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Thread: Web Hosting Customer Bill of Rights

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    Web Hosting Customer Bill of Rights

    Every hosting company has documentation to cover themselves legally like T.O.S. and A.U.P, etc. I have created the first rough draft of a document that I call the "Web Hosting Customer Bill of Rights" which I intend to use on my hosting website to build trust. This is only the first version and is not final.

    What are your thoughts about this?
    If you already host at Vectro, do you feel this is truly being lived up to?
    Do any changes need to be made?

    Money Back Policy

    All accounts come with a 30 day money back policy for anyone who is not satisfied with the service. This policy was made with the confidence that every effort is made to please customers and refunds are rarely requested. Having a good reputation means making sure customer's needs are met. Satisfaction is the first priority, otherwise there is no point to being in business.


    Customer Support

    Support requests are responded to in 24 hours or less. It is extremely rare that it takes longer than that. In fact, most support tickets are resolved in less than a day. This is made possible by an organized customer management system which is checked frequently. Customers have the right to transparency and real information about what is causing a certain problem and what is being done to resolve it. Blaming the customer and making excuses do not solve problems. Even if the problem is on the customer's end, best efforts are always made to assist the customer in solving the problem themselves if they need.


    Prices

    Vectro promises not to raise the prices for current customers with active hosting packages. This means the monthly price you started paying for your package when you signed up is the price you will always pay. It will not be increased unless you choose to upgrade your account at some point. When an upgrade order is placed, a prorated invoice is generated for the first month so you only pay for the days you actually use. Another exception to this rule is domain names. The domain registrar which is used to resell domains or ICANN, the domain name authority, both set the prices and can increase them at any time. As they increase the prices, so must service providers like Vectro. Service providers have no control over this. Changes to domain prices are rare and when they happen are usually only increased by a few pennies.


    Server Performance

    Vectro is responsible for maintaining, updating, troubleshooting and repairing the servers. The servers are not installed and then forgotten about. They are checked routinely and changes are made as necessary. Software updates and important security updates are performed on a routine basis. Various applications, modules and operating system modifications are used to fine-tune the server performance. Several programs are used to check the systems for common problems. In some cases, the monitoring software can even fix the problem automatically.


    Uptime

    Third party uptime monitoring is used to make sure the servers are responding properly. This is an integral part of server stability and uptime. Customers are notified whenever there is planned downtime for maintenance. In the extremely rare event that there is unexpected downtime, there is always an effort to resolve it as soon as possible and notify customers once there is enough information about the issue.


    Account Suspension

    Accounts are usually only suspended for 2 reasons. One reason is late payments. The easiest way to remedy this is to make a payment. The other common reason is violation of the terms of service. If this is the case, an effort will be made to contact any customer found in violation to work with them to resolve the issue. Ideally, the customer will remove any content in violation and their account will be un-suspended.


    Account Termination

    Deleting an account is never the first instinct. The main goal is to keep websites online and they are only removed in extreme cases. The most common cause for termination is when a package has been suspended for 3 months because of overdue payment. Another reason for termination is because the customer requested it. There are two options when placing a cancelation requests, immediate or at the end of the billing cycle. If an account is found in violation of the terms of service and the customer has not responded to removal requests, then the account can be terminated. Another reason for account termination is payment fraud. When an account is terminated, all of the files, settings, logs and backups are deleted permanently.


    Resource Limits

    If an account hits resources limits, this usually indicates that there is a problem with the traffic. In most cases, it means the site is being heavily accessed by bots, scrapers, spammers or even a search engine crawler stuck in an endless error loop. Don't panic if you notice your limits being hit. Just open a support ticket and the cause of the bad traffic will be investigated for you. This type of support is included with all packages, so don't be shy. The goal is to fix your site.


    Privacy

    Vectro will never give or sell your personal information to any 3rd parties without explicit permissions. All customer data is stored securely.

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    Hi,

    I will think on this more. First thing I thought of the title seems wrong to me. It starts out more like a mission statement to me only because it seem more like your guide to action. Bill of Rights makes me think of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Psychologically we know amendments can change.

