back to article Dear Hull, all your typos are belong to Karoo

Hull's broadband monopoly, Karoo, has joined the ranks of Verisign, Tiscali and Orange in redirecting net users' mistyped URLs to pages displaying advertising. Karoo, part of the K-Com group, is doing the hijacking in partnership with Ask.com. Instead of seeing a plain error, customers are seeing their spelling mistakes …

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  1. Seán
    Boffin

    OpenDNS

    Simply switch your DNS to OpenDNS.com

    208.67.222.222

    208.67.220.220

    Then you will bypass the clowns and get to have control over your DNS.

  2. pctechxp

    Glad I don't live in Hull

    Bet the company has plans to sign up to Phorm next.

  3. Steven Knox
    Flame

    JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION!

    'We asked why Karoo had not made the trial opt-in if the service is so useful. "Well, we could do it either way," the spokeswoman said. "We'll be listening to customer feedback."'

    Yes, you could do it either way. That possibility was inherent in the question. The obvious point of the question was, why didn't you do it the more logical, customer-friendly way in the first place?

    Please use the above paragraph as a template response next time a "spokesperson" thinks it's sufficient to reword your question as an answer.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    A Bit Late Now

    A spokeswoman for the firm said: "We know that some people don't like it and they can opt out of the trial. Others find it useful."

    We asked why Karoo had not made the trial opt-in if the service is so useful. "Well, we could do it either way," the spokeswoman said. "We'll be listening to customer feedback."

    ----------------------------

    Well it's a bit late now! Arseholes.

  5. Lloyd
    Alert

    Hmmm

    Does anyone even use Ask.com voluntarily?

  6. Stuart
    Paris Hilton

    Who reads help pages rather than assuming the browser and M$oft are hijacking

    I don't know why I'm supporting these money grabbers, but.... Hey if you mess up and type wrong and get a search page instead of a 404, no big deal, learn to proofread your typing. Maybe, possibly, outside chancily, you might be guessing the website name - "samanthafoxsshnormousshnockers.com"(no I haven't checked validity of this site, give it a go:-) and if it comes up as a valid search term for the Sun let's say; then woohoo everyone's happy.

    Other possible fortuitous outcomes:-

    Ask provide misspelling info to site owners who register and redirect.

    OR for us cynics:-

    Ask sell the info to the highest bidding porn site. Hey they're in it for the money!

    Love ya Stuart

    P.S. No mistake either:-

    I know how cute Abbee is.

    OR I'm feeling really happy today.

    OR all of the above:-)

  7. IanD

    Have just got off the line to KFC Technical Support

    As a very un-tech-savvy relative of mine uses KC's dialup service for the interweb, I've just phoned KC to find out if this atrocious hijacking can be opted out of for dialup services. The technical support bod hadn't even heard of the service - I had to give him the URL of the 'opt out' page. I was then passed back to Customer Services who said 'change the DNS servers on the dial-up connection', but didn't think it was wrong to increase people's dial-up phone bills by sending unwanted Ask.com webpage content down the line to them...."It won't take up more time - it'll save time!" was the comment.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    opendns

    erm....opendns have been doing this for ages. They are just as bad.

  9. Tautoa

    Oh?

    That's hilarious. I live in Hull, I was on the phone to Karoo customer service yesterday on an unrelated issue, and yet the first I hear about this is on The Reg.

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  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Glad I don't live in Hull

    Well, Eclipse, also part of K-Com, has had discussions with Phorm. Whether they intend to go ahead remains to be seen.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Profiteering from their monopoly

    So not only is KCOM happy to charge users four times what it costs them to provide an ADSL line, they are also squeezing advertisement profits from their users! OFCOM wake up and sort this issue out, pronto!

  13. Steve Mason
    Black Helicopters

    dns cache

    The most important part of the article is the following line

    "It intercepts domain queries that are non-existent in Karoo's own cache."

    so, just set up an automated job to clear you dns cache say, ooh, every hour, and then the majority if all dns queries are magically "non-existent in Karoo's own cache." and get forwarded to ask.com... thanks very much.

