affordable-business-websites-just-a-dreamBeing well known for our affordable websites and hosting services, we regularly get business owners coming to us with stories of what other website companies are charging

All too often we’re simply disgusted with what some website providers are charging for services that either they get for free, or it’s a process that takes next-to no time to do. We’ll get to the specifics in a bit but for now we’re challenging all providers to honestly review their pricing, and put a stop to this rort.

This price gouging is hurting a lot of business owners, who in many cases don’t know any better. It’s all very well saying customers have a choice but do you think that would stop anyone complaining if Spark decided to go back to the bad old (Xtra) days of charging everyone $5/hour to surf the net at the blazing speed of 33k dial-up? Times have changed and website providers need to stop ripping off their customers.

Why should prices have dropped?

Like a lot of internet services, the cost of delivery has changed over the years. Services or processes that previously were labour intensive have now been automated. CMS frameworks, free plug-ins, website themes, free Google tracking services, free video-sharing sites and cheaper hosting options have all lowered the cost of production for website companies.

Here in Christchurch, many of these companies, such as Hairy Lemon, have enjoyed additional cost savings with the move to suburban homes instead of expensive inner-city offices after the earthquakes.

So why do many companies continue to charge such high prices? Why has Milton’s invisible hand of the free market not seen price drops across the board?

The short answer is because they can. There is no public outrage simply because this only affects businesses, and many business owners just accept this as the cost of doing business in the new digital age.

The other reason is due to framing. Framing is a practice often used by retailers to make a price seem more attractive. Putting two price tags next to each other distorts the buyer’s perception of whether it is actually good value.

So for many business owners moving from traditional forms of advertising and offline promotion, the costs of digital might seem comparable. Did you used to spend $1500 on a full page ad in the Press? Paying $3000 for a website that’s advertising 24/7/365 might seem like a fair deal. If you spent hundreds of dollars printing and posting mailers to customers, spending a similar amount on a single email campaign might seem ok.

Unfortunately this is a poor comparison. It’s like trading in your V8 Falcon for a Corolla and getting the same mileage, excusing it by saying ‘well, that’s what I used to pay for petrol’ – which ignores the whole point of progress. As a business owner, looking for ways to save should be just as important as reaching out for sales. You should be benefiting from advances in technology not going backwards because of them.

Case in point: How much should a backup of your website cost?

One specific example of overcharging we came across recently was a client who moved their website and email services to us from Plato Creative. They offered to provide a backup of the website files. Here is a copy of the email received from them:

No worries – we are more than happy to supply you with the website files, we will just need a little bit of time to package these for you. This will be a minimum of $250 + GST and includes time to:

Retrieve, package and supply the website files
Export the current database and create a text file with the relevant database information in it
Upload a zipped folder containing the database and website files (via wetransfer or dropbox)
This also includes shifting the domain name if required, as well as supplying the UDAI code

Please note: this excludes time to provide support to install the website on the new server. We are more than happy to help you with this and we usually charge this on a time-taken basis.

So to get something that anyone could do within a matter of minutes using a free tool like SiteSucker, they wanted to charge almost $300 minimum (plus extra for asking questions about using those backup files)? This was for a long-time client that had been paying in the vicinity of $50 a month for hosting (no email services, just hosting) for a small website. Added to this ‘Owen Franks grade’ gouging was obvious disdain for the client in question – the website files were deleted immediately rather than at least waiting for a few hours for the new host to take over the site, leaving their website down (fortunately we acted quickly outside of business hours to get a copy of the site live). There was also no database and they didn’t have the UDAI code, both of which they should know if they actually cared about the client.

We’re not doing this to pick on Plato (and we welcome their response if they would like to offer a second opinion) – we’re sure it happens with a lot of other website providers who are continuing to enjoy rich pickings in this industry. We hope for the sake of business owners it won’t last much longer, but as long as people keep paying them it will keep happening.

As an aside, we don’t charge a cent for a website backup, and all our websites are easily moved to a different host if required. We believe if we’ve enjoyed a client’s custom over the years the least we can do in return is gift them a free copy of their website – I mean they did pay for it in the first place!

Are you being overcharged for your website?

If you’re a business owner you might be wondering if you’re paying too much. What can you do? Compare our prices for websites and hosting, or just get in touch and we can let you know – it won’t cost you a cent to find out but it could save you a lot – like one retailer who had been paying Zeald over $150 a month – we reduced that to under $20.

And it can be easier to change than you might think – ask us how.

You might not be able to effect change in the industry but you can make a big difference to the profitability of your business (instead of greedy providers) – and when more business owners vote with their feet we might just see this pricing inequity resolved.

Businesses are getting ripped off – Overcharging for website services