As long as we are on hosting issues, I have a new company to add to the avoid category: 1and1.com. Some of you may remember this outfit: they were offering free hosting for a while (and still do, on a trial basis), a couple years ago. They also allowed you to register a domain for about $6, which I did.
Unfortunately, unlike registrars and ISPs that actually ask you to pay for a renewal, 1&1 decided to do it for me, moving my free account to a pay account. The clickwrap agreement appears to have given them permission to change the rates, and to charge my credit card without asking. It’s not a big charge — about the same as lunch or about 4 minutes of time with an attorney — and so they get away with it. And to cancel, they make you jump through ridiculous hoops: it’s a bit like the roach hotel. It’s strange that in a business that is so much built on trust, they choose the short term bilking of people out of pocket change. All perfectly legal, but stupendously bad customer service.
Caveat emptor. Don’t even think of giving these guys a credit card number. I’m hoping I can get my credit card company to make sure they don’t make future charges to me.