Inception Hosting - Poor Customer Service
Edit: Too many people have seen this as a "poor me" sob story, which was not the intention.
Here are the simple take aways:
- The service was great at first, but slowly degraded.
- They use a Subscription-based model where you subscribe to sending them x amount of funds at a set interval.
- Other provides use an Agreement based model where an invoice is generated and they collect the funds on the due date.
- Subscription-based does not appear to be the standard with any of the other providers, Inception Hosting seems to be the only one on my PayPal list that does this practice, which can lead to a payment trap.
- I recognize it as being my fault for sending the payment in error.
- I was also stupid for mentioning anything law related.
- Inception Hosting seems plainly aware of the pitfalls of using the Subscription-based model but have done nothing to address it (ie switch from Subscription to Agreement billing with PayPal)
- Despite opening a PayPal claim or dispute, it can still be cancelled by the initiator. The parties can still come to an agreement outside of PayPal (in fact, it's encouraged).
- There is no requirement to lock the disputed account, especially when it's the main means of communication between the parties. Freezing the disputed funds would have been acceptable.
- They also could have said "we are locking the account until the PayPal claim is resolved" instead of simply locking it out with no word.
- The response from Inception Hosting was not that of empathy or pro-consumer, but rather a "sucks to be you" robot reply. It was clear they've seen the scenario numerous times but don't see it as something that needs to be addressed to prevent it in the first place.
Not looking for anyone to agree or disagree with me, point blame at anyone, etc. There is an arguable issue with the billing system the provider uses and I would recommend against knowingly getting involved with it when other providers don't have this same practice.
I had inception hosting back in 2017 when I grabbed a decent Black Friday deal.
Despite being "SSD-cached", the drives were slow (US 2048 KVM). It wasn't unusual to dip down to as low as 4Mb/s, according to bench.sh. So after a year or 2, I cancelled the service. (Yes, I was pretty slow in doing so. I seem to have an issue leaving servers idling:))
What I failed to do was cancel my PayPal subscription. Typically, any services I use open a PayPal agreement and bill me when the time comes. I quickly learned, however, that Inception Hosting does it differently. Instead of opening an agreement, they direct you to open a subscription which you send them money. Essentially, you are pushing them money rather than them pulling it.
I checked all my other service providers (OVH, RackNerd, Virmach, Alibaba Cloud, SSDNodes, to name a few) and none of them do that.
It leaves it very easy for you to fall into a trap of continuing to give them money. Given the wording in their invoice and help documentation, they know this (to be fair, they do try to warn you, but if they are aware of the scenario where consumers can continue to give them money accidently, why don't they change the subscription/push format to an agreement/pull like everyone else?).
I end up noticing the charge and within 30 minutes ask them to reverse it. Surprisingly, they refused, and made it clear "You sent us the money, we didn't ask for it. It's ours now" (my paraphrasing). They cited a fee they get charged from PayPal for refunded transactions, which I would have gladly covered. Ultimately, the result was I was left with a credit of €48EUR. Was it my fault for failing to cancel the subscription? Certainly. But from a PR standpoint it's very anti-consumer.
I decided to see if PayPal would return the extra charge, as the original agreement for the subscription was for a server to be provided, not a credit. Figured the worst that could happen is they say no, right?
Well I open the dispute and upon doing so Inception Hosting locked me out of my account.
This is only after sending 2 messages to them. One asking for a refund, and one saying it's against consumer laws to charge without providing services (this was before I realized that the PayPal agreement was me pushing the money). No hostility, no profanities.
They sent me one image before locking my account:
I would love to know how I can use an account credit for services when you lock me out of the account.
So what started as a simple mistake of me sending extra funds turned into Inception Hosting locking away those funds.