  14. Dougle

    It's not so bad if it's useful.

    openDNS has done this for as long as i've used them and im fine with it, because they do their best to direct me to where i want to go (.con ->.com .couk -> .co.uk etc) but in the end i might as well go somewhere that is going to benefit the service in some way rather than my browsers server not found page.

    But honestly openDNS are quick and simple like DNS should be.

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  16. Iain Argent

    Stops ErrorZilla working

    The big problem with OpenDNS et al is that my browser is configured to give me useful options when a server is down. With one click I can retry, go to the Google cache for the page, or several other useful options. OpenDNS stops this very useful feature working because my browser doesn't receive an error.

  17. David Cornes

    OpenDNS

    Yep, they do something similar to this and it does wind me up, but to be fair they're providing a 'free' service so they gotta make a buck *somewhere*.

    As for the idea of running your own DNS server and caching directly from the root servers, well it's an interesting idea but what is the traffic hit for the extra recursive lookups, all up and down YOUR broadband connection, compared to using an external DNS server sitting somewhere on a nice fast Internet pipe?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This breaks several things

    Opera and Mozilla both now provide server name completion system whereby if a web server address doesn't resolve try adding www. and .com to the server name before reporting it as broken.

    Very useful until your isp decides to deny it like this.

  19. Chris Rowson
    Stop

    Bloomin' Karoo

    I don't know, coming over here, stealing our typos.....

    But seriously it is rather cheeky and should be stopped immediately. At the end of the day it's bad enough having only one ISP. Then having them suck us dry with advertising.... Well it's not nice is it?

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  21. alphaxion

    just use the root servers and be done with

    seriously, just stick with the root servers.. they're meant to be free of this tripe - tho not always the case.

    Nildram recently announced "we've upgraded our DNS servers.. please either change your DNS settings or simply disconnect and reconnect"... only, they aren't "upgraded servers", they're tiscali's core servers!

    Personally, I prefer to get "page cannot be found" responses because I know that either the address is dead or I've buggered up somewhere.

    I don't like the trend of the machines doing everything for us, how much effort is it really for us to actually engage our brains and realise that an address isn't valid?

    Also, if they're making money from our use of a service that we have already paid for.. where's my cut? they're getting money for nothing.. they're not providing me with an extra service (I'm sorry, typo correction is not something that you can classify as a "service", especially when it's only correcting it to the highest bidder!) so I would like renumeration for my effort.

  22. Mike Silver badge

    ISP DNS

    Once upon a time I got so fed up with my ISPs flakey DNS that I hard-coded my employer's DNS into my home system's config. All was well until (years after I left their employ), the company that had acquired them shut down the servers. For a day or so I could not figure out why DNS was so buggered. Failing over to the "official" DNS was so painful that I had to wonder how my neighbors stood it. Now I just get used to the fact that my "always on" connection is only "kinda sorta usually mostly on".

  23. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    @ Stuart

    Wake up and realise that the internet is not the same as the web !

    OK, it might be 'helpful' when web browsing, but consider what it does to all the other internet applications out there. With properly configured DNS, you get an immediate failure if you mistype an address (and what you type doesn't exist) - but with these wildcard stunts, things just fail to work in odd ways giving unexplained timeouts.

    It's bad and needs stomping on.

  24. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Is this a big deal?

    If I typed www,domain.com instead of www.domain.com does it really matter that my "error page" is the output of a search engine rather than "Hey, numbnuts, learn to type?"

    I have occasionally been know to type a search phrase into the address box rather than the Google toolbar box - this system would then actually work better for me.

