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  1. #1
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    Steadfast Remote Hands Services - Tell me what you think...

    I am a colocation client at Steadfast Networks (www.steadfast.net) and I will be canceling my colocation services and have my 9 servers packed and shipped out. All my servers with the exception of 2 are 1U servers. They are telling me it will cost me $40 for half an hour of remote hands to de-rack one server. For 9 servers, that is 9 * $40 = $360 and 4 hours and 30 minutes of labor. They made it clear that this is not negotiable. On top of this, they say it will cost me $35 per server for shipping. That's another 9 * $35 = $315 in shipping costs. That's $675 so far, and it doesn't stop there. Two of the servers are 4U units, and they are telling me I will need to supply the packaging for them, which would cost me another $50, totaling $725.

    What do you think about this? Does $725 sound outrageous to simply de-rack, package, and ship out 9 servers?
    Last edited by Acozilla; 04-01-2011 at 09:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    That doesn't sound right. I recently moved much of my business to the cloud and had to remove my three servers. They didn't charge me anything to derack them. I live in the area so I just picked them up.

    I was with them for years and those guys there are awesome. Have you tried calling them?

  3. #3
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    Oh it's right, and I will be posting the screenshots of the ticket updates as it progresses.

    I do not live in the area so I am forced to deal with their remote hands.

    I too was a customer with a 1-2gbps commitment for almost 2 years.

  4. #4
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    I can understand the shipping costs and the additional packaging costs for the 4U boxes, but the remote hands to derack doesn't seem fair.

  5. #5
    I have to disagree. They are basically charging you $80 per hour for remote hands support, which is an extremely fair price. Their time estimates may be a little high as I would think 9 servers could be deracked in around 3 hours. But since the hourly charge is low compared to $125 or higher of most reputable facilities, the net cost comes out around the same.

    The shipping costs are also extremely reasonable. I don't know how far the shipment is traveling, but $35 may not even cover their actual costs if the package is going to sat CA/AZ, etc. If it is shipping to a residential address in one of those locations, the $35 per server price is almost surely not going to cover their actual expense. It will admittedly be within a few $, but the point is that the charge is fair.

  6. #6
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    Correction, it would cost me 2x $50 (+shipping) to order the supplies they have specified to package the 4U units. This makes the total cost around $780-800 to de-rack, package, and ship 9 servers.

    I'd like everyone to keep that in mind if you ever consider colocation at Steadfast. It was cheap and easy to get in, but expensive and hard to get out, and we're just talking about 9 servers...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acozilla View Post
    Correction, it would cost me 2x $50 (+shipping) to order the supplies they have specified to package the 4U units. This makes the total cost around $780-800 to de-rack, package, and ship 9 servers.

    I'd like everyone to keep that in mind if you ever consider colocation at Steadfast. It was cheap and easy to get in, but expensive and hard to get out.
    Supplies aren't cheap and nor is shipping.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Wall View Post
    Supplies aren't cheap and nor is shipping.
    According to the Steadfast staff, they will be using the left over packaging for my 1U servers. It's not like they are buying the packaging supplies.

    The shipping cost is relatively fair as I calculated the cost myself through UPS and it was about $28 per box ($7 less).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by colomondo View Post
    I have to disagree. They are basically charging you $80 per hour for remote hands support, which is an extremely fair price. Their time estimates may be a little high as I would think 9 servers could be deracked in around 3 hours. But since the hourly charge is low compared to $125 or higher of most reputable facilities, the net cost comes out around the same.
    Im sorry but are you saying charging a long standing customer money to remove their equipment from the racks @ $80/hour is fair?!. Also 9 servers taking 3 hours?! When i moved some equipment (10 servers) to different racks it took me no longer than 30mins to shut down hardware disconnect cables and take the servers out! 2 hours for the whole move.

    Surely the price of removing the equipment is included in the long standing colocation contract. Thats as good as charging a webhosting customer a leaving fee when they leave.

    Shipping/Packing of course is chargable, but to charge to remove the equipment is mad as i presume even if the customer wanted to they wouldnt be allowed to remove it on their own.

    If i was the customer i would be checking terms and conditions very carefully to see if they state they will charge to remove equipment ontop of the monthly fee the customer has paid for how ever long.

  10. #10
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    I feel it's appropriate to put some things in perspective...

