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  1. #1
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    SERVSTRA - Appalling Billing Practices!

    We have only been with Servstra a short time. We have found their tech support to be on par with most budget reseller providers - meaning they are usually very polite but you have go through the frustration of dealing with a few level 1 techs before your issues get escalated. Though for the price, I'd say their tech support is just fine..

    It is their billing service that is completely unacceptable and just well... Terrible. We did not find out until after we signed up that there is no way to be set up on auto pay with Servstra, a convenience I guess we've just come to expect dealing with any business that has recurring billing. But I could deal with that if not for the larger problem which is this:

    SERVSTRA sent us a bill on Nov 20 by email with a Nov 25 due date. Last night (Dec 3) only two weeks later I find that our server is disconnected. I contacted support and they told me they would be reboot the server. I went back to bed, woke up this morning to find an email message telling me to contact sales. SERVSTRA disconnected our server two weeks after sending their invoice with NO warning or notice! Of course we quickly paid the bill and the server was back up. But you've got to be kidding me?! We overlook a bill to this small degree and get the plug pulled without a notice or warning??? That is VERY BAD business.

    I should also mention that SERVSTRA bills a month in advance. So we paid a month in advance, then two weeks into the service we get the plug pulled because we hadn't paid the next month's service yet?

    I feel I need to warn others here looking into SERVSTRA of this strange, intolerant, and just plain absurd billing policy.

  2. #2
    I guess the morale of the story is to read TOS very carefully.

    If it is indeed stated that invoices must be paid within 5 days in the TOS then I believe you have nothing to moan about; especially since they also sent you a reminder that you had 5 days in which to pay your invoice.

    As far as I can see, Servstra have done nothing wrong here. Once payment was received your server was back up which is acceptable considering you didn't adhere to pay the last invoice within the 5 days allocated. In their eyes, you were over two weeks late in making payment. What do you expect a host to do. Just keep sending out reminders hoping that one of them reaches you.

    Just to confirm, I am not a Servstra customer or employee.
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  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    We received one invoice with a request for payment in 5 days. The 5 days was not a reminder. Again this invoice was requesting advance payment for services the following month. Yes, I agree we should be timely in our payment. However, do you not agree that were they to disconnect our service we should have received a NOTICE/WARNING that the server would be disconnected if not paid by a certain date? And do you not agree that they cut us off during a billing period that was already paid for? And that a server disconnect after just two weeks is an extreme reaction???

  5. #5
    Once again, I am not an employee of Servstra but I was with Beachcomber for a number of years and their practice was to autobill customers.

    Now on some occasions, my CC was topped out which meant I was sometimes late with payment and as they issued an invoice, they would normally send out a reminder 5 days later confirming whether payment was made or not. Therefore, I believe 5 days is more than good grace. I totally took responsibility when they decided to shut down my server until payment was made. 5 days is more than acceptable in my opinion.

    However, they also gave me the option to pay using Paypal which was useful as I was able to make payment immediately via that route.

    Cheers - Dav
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  6. #6
    Sorry - I posted my last message before I read your last message.

    I believe a reminder should have been sent perhaps stating that payment was outstanding and the server would be disconnected within 24 hours. This would have been good business practice. But saying that, if it states in the TOS that payment must be made within 5 days of an invoice being sent, then you really have no back up. It just shows how important TOS really are.

    Also, I noticed you stated that they don't have a rebilling system in place. This is unusual and I would expect all big hosts to have that in place so I symphasise with you in that manner.

    Cheers - Dav
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  7. #7
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    Dav,

    I'm very glad you mentioned what you did about a TOS.. I found Servstra's TOS and they are definitely in violation of their own TOS.. I will make this complaint to their billing department.. Here is their TOS - keep in mind that we received not even one reminder...


    All Customers agree to the following Billing process:
    1. 5 days before your server is due for renewal, an invoice will be sent to the email address that is listed in your MissionControl. The Customer is responsible for ensuring that this email address is kept up-to-date and that all emails from @servstra.com are not blocked by your SPAM filter software.
    2. If the invoice is not paid by the due date, a reminder notice is emailed 48 hours past the due date requesting that the invoice.
    3. If the invoice is still not paid, another reminder notice is emailed 96 hours past the due date requesting that the invoice be paid.
    4. If the invoice still has not been paid, a final reminder notice is emailed informing the Customer that they have 24 hours to pay the invoice or else the server will be disconnected.
    5. If the server is disconnected, a $25.00 reconnection fee applies.
    Servstra curently accepts payment via all major credit cards and verified PayPal accounts.

