The biggest mistake I've made in my time involved with Exetel was right at the beginning.
Back in January 2004 Telstra Wholesale operated a price structure for ADSL circuits that was based on a pretty dreadful price for 1 - 999 circuits, then a big drop from 1,000 to 4,000 circuits (that may have been 5,000 or even 3,000 - I can't remember without referring to my old records and then a very slight decrease after 3/4/5,000 with the next discount level at 30,000 or some remote figure beyond any realistic medium term plans we had then.
It seemed like a good idea at the time to 'combine buying' with another start up ADSL ISP to reach at least the first 'threshold quicker and then after the 3/4/5,000 threshold had been reached - go our separate ways.
Good common sense - not.
That easy come/easy go relationship nearly killed Exetel when on the Friday of the Anzac long week end 2005 the nice person we had helped establish her business (by providing everything involved in operating an ISP including the web site, plan pricing, back end automation and 'free consulting' every day for over a year) began progressively canceling over 10,000 of Exetel's customer's services without warning and refused to respond to phone calls, emails or faxes.
We went through Hell over the following three weeks getting the services re-connected as they got canceled and, literally, worked 72 hours straight that long weekend to try and reply to the thousands of emails and phone calls we received - over 5,000 on that weekend and another 35,000 over the following ten days.
We survived that horrendous piece of criminality with the loss of around 500 customers and some compensation payments of around $A40,000 which was a very significant sum of money for us in those days plus we had to pay TW to reconnect all of the canceled services which cost us, all up, another $A500,000 and, of course, we lost the money we had already paid for those services.
Anyway - justice prevailed and Lorraine Rose and her scummy company, aaNet, went broke a little later and the aaNet customer base was picked up by EFTel.
It was a truly dreadful mistake and the result of that truly dreadful error of judgment on my part was even more truly dreadful for the 12,000 customers it affected and the Exetel personnel who for three weeks worked more than 12 hours a day dealing with, quite rightly, very angry and often abusive customer phone calls.
So you would think that, even a total moron, having gone through an experience like that would be able to continue to make at least one simple decision for the rest of his business life which would be to never get involved in anything like such an arrangement ever again.
So what came over me when I found myself suggesting to an ISP of a very similar ADSL size to us that, because of their combined spend with TW on wire line and other services resulting in them buying ADSL1 circuits at much less than we pay that we should combine our buying power and enter in to a joint arrangement with Telstra Wholesale.
I actually not only suggested it but seriously considered doing it.
...some people never learn.....and I never thought I'd be someone that stupid.
Fortunately I don't get to make decisions like that unilaterally so the most sensible of our directors took one look at the suggestion and responded with the lady's version of:
"Are you out of your f***ing mind?!!!!"
My lame response that it would result in Exetel reducing its costs by around $50,000 a month got a dismissive:
"You can always find a way of doing that if you really wanted to, just sell more - subject closed".
Exetel were advised by an aanet supplier that they were submitting a demand for payment via the Victorian Supreme Court on the Friday before the Monday the action was due to resume.
Personally I would have loved to have watched Lorraine Rose swearing under oath that the seven progressively different (over 15 months of court submissions via four different law firms and therefore submitted to the public record by her and therefore incapable of mis-interpretation) versions of the alleged email she was basing her defence on weren't blatantly obvious forgeries.
My conservative, and much more sensible co-director, just wanted not to waste any more of our own money as Lorraine Rose and her scummy company were about to get what they deserved without any more assistance from any other source other than her own lack of abilities.