    Most of the time spent for outbound shipments is preparing and packing the servers, with unracking being a relatively speedy process by comparison. If someone picks up servers and skips requiring us to prepare them, the time cost is usually much lower. 4U servers in particular may require multiple people to move and extra time to unrack as well. In the end though, the numbers provided are estimates. The actual used time will be the amount billed for.

    Shipping costs are based on courtesy rate quotes (from FedEx, not UPS) which take into account weight and size of packages. In particular, 4U servers are likely to be four times the cost of the 1U servers, possibly more due to the disproportionate number of additional drives. The cost is higher if you ask the packages to be delivered to a residential address and we won't know the exact cost until FedEx actually processes the package. This number is sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but usually close. If you have a FedEx account and want us to use it, we'll gladly do so and have the shipping charges billed directly. This avoids any possibility that we might over or undercharge you for shipping.

    You can always save money by coming to the facility and unracking and/or carrying out equipment personally. Beyond that, we're providing a service that costs us money, and I don't see it as unreasonable to charge for it.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob-Rackedeu View Post
    Im sorry but are you saying charging a long standing customer money to remove their equipment from the racks @ $80/hour is fair?!. Also 9 servers taking 3 hours?! When i moved some equipment (10 servers) to different racks it took me no longer than 30mins to shut down hardware disconnect cables and take the servers out! 2 hours for the whole move.
    3 hours would be a high estimate to prepare the customer for that possibility. If it takes less time, we bill less time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob-Rackedeu View Post
    Surely the price of removing the equipment is included in the long standing colocation contract. Thats as good as charging a webhosting customer a leaving fee when they leave.
    Contract? Most of our services do not involve contracts unless the customer would like one.

    It's really nothing like charging a web hosting customer for leaving because there's pretty much no labor involved in clicking a couple buttons in a web interface and there's nothing to pack up or ship to conclude the business relationship.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob-Rackedeu View Post
    Shipping/Packing of course is chargable, but to charge to remove the equipment is mad as i presume even if the customer wanted to they wouldnt be allowed to remove it on their own.
    A customer is welcome to come in and remove his own equipment, assuming his account is in good standing, to arrange for someone else to pick up equipment, or to arrange for alternative shipping (FedEx account number, a prepared set of labels, etc). We charge only for the services we are asked to provide in assisting the customer in leaving.
    Last edited by KStange; 04-01-2011 at 10:53 PM.
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  12. #12
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    Like I said earlier, I find your shipping prices to be fair. Nothing wrong here. The topic is mainly about the remote hand fees and to gather some input from others. It is not a complaint. All I wish to know is if 4.5 hours is normal, or a 'industry-standard', to de-rack and package 9 servers (2 of them being 4Us). To me, $770-800 sounds outrageous to ship out 9 servers, but that's my opinion, which really doesn't matter. It is what it is.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acozilla View Post
    What do you think about this? Does $725 sound outrageous to simply de-rack, package, and ship out 9 servers?
    Not at all. $35 per server for shipping sounds about right. You can't blame them for the cost of shipping, nor can you blame them for the cost of the packaging for the 4U servers. Charging you $40 of tech time per server to unrack and box the server is absolutely reasonable. Be glad that you're not at a carrier neutral data center, where it would cost you a lot more than that.
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  14. #14
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    that price is not super cheap but its not that high either for the amount of work that needs to be done.


    you can always find someone else to do the work if you think you can find it done cheaper.

  15. #15
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    We generally bill individual actions as full 30 minute periods if they are isolated, so if you request each server to be unracked and shipped separately at different times, you might reach the 4 hours and 30 minutes. I would agree that unracking all servers together would usually not take one half hour each. It's more likely that the process would take a few hours total, provided there are no problems and the 4U systems are able to be handled quickly. I would say if there's anything that would slow things down, it would be getting a 4U system down safely and then packing it securely.

    You shouldn't need to fear that you'll be billed for more time than it actually takes to complete the work or that our staff does anything at a slow enough pace that it will artificially inflate the time required to complete the task.
    Last edited by KStange; 04-01-2011 at 11:17 PM.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acozilla View Post
    What do you think about this? Does $725 sound outrageous to simply de-rack, package, and ship out 9 servers?
    Seems fair. I assume they are taking the time to ensure your server is well packaged.

    If you can't pickup your equipment in person, you should ask your colo provider how much it would cost to ship your server back before you colo with them.

