A top of mind concern in the IT industry is preventing data loss. Typically, technical solutions are considered, but this overlooks more mundane causes of data loss that arguably crop up more frequently, such as human error, billing errors, and similar issues. As a company that cares about the preservation of customer data, we give these “boring” areas the consideration they deserve.
If you’ve spent some time in the web hosting industry, you’ve probably heard some horror stories of data loss. A common one is with companies with stringent billing policies, this can result in account termination and data loss within as little as 24 hours of an account being considered ‘past due’. This can be very worrying when you consider that credit card companies won’t always let a charge go through, or you might forget to update automatic payments when a card expires.
In fact, this is one of our most commonly asked questions when we are talking to prospective customers: What policies do we have in place for handling overdue billing?
Loss of data is a terrible outcome that should be avoided whenever possible. This is something we understand all too well, even from personal experience from when we first started out renting dedicated servers from third parties ourselves.
With automatic payments set up the majority of overdue billing issues can be easily avoided. Towards that end, IOFlood accepts payments via credit card or via paypal, each of which supports automatic recurring payments. We strongly recommend that wherever possible, to avoid overdue billing issues, that our customers have a credit card on file or to create a paypal subscription so payments can be automatically deducted.
That said, we know that that isn’t always a possibility, and as such, we have put a lot of thought into carving out policies that provide a much more customer friendly policy than many other providers, one that we think certainly provides a good balance of what is best for the customer while still ensuring we get compensated for the services we provide.
This is the timeline our standard billing policy follows:
All invoices are sent out 10 days prior to their due date to allow sufficient time to complete a manual payment.
Our billing system starts sending automated overdue notifications starting periodically at 2 day past due and credit cards on file for auto-pay are tried again once per day.
Once the invoice is 4 days overdue, our staff members send a manual reminder via their corporate gmail accounts in order to increase the odds of successful mail delivery.
At 7 days overdue, suspension of any customer in good standing must be manually approved by a manager, who looks at any factors which may be a reason to not suspend service.
Once the service has been suspended the server will sit untouched for a minimum of 3 days. Our hope is that, if customers did not notice overdue notifications, they should notice the server is offline and contact us.
Once the service has been suspended, a manager needs to manually approve wiping the drives of the server to make it available for new customers.
As you can see, by following the timeline provided, in the case that a customer does not contact us at all regarding an overdue payment, it would be a minimum of 10 days before a server would be wiped, and during those 10 days there is significant effort and attempts to contact the customer.
It is also important to note that we do, where ever possible, take into account other issues, such as holidays and world events that may affect our customers abilities to meet their commitments.
Also, it’s worth saying: Communication is key! If a customer lets us know of a specific circumstance that is delaying payment, our staff will do our best to work with them on a mutually acceptable arrangement. We will always do the best we can to work with our customers for a positive outcome for all involved.
As one other thing I would mention, billing issues like this are one of the most common causes of data loss. Whether you have a billing error, dispute, failed transaction, or other issue, it is critical to consider this method of losing data when deciding on a business continuity strategy. Other common “non technical” causes of data loss include abuse issues / terms of service violations, law enforcement seizure of equipment, natural disaster, or other company-specific or location-specific causes of data loss.
One key point to consider is that many of these factors all tie back to one single point of failure: your vendor. That is why we strongly recommend that your backup data be kept with an entirely different hosting provider than your live production systems. No amount of technical solutions will help if your data is wiped intentionally by a service provider, due to terms of service violation, billing issue, or court order.
For at least the portions of those problems within our control, IOFlood does its best to have thoughtful, customer friendly policies.
If you have any questions about our policies, or our services in general, please reach out to us!
Here’s how we can be reached:
If you are an existing customer you can login to our secure client portal at https://manage.ioflood.com using the username and password that was emailed to you when you first signed up.
You can contact our support technicians by emailing support @ ioflood.com
You can contact our sales team by emailing sales @ ioflood.com
Alternatively you can contact us on skype by using the following skype contacts: