Bloggers August 8, 2020

Is this bad etiquette?

Jasraj (Jas) @jasraj

(P.S. This is quite a long one, thanks for bearing with me...)

I've been trialling a website host for one of my blog projects. Fairly early on (~ 1 month in), after careful research I hired a developer to help me go self-hosted and save a considerable amount of money.

Here's how it's played out:

  • As I knew there might be 'setup niggles' I decided to keep a monthly Pro membership with the original host whilst I migrate, which includes Email Support
  • Hosted Support has been helpful with my queries but, on learning I've gone self-hosted, have increasingly been trying to direct me to the forum, instead and re-iterating that they can only help with hosted accounts (even though I was/am paying them for a Pro account)
  • Around 3 months in, I recently cancelled my hosted membership as my site is (almost) smooth-sailing
  • With the platform I moved across from, I have good evidence I'm one of their first test cases and they have since decided/announced on a post that 'annual Pro membership' is needed to assist with full migration from the platform I was using before -> said Host

Long story short, seeing as I've still been paying for Pro (and have kept it intentionally) I've been asking Support for help, and - once I cancelled last month's membership - I've noticed a clear "here's the information, go speak to your developer or ask your question in the forum". Interestingly, whilst they've known I'm self-hosted, this change in attitude has only really cranked up a notch since I cancelled (my membership has been paid for until the end of the month).

I've been told: Candidly: If you are going to pay a different company for hosting your site, then it is that company who you will need to ask for all your support needs about that site. This is not remotely unusual, it's literally how every single hosting service works. You can't just try and save money paying for a cheap host and then also try to rinse our support to still do everything for you to with no plans to pay for it - that's a complete pisstake.

I feel foolish at best, naive at worst here. Perhaps a lesson for the future. Though, again, they were more than happy to support me whilst I still have a (non-cancelled) Pro account...

Were my actions bad practice/etiquette?

  1. 2

    ooph. this sucks! i’m sorry friend!! lesson learned. i think you did what you could.

    1. 1

      thanks man. Probably a little naivety on my part mixed in with my needing a reasonable amount of support w/ migration as a non-techie.

      1. 2

        all good. i think we've all done that.

  2. 2

    Seems very short sighted on their part. Great customer service is one of those things users will remember for a long time to come...

    1. 1

      yeah, I kinda felt the same but I also did see where they were coming from, too. thanks for sharing your thoughts

  3. 1

    I've done the hosting game, you really want people to stick around with a year to off-set the costs of having a support team.

    Whether you were paying for their hosting for an extra three months, it is still a slap in the face to the provider because the support team is a cost which is there to help retain clients so that for the 12-24 months the company makes its money back from the salary they pay them.

    In addition, it is pretty much impossible to properly support a server environment you did not set up, don't have root access to administer and have no certainty that the customer/dev don't mess up an instruction.

    From the customer side, by their decision making they believe they are being "fair" and "right" when in reality, it is bad for the provider, Privately most providers would have not so nice thoughts about you as a customer.

    The only thing they did wrong was telling you how they felt and getting emotional, this is business, especially in a commodity like hosting (which is a race to the bottom commodity with tight margins) you never ever tell the client something like that, you write them off as a loss and move on.

    Them switching up their terms to prevent similar wastes of resources is good business, you may have been the 1st to do this, or the 100th, who knows.

    Now I might be completely wrong and you were paying them the full $200 a month for a dedicated server so they'd make decent margins, can I ask what your monthly cost for this provider is and what spec of hosting they gave you for that amount.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your thoughts, much appreciated and interesting to read from someone who has been on the hosting side. It was around $40/month I think. Ironically, had I known about their added migration support on the annual subscription from the outset, I'd have been tempted by this and may well have gone along with it.

      1. 1

        $40 a month is nothing depending on the spec of the hardware in terms of margin, it might be as little as say... $4 a month in profit for them.

        The average across the US for IT salary at minimum is $31 an hour.

        So just 15 minutes spent with you, is costing them $7.75 in margin they won't get back. Then let's say 100 customers like you did this to them, $775 eating into their margins, it sounds like the owner got frustrated by this and took it out on you.

        1. 1

          wow, that's interesting context right there. I feel a lot less confused/unfairly targeted now, knowing this. Thank you.

  4. 1

    PS. My developer has been pretty awesome. I just wanted to take advantage of the original company's Support whilst I was still paying for it, envisaging that I would need minimal (if any) support going forward after the first couple of months once I'd migrated over fully and was happy with how everything looked/worked.

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