problem - need some advice

  • alouie
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey all,

I am currently dealing with a problem with my webhosting company, they recent charged me a excessive amount on my cc for over bandwidth usage. After calling them and speaking to reps for the company, they say it was due to hackers who created links to the mp3 files on my site and made it accessiable for their users to download them off my site, hence a major spike in bandwidth. My site is private and used for me posting photos and had 6 mp3 files which were linked to wedding pages. I do not in anyway promote or advertise this site.

Now the company is saying that I am liable for the money owed. I told them that I had no prior knowledge of the activity until after they billed me for the usage. They claimed that emails were sent to me to warn me, but I only received one email which was to notify me to upgrade my plan to higher bandwidth allowance. They also say that since I had a control panel, I should had monitor my site but again my bandwidth has never came close to my bandwidth allowance, hence I rarely look at it.

I've been using this company since Nov 2002. Regardless of everything, they won't waiver the fee. Its basically their word against mine. I have spoken to other webhosting companies who have experienced this issue and they say the would either waiver it or cut the cost. They say that it was possible that in the process of repairing my site (which had problems just prior to the hacking) that they tech could have turn on my directory listing. But I have a feeling they won't acknowledge if they did anything to my site. The only I have going for me is that they bill the charge to my cc but never sent me a invoice as to how they got the charge.

I am in the process in writing to the president of the company but WHAT OTHER RECOURSE CAN I DO?

thanks
A
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • Daemonguy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hire an attorney.

Technical solutions will not abate the issue. While it is all fine and well that every host on this system would "drop the charges and stand by you in your time of need" -- which I am sure they would all do -- that does not resolve the issue at-hand with your present host.

If you are on their systems, and if your contract states they own liability for security of said systems you may *may*, have a leg up... but that is all very "iffy". The system would have had to be guaranteed as 'secure'. As I stated initially, seek legal counsel. Unless an attorney is present of course, to offer an opinion, that is what I would do.

The bad news might be you end up paying for it. If you are responsible for your content... there you have it. The whole 'hacker' angle will be a bit of a tough row to hoe. If you place something on the internet, people can link to it, if they so choose. More often than not, it *is* your responsibility to maintain some level of control over the dissemination of your content. The company will argue that you were provided the tools for self-measurement, which it sounds like you were.

Not sure what to tell you, though I am sure this is not it.

Sorry.

Cheers.
  • alouie
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks,

Already speaking to a couple of attorneys. Hoping that maybe the fact that billing a client without an invoice is something i can pursue.

A
  • darkermoon
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Post 3+ Months Ago

my personal non-legal opinion is that it's not really hackers using the MP3's, it's just people hotlinking to them. You can't really do anything about that in my opinion unless your host decides to be nice and not charge you for it. Other than that, in the future, use .htaccess to block out sites you don't want hotlinking to your content.
  • daniel.g.wood
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Post 3+ Months Ago

yer, and get a friendly host :)
  • alouie
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Post 3+ Months Ago

wut if my did have .htaccess and when repairing or moving to another server, they missed importing or deleted the file?
  • DR01D
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Post 3+ Months Ago

yeah i think your in a hard spot, like darkermoon said its most likely people linking to your site.

the hosting provider should have proof of the emails they sent telling you are about to exceed the limit. ask them to send copies.

i think you might be accountable for it as you would have agreed to the terms and conditions. and if they can prove they warned you via email etc there might not be anything you can do about it.

since they have already taken the funds i would seek legal advice too.
  • darkermoon
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I'd say at this point, whether it's worth persuing or not would depend on how much money it is but, I would switch hosts for sure.. if they're not even willing to talk to you about it. Honestly, it isn't the hosting company's fault and they shouldn't have to pay you anything back but, if I was the hosting company, I would work out something with you if I looked over the logs and found that there were in fact certain sites hotlinking and using large amounts of bandwidth. The very least i would do at that point for you is give you the bandwidth at my cost so it wouldn't hurt or help me any significant amount. After that, I would (as the host or user) send an email out to the sites that hotlinked to your's with your case and objections, possibly asking them to pay a share of the cost depending on the scope of the site.

However, it is solely your responsibility as the customer to look over your log files and bandwidth usage information regarding how many people are on your site and referred by whom. If you take a more proactive approach, it will never get to the point of the bill being ugly.

I'm not trying to "blame" this on you or anything but, just staying on top of things will often make a lot of problems far less likely to happen, such as this one.
  • musik
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Post 3+ Months Ago

//moved to hosting
  • CartikaHosting
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Quote:
I have spoken to other webhosting companies who have experienced this issue and they say the would either waiver it or cut the cost.


Funny how every hosting provider practices saintly ethics in pre-sales....

Anyway - onto your problem...

You mentioned you paid with a credit card - consider yourself lucky as you now have options :)

First off - I only recommend doing this when it is ABSOLUTELY necessary as the ramifications to everyone participating in any form of ecommerce are significant...

Contact the hosting company and let them know that you will charge back all the funds if they do not reach a mutually acceptable agreement with you. Once you initiate this process, the onus then falls on them to prove the legitimacy of the transaction - otherwise, their merchant provider will give the money back to you...

Considering the circumstances, I would recommend you offer to share at least some of the responsibility - as I am certain their TOS protects them from this sort of thing. It is more then likely not their responsibility to inform you of unusually high useage (though, it would most certainly be an example of excellent customer service if they did).

You apparently received an email stating that you need to upgrade plans - really - this "should've" been enough (sorry)... especially when combined with their TOS...and especially since there more then likely wasnt any "server compromise"..

However, considering how long you have been a customer of theirs and considering the circumstances around this - I would expect them to eat a few gigs of bandwith and chalk this up to experience on both ends (by the way - how much bandwith are we talking about here?)

If you cannot work anything out with them and you go the route of a chargeback - your hosting provider will be contacted to present their case and Visa/MC/Amex/etc will make their decision.

Generally Amex is the most ruthless with vendors - siding with the consumer almost 100% of the time - especially in internet types of transactions....

Hopefully this helps and best of luck -

Andrew
  • websiteunited
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey,
If its clearly stated in their TOS, they have right to charge...

How much more did they charge? If it's like $10 or $20, why bother? Just leave them as a host and find someone else who won't treat you that mean.

Goodluck in fixing this issue.
  • alouie
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Post 3+ Months Ago

well, i did do some more research and found out that my webhosting company is one of the worst in customer service. even to a point where someone created a site to allow former customers post their bad experiences. also read that they have been already reported to the bbb and the attorney general.

bad news is i am mostly likely goin to have to eat the cost, seems like they have done this before and customer satisfaction is not their top priority. good news is that i read enough of the former customers experiences to know what to do. i already cancelled the cc they have on record, since they are known to charge fees even when u cancel ur account with them. trying to cancel is also a hassle, plus i've read that they are known to keep customers domain names.

do anyone have a reliable hosting company? read lunarpages and ipowerweb are good.

wish me like, goin to cancel my account with them today.
  • musik
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi alouie,

I am locking this post now because it seems the matter is closed now. As for recommendations for hosting, you can search around in the Hosting Forum for ones users are happy with, and also many of our members provide hosting services as well.

This topic has a lot of good information in it to start you on your way:
http://www.ozzu.com/moderators-only/read-this-first-before-asking-for-hosting-recommendations-t34784.html

Sadly many of us get burnt by bad hosts before we find the right place.

Good luck with your search.

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