[thelist] Automated payment systems and discounts

Sales @ Lycosa sales at lycosa.co.uk
Wed Sep 30 18:37:02 CDT 2009

> If you do act as a hosting go-between, do you commonly mark up the 
hosting charges... What is fair?

Depends what added value you give. For example, I resell hosting to my web
clients. This is more a convenience for me, so that I have the servers set
up exactly how I need to run the software I write for them. I certainly mark
up the cost of the hosting, and *if* I fully sold an entire server, I would
be making a healthy income on the hosting alone. But I don't really sell
hosting per se, just to my web customers. I am always their first port of
call when things go wrong, and I spend a great deal of time resolving
issues. I don't charge for this time. So, my customers are getting 'free'
support with their hosting.

> ...email hosting...
I offer email as part of the web hosting, and I spend more time resolving
email problems than web problems. The hosting comes with cPanel, so it
doesn't cost me any more for hosting email accounts.

> ...automated billing system...
Yeah, I worked a manual system for about 4/5 years, and it just became
unmanageable. I did a lot of research and testing of different automated
systems, and I found WHMCS the easiest to work with. Although it doesn't
have everything I need (like a Quick Books plugin, but it is planned), and
some of the features are set up more for a customer to do themselves, I find
the automation has freed me up. I receive cheques from customers for bills I
didn't know had gone out. And you can send a reminder with a simple click of
a button. Chasing payment becomes less personal - you can 'blame' the
automated system for sending so many reminders! I don't think any system
will be a 100% perfect fit for every business, so it's a case of choosing
something that does the most important 90%.
What I love about WHMCS is that you can create, up/down grade and delete
hosting accounts on any number of servers, running pretty much any OS and it
is flexible enough to allow modification of set hosting prices.
It allows domain registration through 3rd party registrars, and allows
numerous payment methods (but not cash!). It has automated suspension of
accounts that are late payment, which is an alternative to the idea of
offering discounts for early payment. I personally have turned this feature
off, but it would certainly be an incentive for very late payers. Again, you
can blame the system for turning the customer's website off. 

Phil Parker


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