  8. #8
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    I should also mention that nowhere in SERVSTRA's TOS is there any mention that they do not offer autopay.. You find that out AFTER you sign up for their service..

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by webprosmo
    I should also mention that nowhere in SERVSTRA's TOS is there any mention that they do not offer autopay.. You find that out AFTER you sign up for their service..
    Most companies do not automatically charge your credit card, perhaps only the mass market companies. It is tradition in business that invoices are sent and the recipient pays them on time. By no means is it a a requirement to have automatic billing.

  10. #10
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    That may be the case in the UK. But here in the USA it is standard practice. Be that as it may, the reason I made that point is so that people from these forums will at least be armed with this knowledge when considering a signup with SERVSTRA, because they will not find this out via SERVSTRA's website. Do you see any harm in me making people aware of this fact being that people come here to research providers?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by webprosmo
    That may be the case in the UK. But here in the USA it is standard practice. Be that as it may, the reason I made that point is so that people from these forums will at least be armed with this knowledge when considering a signup with SERVSTRA, because they will not find this out via SERVSTRA's website. Do you see any harm in me making people aware of this fact being that people come here to research providers?
    No I am sorry you are incorrect. It is NOT standard practice to recurringly charge a credit card in North America. I have dealt with a lot of datacenters in the past few years and the majority do not autocharge a credit card. Some do, some don't.

    I am really at a loss as to why you are complaining as if when you received your first invoice you paid, you wouldn't have had a problem.

    In fact, they waited 2 weeks after your payment was due before shutting off. Surely in that time you must have realized you had not paid?
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  12. #12
    Fair enough regarding the TOS.

    It states that they should have sent you reminders and if they didn't you are entitled to complain.

    I should just email them and point out the fact that you didn't receive any reminders and see what they say from there. Incidentally, did they actually charge you to activate the server again after two weeks?

    Cheers - DAV
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  13. #13
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    CoolRaul,

    In your experience that may be true, in my experience it is not - fair enough? My main complaint is that we were shut off w/out notice which clearly violates their own TOS.. Maybe you're not seeing the real issue here?

    to address your 2nd point... As I explained earlier, we pay a month in advance. So if they shut off our server two weeks after an invoice, they are shutting off service that we have already prepaid for. Does that make sense?

    and the 3rd point (allegation, more like it ... No, we did not remember to pay within 5 days - give us a spanking.. Please send us a reminder notice and most definitely please send us a warning that you are going to shut off our server with 80 clients depending on us. If they had simply followed their own TOS this problem would have never occurred.
    Last edited by webprosmo; 12-04-2006 at 04:03 PM.

  14. #14
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    Dav,

    I'm awaiting response from SERVSTRA.. Their billing dept does not have the same full-time schedule as their support department. I will let you know their response when I get it. I didn't ask them this morning whether or not they were going to charge for the reconnect. I will find out.

  15. #15
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    webprosmo,

    I cannot believe you have come here complaining.

    Why should we have to state any where on our website that we do not automatically charge your credit card?

    Seeing you have posted here regarding this billing matter, it's only fair we have the right of reply.

    1. It's clearly stated in our billing policy that invoices are emailed 5 days before the next renewal date and that if payment is not made by the renewal date, 3 automatic reminder notices are sent.

    Your server was due for renewal on 25th Nov and the invoice was emailed on the 20th Nov. Our billing logs show that reminder notices were emailed on the 26th Nov, 28th Nov and 30th Nov. All invoices and reminder notices are BCC'd to an offsite email address so that we can check & confirm that the emails were sent. In your case Kathy has checked and they were received. If you didn't receive them, check your spam box and whitelist our domain.

    As you said yourself, once you paid the invoice your server was reconnected.

    Also, we didn't even charge you the reconnection fee (which I feel like doing now that you've brought this matter into a public forum )

    2. I also see that you have previously been late with a payment. Your Sept invoice wasn't paid until the 5th Oct. In the past we have been very lenient with people who pay late, however, this is now changing and we are now enforcing our billing policy.

    If you have an issue with our billing process and policy, you are free to move to a provider that will put up with your late payments.
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  16. #16
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    Also, you do pay a month in advance, but when we disconnected your server, it was for a period you hadn’t actually paid for (25th Nov – 3rd Dec).

