My blog has been quiet for a few days now, the reason being that I have been looking into switching to paid hosting. I’ve also been trying to compare different blogging software, since some hosts see a huge market in attracting bloggers and want to make it as easy as possible for them to set up and provide a “one-click-setup” type solution for WordPress, B2Evolution etc. They also provide FTP access for you to do it manually, which is the route I’ll most likely take personally.
Since this involves both the purchase of a domain name and hosting, or the option to combine them with one company…..there are a plethora of options out there, with pro’s and con’s all over the place. After trying to get my head round some of them, an observation hit me and I wonder if anyone else has noticed the same.
Is it normal for hosts to advertise a cheap monthly rate to hook you in, only to find that the reason for it is because you need to pay a year or 2 in advance? That the option to pay monthly does not exist at the rate it sold as a “per month.” I mean; to advertise something at a “monthly” rate, then not allow it to be paid monthly seems wrong to me.
I’ve looked at a few hosts, and since I don’t have a credit card, I find myself limited to those who accept Switch, direct debit or Paypal. I did decide on a company called VistaPages.
Could someone else have a look at the $6.95 offer on the index page, tell me if I’m missing something. I’ve seen some on other sites with the * matching the * at the bottom of the page explaining that the reason for the low price is the one or 2 year pre-payment. I see NOTHING anywhere which tells you VistaPages are the same.
I did look everywhere, I signed up, filled in all the forms….and only at the final “check payment amount” with Paypal did I see I was about to be billed for 2 years as 1 installment……so I went back through the pages assuming I’d selected something wrong.
I emailed their customer services to explain, and was told that paying monthly for the same “$6.95 per month with no setup fee” would be “$15.95 + $20 setup fee”. It was in that response that I learned that the prices were conditional to pre-payment. Let me put it another way, if you sell something and get offers of between $80 and $95 from a list of people and I offer $100…..what do you assume? Same terms? I would….then I explain…..that’ll be monthly installments of $5 for 20 months, giving you your $100. It’s misleading is it not?
When I queried their lack of openness on their site I was pointed to their Terms Of Service page which apparently explains it……although I can’t find it. They have a single reference to “Full payment is required in advance before hosting service is established.” tucked in alongside references to monthly billing dates. It’s the ONLY reference ANYWHERE on their site….and they think they are “up front”. You have to go looking for it…..and then don’t blink or you miss it. The paragraph in question could easily apply to monthly billing…ie you pay a month in advance, or we reserve the right to close your site.
They of course “welcome the customer contacting them to ask”…..they have a web site, those are pretty fundamental questions, why can’t they just tell the people? That’s kinda the point of a “frequently asked questions” type page, isn’t it? Or am I mistaken on that concept?
Is it me, or is VistaPages a bit underhanded and misleading in their advertising? Or is this normal practice? I want to pay per month, I have no problems with being in a 2 year contract….but I want to be able to compare like for like, the last thing I need is to find that even the prices don’t apply. Some hosts hide their payment methods too…..which drives me crazy, there’s no point in scanning the options only to decide to sign up and find I need a credit card which I don’t have.
I am not picking on VistaPages as such here, they seem to be one of several who use this type of lure. Other hosts at least give you the option and explain that it does cost more to be billed monthly, or there are additional set up costs for monthly billed customers. It’s also surprising how many have little or no reference to the payment methods they accept. You have to go through the sign up forms only to find they only accept credit cards.
How is the customer supposed to compare if none of the details are accurate or even there at all without asking a customer services rep? The prices ain’t accurate, the terms ain’t accurate….even when you make your choice and decide to wade in, you don’t know if you have suitable currency.