  17. #17
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    One idea is just getting a airplane ticket, or greyhound ticket there... Go there derack servers etc.. go to UPS Store, Fedex Store, USPS and just ship them back home...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acozilla View Post
    To me, $770-800 sounds outrageous to ship out 9 servers, but that's my opinion, which really doesn't matter. It is what it is.
    Yes, but if you look at it, it is 9 servers and for me, it is fair price.

    Not cheap though but ok.

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  19. #19
    I am glad I am not the only one who thought the charges were fair :-). After the first few posts, I was beginning to think we were out of line to charge similiar rates.

  20. #20
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    If it makes you feel any better, some DC's charge $150/hr and that doesn't include packaging and shipping. I think you may have lucked out lol.
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  21. #21
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    SteadFast guys have been fairly co-operative and I believe the charge is pretty nominal - it kinda hurts when you are not prepared for such a charge but in such cases, it will be best to drive down to Chicago and de-rack / pickup your servers. We are using couple of colo facilities (including SteadFast) and have usually found them to be co-operative and intend to work with us for our custom requirements.
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  22. #22
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    It's about right, in fact.
    Once in 2006 I shipped 20 (twenty) Dell PE750 tower servers from Houston to Seattle.

    The facility itself offered the remote hands to unplug and unrack the servers for free (as they had that on contract), but I had to pay $1200 for Pakmail (www.pakmail.com) to pickup with a forklift (forklifts are also extra costs, and also another extra if you don't have cargo elevators) and properly pack those servers (56lb each), with supplies like packing peanuts and tape and bubble wrap - which takes a long time and is not free - and another $1500 on shipping them.

    Count that each 1U is half of that tower individual size (around 25lb), you are using 15U so $750-800 seems a good estimate, and that is counting only on half-coast-to-coast shipping. If coast-to-coast that can cost more than $60 per 1U server not including the packing and handling.

  23. #23
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    Also, if you were in Equinix or Telx, charges would be three times what you are being charged by Steadfast.

  24. #24
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    I wanted to note that we do not keep server packaging regularly as most colocation customers are local and we do not get any of our own systems in boxes. We generally need to purchase the boxes and packing materials from a local vendor, thus getting the boxes for shipping is also not free. The issue is, 4u boxes are not at all common, and we do not have access to any. Previously, we have used packaging services at FedEx Kinkos or a UPS Store for this, but we have been unhappy with the quality of service they provide, and the pricing (especially considering the extra labor on our side to spend 30+ minutes in transit and at the store). That is certainly still an option, but we can make no guarantees that it will be cheaper or as to the quality of their work.

    Overall, the times given were estimates and I do not see how $40 per half hour is an unreasonable cost, especially considering we're in a major city. This pricing is much lower than most of our competitors and is clearly posted on our web site. We are only billing for work that has specifically been requested by the customer at the stated/agreed rates and if you want to make other arrangements for someone to pick up and/or package/ship the equipment we are more than happy to accomodate that request.
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  26. #26
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    Acozilla,

    If your servers are in one of SteadFast Network's datacenters located in the Chicago area, you may want to contact Curt of Amadi Systems for an estimate.
    He regularly has staff members lurking around/on-site at Continuum Datacenters and SteadFast Networks which would be able to do this type of job.

    I've previously had a quote of $50, from Curt, to have a 1U server transferred from Continuum to SteadFast.
    He usually charges $15 to $20, depending of insurances, for 1U servers shipping (this is when he has built it).

    I'm pretty sure he can do this job for less than the outrageous amount (this is my opinion) Steadfast has quoted you. And, in the mean time, if you had planned some hardware upgrades, you'd be at the right place.

