If I was feeling petty, the subtitle could be “Why Dreamhost Sucks,” but I think it’s bigger than that.
Some of you are fans of automatic billing. I certainly think it sounds like a nice concept.
However, there’s a big reason why I don’t want it–human error. I know it’s supposed to help us avoid the human error of forgetting our bills or the human effort of paying them. The thing is, I don’t trust companies to bill me correctly…I want to be able to check it before I send it.
This morning, for instance, I received a bill from Dreamhost. It told me that my account was overdue and I needed to pay them. I wasn’t too worried because I saw that it seemed to think we were in January 2009 and it said the charges were incurred in November 2008. So I sent them a lil’ e-mail saying approximately “Umm…WTF?”
I’m one of the lucky ones. Some people’s sites went down because the system thought they were overdue and outside the “grace period” that I was still in. As for automated billing–you can set your site to auto-renew with your debit or credit card info. Some people apparently got majorly screwed.
Total damage of the error: $7.5 million!
One customer wrote:
Thanks, you just put me overdrawn for the month.
£80 I now have to find.
Another said that he’d lost all his credit card rewards and another was worried about the effect the overdraft would have on her interest rate. Another person’s mortgage payment is going to bounce because there’s not enough money for both in his account right now!
Not good at all.
Some people say that this is an issue from using cheap hosting. While there are certainly problems with using a cheaper host, I think this is plain and simple human error–something that people at the biggest companies could have done if they were up late too. Unless their program wouldn’t allow it (I hope that Dreamhost will be changing their software not to allow billing based on future dates).
I’d much rather just review the bill myself than go through the hassle of reversing the charges.