dreamhost billing nightmare

Yesterday, while I was checking my inbox I was surprised when I got an email from Dreamhost saying that they’ve already billed me for the next cycle. As far as I know my next bill wasn’t due until like 3 months from now and I also noticed in the email I received that the date was wrong – today’s date: 2008-12-31, so I knew it was an error. I immediately sent an email to Dreamhost’s billing department telling them about the error.

A few hours later, I received an email from them admitting that there was an error and that they’re fixing the problem and that I will be refunded as soon as possible. It turns out, they were having billing issues and I wasn’t the only one who was “mistakenly” billed but nearly everyone who had an account in Dreamhost. Guess how much the total billing cost? $7,5000,000!

Here’s their official announcement/statement regarding the issue posted at Dreamhost Status:

We are currently aware of some billing inaccuracies which we will be resolving later today. All of these issues will be resolved, and any billing errors corrected. We sincerely apologize for any hassle this has created.

Scripts are still running to correct the original problem. Last night, this guy ran a standard billing cycle to clean up stragglers from 2007. Unfortunately, the biller was run for 2008 (December 31st, 2008 to be exact). This caused everyone to be billed as if today was 2008-12-31, wreaking the havoc that we are so sorry you had to be put through.

We’re going through and fixing everything right now, but it may take several hours before all affected accounts are corrected. You will receive an email when yours is fixed, and if your credit card was charged, the charge will be refunded automatically.

We’re very very very sorry about this! There is a blog.dreamhost.com post explaining in more detail how this happened..

Also, you needn’t contact us or your credit card company/bank about this.. we’re fixing it right as you read this (and maybe already have for your account)! The best move for you is to just sit back and pretend you never got those weird billing email(s) talking about owing lots of money!

This post will be marked as resolved once (we believe) we’ve fixed everybody’s account.

Once again, we are all *extremely* sorry for the mishap. Thank you for your continued patience while we clean up our mess.

Btw, Dreamhost published a different version of their apology and explanation on their blog which in my opinion was a bad way to apologize given the type of situation involved. If you have time you can also check out TechCrunch’s post regarding this issue.

Good thing the order wasn’t processed right away and that it didn’t cause any overdrafts cause if it did, I’d demand that they not only refund me but also pay for other bank fees that could’ve been charged to my credit card. This is not as bad as the security breach last year but it’s definitely worse than a 24-hour downtime.

Anyone else hosted in Dreamhost? Did you also get charged? What was your reaction? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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26 Comments

  • JP Habaradas, January 26, 2008 @ 7:20 AM Reply

    @Mikko – Hi there! It’s all good, a comment is never too late. ;)

    So did Dreamhost refund the amount that they billed you? If you did, when did you get it? I got mine almost a week after the incident.

  • Mikko, January 26, 2008 @ 7:15 AM Reply

    Hi kuya.

    I know this comment is late.

    I received a billing email from DH. I was at the school Computer Lab back then. I was alarmed so I contacted my mom right away. I know she’ll scold me if it wasn’t refund(ed).

    :D

    Mikko’s last blog post..PSHS NCE Second Screening Results Website

  • JP Habaradas, January 20, 2008 @ 1:30 AM Reply

    @Angry Dog – Sorry to hear about that dude. I hope you were able to get the refund coz I got mine but only almost a week after this happened. I hope your bank record wasn’t affected by this and that you were able to buy your books for school.

    Btw, do you happen to know if you enabled the auto bill turned on or off? Coz in my case, I had it turned on and that was my mistake. But I also heard some Dreamhost users who got charged even if they turned off the auto bill option, on’t know whether those are true though but if it were true, that’s another issue.

  • Angry Dog, January 20, 2008 @ 1:25 AM Reply

    I did not received even one email about this matter – the last email I got was the regular news email just before this happened. It was only by chance I checked DHstatus for any scheduled downtime and saw all this crap. My online banking is down for maintenance still so I don’t know if I’m way overdrawn or what now – I haven’t made any purchases the last few days so was unaware of any issue. I’m a student and I can’t afford this. Semester starts next week and I need to buy books. I am so fucking angry. VERY VERY PISSED. I have an unblemished bank record, if they’ve fucked that up I’m jumping on any legal action available to sue their sorry asses from here to December 31st 2008.. bastards.

