Earlier this year, I received a text from a friend whose website I had built. The text said:
“A friend of mine wants a website, can she ring you to discuss?”
“Of course, simply give her my number”, I texted back.
Ten minutes later my phone rang. The prospective client was ringing.
We discussed what she wanted and during the conversation I discovered that this new client already had a website set up by one of these ‘free web-site’ companies but she couldn’t remember who and didn’t have the details.
Alarm bells started to ring!
I’ve had previous experience with dealing with these so-called ‘free website’ companies. They are slow to respond and often just forget to do things.
Now, that I know is a rather generic statement to ‘tar’ all these ‘free website’ companies with the ‘same brush’ but it is my experience.
I explained this to the client and that was fine. She just wanted a new website and keep her domain.
So I found out the ‘free website’ company by checking on the ‘whois’ database.
Found their contact details and rang them.
Explained that we only wanted to point the existing domains servers to a new host. Can we do that?
“Yes, no problem. Fill out this form, it will take 5 days and cost £25”
I was gob smacked.
You can normally change the servers on-line, instantly.
It’s normally free!
So back to client to explain the situation. She agrees.
So I go over to HostGator to set up the new hosting account.
The client and I complete the forms required, together and she pays the £25.
It was now 5 days later.
I monitor the progress each day by ‘refreshing her site domain name’. If the servers had been changed then her site would change to some sort of ‘HostGator’ site.
Day later – no change
Day later – no change
3 days later – no change
I contact the ‘free website’ company.
“We have the forms – we just haven’t changed the server names yet. We’ll do it later today”
I let the client know.
Next morning, I ‘refresh’. No change.
I ring back.
“Oh, it can take up to 48 hours to go through”
I let the client know.
A few days later, the client sends me an email with an “EPP code” and asks “What’s this?”.
Looks like the ‘free website’ company are also transferring the domain. We didn’t want that, we only wanted the name servers to be changed.
I contact the company again.
“Ah sorry. We can’t go back. It’s all done”
“But HostGator are not expected to receive the domain” I say.
“You better contact them then”
I go to the HostGator site. Start the transfer of the domain from HostGator’s side.
I experience more problems, more stoppages and I make numerous more phone calls to the free website company.
SEVEN weeks later, the domain has been transferred.
Seven weeks for something that normally takes less than 5 minues effort.
Another sweeping statement from me:
Don’t use these so-called free website companies. They tie you in and make it real difficult and costly for you to move away.
Am reading through your Blueprint Guide, great read.
Now just ‘where’ or from ‘who’, can I get intelligent info on ‘setting up added domains to an existing WordPress blog. So many questions and nothing beyond ‘setting up an original first blog’.
What is best regards database, one huge one, or individual!
Do you offer / sell assistence in the how of adding domains!
Would eventually have four / or more to add, is there a way that I need to know about, to avoid messing up my current blog!
I assume you have WordPress installed on a domain already. Depending upon your hosting company, you can normally add domains as ‘add-ons’. That way each ‘add-on’ domain can have their own version of WordPress installed in their own ‘home’ directory.
Hope that helps. Come back if you need more clarification.
Dear Andrew –
What is that old saying?
“if it seems to be too good to be true, it isn’t.”
Yes, very true Corinne.
Unfortunately so many people still get trapped into such situations.
I had a similar situation with a customer just last week.
He received a free domain as part of setting up his limited company – but they charge him £20 anytime he wants to make a simple DNS change and dont give him access to it to manage it himself.
Sounds very familiar!
How do we get the word out…free doesn’t mean FREE!
All these free websites and freebies are scrap. At the beginning they say its free and once you buy them they will make you pay some extra charge and so on.
Once I got a domain for 0.01$ and later while renewing it costed me 25$ which is wooping high.
My advice never go for freebies or if at all going, please do check for review.
Yes…do your research first and also read the small print.
Best advice…go with a friends recommendation.
I Agree with Ruthanne All these free websites and freebies are scrap. At the beginning they say its free and once you buy them they will make you pay some extra charge and so on. I Go Through Blueprint Guide, great read Thanks Andrew. 🙂
It really is a shame so many people get caught. Do they ever learn?
Yes, I do agree with Andrew, that this free companies work very slow and they response is very bad and this is my personal experience.
How did you get out of the situation you were in?
Did you just move on and learn from it?
The point is that in today’s world nothing is free and exclusive the main key of success is hard work or smart work, i agree to the writer point of view.
True…hard work, lots of energy and a little luck…can provide success.
7 weeks that’s just mental, People always go for these Free website companies! They always bite you in the end!
I recently had a bit of work done on the house and the guy who came round had one of these yellow page websites (you know the ones just paying with the words) and is paying £75 a month for traffic from Birmingham, Tamworth and Solihul!
I tried to explain that if he went with me he would get a much better bespoke site and get 6 months free hosting for free. I really do not like those sites as there are the same as each other using old templates hey plus there taking work away from hard working developers like our selves.
One question that he kept asking was he gets on the first page of Google for his keywords and I kinda struggled with the benefits of going with me. At the end of the day of course yellow are going to be on the first page as they are a huge company and this 1 man design team cannot competitively compete with them.
So my question is what would you say to win his custom over?
Great post dude many thanks for sharing your story with us.
It’s a good question and if he is happy with the design of the site, then you cannot do much. How much traffic/conversion does he get on his site…is where I would start.
If the site is pretty boring/mundane then perhaps he doesn’t get much custom for it. Plus I would image the yellow pages website is much more restrictive in what you can do i.e. functionality wise.
I forgot to ask him about his traffic, and to be honest I don’t suppose he would know either!
Saying that though he did say that he was busy up until next year in and case but how would he know if it’s word of mouth or from his website.
At the end of the day he has my details so he can always upgrade is he decides he is unhappy with his current site! The most important this I suppose is that he is ultimatly getting work in.
The site really is pretty mundane and boring though!
All the best dude!
If I were him I would want to know where the custom is coming from…website, referrals, newspaper ad…etc.
I would ask the new customer.
Great he is busy. Problem is..if he is busy…he thinks the website is working and it may not be…but is he bothered? Doesn’t sound like it!
Depends upon how big he wants to grow. Does he want to start employing staff etc or just be a one man band?
Thanks for sharing!
I don’t believe there are such thing as free in this world. Usually these are inclusives. Haha.
Appreciate the write!
I’ve had some experience with these ‘free website’ companies. Due to limitation of what you can do with your website my experience was short!
The only why I could describe it is web design for 12-16 years olds. It reminded me of being at school studying GSCE Level Design and Technology.
Thanks for the read
I don’t think you are alone!
Many people fall into the trap.
Thanks for sharing this experience with us. I never had this experience and now after reading this post, I will surely gonna not trust any free websites company. People just for saving some money, they attracts toward these companies and after then they realize what big mistake have they done. This post really gonna help all the newbies.