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Web backup biz Monster Cloud monstered after monster price hike

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Another dot com manager is going to bite the bullet

You have to be a dot com idiot to go tout unlimited anything for a fixed, yearly price and expect to generate profit.

This is a company that clearly abused its customers to get the ball rolling and is now turning the screws to Frighteningly Tight in one go to get profits flowing. From 50 a year to 30 a month ? If that is not called skyrocketing I don't know what is.

Except that this is the Internet; they are not the sole provider of their type of service and they are not an incumbent behemoth that customers cannot avoid using.

I hope that karma is going to burn this company as badly as it deserves to be.

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Re: Another dot com manager is going to bite the bullet

True, but is this not yet another lesson in what it means to put your balls in another’s vice valuable data in a cloud service?

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Re: Another dot com manager is going to bite the bullet

Hmm yeah, and for £36 I can reach out and buy a 1 TB HDD every month for my er cloudy backups

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Re: Another dot com manager is going to bite the bullet

"True, but is this not yet another lesson in what it means to put your balls in another’s vice valuable data in a cloud service?"

Yes, yes it is - and more to the point, it's the very example of one of the potential risks that has been predicted by just about everyone who nay-says Cloud.

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Re: Another dot com manager is going to bite the bullet

I was thinking on saving over the course of a year by just buying a 1tb ssd drive. That should do the job and can be made portable easily enough.

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Re: Another dot com manager is going to bite the bullet

For £360 you can buy a good NAS and stick a couple of TB in it. Then next year a couple more TB and you've got a decent backup.

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Re: Another dot com manager @ Pascal M

You have to be a dot com idiot to go tout unlimited anything for a fixed, yearly price and expect to generate profit.

Isn't the same true of their customers? Without doing any maths, anybody capable of rational thought can work out that there's a loss from offering unlimited backup (or is that just "storage") for less than a quid a week.

If something's free (or as near free in this context as makes no difference), you take it only on the basis that either you'll shortly get reamed out when they finally need to make some money, or you expect the "backup" to be as secure and professional as anything else people give away. Or both. Even Google are charging $120 a year for up to 1TB, and that's just storage rather than a formal backup service, so I can guess that Monster Cloud would be losing quite a lot per account per year, and £50 a year unlimited, they would not be financially sustainable. So where do their customers for backup think their data will be when the power company have cut the electricity, the rack host has evicted Monster Cloud, and the creditors have sold the disks to a recycler? Do the whining customers think that contractual rights and consumer law will help them if a provider goes bust?

I'm sorry, but public or private customer, I've no sympathy. Poor, unprofessional tactics by Monster Cloud, but if it looks and sounds too good to be true, that's ALWAYS because it is too good to be true.

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Re: Another dot com manager @ Pascal M

If the service is free, you (or in this case your data) is the product.

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Re: Another dot com manager is going to bite the bullet

Just wait until the big three (AWS, Azure, and Google) lock most of the market up... I can't wait to see what cloud service prices end up at, that is after they have your data and make it almost impossible to move it.

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Anonymous Coward

Surely

This is straightforward breach of contract?

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Meh

Re: Surely

No doubt there is a clause in the T&C's that permit them to change the T&C's at any time.

I have yet to find a T&C that does not have this clause.

If it is cheap or free... You are the product or it is a bait and switch scam.

Apologies to the few genuine, honest and sincere service providers out there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely

No doubt there is a clause in the T&C's that permit them to change the T&C's at any time.

I have yet to find a T&C that does not have this clause.

Doesn't matter, even for a dot con. This would fall under the "Unfair contract terms" aspect and get nuked in court. If you have paid for a service up to date X, then you have a contact for those service until date X.

They can't midway through change the terms/prices/service without your agreement. I'd just go to Trading Standards' front end (Consumer Whatsit, no idea what it's called now) and file a formal complaint. A few of those, and I wish Monster the best of luck avoiding Trading Standards clubbing them over the head with a fine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely

Which may not be enforceable in a consumer context for a price hike of this degree on a service that is paid for in advance, as it could be viewed by a court as unfair. See http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/i-think-theres-an-unfair-term-in-my-contract-what-can-i-do- . At the very least they should be offering a full refund.

Anyone affected by this should probably contact Trading Standards (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/).

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Re: Surely

CONSUMERS can probably argue that this is unfair, businesses are typically assumed to read the small print and may be hosed.

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Re: Surely

Apologies to the few genuine, honest and sincere service providers out there.

Lately, I think we'd all be hard-pressed to name even one who is.