  • JP Habaradas, January 18, 2008 @ 6:05 PM Reply

    @sylv3rblade – Oh okay. Good for you that you were able to immediately find a good and reliable web host. I hope not. All the best to your web host! :)

  • sylv3rblade, January 18, 2008 @ 6:03 PM Reply

    just 2 months then I switched. I’m currently on a friend’s hosting service, snoobhosting. It’s a whole lot cheaper and more reliable (not to mention an affiliate offer). Just hope no one DDoS us =/

  • JP Habaradas, January 17, 2008 @ 2:55 PM Reply

    @sylv3rblade – Is that so? How long were you hosted with Dreamhost? Yeah, their hosting plan looks very nice and tempting but the problem is they cramp their servers. So whos’ your webhost now?

  • sylv3rblade, January 17, 2008 @ 2:52 PM Reply

    I stopped using Dreamhost about a month ago, that was after the nth downtime in 2 months for the server my blog was on. I like their hosting plan but seeing error 500 on my site often makes int not worth it.

  • JP Habaradas, January 17, 2008 @ 7:00 AM Reply

    @jhay – I know. It’s funny if you’re not with Dreamhost and scary if you are. Hehe :D

  • jhay, January 17, 2008 @ 6:59 AM Reply

    It’s funny and scary at the same time. Good thing I’m not on Dreamhost, otherwise, I’d flip! :mrgreen:

  • JP Habaradas, January 17, 2008 @ 5:50 AM Reply

    @K – Good thing you’re not in Dreamhost and didn’t get that email. Hehe

    I know the details of my hosting account so I know it was an error. Plus I make it a habit to read emails carefully especially if it has something to do with bills and other important accounts. :)

  • K, January 17, 2008 @ 5:48 AM Reply

    Good grief! That amount of money scared the sh*t off of me. Buti na lang you read “billed-emails” carefully.

  • JP Habaradas, January 16, 2008 @ 7:15 PM Reply

    @Michael – As I mentioned earlier, the reason why I sent them a ticket regarding the error was because I got the email as soon I was billed. There were no posts about the billing error issue so I had no point of reference.

    An apology is good but for Dreamhost clients like me who are in the US errors like these may not only cost us bank fees but also negatively affect our credit score.

  • Michael, January 16, 2008 @ 7:14 PM Reply

    I received the email, thought it was an error on their part. I looked around and see if there was a program billing error, sure enough there was.

    So, I thought it would be a time-waster to contact them since anytime then they would have to issue an apology. A few hours later, and viola, the apology came. All’s well that ends well.

  • JP Habaradas, January 16, 2008 @ 6:35 PM Reply

    @Joni – Oh yeah, you’re also with Dreamhost. So what was your reaction when you read the email? :D

  • JP Habaradas, January 16, 2008 @ 5:40 PM Reply

    @noemi – Yes they do mainly because they have a lot of clients but that’s the problem with having an auto bill system, it does save you time but one mistake and it can blow up in your face. :D

  • noemi, January 16, 2008 @ 5:36 PM Reply

    does dreamhost auto bill? I have a small webhosting but I don’t auto-bill unless the customer requests for it specifically/

  • Joni, January 16, 2008 @ 6:34 PM Reply

    I received the same emails from them, lol.

  • JP Habaradas, January 16, 2008 @ 3:25 PM Reply

    @Manalo – Are you also hosted in Dreamhost? I’m also thinking about moving to a different web host but I’m not sure which one. Hehe :D

  • Manalo ng $250, January 16, 2008 @ 3:22 PM Reply

    Oh dear. That is awful. I guess its time to change.

  • JP Habaradas, January 16, 2008 @ 10:25 AM Reply

    @Tin – Hi there! Long time no see. Glad you could drop by. That’s true, it’s very difficult to find a good and reliable web host these days. Good for you to have free hosting. Hehe :D

  • JP Habaradas, January 16, 2008 @ 9:20 AM Reply

    @Ederic – I also sent a ticket informing them about the error but since I sent it early and they haven’t realized the error yet, it wasn’t until the following day that I received their reply and apology for the incident.

  • Ederic, January 16, 2008 @ 9:18 AM Reply

    Got that e-mail, too. I asked for a clarification, and a Dreamhost staff sent an explanation with an apology.

  • JP Habaradas, January 16, 2008 @ 8:35 AM Reply

    @marhgil – I received the email 3 hours before they posted it in dreamhoststatus.com so I had no idea it was a site-wide issue although I was sure it was an error. :)

  • marhgil, January 16, 2008 @ 8:34 AM Reply

    I’ve read first the bug on their dreamhoststatus.com RSS feed. so, when I checked my e-mail later and saw it, I already know what’s happening. :)

  • pinayhekmi, January 16, 2008 @ 10:21 AM Reply

    It looks very difficult to find reliable, cost-competetive webhosts these days. that’s why I’m sticking with my free one. tsk tsk.

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