    Also are you sure you want to be locked down on your price "Vectro promises not to raise the prices for current customers with active hosting packages." We do not know what the future has in store for the net five, ten years from now. What happens if like the Gas prices thing go UP? Would you still honor that if for some unforeseen reason your cost on bandwith tripled?

    Sami
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sami4u View Post
    I will think on this more. First thing I thought of the title seems wrong to me. It starts out more like a mission statement to me only because it seem more like your guide to action. Bill of Rights makes me think of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Psychologically we know amendments can change.
    When I wrote the title, I was thinking about hosting customers who have been burned by companies before. The companies that burned them probably cared a whole lot about protecting themselves legally and about taking people's money. But, they didn't care at all about the rights of customers. They didn't care about what kind of commitment hosting companies should be expected to make. Mission statement still sounds better, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sami4u View Post
    Also are you sure you want to be locked down on your price "Vectro promises not to raise the prices for current customers with active hosting packages." We do not know what the future has in store for the net five, ten years from now.
    This is a commitment I've managed to stick to for many years without publicizing it. It's based on the way I feel when companies raise prices on me, or when some company buys a company who's services I use, then raises prices. Hosting has always been a cheap commodity since the 90's and still is now. I couldn't foresee any major changes in prices unless the Government successfully kills Net neutrality. Then some crazy things might happen with ISP prices, but at that point I'd probably go out of business because the small providers probably wouldn't survive. If prices are raised, it would only be for new packages, not for current active packages.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sami4u View Post
    What happens if like the Gas prices thing go UP?
    Apples and oranges. I'm not running a gas company, receiving government subsidies, pocketing the subsidy money as part of an executive bonus, then allowing fear and speculation to drive prices up.

    On my end, I don't have to drive anywhere to do this job. I have to drive when I do computer repair and service, and if gas prices go up a lot then I might have to charge more for that. The datacenter has a diesel backup generator that uses gas, but that only kicks in during catastrophic power failure, which is rare.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sami4u View Post
    Would you still honor that if for some unforeseen reason your cost on bandwith tripled?
    Luckily, there are enough options where I wouldn't allow that to happen. The datacenter I use has an incredible amount of bandwidth and are able to provide a lot to me at a steady price. They also have a great deal of integrity and don't go around raising prices arbitrarily. They're not the only ISP, and I do have contingencies. I'd rather go somewhere else to keep my own costs down than raise prices on customers. Still, I should probably mention bandwidth overages in the 'Pricing' section since that applies to everyone.

    Anyone else have any thoughts about this idea? I know it's kind of unprecedented. That's why I'm asking about it.

    ---------- Post added at 14:50 PM ---------- Previous post was at 13:28 PM ----------

    Does this seem better?

    Prices

    Vectro promises to do its best not to raise the prices for current customers with active hosting packages. One exception to this is the extremely unlikely event that energy or server prices increase substantially, which is not something Vectro would be able to control. Rest assured, costs have remained fairly consistent since the web hosting industry first started. Another way that a package price can be increased is if you choose to upgrade your account at some point. When an upgrade order is placed, a prorated invoice is generated for the first month so you only pay for the days you actually use. Another exception to this rule is domain names. The domain registrar which is used to resell domains or ICANN, the domain name authority, both set the prices and can increase them at any time. As they increase the prices, so must service providers like Vectro. Service providers have no control over this. Changes to domain prices are rare and when they happen are usually only increased by a few pennies.

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    I've read this a few times over now and tbh it seems a little formal imho. I think it's a good idea of course but as regards to serving customers perhaps calling it "Our Promise To You" or maybe even "Our Customer Commitment" or something along those lines might be a bit friendlier sounding. It might appeal more as the 'personal touch' rather than the 'caring company' if that makes sense. Wording wise it might be worth seeking more professional advice, if you can get a freebie, or you could end up making the stick you're beaten with or a rod for your own back. I'm not saying you should have a get out clause or anything, just that you should be careful given the litigious nature of some pedantic people (the world's full of weirdo's these days it seems).

    Just a thought.
    If I can't be a good example, I'll just have to be a terrible warning...