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It's a breach of the law

Your T&C can say what they like, but if your ADVERTISING made a clear offer then that advertising overrides your T&C, unless you engaged the Big Red Hand. Contracts, esp consumer ones, are based on total package of communications.

So, yes, they can change their prices at any time, for those that joined before the offer or after it, but NOT for those who had a reasonable expectation of a year of unlimited storage. (Note, while the word unlimited might be held to be puff, anyone in the target market backing up target market type stuff should be fine).

If Monster is consumer oriented, how about a Your and Yours story, (and at the same time educate some journos on tech).

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I'm not a Monster Cloud user but I'd like to know what the technorati are using?...

... Owncloud? I must know - I will know....

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Re: I'm not a Monster Cloud user but I'd like to know what the technorati are using?...

Owncloud is good - very easy to set up and low hardware requirements. Set up a VPN to manage external access and you don't need to worry about what your cloud storage vendor is going to do next.

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How about Jungledisk

While its a shame it only seems to have a US base which can make uploads slow, it does provide us with a fairly effective offsite backup that we find more convenient and reliable than taking home some kind of rolling incremental tape/drive backup.

When I have looked at alternatives they are usually very expensive, to the point where you might as well just go back to taking a disk home, running Owncloud or perhaps rsyncing to a NAS/HP Miniserver at a remote location.

I would love The Reg to do a summary review of this kind of service at some point or perhaps suggestions in here folks? Brownie points for services that don't require you to generate and debug scripts to get it all setup and aren't soley tied to MS Server OS' AD or any of that other bling.

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Re: How about Jungledisk

Personally I'm less bothered about my files (I can do manual backups), but I'd love something that I can install on my parents devices to backup their pictures without needing any intervention.

I'd love an article/comparison on this too elReg.

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Re: How about Jungledisk

Does it have to be a "cloud"? I have several external ssd's that came with backup software (mine are Seagate branded). All local, easy to setup, and fully automatic. More importantly, they work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is quite missleading

If a customer has signed up for a year for price X, you are to honour that contract for the duration, you can't just change unilaterally change that agreement because that means you're in breach of contract. When that contract expires, fair enough, but not during its runtime.

If that was correctly reported and you have done this to even one single user you may end up having to deal with Trading Standards, as the laws on unfair contract terms will override whatever you have dreamt up in your T&Cs.

So, I really hope that was reported in error (or maybe enacted in error by you, in which case I'd turn the clock back on that ASAP). Otherwise you won't just get fined, but will also lose the trust of anyone who has even contemplated doing business with you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is quite missleading (sic.)

So we have aligned our prices to make our service fair for all users.

That's the nicest way of describing the systematic and sudden gouging of unsuspecting customers I've ever read.

Anyway, I'm sure that now you've explained it so well, all your long-standing customers (the sort I thought businesses liked to keep) will realise how unreasonable they've been and quietly pay up whatever you're deciding to charge them for a fair service this week. Either that or they'll seek out a cloud partner whose price increases aren't pegged to the Venezuelan rate of inflation.

Good luck, and do let us know if you're still in business this Christmas.

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Re: This is quite missleading

"costs of running our services have risen"

Risen is, in this case, a mild euphemism. Tell you what, what would you say if your landlord switched your lease from £200 a month to £180 daily ? Because that is just about what you did.

I do believe you'd tell him to get stuffed and go straight to the beak.

If your costs well and truly have been multiplied by a factor of 10 or more, it only demonstrates very poor planning on your part. Telecoms companies invest billions and raise cents. You may have invested millions, but you are raising fistfuls.

Still, points for wading in and trying to explain without coming off as totally patronizing. I'll check you guys out in a year or so - maybe you'll have learned a few lessons that make you a worthwhile partner by then. For now, I'll pass.

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Re: This is quite missleading

"The prices and services quoted here are wrong. Trust the press to not do their research"

Trust a cloud company caught in a fuck-up to lie its way out of a problem. Everything is correct and you are a horrible organization.

C.

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WTF?

Re: This is quite missleading

"Yes that's a big jump, but we tried our very best to keep users on the original prices & packages, users then told their friends or IT consultants got their new clients signed up and users were complaining why is user X paying less than we now do. So we have aligned our prices to make our service fair for all users."

So you screwed over the early customers who helped you to grow your business by advertising it for free to their families, friends and clients? Just because other complained they were having to pay more?

You really have no clue about building customer loyalty do you?

