Threaten Your Customers With Legal Action; That'll Make Them Feel Valued And Want To Renew
We're all familiar with the scene. You're stuck on the end of the phone, to yet another call centre, you're on hold due to "significantly high call volume", you're paying premium rate for the privilege of being on hold and a disembodied voice interrupts the on hold musak to say "your call is important to us, please continue to hold".
Well, obviously not that important, because if it was that important than there'd actually be someone to answer the phone. Add into the mix that it's way outside of normal peak hours and you realise that "significantly high call volume" really means "we've only employed two people, one of them is on holiday and the other is taking their only toilet break of the day".
So far, so familiar. The curse of the non specific, applies to everyone, on hold experience. But oddly nowhere near as bad as when the non-specific, applies to everyone approach transfers to email and a company threatens to sue you if you don't renew.
So some background. My domain names are registered through one company, easyspace.com. They're not the best, they're not the cheapest, they're a bit impersonal and corporate but they're a case of better the devil you know and they've never threatened me and over reacted. My web hosting and email hosting are through another company, justhost.com. They're not the best, they're pretty cheap, they've had a few outages but overall they've been ... OK. I should probably have shopped around a bit more but when I moved from self hosting to the cloud they fitted the bill.
And then this gem dropped into my Inbox ...
To: Gary Gale Subject: Just Host Payment Overdue Date: Sun, 15 Nov 2009 04:22:23 -0600 From: Just Host Your Just Host account has an overdue invoice. If your invoice is for hosting services you are in danger of losing access to your site and your domain.YOUR ACCOUNT WILL AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED WHEN YOUR HOSTING INVOICE IS 7 DAYS OVERDUE. Please use the link below to make the owed payment to ensure you keep your website, domain and any upgrades active: [https://billing.justhost.com/r/?c=nnnn&i=nnnnnnnnnnnn](https://billing.justhost.com/r/?c=nnnn&i=nnnnnnnnnnnn "https://billing.justhost.com/r/?c=nnnn&i=nnnnnnnnnnnn") \*\*REMEMBER WHEN THIS INVOICE IS 7 DAYS OVERDUE YOUR ACCOUNT OR SERVICE WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED.\*\* If your account has not been paid in full after 21 days, we will refer your account to our debt collection authority to investigate and your services will be cancelled. Please reply to this email immediately in order to avoid further charges and/or cancellation of your account. If you are having trouble paying your account, please inform us and we will do our best to consider payment options that suit both parties. Kind Regards, Brooke Bryan Co-Founder, Just Host [www.justhost.com](https://www.justhost.com "https://www.justhost.com") Introduce a Friend to Just Host and receive $60! [https://www.justhost.com/affiliates](https://www.justhost.com/affiliates "https://www.justhost.com/affiliates")
Let's just look at this in detail ...
Your Just Host account has an overdue invoice.
Really? I've already paid for last year's hosting and got the bank statements to prove it. So the only interpretation I have of this is that you've automatically created an invoice for next year and your automated system has automatically lumped me in the same bucket as everyone else so you've sent me this mail to remind me to renew and to pay up. Funny. I don't actually recall asking to renew and this is the first I've heard of this. But let's read on ...
If your invoice is for hosting services you are in danger of losing access to your site and your domain.
Losing access to my site? Well fair enough, I'm supposed to be renewing web hosting here so let's keep reading.
Losing access to my domain? A generous interpretation would be that web hosting and my domain are synonymous. A less generous interpretation would be that I'd lose access to the registration of my domain, which can't be the case as it's not registered with Just Host but this is obviously a generic, one-size-fits-all mail so I'll just mutter "tsk tsk" under my breath and let it pass without further comment.
YOUR ACCOUNT WILL AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED WHEN YOUR HOSTING INVOICE IS 7 DAYS OVERDUE.
OK, I can read. Not really any need for the caps lock to be on here. I'm an existing customer, one you want to renew with you, remember?
REMEMBER WHEN THIS INVOICE IS 7 DAYS OVERDUE YOUR ACCOUNT OR SERVICE WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED.
Now listen, you mentioned the 7 days two lines ago. My short term memory is fine, and like I said, I'm a customer, so lay off on the caps lock and the stars.
If your account has not been paid in full after 21 days, we will refer your account to our debt collection authority to investigate and your services will be cancelled. Please reply to this email immediately in order to avoid further charges and/or cancellation of your account.
Whoah .... now hang on just a second. My account, as you term it, is at zero balance. I paid for a year's hosting, in advance, last year. I owe you nothing. Not one single penny. So to revisit my earlier wording, a generous interpretation would be that this mail is sent out to anyone whose account is overdue and yet again, this is a generic, one-size-fits-all mail.
But a more realistic interpretation would be in the form of a question. So Just Host, do you really think that threatening a customer who's up for renewal with legal action and with a debt collection agency is going to make me want to renew with you? Really?
But then comes the finale ...
Introduce a Friend to Just Host and receive $60! https://www.justhost.com/affiliates
So, after being shouted at in cap lock, not once but twice, after being threatened with legal action for money I can't possible owe as I haven't renewed and this was a renewal notice after all, after all of that you want me to refer a friend. Really?
After all of this I still can't quite work out whether this is breathtaking arrogance or touching naivete on the part of Just Host and of Brooke Bryan, the co founder. Whichever it is, it shows just how little the customer is valued at this certain hosting establishment.