    Anyways, thanks for posting this. Such unplanned fees is always a pain and we'll be aware of them if we ever use SteadFast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WootWoot View Post
    Such unplanned fees is always a pain and we'll be aware of them if we ever use SteadFast.
    It's no just steadfast, anyone would be charging you for stuff like that.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by bluemer View Post
    One idea is just getting a airplane ticket, or greyhound ticket there... Go there derack servers etc.. go to UPS Store, Fedex Store, USPS and just ship them back home...
    If you go to a UPS store and ask them to pack / ship these servers for you, you'll be lucky if it only costs twice as much as Steadfast is estimating for you. I can understand why you're disappointed to have to pay to move the servers out of the facility, but I think the overall quote is totally fair.
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  29. #29
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    The quote is very fair. They need to shutdown the servers gracefully (having a monitor connected to each server), then remove them from the rack , screw out the rails, move them to another area.
    There they pack them (ever tried packing 4U servers in a secure way so they will not damage?) and move them to the place where the courier picks them up.
    Time is money. $80,00 / hour remote hands is way below industry average - you got a great deal here.
    Surely it could be done MUCH FASTER that is totally true, but then your post would not be titled : -insert any colocation provider here- Remote Hands Services - Tell me what you think... but more in the lines of: -all my servers arrived broken and severely damaged, what should i do now?-
    Last edited by swiftnoc; 04-02-2011 at 02:14 PM.
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  30. #30
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    insert any colocation provider here- Remote Hands Services - Tell me what you think... but more in the lines of: -all my servers arrived broken and severely damaged, what should i do now?-
    +1.. I'm used to my servers getting racked for free as part of a signup bonus, but I've never expected that they will get pulled, packaged, and shipped for free. Also which is better, paying 50$ to have the servers packaged properly and with care, or have 8 broken servers show up in the mail.

    I'd say you got a good deal.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by linuxissues View Post
    It's no just steadfast, anyone would be charging you for stuff like that.
    You're right but, as drmorley said in topic's second post, SteadFast apparently doesn't charge anything to derack a server : which I believe is fair. Packing and shipping a server is something else, however.

    Assuming this part of the process is indeed free, they're saying it'd take 30 minutes to pack a server? Hahah. You got to be kidding me. As for the hourly rate, while $80 per hour is reasonnable (I got Joe's Datacenter godlike $25/hour in mind; but some others could charge $200+), you got to agree it's frustrating to pay at that rate for something that can be done by nearly anyone.

    As for the shipping, wouldn't it be possible to safely pack multiple 1U servers into one box? And $50 for a 4U box : really?

    If SteadFast may indeed derack the servers for free, it is nearly certain that Curt's technicians could pick them up and have them shipped out for (much) less than $725.

    Quote Originally Posted by swiftnoc View Post
    all my servers arrived broken and severely damaged, what should i do now?
    Assuming they're shipping them in their original packaging, how could they pack the servers in a better way than any other datacenter? I got a Supermicro box right beside me and it's a piece of cake to get the chassis correctly in and out and, believe it or not, it takes about a minute!
    Last edited by WootWoot; 04-02-2011 at 02:36 PM.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by WootWoot View Post
    Assuming this part of the process is indeed free, they're saying it'd take 30 minutes to pack a server? Hahah. You got to be kidding me.
    Shutdown host, unrack, box up, prepare shipping label and move to appropriate area for pickup, handle customer billing and update customer on stats. 30 minutes is about right. If the box is 3U-4U, it will take 2 people to move the thing safely, as well.

    As for the hourly rate, while $80 per hour is reasonnable (I got Joe's Datacenter $25/hour in mind; but some others could charge $200+), you got to agree it's frustrating to pay at that rate for something that can be done by nearly anyone.
    We charge people to unrack stuff as well. We actually have some customers gear because he refused to pay the unrack fee and didn't want to pay for shipping.

    As for the shipping, wouldn't it be possible to safely pack multiple 1U servers into one box? And $50 for a 4U box : really?
    Proper shipping materials are expensive. If you take a 4U server to a UPS Store, they are going to charge you $100 or more to properly double box the system and stabilize it in the box.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMEHosting View Post
    If it makes you feel any better, some DC's charge $150/hr and that doesn't include packaging and shipping. I think you may have lucked out lol.
    I've seen >250/hour.
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    I see a lot of comments agreeing with the high prices coming from folks that either work for a data center. I don't see many actual (small) customers agreeing with these prices, which make up the majority of clients that data centers have. Just an interesting observation.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acozilla View Post
    I see a lot of comments agreeing with the high prices coming from folks that either work for a data center. I don't see many actual (small) customers agreeing with these prices, which make up the majority of clients that data centers have. Just an interesting observation.
    Actually most datacenters work with rather large clients, i would say that 'small' customers make up for a minority of colocation clients.
    That said, i know several of our 'small' clients that are also clients of other datacenters and willingly pay $250 to have their remote hands employees swap a HDD for them.
    Remote hands prices are not a secret when people sign up. Its just that some clients expect that remote hands charges are some fictional charge, that will never actually apply to them, whatever they request to have done.
    Point me to a sizeable amount of capable and trained employees that will work for free, under the heavy stress of a large datacenter environment and we would be happy to throw in free remote hands.
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  36. #36
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    So, the remote hands fee itself, $80/hour is fair/very good for Chicago or another major city, the shipping fee is not our fee (we are not profiting off it), and we simply asked for the 4u boxes because we don't have them/access to them, we are not collecting payment or profiting on that either. The only remaining possible issue is the amount of time it takes?