    PS. I believe Kathy has already replied to your email.
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  17. #17
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    Servstra is more generous than most, when it comes to customers who fail to pay their invoices on time. We would have suspended your server after the 3rd day. Do you have any idea how much bandwidth a dedicated server customer can eat up in 24 hours? Now, multiply that by the number of days you are late on your bill...and consider that they have no way of knowing if you are EVER going to pay your invoice.

    Kwitcherbitchin and pay your invoice on time next time.

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  18. #18
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    Greg,

    I came here complaining because I was upset and hadn't had a reply back from my email (later found out that the billing dept hours are different than your support hours) - sorry if I overreacted by jumping to a public forum so soon. I was on fire Also, we found out about you via this forum from others feedback/ assessments - it's only fair that we relate our experiences for others in their research, and being a public forum they get to hear both sides of the story.

    Your claim of sending me the notices did not happen on our end, and I don't think it is related to our spam filter. My partner and I use completely different mail servers and spam filters (gmail / exchange) - I'm telling you honestly that neither of use received any billing correspondence other than the original invoice. My guess is your automated system is not sending these out properly. It just doesn't make any sense that we would receive the invoice and not the reminders. And I can tell you again with 100% certainty that we did NOT receive any reminders/ warnings.

    Now that we are aware of the TOS for billing the issue at large is a case of "he said / she said" . If you feel you have sent the reminders then I can understand your position. I hope you can understand mine of not receiving the reminders and why I was upset. And yes, I'm sure this misunderstanding could have been resolved privately had I waited to receive your email first and discovered where the real problem is.

    Do I disagree with a 5-day due date? Absolutely. Is it in your TOS ? Yes, it is.. So I have to concede the point. Do I resent being labeled a "late payer" when we paid an invoice within two weeks and really are just not used to dealing with a company with such a billing policy? Yes.

    You don't even take checks so we can't even setup autopay through our bank

    As I mentioned in the first post, Servstra has been fine for support/price. It's the billing I had the problem with - I say "had" because if it is true that the reminders were sent and somehow did not make it to us then the main valid complaint we had would be null.

    I just looked back in my inbox and there were no reminders during the other late period. I know its not something you'll want to admit here, but I REALLY do think there is something wrong with your system. I hope you'll look into it.

    Do we want to leave SERVSTRA? No we've spent too much time working through problems and getting our server running to point it is now, we're settled in. When we get through to the higher level SERVSTRA techs they are very helpful (in fact, they have gone above beyond multiple times) and your level 1 techs are very polite.

  19. #19
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    I wasn't aware that the advance payment didn't cover the period I assumed. That was my misunderstanding and I apologize.

  20. #20
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    Please send an email to sales[at]servstra.com and attention it to me and we can discuss this further. No need to continue this in public.
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  21. #21
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    agreed. thanks.

  22. #22
    I don't understand what is so appalling about them cutting the box off after 2 weeks of non-payment. Instead of being thankful they didn't wipe your box clean and sell it to someone else you come here and post? pff.

    If you don't pay your bills, you'll be cut off, plain and simple. This is getting out of hand, customer doesn't pay, customer gets shut off, customer blames provider.

    Within a few years customers will want providers to pay the customers for using providers' network. It's just a matter of time.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by EuroVPS/Director
    I don't understand what is so appalling about them cutting the box off after 2 weeks of non-payment. Instead of being thankful they didn't wipe your box clean and sell it to someone else you come here and post? pff.

    If you don't pay your bills, you'll be cut off, plain and simple. This is getting out of hand, customer doesn't pay, customer gets shut off, customer blames provider.

    Within a few years customers will want providers to pay the customers for using providers' network. It's just a matter of time.
    You are two weeks late. By now the OP must have realized that he is clueless and Servstra did nothing wrong.

  24. #24
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    Seconded, your post is out of line. Don't pay the bill and service is withdrawn, many companies do that. Perhaps you should have been notified but that's what you should come to expect from a budget provider.

    Dan

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by RazorBlue - Dan
    Seconded, your post is out of line. Don't pay the bill and service is withdrawn, many companies do that. Perhaps you should have been notified but that's what you should come to expect from a budget provider.

    Dan
    Excuse me? We do notify clients, however, whether they receive the emails is a separate question. Invoice is emailed 5 days prior to the renewal date, with 3 warning emails sent if payment isn't made by the renewal date.

