For the past six years I've hosted several webs and forums, as well as a gallery of my photography, on my own private domain - StoneCairn.com.
I love having my own web site. Makes me feel like I own a summer home, or a private island. I liked it so much that I bought a "Never Renew Again" package with my web hosting company. This means that I plunked down a lot of cash, up front, to be sure I'd have uninterrupted service and never have to budget in another web host payment. All I paid was the renewal on the domain name (which was annoying, but necessary).
Last Thursday, out of the blue, I got a nice invoice from my web host for £39. The web host is Irish, so not only do I pay their rates, I pay the ugly conversion to dollars also. That means they were billing me for $64!
I quickly sent back an email telling them that I had a lifetime package and advising that there must be some mistake.
Nope. They politely told me that they'd decided to no longer honor the lifetime packages and I could pay up or my web would be terminated on January 1st.
What followed was a lot of steam rising from my ears.
This has to be illegal. The part of me that paid rapt attention during three years of law school agrees, it's got to be illegal. What I don't know is whether it's worthwhile to fight this. Even if I win, do I want to continue to do business with people who consider this type of practice ethical?
I decided to see what the rest of the world is paying for web hosting. I don't need much - just PHP and a nice SQL backend to host my databases. Most services offer that. While I was looking I started looking for a domain host, so I could register the domain name in my name and then point it to wherever I wanted.
No problem there - I found a pretty inexpensive domain host (costing about half what I've been paying my Irish company). They would be happy to register my StoneCairn domain, but they need two things - the name unlocked by the Irish company, and an authorization code.
The Irish company refused to give me an authorization code, and instead sent me a document which would unlock the domain but immediately terminate my account (and web).
Lots more steam.
In fact, I think my ears are going to be permanently red.
So now I'm at a crossroads. Do I dump everything I've put in place for the past six years and just walk away? Can I justify the expense of what is mostly preening my own feathers? Is there any way I can send Saint Patrick over to wail on a few unscrupulous Irish business men with his shillelagh? Maybe I'd best call in a pooka instead of a saint.
I have five weeks to decide.