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Re: This is quite missleading

Actually, I'd say that the prices, services and comments posted in the original article are pretty much spot on. I've been a Monstercloud customer for 2 months. So, when you say that the big increases will affect only long standing customers that shouldn't mean me! And yet you've just told me that you're increasing my charges, overnight, by a staggering 1,100%.

I signed up for backup at £29.99 per annum. Two months into that deal and you're telling me that I have to start paying £36 a month - or you'll suspend my account. That's the year long account that I paid for in full only two months ago.

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Re: This is quite missleading

I paid for 1 year in advance , its been a great service, but now with 5 terrabytes my fee is to jump to £180 a month?

Daylight robbery and smacks of a company about to do a runner.

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Re: This is quite missleading

Your analogy of "landlord switched your lease from £200 a month to £180 daily" is almost correct.

A more correct analogy is that your landlord was charging you £2 per month, but now its £200 per month. You would go nuts that the price has increased 100x, but £2 per month is far too cheap and obviously unsustainable. The same with LiveDrive/MonsterCloud.

LiveDrive must have had a few million of seed money and told to get as many customers as they can (which they did), then hope to get brought out by a large company (which they did - J2 Global).

I run www.backupvault.co.uk and get daily requests to match/beat LiveDrive/MonsterClouds prices - and we steer well clear of it all. I prefer to offer a decent, reliable and encrypted backup service to end users and resellers.

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Anonymous Coward

nothing new

Much like logmein, £149 2014, £249 2015, £349 2016.

The problem with cheap 'unlimited' deals is they are often backed by venture capitalists with deep pockets who can sustain a loss for a number of years, once they have gained market share and put smaller longer established companies out of business they up their prices to make their profits and then sell up. Not saying that is the case here but it is seen time and time again. Sadly most customers are cost driven and so follow the cheapest deal.

I avoid unlimited deals as they only go two ways, bust or expensive and generally lack anything near the quality of service and support I would expect as they can't afford the staff costs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: nothing new

The problem with cheap 'unlimited' deals is they are often backed by venture capitalists with deep pockets who can sustain a loss for a number of years

Yup. That's exactly why I prefer to deal with businesses that have organically grown and generally avoid the "free" game, because "free" never is (or the company wouldn't exist - simple). The problem with the selling cheap approach is that you end up with a vendor who is engaged in a competitive race that's only ever won by those who can cut the most corners.

Using such a vendor is OK as long as you are aware of the risk and have planned for it, but we prefer things slightly more stable and controlled (one of the reasons we screen our supplier's investment model).

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Re: nothing new

Teamviewer did the same recently. v10 and earlier was a one time fee to upgrade, now v11 onwards it's a monthly subscription and for me the upgrade has jumped from around £150 / year to £672.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: nothing new

My employer, a university, (hence AC) has signed up cheaply to box.com for some deal with something like a TB/month maximum upload limit. Needless to say, I'm not putting anything valuable in it for just this reason. A colleague now has a script uploading nearly 1TB/month as a 2nd backup of science data just to test it out...

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Anonymous Coward

Big Jump

A big jump is from £9 a year to £12 a year. A jump from £9 a year to £96 a year is outrageous, and guess what those customers don't want any extra space or fancy tweaks to the control panel etc. Let's just hope the data centres you use don't do the same as they will have the same thing written into their contracts and might like to 'upgrade' you to prices others are paying for the sake of fairness.

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Anonymous Coward

Livedrive

They're a Livedrive reseller, and Livedrive has just put a massive price hike on all it's resellers. And by massive, I mean huge.

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Anonymous Coward

Livedrive

They're a Livedrive reseller, and Livedrive have just slapped some truly incredible price increases on all their resellers:

Backup storage usage charge

Your base subscription now includes 5TB of Backup Storage space.

Your account backup usage volume will be reviewed every month and, for any storage used by your customers in excess of the aggregate 5TB block, additional monthly charges will be applied to your account at the time that the monthly invoice is created (same day snap-shot). Such additional charges shall be calculated in accordance with the table below. It is your responsibility to monitor the aggregate storage in use by your customers and due to the nature of the same day calculation, we cannot give you notice of when these additional add-ons will be triggered.

Name Size Cost

1.00 TB Add-on 1TB £20.00

5.00 TB Add-on 5TB £50.00

If you wish to view more information on this pricing structure or use our handy storage price calculator click the following link:

https://resellersportal.livedrive.com/backup-pricing.

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Re: Livedrive

Ah! Monster Cloud's decision makes more sense in that context.

