Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I think I hate Fatcow. And you should, too.

Below is a slightly edited reprint of my email to Gary R. Engel, Sr. Vice President, Sales and Customer Support, The Endurance International Group, Inc.:

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I spent almost 40 minutes on the phone this morning with Fatcow support, first with Brian in billing support and then with the billing supervisor, whose name was, I believe, Rachael.

Rachael expedited my refund (my thanks to her), but suggested I contact you with my operational experience.

As a favor to a friend, I decided that I would pay the domain renewal charge for the domain, which was registered through Fatcow when we signed up for hosting services.

I clicked a link in the email we had received from Fatcow regarding the renewal, logged in to the account, and went to the page to renew the domain registration.

I am a web developer and try to watch very closely for any "gotcha"s associated with online renewals. So I read the instructions and notes carefully, and checked the ONE TIME PAYMENT box.

The payment process seemed to complete, and I later received an email acknowledgement of the domain renewal ((your domain)has been renewed", October 7, 2011).

What I did not know was that, as a function of my making this one time payment, the account was updated with my credit card information and my email address.

What I also did not know what that, as a result of that process, my credit card was then charged nearly $150 more for payment of hosting fees.

My issues, and my frustration and concerns, come from this:

1. There was absolutely no indication on the original domain registration renewal payment screens that the payment information for the account would be updated with my credit card. Had there been, I would have stopped. It was never the intent to do anything other than make a domain renewal payment for a friend.

2. There was no email notification of activity on the account. I cannot imagine making a change of this magnitude on any other service and not getting an email indicating that both the email address AND credit card information for the account had been changed. This is an horrific oversight.

3. There was no acknowledgement email regarding the annual hosting fee charge to my account, or an email confirming that the hosting services had been paid. Nothing. I did not discover the charge until I responded to an email from my bank and saw the charge in my online statement.

It may be a perceptual error on my part, but in my two years or so as a Fatcow customer I had thought of your company as being on a slightly higher ground than GoDaddy and those "other guys".

This experience falls completely outside of any definition of a quality customer experience.

The transaction taking the annual hosting fee payment from my account seems, at the very least, to have been fraudulent, and perhaps even criminal. I did not authorize that payment in any way. I was not made aware that my payment information for that simple domain renewal transaction would replace the payment information for the account and change email addresses associated with the account. Then, on top of that, there was not notification from Fatcow that the transactions had even occurred. Not for the change in the account. Not for the hosting payment.

This is a serious flaw in your system. You need a better model. While short term this sort of misdirection may prove beneficial to your bottom line, I cannot help but believe that people will eventually grow tired of being mistreated and will vote with their wallets.

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