A tale of two web hosting companies

So as a Microsoft duh-veloper, I spend most of my time in the Microsoft stack, drinking from the fire hoses that stretches across the country from Redmond.   Recently, I had an experience that made me want to turn off the hose for one of their products.

I signed up for Azure last year with a trial account so I could participate in Rock,Paper, Azure.  I managed to get some of my co-workers to signup also and we had a good time competing against each other.  I then canceled the subscription once the contest was over.  A couple of months later, I spun up a new instance of Azure for Open Data day – trying to convince people to use Azure to host their data and expose public data to the rest of the world.  The problem was that since I used my same credit card to sign up, I could not use the free 90 day trial, so I signed up for a pay-as-you-go one.  After Open Data Day was over, I took down the site.  Finally, at Tech Ed I met some people who were wondering about the cloud so I spun up an instance of Azure and Team Foundation Service so they can see if in action.  After Tech Ed, I spun down that sight.

Meanwhile, each month, Azure was generating a service charge for a site that was not active.  When I realized it (about 4 months later), I emailed the Azure team and asked that they refund the money because:

1) I was not using any site for anything real and the traffic logs confirm that

2) I was actually doing grass-root marketing for them.

Their response?  No way!  Perhaps it was because they had earnings coming up and my couple of hundred of dollars had a material impact on the 80.37 Billion in annual revenue they reported – I never under estimate the power of compound interest.  In any event, I appealed the decision to the manager and his/her response?


I then hit up our local developer evangelist.  He took a look and and got no where too (and I thought the DE were like the political commissioners/Darth Vaders and could bend the bureaucracy with their mind powers). 

In any event, it was all right there – I should have turned off the site completely and I was at fault for not watching my account (and credit card statement) closely.  Fair enough, I made the mistake and really have no one to blame but myself.  I can already hear Rob Seder telling me that I could sign up for biz spark so I wouldn’t have been charged – but I guess I am more annoyed on how Microsoft treats the developers than how I could have avoided the fees.

I contrast this experience with another one I had this week with WinHost.  I was running a site for a local group when the renewal came up.  The group was done so the site was coming down – I put it on my life’s //TODO list to cancel the site.  By the time I got to it – the site had renewed and the card had been charged.  I immediately emailed their support and within 20 minutes, I had this in my inbox:


The thing is, WinHost didn’t have to refund the money – and they did anyway:


So the conclusions I draw are:

1) I am not going to recommend Azure for side-development to other devs and companies.  It is a great platform – but it sure seems like Microsoft has lost its way in how it treats developers who use their technologies.

2) WinHost is awesome and I will continue to use them for web site and web Service hosting – and any new sites I do I will start on Win Host.

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