Such a price increase (upon contract renewal) would normally be a very brave thing: you'll burn shedloads of goodwill and risk being uncompetitive, so you're relying on your competition to become similarly unappealing.

Here, it seems like Monster Cloud simply panicked. If they're obviously breaching contract (and perhaps threatening to deny access to property, I don't know how this is seen under UK law), that is a direct line to Trading Standards and probably not a few civil court cases. That's not a course you choose unless your business model already collapsed.

Before I signed up with CrashPlan, I asked what my exit options were. For a fee, they'll put all my data onto a hard drive and ship it to me. Several years on, I couldn't be happier with CrashPlan, but then I read a story like this and remember my ticket out.

I wish the best to all: customers, employees, and investors.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Livedrive

"Several years on, I couldn't be happier with CrashPlan, but then I read a story like this and remember my ticket out."

+1 for Crashplan. It just works. That and the free peer to peer backup makes it perfect for backing up the 'my photos' etc folders of elderly parents, in-laws etc. The HDD export is nice but if I ever need to get things out in a hurry I've tested spinning up a temporary EC2 instance, logging into CP from there and sucking the data down that way. 250GB in a couple of hours was the result at a total cost of Very Cheap :-)

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Re: Livedrive

Crashplan have this announcement on their support site.........

============

On January 4, 2016, we will discontinue our optional, paid Restore-to-Door service for CrashPlan Home subscribers. It has been our pleasure to offer this service for several years, but due to declining interest, we are choosing to focus these resources on improving our customer support responsiveness.

There are other ways to quickly retrieve large amounts of data using CrashPlan beyond this service. We recommend configuring a local CrashPlan backup, either to another computer or to an external hard drive, in addition to your backup to CrashPlan Central.

This yields multiple benefits:

Fast backup to the local destination so you're protected while your offsite backup is completing

Fast restore from a local destination in situations where a full restore is required (e.g. laptop theft, hard drive failure)

Meanwhile, your CrashPlan Central backup ensure offsite backup security in the event of a local disaster (e.g. fire, flood, home theft)

This way, if your main computer fails, the local backup data can provide a timely restore for large amounts of data.

Thank you,

The Code42 CrashPlan Team

=========.

So do not bank on getting your data back on HD.

Looking at their website the offering did look interesting, but I could not fine the prices for their non-free home service anywhere.

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The thing about clouds ...

... is that sooner or later they evaporate - even monster ones.

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The cloud. Collect your data and then hold it hostage. For years IT worked to get away from vendor lock in and now we jump right back into the fire, voluntarily...

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C_H

Really people?

Invalid sole trader domain with serviced office address in Manchester, London serviced office forwarding address, Heart IPSTAG, UKFast NS, unrealistic prices, pretty much no information on about page.

Do people really trust their personal or business data to such outfits?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really people?

Well, they buy security solutions from companies that use Google for email so yes, I'm not surprised..

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There are going to be so many people in 30 days time when these price hikes kick in that do not , or are not aware of this.

I would ask all users to contact paypal if they used paypal to pay for this, contact your credit/debit card issuer and ask them to investigate.

I would say you should all contact trading standards also. If monster cloud are allowed to continue with this there are going to be a lot of people seriously out of pocket.

Its almost like a daylight robbery before they go bust.

Email from monster cloud....

Hi,

You should know this price increase was imposed by the company I resell the services for , Livedrive Internet.

Thanks for reporting my company, it’s great people like you feel the need to screw over the little guy because you are so narrow minded and nasty.

I hope your life is full of people who treat you as justly!

As you have refused our offer of a partial refund it’s likely if everyone is as nasty as you we will just go under, so thanks for that, not only have we been screwed over by a corporation who wants us out of their way to steal our customers, but you and all our “loyal” customers now join the club of making sure another small business goes under!

Account closed. Have a great life!!!

Kind regards

Monster Cloud

W: www.MonsterCloud.co.uk

Check our Support Website http://support.monstercloud.co.uk

Forget to backup? Monster Cloud doesn't!

From: xxxxxx [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]

Sent: 19 April 2016 06:24

To: admin@monstercloud.co.uk

Subject: RE: Monster Cloud Support Ticket: http://eastfife.monstercloud.uk/ **its ok they closed this account now**

After speaking to the citizens advice guys it is clear that you have breached UK law in advertising a set price for a product for a year and selling it as such. I bought this service in advance for a year as it was advertised.

I have now reported this to trading standards to find I am not the only complaint and that this matter is under serious investigation.

I will not accept a pro rata refund any longer and will only accept a full refund. I paid by paypal and after a conversation with their customer service rep yesterday it seems I would likely win a case through them against you if I am to claim.

However if it goes that far I must inform you that due to your unfair change of product I will also charge for my time involved moving all my data to a new provider. I estimate this could take between 10 and 12 hours. My hourly rate as set out in all my private IT contracts and trading as I do is £120 per hour.

I would look to the courts if need be to get this back.

Now the register have picked up on this I see this going a little bit more mainstream, especially as I have sent the story to several different media outlets.

Last chance.

xxxxx xxxx

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Anonymous Coward

My mail exchanges 28/4 with MonsterCloud

It seems what I am getting is very similar to other customers. It demonstrates a unique approach to customer service or business acumen.

Why have they faced such (reportedly) huge increases? Did their "legal councel" (see below) not do a good enough job to prevent their provider making thee alleged hikes?

Like other posters, I wonder how long they will be around for. I see the address on their website is a Regus serviced office in London. Anyway here are the cut/pastes from today: it starts with the webform I completed following their instructions to cancel if I dont want to pay more:

Message:

As forced by your outragous price increase I have closed the account.

I expect a 75%+ refund of the fee I paid you as it was active for less than 3 months.

I hope this part of the process is less opaque than your other business dealings.

Response:

Hi,

I’m sorry, did you want our help or did you think this was somewhere you could just be abusive?

Kind regards

Monster Cloud

ME:

Thanks for your email.

The former, in getting my refund.

What you may have interpreted as “abuse” is only a statement of fact. At this stage, I am making no comment on the degree of business disruption caused by your self-publicised 8000% mid-contract price increases necessitating additional resources to change provider.

Response:

Hi,

So factually speaking we did not increase our prices 8000%. Your email this morning was full of attitude, even though you have never contacted support previously. You insinuated that the owners of Monster Cloud have conducted themselves in a way that’s you determined to be dishonest.

So given that factual assessment of your email this morning would you now like to be a nice person, don’t judge on things you know nothing about and ask your question again?

Kind regards

Monster Cloud

Me:

Wow! Great email.

Yes, attitude is definitely there and with justification given the difficulties caused by your imposed price increases.

I have attached the email from admin@monstercloud.co.uk that:

1. Shows I have contacted you previously (it’s the same email address you are using now)

2. Gives the source of my quoted 8000%. Your figures, not mine. So I take them as fact when you inform me its 8000%.

I am surprised that you have gone on record to suggest that my note below “insinuates..dishonesty”. But a record worthy of retention.

Just process the refund please. Is that polite enough?

Regards

RESPONSE:

Hi,

If you did read the email we sent, we showed OUR data provider costs had increased 8000%, if you worked out what £4.99 per month, old costs, and £17 p/m, new costs, is then you would quickly learn that it’s not 8000% - the price increase to users was only 340%. So the increase to customers was just 4.25% of the business costs. I would say that was really well handled by our company.

Your email shows you contacted Marketing, you have not contacted Support until today. Different people, different building, different services provided. We are the engineers maintaining and providing the service, we help with user problems, service issues and we give 1st line support for accounts, as they do not have contact with customers.

As we are not here to debate your odd mind, “I am surprised that you have gone on record to suggest that my note below “insinuates..dishonesty”. But a record worthy of retention.“ We can put your weirdness down to the fact you maybe got confused and thought you were in school trying to be clever.

So let’s get back to why you contacted us today, you cancelled your subscription and would like a refund of your fees on a pro-rata basis. This request will now be passed to accounts, they will handle this and determine if your request will go through, though as you have in past indicated you would contact the media then I think they will contact our legal counsel before anything else. So this might take a while.

Kind regards

Monster Cloud

ME:

Thank you for your email.

Please process my refund within the law and we can all put a stop to this.

Many thanks

RESPONSE:

Hi,

As we said, this has now been passed to accounts for them to review. The law gives us 14 days to issue a refund, as you have decided to cancel your service after using it for a few months, on the grounds you do not agree to our new prices, this is another matter and why account s will look into this. Had you not consistently been quite threatening in your recent emails I would image this would have gone much smoother, but we don’t like to receive threats as much as you probably don’t, so things will have to be looked at more thoroughly now given what you have said in your emails.

Accounts will let us know in due course what they have decided to do and we will let you know their decision accordingly.

Kind regards

Monster Cloud

Well, that's it so far.

I will wait the "due course" to see what "Accounts...decide what to do". Let's see if it fit currently law and legislation.

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