Years ago I was part of an email list of women who had many things in common, one being we were into fiber arts. Many of us were knitting, and someone came up with the idea to sell our scarves online. We started out with a very rudimentary website, which I put dozens if not hundreds of hours into creating back when I was a stay at home mom. One of the ladies kept pressuring us to use Zen Cart. I had no idea how to set up or use Zen Cart and resisted the idea, but eventually she found someone who volunteered to get our cart set up. After Zen Cart was in place, I realized it was a good thing, and then spent many more hours customizing the site and making everything pretty.
The domain registration and hosting was set up by one of the group, who had dealt with 1&1 previously and pleased with the service she’d received. It was a pretty sweet deal back then. Professional website hosting free for three years for only the cost of your domain registration. I personally found 1&1′s management tools cumbersome. But I wasn’t in this alone, there were several of us and the majority ruled. After about a year, the lady who technically “owned” the site wanted out of our venture and obviously didn’t want to own the site any longer. Since it was a joint venture, I didn’t think it was fair that I owned the site, and managed it, so I let another lady take over the ownership of the site.
After we’d been with 1&1 for three years, all the freebies ended. What had started out as basically a full package for free, was now going to cost a budget breaking (please) five dollars a month. The current owner made a unilateral decision to downgrade the site, and the “freebie” version did not include the option to run Zen Cart. In a minute, the whole site was basically destroyed.
I was devastated. It’s not like the site was wildly popular, but I had put so much into it. When the owner of the site downgraded, it had a terrible effect on me. I totally lost momentum. It was going to take time and energy to get the cart set up again. 1 and 1 did work with me, and sent me a zipped copy of the site; however, I was unable to get the cart working again. It felt insurmountable, so I decided to let the site die.
It was hard to do. I put a lot of time and energy into creating and managing the site. And now it was gone.
Now the other part of the story is how 1 and 1 wouldn’t let the site die.
More than once I’ve had a website where the domain registration has expired and the domain registrar just drops the site. Knowing that this happens, I thought I would just let nature take its course. I thought it would be the simplest way for me to handle it, since I had an emotional tie to the site, it was easiest to just ignore it and walk away.
But 1 and 1 won’t allow that to happen. While on one hand I can appreciate that attitude, because usually people don’t want to lose their domain registration and panic when they find the registrar has dropped their site. On the other hand, I didn’t really want to deal with actually hitting the kill switch. 1 and 1 will track you down if you don’t pay for your domain registration. They will even send you a letter by snail mail and threaten to turn you in to a collection agency. Over $8.95!! And, they will charge you $18.95 if they do turn you in to a collection agency. I was so irritated I was ready to spit bullets! I asked to speak with a supervisor and was told that my contract states that I will pay the $8.95 a year and I have to verbally tell them I want to cancel.
Of course, in order to cancel the account I had to have my user name and password which I’d long forgotten. Oh, and if I didn’t have the username and password, how about the last four digits on the credit card on account? Well, shoot, I had no idea. Finally I grabbed my website booklet where I keep all the important information and thankfully I had not removed the page for this site.
My contract was to renew early December. As all this is going on, I have this vague feeling of dejavue… and I realize that I went through this last December. I had to pay for one year because I didn’t cancel in time and instead of dropping the site, having paid for one year, I let it go on thinking I would remember to cancel. Thinking that I wanted to get my money’s worth out of the site. Hah!
Now most places, when you pay the bill for one year in advance, they will refund your money if you cancel within the first month. Not 1 and 1. No sir.
Okay, it’s only $8.95, and maybe I’m just being a scrooge. But look at it from the other side… they could have smoothed this all over with me by refunding at least a portion of the money I paid, but they refused. Sorry 1&1, I was never happy with you from the beginning, and I would not do business with you again, and I can’t recommend your company either.
Here are the lessons I learned from this situation:
- Be very, very careful when doing business with “online” friends
- Don’t let someone else hold the domain registration when you are one doing all the work
- Don’t use 1 and 1 as a webhost
- Don’t neglect to cancel your hosting with 1&1; otherwise they may turn you into a collection agency
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