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    Quote Originally Posted by UncleP View Post
    I've read this a few times over now and tbh it seems a little formal imho.
    The title or the whole thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by UncleP View Post
    "Our Promise To You" or maybe even "Our Customer Commitment"
    I get where you're going with that and I like the idea. I've been trying to avoid using the word "our" since reading a thread here about that, but yeah maybe something like "The Promise to Customers".

    Quote Originally Posted by UncleP View Post
    It might appeal more as the 'personal touch' rather than the 'caring company' if that makes sense.
    It does. I laugh at propaganda commercials by insurance companies and energy companies here in America about how much the company cares about you

    Quote Originally Posted by UncleP View Post
    Wording wise it might be worth seeking more professional advice, if you can get a freebie, or you could end up making the stick you're beaten with or a rod for your own back. I'm not saying you should have a get out clause or anything, just that you should be careful given the litigious nature of some pedantic people (the world's full of weirdo's these days it seems).
    All true. I'll have to think about those things. I'm not yet sure where to get that advice, though.

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    Alright, it took me sometime to read the whole thing up but it was worthing.

    I am not talking about your reply Uncle(yea i run out of coffee while reading your reply again, but to be honest that was the shortest ever? )

    Anyways back to our topic.

    I am going to agree in some cases with both of Uncle and Sami. Especially with the locking prices commitment. Even if it sounds more than fair for the customers, you can end up loosing money in the worst case scenario. Here my opinion would be either to stick with that you say (prices for the already customers will not raise) or not to mention that at all.

    Better rephrase that with something else. Something more like "We do care for our customers, because it's You from whom we get money to live and continue run our service. For that reason why, we understand how important is to keep the prices stable and for that we are working on (could be something else here, just to give some emphasis on) "Locking down" our prices so you know what you are paying now and what you will be paying in the future.

    Regarding the title , if i were in your place i would try to give a "friendly" but at the same time a formal attitude to it. That will give the customer to understand that you are working with him closely to solve his problems (being there for him when he/she needs you) but at the same time to give him to understand that "hey dude it's a business here not a playground" we might be next to you and guide you but don't ya over do it.

    It's good for the customer to know his rights but also his obligations. Right?
    So it would be wise (imo) to give more emphasis on the service termination. Maybe analyze it a little bit more by adding a couple of lines with examples. Also what about backups? Does the customer have to make backups by himself? or does the service provider make daily or weekly backups?

    (run out of coffee damn..)
    Erm if i think something more i will let you know

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    (OT @oxuro I think this is my shortest reply, you won't need coffee to stay awake for that one )

    Quote Originally Posted by vectro View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by UncleP View Post
    I've read this a few times over now and tbh it seems a little formal imho.
    The title or the whole thing?
    ...
    I read the whole thing, but I must admit, the more I read the less I saw, my eyes just skipped bits after the second and third times, I think I have an 'attention span' issue

    How about going back to basics, I'm very fond of the K.I.S.S. principle myself (Keep It Simple, Silly), sometimes there's 'too much information' and the point is lost in the details.

    You already have a Terms, Privacy and Acceptable Use pages so a lot of what's above belongs there imho, if it's not already. Some of the above certainly belongs in more 'formal' pages because they're business statements to do with the actual running of the company, then you could do away with all the 'legaleze' in your 'Vecro's Commitments' which I think should be more personal and might appeal more to your customers sense of worth.

    I think a better approach would be to 'talk' to your customers like they're people, which they are of course, but you should also make them aware of your terms/privacy/aup policies and that you do actually run a business not a charity, you just have their best interests at heart and you run your business 'by the people for the people' and you'll go that extra mile to help them run their websites. I think you should also point out that while you'll do your best to support them and answer their queries and questions a fast as humanly possible, they too have obligations to not abuse any resources or staff. I'm sure it would be in everyone's interest to keep the business side formal and separate at the same time as outlining your personal commitments to your customers, if that makes sense. Professional but personal as well.

    If I think of anything else that's relevant I'll let you know.

    Quote Originally Posted by vectro View Post
    ... I laugh at propaganda commercials by insurance companies and energy companies here in America about how much the company cares about you
    ...
    Yeah, we get those in UK too, energy companies telling us how wonderful they are and how much good they're doing.... right before they put the prices up. And insurance companies telling us how much they care, and that they cover you for absolutely everything (for a price)... except what actually happens
    If I can't be a good example, I'll just have to be a terrible warning...

