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iPage Raises Prices, Makes it Difficult to Cancel

Just a heads up for people who have iPage hosting or are considering their services.

I looked at my credit card bill today and saw an iPage charge that was $20 higher for hosting a website than I paid last year.  No notice, no nothing. iPage just charged more for the automatic hosting renewal.

The charge comes 15 days before the end of service I’ve paid for.  So, I called iPage’s billing department.  If the price really went up, then I wanted to move the site to another hosting service.  I figured I move sometime this week, before the expiration of the hosting service I have already paid for.

Here’s what I found:

It takes 30 minutes on hold to reach an agent.

The agent confirmed that they raised the price.

She said that they can cancel my account and issue a credit on my card, but cancellation will immediately take down the web site that I paid for through October 14th.  If I want to move the site before it’s taken down by iPage, she said that I will have to call billing back when I am ready for the cancellation (and wait another 30 minutes on hold, I guess).

There is no way she can either reduce the price to what I paid this year or simply not let the renewal take place in October.

I wonder if there’s some type of theft going on when they only accept immediate cancellations and take the two weeks of already paid-for hosting service ? Of course, I am not an attorney, and I am sure that iPage’s attorney’s would explain that they have the right to do what they’re doing because of some fine print somewhere.

So, let me just say that their practices are user hostile and sleazy.  I recommend staying away from iPage.

By |2014-10-01T11:14:43+00:00September 20th, 2014|Consumer Tips|6 Comments

Your Email Has Been Hacked… Just Yawn??

Another friend’s Yahoo email account was broken into this morning.

Phishing Link

Link in the Email

My clue was that he sent me an email at 4:11 am.  And, the only content of the message was a link to a page on the Internet that runs a PHP programming script.

The message was sent to me, his sister, his ex across the continent, and bunch of other people I don’t know.  The email had a long TO: list that looked like a random group of emails from my friend’s address book.

So, another person’s email account was compromised.  Probably hackers went through and guessed his password.  Or, maybe his email address and password were stolen from another site that had been broken into. Do we, or he, care?

The recipients of the email shouldn’t worry, as long as they don’t click on the link and visit the site in Latvia (.lv).  I am sure that waiting on the .php destination page there is a malicious script that will try to infect the computer of any visitor that goes there.  Even so, you’d probably have to also click on a confirmation box to run a program before you got into trouble.  If you receive an email like this, you’re okay so long as you delete it without clicking on any link.

My friend, however, has a few worries:

  1. First, he needs to stop the damage.  He should go to Yahoo and try to regain control of his account.  If they bad guys are nice, they didn’t change the password. He can log into Yahoo and pick a different, stronger password. Some bad guys are not so nice.  They will change the email password so that you’re locked out of your own email account.  In that case, you’ll need to contact Yahoo (or whoever owns the hacked site) and ask them to help.
  2. The bad guys controlled/control his email account for a while.  If they are truly evil, their programs visited all of the major banks, credit card companies, online stores, investment houses, etc.  They typed in my friend’s email address, saying that they had lost their password. Many stores and financial institutions responded with an email link to reset the password.  The bad guys, who had access to the Yahoo email account, clicked on the reset password link, created a new password, and gained control of my friend’s financial resources.My friend should go to every place he used the Yahoo address and enter a different email address for the account. He should also look over recent transactions to make sure his account hadn’t been compromised.
  3. The bad guys could go to every online store, and see if the combination of the email address and Yahoo password logged them in.  If my friend reused that password anywhere where he also used the Yahoo email address, that account is vulnerable.  My friend should change the password everywhere he used the same credentials he used for his Yahoo email account.
    He should also look over recent transactions to make sure his account hadn’t been misused.

You should use unique passwords for every site, especially sites like banking or ordering sites which remember your credit card number.  When you use unique passwords, if a site is broken into you have to change your password for that one site.  If you share passwords among sites, you have to change that password on every site it’s used when it’s compromised on any of the sites.  — from a post about Kickstarter being hacked

My earlier post recommends that you sign up for the free password management program, LastPass.  I am going to suggest, really suggest strongly, that my friend do that today!

By |2014-03-13T13:52:57+00:00March 13th, 2014|Consumer Tips|0 Comments

Beware of False Urgency and Special [High] Rates

Planting a sense of urgency in your potential customer’s mind so they make a decision and buy is a time-honored sales tactic.  It works!

Proclaiming specials and offering discounts off the list prices are time-honored tactics, too.  They work!

Combining urgency with specials, magnifies the potency of a sales campaign.  Think of all the holiday weekend specials, introductory pricing, and special low-prices sales “events” you hear and see.

Unfortunately, today’s sophisticated pricing tools allow businesses you already patronize to use  limited-time specials on goods and services you’re familiar with to rip you off.  Far more insidious than the deals for “new customers only,” today’s pitches tell you that you’re getting a great price, when, in fact, you are paying more than anyone else.

Here’s an example.  The New Yorker sent me a limited-time magazine gift renewal recently.

New Yorker Gift Renewal Form

The New Yorker is offering a “Reduced-Holiday-Rate (sic) of $89.99″, and I had only until October 6 to sign up.  This is a perfect example of a large, savvy company creating a untrue sense of urgency and offering an expensive special.

The New Yorker wants me to renew my gift subscription for $89.99. But, if I just went to their website, I could buy the same 47-issue gift for $39.95.

Basically, this offer charges loyal repeat customers 225% what people wandering by on the Internet can pay at the same time it touts the price as something special.  (If you want to renew an existing gift, you can call the number of the back of the renewal form and get a price of $49.99 a year, if you mention the Internet price.)

Actually, the magazine has a maze of different prices for the same product, depending upon how interested you seem to be.  If you click on “Subscribe” on their home page, you’re offered a third price, $69.99, as the BEST DEAL. I think they’ve crossed the line into legally questionable claims with “Best Deal”, but I am no lawyer.

The New Yorker is not alone in charging its current customers more while trying to make it seem like they are offering a deal.

The Atlantic magazine also offers existing givers of subscriptions the chance to overpay… but only if they act quickly!

Atlantic Magazine Renewal Offer

 

To renew existing gift subscriptions, you “save”  by paying $27.95.  Of course, their website offers new subscriptions for $14.95.  The Atlantic website also offers you a chance to give a subscription for $24.95.  As far as I could see, you couldn’t pay more than 27.95, despite the ad’s come on to “Ring in the holidays for less.”

Magazines are not the only industry eager to take advantage of their best customers.  Intuit was ready to charge me more for the latest version of its Quicken product when I clicked on an in-program upgrade link than it did when I went to the website directly.  And, every year I have to talk to my satellite TV provider and cable Internet companies as they attempt to raise my rates higher than those they quote the public.

I understand promotions meant to attract new clients.  I am fine with offers such as “10% off the first year for new clients only”.  But, I don’t like businesses preying on their existing customer base, charging them substantially more, while claiming to provide an especially great price.  I’ll play the business’ game, but I hope they don’t expect me to feel loyal or supportive toward them.

By |2012-10-15T13:05:51+00:00October 15th, 2012|Consumer Tips|3 Comments