    For the most part, when it is a single server to unrack, pack, and ship the process takes MORE than a half hour, but we just round down for customers. The process to procure the packing materials, costs for those materials, etc. would generally account for 15 minutes by itself (so it is basically $20 for the shipping materials and getting them to the data center). Unracking and removing the server and rails and putting away the cabling is another 5+ minutes, easily. Taking the server into the storage area or office area to box it, putting it in the box, verifying everything is in place and secure, taping up the box, printing out the shipping label is 5+ minutes. Then putting it on the cart and taking it down to the loading dock for pick up is another 5+ minutes. We're not even counting administrative work in all this, and things would need to go absolutely smoothly, without a single hitch to get it under a 30 minute allocation of time.

    We do NOT nickel and dime our customers and that is certainly not the intent of this, in fact we feel we are significantly more flexible and much cheaper in this regard than our competition. Tell Equinix or TelX you want them to ship something for you and see how that goes. We provide initial racking for free (we provide cage nuts and screws at no additional charge), this includes initial cabling (we provide the short power cables and network cables at no extra charge), etc. We never indicate to anyone that the packing and shipping out of servers is included in any way and we do not hide our $40 per half hour remote hands fees, and the policies surrounding those are clearly outlined in our Colocation Terms and Policies.

    For us, the vast majority of our colocation customers work with us locally, they come in regularly to work on systems, and are able to pick up their servers themselves if needed. I'd say we have 2500+ colocated servers that are serviced locally, and maybe ~500 that are not. If we cannot charge for the labor required by those non-local users we need to pass those costs on to our local users, and how is that fair?

    Simply put, if you're doing colocation in a location not local to you, you will need to plan for the use of remote hands fees. That simply needs to be a part of your budget, they cannot be unexpected, you need to expect them as they will happen. It is just sound business practice/planning.

    Note: For those thinking we should keep the boxes on-site, well, that would require ~250 sq. ft. of space dedicated to just the storage of boxes, partially because we're across multiple sites. That would cost us $500+ extra a month in rent as we are not in low rent buildings. In general, we require ~10 boxes a month for shipping, at the current cost of $200 a month. Thus, to cover our costs, we would need to charge $50 for packing materials, on average, instead of the $20 we basically charge now. Even then, we would have no guaranteed supply of boxes, as our own systems are delivered locally by Amadi without boxes and as most of our colo customers are local they often either bring servers in without boxes or take the boxes back with them.
    Last edited by KarlZimmer; 04-02-2011 at 04:52 PM.
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  37. #37
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    so conlusion is :

    to located is mean you need much money to set it up at a very first time

    thank you for the lessons
    please cmiiw always

  38. #38
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    Apart from hosts that participate here on WHT, the normal rate that I have seen around for remote hand are anywhere between $150-$200
    On the other hand if OP is paranoid about charges he should arrange the entire pickup and shipping.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kusai View Post
    On the other hand if OP is paranoid about charges he should arrange the entire pickup and shipping.
    Exactly. If the OP believes that the provider is charging too much, he can always arrange someone locally to pickup the servers or fly there and pack the servers himself.
    But i believe the remote hands charge is exceptionally low for a major city datacenter.
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  40. #40
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    6,889
    Quote Originally Posted by swiftnoc View Post
    Exactly. If the OP believes that the provider is charging too much, he can always arrange someone locally to pickup the servers or fly there and pack the servers himself.
    Yes, we are not preventing any alternate methods here. The customer can come in and pick them up himself, absolutely no additional charge from us. He can specifically authorize someone else to come in and pick them up, no additional charge from us. We are not forcing these fees on the customer, this is specifically the path the customer chose to take, thus we are charging enough to cover our costs to go that route.

    We are not a shipping/receiving company, we don't really handle it a lot. I'm sure someone with a higher volume in that area specifically may be cheaper, but we need to make sure our own costs are covered. We offer to handle most everything for you as a convenience, to make things easier for the customer. You're not obligated to use these services and if you have other options, we won't stop you from using them.
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