    It seems that if any ISP ever has the gall to change anything in any way, then the sky starts falling on El Reg.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    my opinion

    re:

    "OK, it might be 'helpful' when web browsing, but consider what it does to all the other internet applications out there. With properly configured DNS, you get an immediate failure if you mistype an address (and what you type doesn't exist) - but with these wildcard stunts, things just fail to work in odd ways giving unexplained timeouts."

    That is probably why this NXDOMAIN redirection is ONLY A records and only for hosts with ww, www or wwww prepended....??

    My opinion is that if it is done right (as above) then what harm can that cause? I am sure it upsets people who are used to historical unrestricted services but I think ISP provisioning has moved on somewhat... everyone is feeling the pinch in the ISP market place. If Karoo users want to opt out then why dont they just opt out?

  26. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Paris Hilton

    Will it stand up in court?

    Prosecutors pointed out that Pete Plumber had removed small amounts of loose change from various customer's houses without asking. Pete replied that, well yes, but if anyone was unhappy with this they could opt out of the "scheme". He went on to point out that he did have a legitimate commercial relationship with the customers and that many of them had not noticed the removal.

    Paris, in the absence of an icon for rather weak analogies.

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  28. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: just use the root servers and be done with

    If everyone did that, the DNS system would collapse within a few minutes. There's a good reason why DNS is distributed. It's a pity that a few ISPs seem to think DNS poisoning/hijacking is an acceptable form of customer abuse. (Will DNSsec make matters worse, by making it much harder to get a DNS service *apart* from your ISP?)

  29. Banshee
    Stop

    Karoo.....RANT

    The problem with what KC have done is NOT (in the opinion of most if not all of their customers) that they have done it at all but rather that as usual they have done it to people who dont have the recourse of changing their ISP if they dont like what KC are doing.

    KC can (and DO and always HAVE) charged well over the odds for the service they sell and are always behind the times in bringing new technologies (ADSL2 for instance) into operation. An example of this is when they brought in the latest "up to 8meg" packages priced at £30pcm they told me that my line (which they own) would only sustain a stable rate of 3.5meg but they could still advertise it as "up to 8 meg" and that it was still an upgrade to my then 3meg connection. If I hadnt had the balls to stand my ground I would probably still only be getting 3.5meg.

    How and why do they get away with this treatment of their customer base ?? Basicly because its the only one in Mainland UK that:

    1. Owns the Telephone Network Infrastructure it runs on including the wires outside my house.

    2. Owns the Telephone Company itself.

    3. Owns the ISP that provides my connection.

    4. Owns the Exchanges/Servers that run the ISP.

    5. Operates what appears to me the "humble user" to be a Monopoly regarding changing ISP. IE: YOU CANT whether u want to or not! (well u can if u want AOL Dialup)

    This company is based and operates in Hull and its surrounding (ever-expanding) area. Why can I not change ISP ?? Simply because there are no other ISPs which serve the Hull area. Why? Well it appears to me that its down to ONE reason only and thats the fact that BT doesnt own ANY of the telecommunications infrastructure. Can I get a BT phoneline? No I cant because they dont supply this area and have no plans whatsoever to do so (according to BT Customer Services) because it would be too expensive for them. Could I not go the Cable route? Again No because they dont serve this area either! According to OFCOM they cant "force" people to move into this area and provide a service and wont force Kingston Communications into the LLU exercise like they did to BT until someone shows some interest in moving in.

    Why is this company being allowed to operate what amounts to a Monopoly OR as a certain Mr Wogan is wont to say... "Is it ME ????"

    COME ON OFCOM FEKKIN DO "SOMETHING" !!!!!!

    Banshee

  30. jb
    Thumb Down

    Banshee talking rubbish

    Banshee you talk absolute tosh!! I am a KC customer and I dont agree with most of what you shouted...

    With regards to:

    "The problem with what KC have done is NOT (in the opinion of most if not all of their customers) that they have done it at all but rather that as usual they have done it to people who dont have the recourse of changing their ISP if they dont like what KC are doing."

    surely your able to change your own DNS settings to the new ones?

