“Website Ransom”..what!

Another business person contacted me this weekend and wanted me to take over his website and SEO services. He wanted me to re-design, host, and perform SEO on his website. I told him to contact his current Web Design/Development company and tell them you need the account sign-in and password for the hosting service (Hosted on Godaddy). I told him I would back up his old site, transfer his domain name, etc.

Clients Call Back.

After a couple of hours, he contacted me and told me the owner would not release that information because he didn’t allow anyone on his server. (Notice “His” Server). I asked my client the following questions:

  1. Do you pay yearly for your server? Yes, $128.00/yr for four years now.
  2. Did you pay for your domain name? Yes, I originally purchased it through Host Gater.
  3. Do you owe any money to your web agency, to include any monthly fees? No

In the past, I’ve done this!

   Well, this is my 4th time with another website company that did not want to give up any files, transfer a domain name, etc. I’ve had a few customers leave me. I instantly sent them log-ins, uploaded all files to Dropbox, and asked if they needed anything else to contact me. This is an excellent business practice. I know I’m not going to make all my customers happy, or maybe my website design doesn’t fit their industry as they see it, or they outgrew my services. My ego was not bruised!

Website Hostage

Clients Second Call to Agency!

   So my new client contacted the web agency again and told them that he has paid for hosting, domain name, and website design and development. He again asked them for the account log-in and password to do the transfers I needed. They told him to pay $1000.00; they would release everything to me. WHAT!!!! Oh….website ransom!

  1. Initial web design and development. PAID in 2015.

  2. Paying you for hosting the website. (Since it is on a GoDaddy server, I take it you have a reseller account and making a small commission off your client.)

  3. Since 2015, no one has touched the website at your agency.

Now you want him to pay you $1000.00 ransom for his legal right to the files. WOW!

 I know we are in a tight and very competitive industry. Is this a good business practice? NO. My advice to anyone looking to get a website designed and developed is to ask the company if you will own all files after payment for the design, development, etc. Tell them you want all the log-ins for the server, domain hosting, etc.? If they say “NO,” then walk away and call another company. Your website should never be held ransom unless the service you use tells you in advance. (i.e., monthly cookie-cutter web companies, don’t pay and they take your site down.) 

Blog by: Larry O Miller for SEO After Coffee, Greenville SC. All rights reserved and updated on Dec 10, 2021.