Business ISP Upstream Internet has shocked broadband customers after one of its managing directors, Eddie Chapman, announced that the company would cease trading because it had been unable to secure the necessary financial support needed to continue.
The situation has since become increasingly complicated after a clear disagreement over whether the ISP should or should not cease trading emerged between Chapman and co-director Richard Ballard. The following is a copy of MD Eddie Chapman's first email to Upstream's broadband customers:
24th November 2009 - Upstream Email from MD Eddie Chapman
I would like to inform you about recent developments with Upstream Internet Limited, the company which I founded in 2006 and which you currently take DSL services from.
Last week, after several weeks of intensive negotiations with the shareholders, the company's main investor communicated to the two Managing Directors that he was no longer willing to provide investment for the company. The company needs a substantial sum of money to be invested in order to both meet its current outstanding invoices to suppliers, and in order to survive over the next few months.
Immediately on learning of this, myself and the other Managing Director spent the rest of the week exploring various other possibilities, each of which were ruled out one by one by both Directors. On Friday evening all Directors agreed that as the company had now become insolvent without any realistic prospect of succeeding, the company should cease trading.
Unfortunately, since that time the other Director has changed his mind and advised me that he wishes for the company to continue trading. I, however, remain convinced there remains no realistic prospect of success for the company. In the meantime the company's biggest creditor with a sizeable secured loan has today advised the company that it intends to begin taking steps towards issuing a winding up petition in the courts unless the full debt is repaid.
I believe with the current developments it is my duty as a Director to now put the interests of creditors first. To this end I have begun informing suppliers who are also creditors (such as BT and our data centre) of the current situation.
I am also very concerned about you the customer, who could potentially be left with no service very soon depending on the actions of creditors. I cannot have it on my conscience for hundreds of businesses of all sizes suddenly finding themselves without internet and I could have done something to help them. To this end please find below a list of DSL line numbers you have with us and their associated Migration Authorisation Codes (MAC). You can use this information to migrate your DSL service to another supplier if you so wish. Please keep this safe in case you need it.
If you have any lines in service which are not shown below which you would like to request a MAC for please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally you should know that I am no longer doing any technical work for the company, which includes technical support and looking after the company's network. I will setup a web page soon where I'll post whatever I get up to next after Upstream. It will be at:
A copy of this letter will shortly be linked to on the companies home page at:
Upstream Internet Limited
However Co-MD Richard Ballard has been quick to issue a letter of his own, which appeared to be in stark disagreement with many of Chapman's earlier remarks. Furthermore Ballard has threatened legal action against Chapman and initially claimed to have the "full support" of its key private investor, which would allow Upstream to keep going.
Upstream Email from Co-MD Richard Ballard
This message is being sent as a response to the message you have received from Mr Edward Chapman, which includes your MAC.
Upstream Internet Limited is owned 25% by Mr E Chapman, 25% Mrs H Chapman and 50% Richard Ballard. The Directors of the company are Mr E Chapman and Richard Ballard.
A disagreement has arisen between the directors of the company as to whether the company can continue trading. Mr Chapman considers that it cannot but Richard Ballard considers that it could and can and at the time of this email has the full support of the private investor who has provided all the necessary finance to enable the company to continue trading since Mr Chapman decided to cease trading following ill health in January 2009.
During the last 5 days Mr Chapman has, unilaterally and without the agreement of his fellow director taken action which prima facie appears motivated by a desire to damage the business of Upstream Internet Limited. Richard Ballard as a director and 50% shareholder, and with the support of the private investor, is working hard to secure the company's future and will be please to discuss the situation on 03300881996 or 01625326286. (lines open again from 3:15pm)
Legal advice is being taken with objective of obtaining an injunction to restrain MR Chapman from any action which might damage the companies business or the interests of its customers.
Ballard has since issued a second message to customers, which claims that Chapman has "continued to Damage the company to the extent that it is now probably not going to survive moving forward". However Ballard now confirms that he does reluctantly share Chapman's view that the ISP should cease trading.
Richard Ballard wrote:
"Mr Chapman claims that he has a conscience and that he wanted to put the customers first; however I do not believe this is the case. Steps had to be taken on Saturday of this week to prevent Mr Chapman from removing key equipment from our data centre in London, if he had been successful in his attempt there would have been no connectivity for anyone.
Mr Chapman has continued to in my opinion to Damage the company since then by removing the ability for Upstream Internet Limited to provide full support, Services for some customers have been disabled and further to that he has deliberately blocked access to equipment owned by our customers most probably causing them financial loss. I should further add that the Creditor that Mr Chapman refers to in his letter is actually Mr Chapman and his wife, a debenture that would be repayable if the company ceased to trade for any reason."
Ballard has pledged not to resign as a director, thus allowing him to make sure that the company is "wound up correctly". The drama between directors is an issue that will be far from the minds of customers, many of whom have been left scrambling to find an alternative ISP at very short notice.
Unsurprisingly Chapman has been quick to defend himself against Ballard and promptly issued the following message: "I would just like to point out that all of the statements Richard has made about me damaging the company, customers or attempting to remove equipment are absolute lies." At the time of writing there had been no further emails to statements.
Meanwhile customers seeking an alternative should note that rival ISP Vispa Internet are offering FREE migration and 1 months FREE service to all current Upstream Customers wishing to migrate to them. "We know bonded broadband is a big thing for Upstream users and we have engineers working through the night to get the technology enabled on our Network in order to provide continuity of service to the Upstream base," said Adam Binks, Commercial Director for Vispa. Upstream users requiring assistance can call Vispa on 0844 979 8888 or email email@example.com.
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