  31. kerry lyons
    Alert

    @ jb

    Banshee's comments were about Karoo in general and his lack of choice with ref to isp, phone, and other services in the Hull area. Are you suggesting changing his dns settings will fix all this as well?

  32. Banshee
    Alert

    For JB re DNS

    I suppose expecting people to actually read the contents of what I posted was a little too much to expect. Please tell me how changing my DNS would alter the fact that Karoo :

    1. Owns the Telephone Network Infrastructure it runs on including the wires outside my house.

    2. Owns the Telephone Company itself.

    3. Owns the ISP that provides my connection.

    4. Owns the Exchanges/Servers that run the ISP.

    5. Operates what appears to me the "humble user" to be a Monopoly regarding changing ISP. IE: YOU CANT whether u want to or not! (well u can if u want AOL Dialup)

    IT WON'T, TRUST ME, IT WON'T !

    Banshee

  33. jb

    banshee

    I live in Hull (moved from Nottingham/BT) and I am sick and tired of reading the same comments from this small minority of people (who clearly have technically no idea) moaning about this local telco... this news story was based upon NXDOMAIN redirection, there are other small corners of the internet that you can moan about your favorite KC bashing topic.

    My point was if you are unhappy about having DNS provide this service then change your DNS settings to something that you are happy to use! I have...

    I understand you cant change the network provider away from KC, just like everyone outside of Hull cant change there's from BT! BT own most of the UK network, KC own the Kingston-upon-Hull network. i.e. If you use SKY for internet connectivity you must have a BT phone line, if you use Karoo then you must have a KC phone line, the fact that no other ISP has obtained wholesale ISP access from KC surely can not be put on the shoulders of KC, they are equal>lower than the current BT wholesale prices...

  34. Banshee

    @JB (again) - Taking bets on whether you read it properly

    Sorry but your are missing the point I am making (or trying to make), I am NOT having a go at KC's service which I think on the whole is good (repeat for the hard of reading GOOD) based on having been a customer since the days of dial-up.

    The point I am making is that yet again they are using the fact that they have a "captive audience" to make money from said captive audience without publicising either their actions OR more importantly the opt out from it. That to me smacks of the unfair use of their monopoly position in the market.

    As for the following .....

    ""I understand you cant change the network provider away from KC, just like everyone outside of Hull cant change there's from BT! BT own most of the UK network, KC own the Kingston-upon-Hull network. i.e. If you use SKY for internet connectivity you must have a BT phone line, if you use Karoo then you must have a KC phone line, the fact that no other ISP has obtained wholesale ISP access from KC surely can not be put on the shoulders of KC, they are equal >lower than the current BT wholesale prices...""

    Again I am sorry but you might at least get your facts straight before flaming my post.

    1.. just because a customer has a BT phoneline DOES NOT prevent them changing ISP if they dont like the service they are getting from their current provider. ie Dont like SKY... change to tiscali, AOL, whichever. THIS IS NOT REPEAT NOT THE CASE WITH A KC FONELINE!! If you dont believe me then try it.

    2. In the same way, a customer on a BT foneline who is unhappy with their service CAN change his fone service supplier to whichever fone company he likes. AGAIN THIS AINT THE CASE WITH A DISSATISFIED KC CUSTOMER !! Again go try it.

    3.. On the subject of wholesale pricing. I was told by OFCOM that "they couldnt "force" KC into the LLU system therefore a given "interested party would probably have to install their own servers etc or pay Karoos prices for access to their systems and then install the correspoding hardware" That being the case it therefore means an uneconomic investment is required. And this I suspect is why KC are currently supposed to be under investigation for "restrictive practices"

    4.. Ref the following .....

    My point was if you are unhappy about having DNS provide this service then change your DNS settings to something that you are happy to use! I have...

    You or I might have the tech savvy to do this....how many of the "average ability users" have the same amount of savvy ?? Not as many as YOU may assume Methinx

    Regards

    Banshee

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