Like the rest of the population some things irk, some things annoy and some thing really make me unhappy.
In this case, I feel really aggrieved for a family company, who have recently ‘fallen out’ with their web company.
I should perhaps explain something here – I do a little bit of helping out some solicitors who from time to time come to talk to me regarding IT issues, I have the enviable ability to explain stuff in layman’s terms 🙂 (I shall not give any details of the case, or indicate who the parties may be however).
Now this is something we hear of all the time – holding domain names for ransom. This it seems is a loathsome practice, mainly carried out be unscrupulous web companies. 😡
In this scenario, a non ‘web-savvy’ retailer went to a web design company and negotiated for a new eCommerce site to retail their product, this was accompanied with a .com domain purchase and an SEO contract to boost the site traffic. All good so far.
Now here’s the problem – the SEO part of the contract never hit the targets that were agreed, so the retailer held back on payment for that part of the deal, not the domain or the website part, just the SEO part. 😯
Unsurprisingly, this caused the relationship between the two companies to deteriorate to the level that the web company refused to release the website and the domain to the retailer, gave 4 days notice that unless the bill was settled the website would be taken offline, and demanded £1000 for the domain to be re-registered in the retailers name as the web company had registered it as themselves.
And the result? the web company did indeed suspend the website, just at the clients busy period (they retail a product much sought after at Christmas). This means that the web company will get sued, including a claim for all the court costs, and a bill for ‘loss of earnings’ over the clients busy period, lets just say that this will end with a 5 figure sum.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. All over a domain name costing lees than £10!
Although I understand that having some hold over a client means that you have some come-back in case the customer doesn’t play nice (read ‘pay the bill’), in this case they had paid for the parts the web company was withholding and had the SEO been good enough, then the whole thing would not have gone sour.
As I said, sadly this isn’t unusual or uncommon. Other tricks include, not giving out the FTP details of a site after payment so the client can’t get to the files to move them, posting nasty messages on the homepage of the sites (I have seen things like ‘This client doesn’t pay their bills’), or completely redirecting a site to a competitor.
What to we at Rochester & Associates Ltd do? Simple: in the case on non payment for a part of a contract, we stop doing that bit. In this case, the client would have had free access to move his domain and website, and we would have negotiated on the SEO to see if we could come to an agreement for the work done and parted. If the relationship has soured, then who want’s to continue doing business?