    After this incident, we actually tested the billing system a number of times and we were receiving all notification emails to a number of different external email addresses, so we know that the email notifications are being sent by the billing system.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregM
    Excuse me? We do notify clients, however, whether they receive the emails is a separate question. Invoice is emailed 5 days prior to the renewal date, with 3 warning emails sent if payment isn't made by the renewal date.

    After this incident, we actually tested the billing system a number of times and we were receiving all notification emails to a number of different external email addresses, so we know that the email notifications are being sent by the billing system.
    I was more talking about a phonecall / paper notice ... we all know that e-mails sometimes don't get there...

    We will always endevour to make contact with a client in person before disconnecting services, I understand however this is time consuming and budget providers don't really have time for this.

    Dan

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by RazorBlue - Dan
    I was more talking about a phonecall / paper notice ... we all know that e-mails sometimes don't get there...

    We will always endevour to make contact with a client in person before disconnecting services, I understand however this is time consuming and budget providers don't really have time for this.

    Dan

    As you said, it takes money and time. I think that's going over the line there if you have to call and even send letters to people who are late, which also takes time. Budget or not budget, it depends on the client. If the client only has one server with you, it is most likely not worth it. Still, don't you think that the OP should have known about their renewal date? It's the same as with credit cards... I don't see anything wrong with Servstra's billing practices as it seems to me they are more understanding than most.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by RazorBlue - Dan
    Perhaps you should have been notified but that's what you should come to expect from a budget provider.
    Quote Originally Posted by RazorBlue - Dan
    We will always endevour to make contact with a client in person before disconnecting services, I understand however this is time consuming and budget providers don't really have time for this.
    I agree with what AYK said, but also I disagree with the way you sound like you keep trying to degrade servstra by keep calling them a budget provider and saying "budget providers don't this but we do". Sounds negative to me for some reason.

    I used Servstra a while back and they were good as any other provider I used. Budget or not budget, I'd like to see you define what you think are budget providers and list companies in this category and tell us what you can and cannot expect or get from them.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Engine
    I agree with what AYK said, but also I disagree with the way you sound like you keep trying to degrade servstra by keep calling them a budget provider and saying "budget providers don't this but we do". Sounds negative to me for some reason.

    I used Servstra a while back and they were good as any other provider I used. Budget or not budget, I'd like to see you define what you think are budget providers and list companies in this category and tell us what you can and cannot expect or get from them.
    This isn't at all degrading, and was not meant to be. Budget providers are those who provide service to those on a budget for lower than average pricing. Time costs money, and when there's less money in the pot one can expect to have a shorter amount of staff time allocated to them. It all comes down to the 'you get what you pay for saying'. I'm not however saying Servstra provide a poor service, from what I've heard they run a solid ship, I'm guessing this is because their customers know exactly what is provided with the managed service and what is not (something that is very hard to achieve in the managed hosting industry). I was merely making the point that the OP should not come to expect their provider to bend over backwards to make sure they have every possible opportunity to pay their invoices, when they are paying such a low price.

    I'm not the managed hosting dictionary, if you'd like a list please start your own thread, since this one is getting off topic.

    -D

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by RazorBlue - Dan
    I was more talking about a phonecall / paper notice ... we all know that e-mails sometimes don't get there...

    We will always endevour to make contact with a client in person before disconnecting services, I understand however this is time consuming and budget providers don't really have time for this.

    Dan
    I don't see how a phonecall / paper notice is anything related to being a budget provider, personally I don't think you make any sense.

    I'm not the managed hosting dictionary, if you'd like a list please start your own thread, since this one is getting off topic.
    Wasn't asking for advice, thanks.

    This isn't at all degrading, and was not meant to be.
    If you say it was not meant to be, fair enough.

  31. #31
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    We received our invoice 2 days ago.. We are purposely going to wait till after the due date and see if we receive any notifications. I will let this forum know. The fact is last month we did receive the invoice but absolutely no notifications (and yes, we did check spam filter), which makes me think the notification system is separate from their invoicing system. I know Greg thinks it was working, but I'm telling you it was not. I'll let you know how it goes this month.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by webprosmo
    We received our invoice 2 days ago.. We are purposely going to wait till after the due date and see if we receive any notifications. I will let this forum know. The fact is last month we did receive the invoice but absolutely no notifications (and yes, we did check spam filter), which makes me think the notification system is separate from their invoicing system. I know Greg thinks it was working, but I'm telling you it was not. I'll let you know how it goes this month.
    You're not suppose to post that, especially when the company is in the same thread. Now you're almost guaranteeing to receive a notification.

