Is Your Web Host Petty or Vindictive?

We deal with a lot of website owners who are transferring their sites over to our hosting service. Most of the time it’s a smooth process, and we never hear about any problems when a client is leaving their old host. Sometimes though, it’s not all smooth sailing…

It always shocks me when we hear comments such as:

Please don’t tell my old host that we are moving. They would be so angry.

Do I have to let my old host know I’m moving to you guys? I’m afraid they will shut down my site prematurely.

Will my old host know I’m moving to your company? If they find out they might try to harm our site or prevent it from being moved.

When your host does not act professionally, it’s time to move on

If the above quotes make you think of your current host, then that’s a big warning sign that you are probably with the wrong host. I’m not referring to a host that may be sad to see you go, or feel bad that they are losing you as a client. In fact, if they feel that way about their clients, that’s a good sign that they care about their customers (which is a good thing). We are always a little sad to see a long time client leave us.

But if you feel, think or know that your host would become angry, fail to provide you with adequate support, or may actually harm your site or take it down altogether, I would start looking for a new host right away. It’s not how a business should act, and there are plenty of hosts out there that would never act in this manner.

Easy come, not so easy go

Sometimes a host may be a professional organization that would never stoop to such a low level, but their policies and procedures may make it painful or quite difficult to part ways. These type of  hosts make it so easy to signup, but if you want to leave, watch out for:

  • Early termination fees
    Looks like some hosts have taken a page from the cell phone playbook. This is not a standard practice.
  • No refunds for unused hosting
    You signed up for a year, you need to cancel 3 months in, and your host will not provide any refund for the unused hosting. Why? Be very careful when signing long term contracts with hosts that do not offer a refund for unused hosting fees.
  • Cancellation policies that require months of notice
    We’ve seen some tricky Terms of Service where you must cancel in writing 3 months before the contract expires, send a fax on letterhead in a specific format, etc… to qualify for a refund.
  • Your domain being taken away from you
    It’s extreme, but we’ve seen it. A client gets a free domain name from a host, tries to cancel for a valid reason, and the host won’t release the domain. The host often lists themselves as the domain owner, so they have complete control over the domain. Stay far away from a host like this.

What are they hiding?

When a host hides behind tactics as mentioned above, they are often hiding the fact that their customers may not be fully satisfied with the service they provide. By putting up roadblocks to leaving (or in some cases essentially shackling you to their company), they are trying to prevent customers from leaving them due to poor service. It just becomes too hard for the customer to leave, so they stay put… unhappy.

A good host stands on its own merits

Solid web hosting companies with great service and support do not hide behind their Terms of Service. They do not impose penalties for leaving them. In fact, a good host would rather a client find hosting somewhere else than be a poor fit for a client’s specific needs.

Reputable hosts will make it easy to cancel. They are not afraid of a client leaving. They know that if a client needs to leave, there is most likely a good reason (going out of business, change in direction, technology mis-match, etc…). Why create ill-will and resentment? Send the client on their way, shake their “virtual” hand and wish them the best.

Why be nice?

Why would a host be so accommodating to a departing client? Because that ex-client will likely still refer people they know to your company. We’ve had many clients who have left over the years (through no fault of our own) that still refer business our way. They signed up as happy clients, were hosted as happy clients, and left on happy terms.

This way of doing business does not apply exclusively to web hosts. In any business, when a customer or client is looking to go elsewhere for a legitimate reason, make the departure one that is painless and free of drama or guilt. It’s ok to make sure there is nothing else you can do to keep them on board. Once a client has made up their mind to leave, make it as easy to leave as it was for them to become a client in the first place.

The good “karma” you’ll receive may surprise you.  :)

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