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LifeWayonline tech provider change frustrates customers & LifeWay

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–LifeWayonline, the filtered Internet service offered by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, continues to experience technology provider transition difficulties, frustrating both its customers and LifeWay.

In July, LifeWay signed an agreement with the nation’s largest filtered Internet company, IntegrityOnline. The change to the new technology provider resulted in a large volume of calls by customers to activate the upgraded service. Subsequently, glitches on the part of a company that provides services to IntegrityOnline, paired with inappropriate billing from the former vendor, 711.net, have left some customers without service and others attempting to resolve billing disputes.

An Aug. 23 story in The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper, quoted a Florida customer, Ronda Storms, who had contacted the newspaper describing herself as “extremely frustrated” with 711.net’s actions and her inability to get back online with the Internet service.

LifeWay’s e-business group personnel share Storms’ frustration. The situation leading up to the change and the actual transition resulted in some unhappy customers, said Gary McClure, marketing manager for LifeWay’s e-business group. McClure told The Tennessean that 711.net had not cooperated in the transfer of customers from its system to that of IntegrityOnline.

The decision to remove LifeWayonline from 711.net was the result of service performance that did not meet the expectations of LifeWay or its customers and other contractual issues, McClure said.

He said LifeWayonline has received very little of the money 711.net charged to customers. To assist customers in the transition, LifeWayonline did not bill customers in July. Additionally, LifeWayonline is honoring all verified, prepaid annual and semi-annual accounts that were made prior to June 27, 2001, even though it received no money from those transactions.

“Currently, LifeWayonline is working to rebuild toward our previous subscriber level of 5,400,” McClure said.

On Aug. 22, the day before The Tennessean article was published, McClure received an e-mail note of support from LifeWayonline subscriber Donna Wood of Jackson, Tenn.

Wood wrote “how pleased I have been with the level of service through the stressful times and now. Having dealt with ISP service providers and other technical business relationships, I can empathize with the problems you have encountered.”

McClure said, “While many of the circumstances have been out of our control, we are accountable to LifeWayonline users for the poor experience some have had. We regret the inconveniences customers have experienced in the transition. However, the problems LifeWay has had do not outweigh our opportunity and privilege to protect children, families and churches from harmful online content. With IntegrityOnline we are now working day by day, customer by customer to address remaining problems and move forward adding new services.”
EDITORS’ NOTE: The correct style of LifeWayonline in publications is one word with the “L” and “W” capped in LifeWay and online in bold italic.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis