Perhaps You Don't Owe GoDaddy $6,579

GoDaddy demanded $6,579 from Adam Fendelman after his disk usage skyrocketed to over 250 GB without warning, vastly exceeding his account’s 150 GB allowance. GoDaddy’s security department launched a “full-scale investigation” and quickly determined that Adam was responsible for both the data binge and the extraordinary bill. Adam refused to let the matter drop…

The massive data splurge was apparently caused by a third-party backup module Adam installed alongside the widely-used open source website management software Drupal. Like a cancerous tumor, the custom module was unstoppably copying thousands of temporary files into Adam’s account. GoDaddy agreed to slash Adam’s bill to $969, supposedly the maximum discount they could offer under special circumstances, but because of the bug, they explained, Adam was going to get a bill next month for another $6,579.

Adam considered canceling his account and eating his prepaid hosting fees. GoDaddy claimed that they wouldn’t send the matter to collections, but refused to put the guarantee in writing.

Adam started chronicling his issue on the Huffington Post, drawing the attention of GoDaddy’s President. He directed his executive team to wipe out the $969 charge, and promised to kill any additional obscene bills that might pop up.

While GoDaddy’s second resolution was the only action that made sense this week, will its billing system pour salt on the wound a month from now? What caused the influx of data in the first place? Was the refund a result of the Huffington Post blog or would it have come without it? Most important, will GoDaddy listen up, learn and install processes to prevent this situation and others like it in the future?

I’m on the fence whether I’ll be around to see GoDaddy through to my 2010 hosting renewal date. On Thursday, I said it wasn’t a pleasure to meet you, Bob, and I’m sure you can understand why. Now that it’s Friday, we’ve somewhat kissed and made up. Consumers deserve and demand more, Bob, and it’ll take you and your machine time to earn back my trust and your credibility.

In the meantime, I know one lesson for sure: If you’re in the right and you’ve been wronged, people hear you so long as you’re loud enough.

As a result of Adam’s experience, GoDaddy may now warn customers when their accounts are set to exceed their allowances, a basic precaution you’d think any responsible web host would have already implemented.

Adam’s story reaffirms one of our core strategies: when reasoning fails, get the attention of the executive office and watch your previously intransigent problem melt into a surprisingly satisfactory resolution.

Update: Drupal offered an explanation for the surprising data use:

The user, Adam Fendelman, installed a third party contributed back-up module, and set it do infinite back-ups, a reasonable default for people who don’t want to lose their data. The configuration of GoDaddy hosting server timed out the backup process, so back-ups were never completed and the temporarily created back-up files were not cleaned up. This led the failed back-ups to exceed the disk server limits.

Why I Don’t Owe GoDaddy $6,579.51 (or $969) [Huffington Post]
Why GoDaddy Refunded My $969 (and Will Be Making ‘Significant Changes’) [Huffington Post]
*Urgent!* Drupal creating thousands of 75-meg temp files! [Drupal]