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    Based on everyone's feedback (and thank you for it all!), I have made some changes. I have removed the pricing section entirely. I shortened the wording of some sections to make for less reading. I added a section about backups. There are also links to the TOS page where applicable.

    I'm trying to give the feel that this not a legal document. There is already a TOS to cover myself for a lot of things. The idea here is now that I have a bunch of stuff to cover myself, what about my responsibility to customers? It's not all about taking money then protecting myself.

    I'm even thinking about removing the "Suspension" and "Termination" sections. It would make it shorter and at the same time would make it feel less like a legal document or a policy document. Suspension and termination are already covered in the TOS, anyway. I just tried to think of a way to say "Hey, I'm not a jerk about suspending/cancelling accounts. There has to be a good reason". I'm feeling now my point about that didn't come across the way I planned.

    If not removing both sections, then maybe replacing them both with this shorter text:

    Account Suspension and Termination

    Vectro only suspends or terminates accounts for good reason. Usually this means overdue payment for 3 months, violation of the terms of service or if you request a cancellation. There are two different types of cancellation requests: immediate and end of billing cycle.
    New Title: Vectro's Commitment

    Better? Still too long? Any more thoughts?

    Money Back Policy


    All accounts come with a 30 day money back policy for anyone who is not satisfied with the service. This policy was made with the confidence that every effort is made to please customers and refunds are rarely requested. Having a good reputation means making sure customer's needs are met. Satisfaction is the first priority, otherwise there is no point to being in business.


    Customer Support


    Support requests are responded to in 24 hours or less. It is extremely rare that it takes longer than that. In fact, most support tickets are resolved in less than a day. You have the right to transparency and real information about what is causing a certain problem and what is being done to resolve it. Blaming the customer and making excuses do not solve problems. Even if the problem is on your end, best efforts are always made to assist you in solving it themselves if you need.


    Server Performance


    Vectro is responsible for maintaining and securing the servers. The servers are not installed and then forgotten about. They are checked routinely and changes are made as necessary. Many things are done to fine-tune the server performance. Several programs are used to check the systems for common problems. In some cases, the monitoring software can even fix the problem automatically.


    Uptime


    Third party uptime monitoring is used to make sure the servers are responding properly. This is an important part of server stability and uptime. You will be notified whenever there is planned downtime for maintenance. In the extremely rare event that there is unexpected downtime, there is always an effort to resolve it as soon as possible and notify you once there is enough information about the issue.


    Account Suspension


    Accounts are usually only suspended for 2 reasons. One reason is late payments. The easiest way to remedy this is to make a payment. The other common reason is violation of the terms of service. If this is the case, an effort will be made to contact any customer found in violation to work with them to resolve the issue. Ideally, the customer will remove any content in violation and their account will be un-suspended.


    Account Termination


    Deleting an account is never the first instinct. The main goal is to keep websites online. They are only removed in extreme cases. The most common cause for termination is when a package has been suspended for 3 months because of overdue payment. Another reason for termination is because the customer requested it. There are two options when placing a cancellation request: immediate or at the end of the billing cycle. If an account is found in violation of the terms of service and the customer has not responded to removal requests, then the account can be terminated. Another reason for account termination is payment fraud. When an account is terminated, all of the files, settings, logs and backups are deleted permanently.


    Resource Limits


    If an account reaches its resources limits, this usually indicates that there is a problem with the traffic. In most cases, it means the site is being heavily accessed by bots, scrapers, spammers or even a search engine crawler stuck in an endless error loop. Don't panic if you notice your limits being hit. Just open a support ticket and the cause of the bad traffic will be investigated for you. This type of support is included with all packages, so don't be shy. The goal is to fix your site.


    Backups


    One of the best ways to protect yourself is to make backups of your site every so often. The account control panel has a system you can use to generate a backup any time you want. You can then download it to your computer for safe keeping. Although there is a weekly backup system in place, your data is still your responsibility.


    Privacy


    Vectro will never give or sell your personal information to any 3rd parties without explicit permissions. All customer data is stored securely.

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