When is Your Web Host Overcharging You?
Last updated on Sep 23, 2015
Since web hosting is a saturated market, pricing tends to be competitive and you can get great deals for prices that won’t break the bank. In fact, more and more web hosts offer deals to attract new customers, and go as far as offering 50% off or more in discounts.
Yet, customers being over-charged is also a harsh reality of the web hosting industry. At times, web hosts compel their clients to pay for unnecessary services, whereas at other times, the pricing for general products such as domain names and SSL certificates is enhanced.
So, how do you figure out if your web host is overcharging you? In this post, I will provide instances of common cases wherein web hosts force their users to pay extra and indulge in unnecessary expenditure.
Common Cases of Web Hosts Overcharging Their Clients
I will provide scenarios and cases where a web host is justified in asking for an increased price, as well as cases where the customer does not need to pay extra.
Bumped Hosting Limits
Web hosting, especially shared web hosting, is marked by a limitation on resources that are allocated to any given account. What happens when a customer oversteps those limitations? Generally, CloudLinux comes into play.
Now, there are certain web hosts out there, such as Ethernet Servers, who do not mind bumping the vMem and pMem limits for their clients, free of charge. However, the general consensus here is that if a web host asks for a fee for bumping hosting memory limits, or insists on the customer upgrading to the higher plan, the web host stands justified. As such, this is not an incident of overcharge.
Signup Terms or Timeframe
Often, you get an additional discounted pricing if you signup for more than a month, say a year or two years. CrocWeb is one such web host: you get to pay $2.95 per month if you signup for three years, or you can pay $5.95 per month if you decide to go monthly.
Is this a case of overcharge? Is CrocWeb forcing their customers to pay more? Not really. Obviously, the host stands to gain more if the user signs up for a longer duration, so offering an incentive to folks who do sign up for a longer duration is surely not wrong.
In that case, when can a host be called unjustified in demanding extra money?
Case One: The SSL Certificate
For a long period of time, issuance and installation of an SSL certificate has served as a convenient mode for web hosts to extract some extra funds from their clientele. Personally, I believe any web host that charges an additional fee for the installation of an SSL certificate is being unreasonable.
On the other hand, StableHost asks for $15 for the same task. However, that is acceptable to a certain degree: if you install the certificate yourself, you do not have to pay. They charge you only if you ask them to do it all for you.
Providers such as Site5 have a dismal policy here: buy the SSL from them, and you are good, buy it from elsewhere, and you pay $15 in order to be able to use it. Yes, you first pay for the SSL to your provider (say, Namecheap), and then pay $15 to Site5 because you wish to use an SSL that you rightfully own and have the right to use. I confirmed this via Live Chat on August 16.
WP Engine is another case in point here. Unless you are on one of their high-end plans, you cannot use a third party SSL certificate anyway. So you will be forced to buy the certificate via WP Engine, and here comes the overcharge: you pay $49 for a Standard certificate (which costs roughly $10 at Namecheap), or $199 per annum for a Wildcard certificate (that costs anywhere between $50 to $150 on Namecheap). Find more info on this page, and this page.
Case Two: The Dedicated IP
Another factor where your web host can possibly overcharge you is by compelling you to purchase a dedicated IP. Once again, Site5 insists on a dedicated IP for SSL usage, but this is because their customized cPanel variant does not yet support SNI.
However, a bad case in point here is WebHostFace, which are otherwise a worthy web host with decent reviews. They insist that you purchase a dedicated IP in order to use SSL — even though they agree that their cPanel version supports SNI and a dedicated IP is not really mandatory, they still demand that you purchase it from them before you activate your SSL certificate.
I confirmed this with WebHostFace, and their chat never sent me an email transcript, so here is a screenshot:
Quite obviously, such use of a dedicated IP is not just an extra burden on your wallet, but also a waste of precious IPv4 resources. Of course, many users still opt for dedicated IP addresses, so that is alright, but *forcing* your users to buy one in order to use an SSL is not cool.
Case Three: Backups
Virtually all web hosts offer daily or weekly backups. However, when it comes to restoring that backup, some web hosts make abnormal demands.
One such case is that of HostWinds. I have personally experienced their ridiculous policy: I was on their semi-dedicated Business plan, and my editor (not tech-savvy) accidentally deleted some old images in WordPress. Well, no problem, I thought, since my web host will happily let me restore backups.
To my surprise, they do not offer R1Soft, and instead, asked me to pay $25 in order to get a backup restored. Why? “We offer free backups, but restores are $25.”
The above are just three of the many samples wherein a web host can overcharge its customers and get away with it.
Other cases include:
- “Setup Fee” being paid separately, especially if you pay per month: This is ridiculous, because set ups are instant, and even if manual verification is required, that is for payment details, not for WHM/cPanel account creation.
- Overcharge for domain name: Certain web hosts sell domain names at a higher price than normal. For example, a $10.99 .com domain sells for $15.
- SSH access: If your host asks for a one-time or recurring fee when you need SSH access, know that your web host is being unjustified.
- cPanel to cPanal migrations: If your web host asks for a fee for migrating your website from a control panel that is the same as the one being used by the host, this demand is not reasonable, unless the number of cPanel accounts is too high.
Have you ever experienced or witnessed an overcharging practice by your web host? Please share your views in the comments below!
Sufyan is a contributor to a variety of websites and blogs about technology, Linux, open source, web design, content management systems and web development. Learn more about his works on sufyanism.com