på 1. sal.
Omvendt bruger et fiber-krydsfelt, som jeg tidligere har forklaret dig
i telefonen, næsten ingen strøm.

Det er rigtig at I skal have jeres egen fiber-switch op at stå hvis I
skal have en seperat linie fra [Internet Provider], og det ville nok være en fordel
at opstille den i kælderen, da standard modellen larmer ganske meget.
Men du har fuldstændig misforstået at vi skulle have opstillet en
fiberswitch i jeres kælder. Det I har i kælderen er som sagt et
fiber-krydsfelt, og det har fået placeringen i kælderen for at give
jer mulighed for også at tilgå en fiberlinie hvis I måtte ønske at
lave en sådan aftale.

Indtil den dag hvor I måtte få jeres egen aftale med [Internet Provider], skal jeg
med fornøjelse betale hvad krydsfeltet måtte bruge af strøm fra
bygningens lysnet. Det kræver så at vi i fællesskab går ned til boksen
med en strøm-måler og bliver enige om hvilken effekt krydsfeltet
trækker. I vil så blive afregnet til gældende kWh pris.

To my big surprise [The Extortionist], simply disregards all my explanations and carefully constructed arguments with “I have my information from [Internet Provider] it’s their fault if there’s anything wrong with my assumptions, and the problem that you didn’t get our permission remains”. And more importantly he simply ignores my well founded claim that there is an advantage in this installation for them.

Hej Daniel

Tak for afklaringen.
Oplysningen om installationen, som jeg referere til, kommer alle fra [Internet Provider]. Så hvis de ikke er korrekte skyldes det [Internet Provider].

Problemet er stadig, at du har trukket kabler og installeret udstyr uden vores godkendelse.
Det har jeg gjort klart for [liaison guy] og dig flere gange. [liaison guy] har også erkendt at den manglende godkendelse, er en fejl.

Med venlig hilsen
[The Extortionist]


I guess it must be real easy being that stupid, or at least have the required lack of conscience to feign that level of stupidity at opportune moments…

Then it struck me that there is another co-operative housing in the next staircase to the right of us, which is at least the three times as large as the one we’re having problems with, so one could hope that they would find it well within their combined economic capacity to pay for their own Internet Access and also well beneath themselves to try to extort a small business such as myself into giving it to them for free.
We do share one wall with them, so maybe we could have our cable wiring moved to their basement and run a cable up to us via their staircase and one of their apartments.

So my reply to [The Extortionist] was simply:

“Do you mean to say that if I have the cabling re-laid outside your basement and cable trays, there will no longer a problem between us? Because I do believe that is something I can do.”

I’m still awaiting his reply on that suggestion, and honestly do not expect one. But getting into a cooperation with the larger co-operative housing next door is actually the better option for all parties.

  • [The Extortionist] gets a solution to the problem he’s drumming up (albeit I assume not the “solution” he’s aiming for)
  • I don’t have to deal with [The Extortionist]
  • [Internet Provider] gets an additional customer ([The Extortionist] isn’t going to buy from them as they cannot sell their high quality services at a price that is lower than what they’re already paying to another ADSL based ISP)
  • The co-operative housing next door gets high quality Internet at a very affordable price (and every bit of technical guidance I can give them).

So moving the fiber installation one address down the street is the option I’ll be pursuing going forwards with this mess.

But getting back to the headline of this post. How many of you would consider it a good idea to coerce  yourself  into getting free Internet access through somebody else’s network? I mean, where is the good sense in insisting on sending all your Internet traffic through a network controlled by a guy that you just pissed off in a big way?

Don't fuck with the smiling man

Don’t fuck with me bro!

I have 5 global IP addresses that came with the subscription, and I wouldn’t stop at using one of those IP’s to expose the computer of [The Extortionist] directly the Internet. No actually I’d be more than happy to spend a couple of days setting up a “Man In The Middle As A Service” directed solely at his computer as a big “thank you” to him for being such a swell and pleasant guy to deal with, and I would even put the additional effort into the endeavour of  informing the kind people in the shadier parts of the Internet about the situation and provide them with the attack vector for a perfect opportunity to destroy another life completely, for fun and profit.

How come that he’s actively striving for putting his personal information at my mercy? The way in which he seems so oblivious to this risk, reminds me of when my daughter, who’s turning five in a couple of weeks, tripped, fell and knocked out one of her teeth a couple of weeks ago. She handled it really well I was told, and only cried a little just after it happened, and when I got to the kindergarten about 15 minutes later, she seemed poised and was ready for me to take her to the dentist. However she did say “I didn’t know something like this could happen to children”, and I commend myself for not replying with “don’t worry sweetheart, a lot worse happens to other children every day” as my own father surely would have done ;)
And maybe it’s the same with [The Extortionist], he simply doesn’t know about the monster that lurk in the darkest and seediest parts of  Internet and what they routinely do to small fish like him, when given but half a chance.
I will of course not stoop to that level, and my prefered course of action is, as stated above, to work my way around him. But the thought of someone doing their best/worst and putting effort into trying to force me into routing their personal Internet traffic is pretty hilarious when one considers the vast opportunity for malice that opens up for on my part.

[To Be Continued...]