Reputable Providers vs. Rogue Traders
Arachnid Web Hosting subscribes to a policy of open and honest trading. We believe that consumers have a right to approach our marketplace fully informed so when they come to buy it’s from a position of strength.
We hope that the following points prove unlucky for the few unscrupulous traders whose actions reflect badly on us all, but helpful to consumers.
1) No Cost Offerings – In an increasingly overcrowded marketplace it is common for a provider to stand out by advertising extremely low rates. While we sponsor the practice of competitive pricing we advise consumers to be aware of cheap offers that are unsustainable in the long term, prone to sharp increases in the near future and ultimately used to draw in short term custom. Low cost does not always mean good value.
2) Misleading Marketing – More often than not rates published on a website’s front page will be broken down to a monthly, weekly or even daily cost. Unfortunately the packages are only available on annual terms, which means the advertising that draws you in does not reflect the true charges of the hosting provider, whichever way they try and cut it.
3) Added Extra’s – You may discover that the low cost package you buy is actually very basic. It’s important to fully understand what you’re buying, but also the costs of any so-called ‘non standard’ features. Additional requirements, each costing an extra five or ten pounds per year, can dramatically escalate the true cost of your hosting. Websites that are about as easy to navigate your way through as a maze can be a good indicator of a provider hiding real costs.
4) Hard Sell Hell – We all need to sell our services. However this does not excuse pressure sales tactics usually applied over the phone. There is a lot of truth in the old adage that a good service sells itself. Equally the more a company tries to over justify why it’s the best, the more skeptical you should be. You’re entitled to take more time to consider how to spend your hard earned money than an overzealous and technically ignorant wide boy affords you. So if in doubt hang up.
5) Surprise Withdrawals – If you do buy your hosting over the phone ask for a full breakdown and summary of the immediate cost. Be extremely cautious about giving out your credit card details. You may agree to one cost only to discover later a lot more has been taken from your account. Credit card companies are notoriously unhelpful in such situations and recouping the money from the provider can be harder than getting blood out of a stone.
6) Search Engine Failure – Every web-centric business understands the importance of higher search engine rankings. However, regardless of what the sales person promises you, a budget package will not guarantee a top slot on Google. While there are established ways of boosting your rating, and specialist consultants who are highly skilled in this field, there are no short cuts that can be accessed with your credit card. You should also be cautious of hosting providers which promote one particular search engine or directory because the chances are they’re owned by the same people.
7) Domain Names – There are two main areas of complaint when registering domain names. The first is ownership. The simple fact is that if you pay to register a domain it is yours for a set time. However some providers accept payment from you and then register domains as their own. This is an underhand tactic to tie you to their hosting service or risk losing your URL. The second problem is straightforward incompetence where the provider misspells the domain name. The best way to avoid these problems is to buy your domain through a portal and ensure your provider confirms ownership details.
8) Set-Up Fees – Charging to set up a new account is a common practice, especially in business to business transactions. However this is not universal. If such a cost is involved then make sure you know exactly what it is because again it could mean the difference between good and bad value. From a consumer point of view there should rarely be any set-up fees and ideally the same applies for business customers as well.
9) Contractual Cons – If a provider asks you to commit to a contract take the time to fully understand the content and implications. Key points are service level agreements and termination procedures. Contracts are often used as a means to justify additional charges that make a competitively priced package an expensive burden. Any provider worth their salt will factor in a cooling off period, which frees you from any commitment if you decide the service does not suit your specific needs. Increasingly providers rely on the level of service they provide as opposed to legally binding documents to keep their customers loyal.
10) Compulsory Branding – The hosting provider you place your business with does not have an automatic right to burn their logo onto your website. Many providers now offer a commercial incentive, which makes the addition of their branding on your site attractive, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion. One increasingly unpopular provider actually charges for their branding to stay off your site – an amazingly audacious strategy considering most companies usually pay to advertise their services rather than charge.
11) Technical Support – Practically every company providing a service claims to offer 24 x 7 x 365 support. While some providers are actually very good at resolving problems quickly and efficiently, it is also crucial that your provider takes both a preventative and curative stance to potential service issues. A good indicator is the details of the server platform and systems they operate their hosting from, which should use tier one technology and built in resilience in case of server failure.
12) Time To Leave – Every business hates to lose customers, but they are obliged to facilitate as seamless a departure as possible. Numerous horror stories abound describing the hoops consumers have to jump through to cease their current provider’s service including unreasonable ‘administrative’ charges. A good provider accepts your decision with good grace leaving you with a positive view of the way they operate even if you have moved your business to a competitor.
13) Knowledge Is Power – Do your research. You may not find information easily about the reputable traders, but you’ll quickly unearth a wealth of dirt about the ones who treat their customers badly. Websites like www.blagger.com provide in-depth details of consumer complaints.
If something seems too good to be true it usually is. If you’re uncertain about any aspect of the package you’re buying ask for full and frank confirmation. If you’re still unsure then our advice is to walk away and find a provider that truly suits your needs.
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