The first thing i'd do is to review the Terms and Conditions the Charity agreed to. That way you can find the end of term or exit options.
If there are no such options, it may fall under the term of 'unfair contracts.' That's where you'd need a philanthropic lawyer to help out.
If the Terms and Conditions are broken by either party there would be a break clause/penalty of some sort. However, I cannot see the hosting company wanting to break the deal of £650, especially if that's per annum.
The best way out is to find the exit options and end it as per the contract as it's likely to save money.
Thanks engine. I'm getting the T&Cs now.
Also, can I just ask for your opinion, do you feel these charges are fair/unfair? I'm obviously involved so getting an outsider's opinion would be good, just to make sure I've not gone bonkers!
The misconfigurations you mention are quite common across the web. The knowledge isn't widespread. Most hosting companies seem to be completely clueless.
It seems they regard this as "customisation" work and not as "standard configuration". The "meta refresh" was also telling. It's time to move hosts.
But they are still misconfigurations which resulted in problems with search engines, e.g. shortcomings on THEIR end which seems unfair to charge the client for.
Apparently changing hosts isn't so simple because they host some other sister sites... I've offered to host the whole lot for free. I'm helping them draft an email to dispute the charges now... I have some idea of the arguments I can include but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
>Also, can I just ask for your opinion, do you feel these charges are fair/unfair?
I don't think anyone can pass an objective opinion without knowing the agreement, the host facilities and the service level agreement involved.
Without taking sides on this, some customers/clients are quite hard work and require a lot of extra involvement. Others are easy to deal with and can be more cost effective to deal with. It could be that the host has set their rate on the work involved, or the equipment involved, or combination of both. That's pure speculation.
The tech issue are entirely different from an 'unfair contact' of course.
There is one issue that is unanswered or at least unclear.
When support was contacted, was the client informed that this is **billable** time? Or is it buried in their agreement?
I can't think of a single entity that won't inform you "sure, we can do that, at our hourly rate." If this notice never came, it's a pretty good grounds to fight it.
The contract usually states just about everything is billable. You gotta just put this down to poor choice of hosting (or technology if hosting was already agreed), wordppress/php on a shared IIS is a bad choice, you need LAMP/Cpanel
Jumping in late with this one, but I'm interested to hear what was found in the TOS?
I see it as completely inappropriate for a hosting company to charge such a large amount for what is clearly a severe lack of basic knowledge.
Wordpress is an extremely popular script, which if they've not familiarised themselves with how to properly configure an environment for shows that your clients charity may well indeed be the only client they have!
I work for a medium sized UK hosting company, we wouldn't dream of charging a client for looking into such issues, it just isn't ethical.
We never got to look at the TOS. Based on the email that I drafted they agreed to waive the invoice in full.