In 2015, Joe a small business owner from upstate New York has signed up with a web hosting provider that advertised a service plan with "unlimited storage" and "unlimited bandwidth". The plan has been priced at $3.95/mo with 24/7 technical support. Joe didn't have an idea how storage works in web hosting services and what exactly bandwidth was supposed to mean. He thought that he would be able to host his WordPress website and the files and drawings used to create it. He has also thought that he would be able to store almost a terabyte of pictures made in his shop in the hosting account.
The first setback came on the signup pages. Joe realized that $3.95 is the price for a 3-year subscription and that he needs to stay on a 1-year contract he would need to pay $6.95/mo, which was 75 percent more than the advertised price. He has eventually signed up for 3 years in order to take advantage of the lower monthly rate. He made a choice to go for a more economical, cheaper web hosting service and ended up paying $142.20 for a 36-month contract.
Shortly after that Joe discovered a number of things he did not expect.
The "24/7 Technical support" was virtually there but was not responsive and most of the answers Jow has received were suggestions where to go and read how to do things himself. He has expected that he would need to deal with the web hosting service himself, however, he thought that he would be given instructions by the customer's support, where to go and what to do. The hosting provider's knowledge base was quite incomplete and Joe has lost many of ours reading and learning things he didn't actually need. He was a bit frustrated and realized he would probably have would go a different direction and choose a company that would manage his hosting account. Realizing that he has more important business to do than managing his hosting account, Joe asked the web host could they do it for him. A support operator responded that this is a self-managed hosting service and he the client wants he may go find a company that offers managed website service. Joe felt like he made a bad choice as he had to go and spend time searching for someone to manage his hosting account.
The frustrated site owner paid $850 to a web designer to set up his WordPress website. Once ready he has launched the site and started promoting it. The planned advertising budget on Google and Microsoft ads was $1,500. Joe set up the ads using some advice from the web designer, who has had experience in online advertising and launched the advertising campaign.
He has soon realized he has overlooked a number of things he should have paid attention to or at least asked about before purchasing a service for a cheap hosting company.
1. The so-called "Unlimited Storage" was actually limited. Upon upload of certain work files, mostly images and drawings, Joe was asked to remove them from storage and was sent to read the web host's Terms of Service. Then he has learned that "unlimited storage" came with various restrictions.
2. Unlimited Bandwidth has also proved to be a fake promise. While uploading and downloading files Joe has obviously used almost 1 TB of data transfer. The advertising campaign has also helped to exhaust the otherwise "unlimited bandwidth". Joe realized that the few thousands of visitors that were supposed to land on his website, went to a web page that said "Suspended Account". He was told by the web hosting providers that support that he had gone above a certain data transfer and therefore overused a reasonable amount of bandwidth. He asked what is the difference between "data transfer" and "bandwidth" how he would possibly overuse data transfer if there is no limitation on the used bandwidth. He has been told that he is on a shared server with a shared bandwidth and for this reason, customers like him are expected to commit to reasonable data transfer usage. Joe said that nothing like this has been specified on the signup web page. The support operator told him that it was his responsibility to review the company's "Term of Service", which he has agreed with on signup. Joe asked what can be done so his website would not be suspended again for resource overuse. He has been told that if he wants to have guaranteed bandwidth and guaranteed storage he needs to upgrade his Shared Hosting account to a VPS or a dedicated server. Joe asked can he pay for overage data transfer and to increase his otherwise "unlimited bandwidth quota", but he was told that the provider does not do that.
After he has finished his conversation with the support operator, Joe went to calculate his costs. He realized that he has paid $1400 so far in web hosting, website management, and online advertising, an amount which he considered as a reasonable one, but at the same time, he has lost more than 60 hours in speaking to the web hosting company's support and trying to find answers on questions that we left unanswered. He has also wasted $150 of his advertising budget on visitors and clicks that went on a "Suspended Account" web page rather than on his website.
Finally, Joe realized that he would have earned $3,600 if he would have spent 60 hours on his own business, working for his customers, rather than on his web hosting account and WordPress website. After making this conclusion he has started searching for a managed WordPress Hosting and ended up switching to a company that offered him Managed Web Hosting service with 2 hours per month of website and web hosting account management. Joe went to ask the "unlimited hosting provider" for a refund. The refund was initially put off because Joe was outside the "30 days money-back guarantee" term. Joe has eventually got his money for the second and third year refunded after pointing out the fact that he has prepaid for 3 years, not just for one.
He has felt that things went in the right direction with the new managed Website provider, but he knew that would need time to recoup on his loss of time and money.
Joe's story isn't unique. It happens every day to thousands of small-business owners, who lose time and money simply because they wen with cheap web hosting companies who sell overselling web hosting services and promise "unlimited" resources.
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