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Victoria Park Daffodils 2Who would think that renewing your webhosting subscription could be so difficult? It’s been a bit of a nightmare trying to sort this out, especially this year.

I have a two-year webhosting and a one year domain name subscription with I must admit that I am very happy with the look of my website and the way WordPress works but I’m not impressed at all with the billing department of Bluehost and their methods of renewing subscriptions. I started my website in 2012. There was a problem the last time I tried to renew but the billing department sorted that issue pretty quickly. This time it was a totally different ballgame!

Bluehost send you a reminder ninety days before your account is due to expire, to let you know that your subscription is up for renewal. I put my UK Visa Debit card details on my account to pay for the subscription which is automatically renewed fifteen days before the account expires. I wasn’t sure whether my Visa Debit card would work as it’s not actually a credit card. They say that they accept Visa cards as a method of payment. At the same time I checked my account and in my cart I see Upgrade Plus Hosting for twenty four months for a total of $361 including tax. This didn’t include the one year’s domain name renewal, which was an extra $15.99.

This wasn’t what I asked for at all. So I emailed Bluehost’s billing department. I told them that I wanted just a basic webhosting plan for two years with one year’s domain name renewal, like I’ve had since I started with them. I also asked why the Upgrade Plus Hosting was in my cart, when I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t want it (mostly because of the price). Rebekah in the Sales department replied saying that they recently adjusted the plan options for the shared hosting and there were three choices. One of them was a Basic Plan for one website, with a renewal rate of $8.49 per month, which would come to $203.76 for two years, which was fine with me. There was extra tax on top of that, along with extra payment for domain name renewal for $15.99. So the total would come to $223.08. This was the plan I wanted and I told Rebekah this.

A few days later she replied and said that she had changed the Upgrade Hosting back to the Basic Plan, with one year’s domain name renewal and had put it in my cart. The following day the account was due for automatic renewal. Bluehost tried to charge my UK Visa card but it didn’t work. It turns out that they do need a credit card and wouldn’t accept the debit card. Ok, that was my fault. So I changed the card details in my account to a Euro credit card.

In the meantime, I get a call from the Fraud Prevention department of my bank,In Monument Bar, St. Andrews Sq, Edinburgh HSBC, to say that fraudsters had tried to take £244 out of my account. I asked them what was the name of the company who tried to do this and they said Blue something or other. I told them that was my webhosting company trying to charge my card to pay for the renewal of my website. But they said “No, that’s not it. Your account has come up on our list of transactions by fraudsters and we’re going to cancel your card. We’ll send you a new one within four days”. Great!

On top of this, when I tried to access my website online, I got an Error 404 message saying that permission to this account has been denied. Now I had no access to my website at all, even though it hadn’t expired yet!  A day later I was checking my account again and saw that the Upgrade Plus Hosting was back in my cart again and I got an email from Bluehost to say that they had charged my card for the Upgrade Plus Hosting with a total of $361. Now I was really pissed off!

I emailed Rebekah, the Billing department and Sales to say that I wasn’t happy at all with Bluehost charging my credit card for the Upgrade Plus Hosting, when all I wanted was a Basic Plan. How many times did I have to tell them this? It wasn’t a polite letter because I was really pissed off at this stage. I also told them they should refund the money for the Upgrade Plus Hosting back into my credit card account right away. I got no reply. I had to send them another email two days later to ask them to refund the money and change the product back to the Basic Plan.

Rebekah finally got back to me and said that they had refunded the money and had put the Basic Plan back in my cart. They did refund the money. She also said that because I hadn’t replied to the email she sent me with the renewal options and didn’t confirm to process the change, the product reverted to the default Upgrade Hosting product. I did reply to her email and I sent her proof of it because she changed the product back to the Basic plan a day later.  Now I go to manually renew the Basic Plan and domain name renewal and I get a message to say that my website is using 211GB of space, which is more than the maximum of 50GB allowed for a Basic Plan. Oh for God’s sake!

Bridge near woods, Newbattle AbbeyI was lucky enough to be able to get in touch with Gerrit Kuilder in Amsterdam who set up and designed my website and fair play to him he was able to access my website and clear some space. I was delighted that he was able to help me out there and then. I tried renewing again but got the same message. So I thought I’d try to solve this issue quicker by contacting Bluehost on their live chat, as the account was due to expire in two days. I’m proud of the website and the photos I have there and didn’t want it to expire. They managed to unblock the website which was caused by my i-Themes security and then passed me onto the billing department to sort out the renewal. They suggested that I try the Pro Plan which has unlimited space. I decided to go for a one year renewal and it worked, finally.

I have my website back for a year but because of this nightmare experience I think I’ll probably switch to another webhosting company next year. Gerrit says that it shouldn’t be too much hassle transferring the files to another webhosting company. I’ve never experienced such bad customer service as I have with Bluehost.