  33. #33
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    webprosmo - I cannot believe you are still going on about this and are going to deliberately not pay your invoice on time. Our billing system backend is Modernbill so the invoice and overdue notices are from the SAME system. Just yesterday we had a client contact us about being late with their payment and they actually included a copy of the overdue notice in their email so they are being received by our customers. I can tell you that we will be enforcing our billing policy next year and never again will a customer be given 2 weeks past their renewal date before we disconnect their server.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregM
    webprosmo - I cannot believe you are still going on about this and are going to deliberately not pay your invoice on time. Our billing system backend is Modernbill so the invoice and overdue notices are from the SAME system. Just yesterday we had a client contact us about being late with their payment and they actually included a copy of the overdue notice in their email so they are being received by our customers. I can tell you that we will be enforcing our billing policy next year and never again will a customer be given 2 weeks past their renewal date before we disconnect their server.
    You will for me though right. I'm special, aren't I Greggy-Poo J/K.

  35. #35
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    Greggy-Poo? Never been called that before.
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  36. #36
    Servstra is Great! ...I've been their client over an year now and I'm more than satisfied with their sales, support and billing. Keep up the great work guys!

  37. #37
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    Just out of curiousity, does Servstra have an option for automatic billing?

    Greg, just a tiny bit of advice from an old guy who has made lots of mistakes in business .. don't let 1 problem customer dictate the way you do business .. most of us are pretty straight shooters.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by old_expat
    Just out of curiousity, does Servstra have an option for automatic billing?

    Greg, just a tiny bit of advice from an old guy who has made lots of mistakes in business .. don't let 1 problem customer dictate the way you do business .. most of us are pretty straight shooters.
    Thanks for the advice.

    Automatic billing is currently only available via PayPal subscription.
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  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by webprosmo
    We received our invoice 2 days ago.. We are purposely going to wait till after the due date and see if we receive any notifications. I will let this forum know. The fact is last month we did receive the invoice but absolutely no notifications (and yes, we did check spam filter), which makes me think the notification system is separate from their invoicing system. I know Greg thinks it was working, but I'm telling you it was not. I'll let you know how it goes this month.
    Why wait until you receive an over due notification? Pay your invoice on time!

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by GregM
    webprosmo,

    I cannot believe you have come here complaining.

    Why should we have to state any where on our website that we do not automatically charge your credit card?

    Seeing you have posted here regarding this billing matter, it's only fair we have the right of reply.

    1. It's clearly stated in our billing policy that invoices are emailed 5 days before the next renewal date and that if payment is not made by the renewal date, 3 automatic reminder notices are sent.

    Your server was due for renewal on 25th Nov and the invoice was emailed on the 20th Nov. Our billing logs show that reminder notices were emailed on the 26th Nov, 28th Nov and 30th Nov. All invoices and reminder notices are BCC'd to an offsite email address so that we can check & confirm that the emails were sent. In your case Kathy has checked and they were received. If you didn't receive them, check your spam box and whitelist our domain.

    As you said yourself, once you paid the invoice your server was reconnected.

    Also, we didn't even charge you the reconnection fee (which I feel like doing now that you've brought this matter into a public forum )

    2. I also see that you have previously been late with a payment. Your Sept invoice wasn't paid until the 5th Oct. In the past we have been very lenient with people who pay late, however, this is now changing and we are now enforcing our billing policy.

    If you have an issue with our billing process and policy, you are free to move to a provider that will put up with your late payments.
    Am I the only one that finds this post utterly unprofessional?
    If your customer is unhappy and has a reason to be unhappy it's in their right to complain where they see fit. If you don't like it, adjust your system so you get less complaints.

    I, for one, also find your company's billing practices unintuitive, and that was the least of all the problems I experienced. Good thing I only put up with you guys for a week. I'm no longer with Servstra and Chris was quite attentive to me before I cancelled so I wasn't going to post anything, but I find it ridiculous that you answered a complaint on a PUBLIC forum by posting your customer's billing information and took it to a completely personal level with comments like "I feel like (charing you the reconnection fee) now". Eye for an eye is not a good way to deal with your unhappy customers.

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