We got so excited.
Before our Website horror story when we brought Romantic Gestures NZ, we inherited the income, business suppliers, contacts and fantastic clients. We also had next to no knowledge on how to maintain and operate a website.
It was an extremely exciting time for us and we took every opportunity to make something our own. We even were introduced to a developer that had worked on our site with the previous owner, we had all the help we needed.
Things weren’t getting done.
As the months carried on we started to have major issues with the developer that volunteered his time to maintain our website.
We never thought how hard it was to get a page created or some advice on how to create forms or embed a video on our site, it was the simple things and then we struggled as our site broke after every time we tried to make changes.
Things definitely got very frustrating when we tried to improve our site and it’s performance, however unknown to us things got worse.
Before I say any more I have to say that the events are true but the names of the people we dealt with are changed in this blog for legal reasons.
My wife identified that we were completely out of our depth, limited business knowledge and needing website support. Our site was in a crap state and usually developers can charge thousands to fix our site.
We were talking to a potential mentor named Porky Joe and he seemed pretty keen to help us out. We met a few times and he provided us with great sound advice. We thought our website horror story was over when we met Porky-Joe, man was I wrong.
After a few meetings Porky Joe decided he wanted to have shares in our company and in return he would help with our website and mentor guidance for 12 months.
We also spoke to his developer and managed to start designing a new and refreshed website which we were completely excited about.
Things were good as our site was finally getting the revival treatment that it needed, and our business concept seemed to smash directly into over-drive. Thanks to our pungent mentor we started feeling excited about our business again, however that happy excitement and a false sense of security would soon disappear and we would discover the truth.
Mentor selling up
After 4 months of guidance and many forms of guidance from Porky Joe we noticed that he wasnt as engaged as we thought he would be. He soon told us that he was selling his marketing / online service business but he wanted to continue to help us out.
We were getting worried that he almost forgot about us, but with his admission that things were changing and he needed to focus on the sale of his business for a while.
Porky Joe started pulling back as a mentor and it was becoming obvious that he was not willing to go all out for his stake in the business. Our website started to suffer and we were getting concerned about the increasing lack of support and obligations this porker took on.
This was the start of a website horror story.
Going it alone
After the 7th month, we were back to square one, lacking the support, advice and also the glitch repairs to our site.
In the end we decided to do things ourselves, also we make a tonne of mistakes but eventually we managed to find a host and a developer who was sympathetic to our cause and was ready to take us on, we also were ready to move on to greener pastures so we set out towards canceling the agreement.
We emailed Porky-Joe and effectively told him that we want to transfer our website and domain to another host. He agreed and gave us a UDAI transfer code to do so, however this is where things got really bad for us.
Finding the horrible truth
When I started to do preparation to transfer the domain and website to a more capable host, I realized one thing as I was looking at the WHOIS database online:
Porky Joe in the first month of our agreement, without our knowledge had done some pretty crappy things:
- Transferred domain ownership to his previous business.
- The hosting was transfered to a third party host called freeparking and not his own hosting capability.
This was pretty hard and I needed to get control back of my domain and my files. This was so stressful at the time as we were newbies to owning a website and we were literally crying every night thinking we were about to loose our livelihoods. The website horror story became nasty and we were drowning in it.
Emergency site migration
Because we had an email of agreement and a UDAI transfer code we were able to start trying to migrate the site to a new host, however the domain ownership was a huge issue without the proper documents of authentication. I suddenly remembered that I had the original transfer docs and authentication from the previous business owner and presented this to the domain’s dispute authority. They were more than accommodating and determined that porky-Joe was in violation for doing some shady dodgy shit and allowed us to be the domain owners again.
The bad shit keeps coming
Porky-Joe got wind about the domain authority and decided to cut the server from us (effectively canceling the site transfer). He then emailed us about how much of a nuisance we were and how we violated the previous agreement. However in our view he violated our agreement by sitting on his fat arse doing nothing to help and letting the website maintenance slip to a horrendous state.
He then sends another email stating that we need to pay $1500.00 within 10 days or he will destroy our files and eventually we will lose our site altogether. By this stage our website horror story was immense and we were drowning in despair.
We became experts
We suddenly realised that we had already started learning to develop a WordPress site that was pretty easy to work with. Thanks to his ex developer we managed to learn how to create a fantastic site and within 3 weeks our Romantic Gestures site was back up, running and making money!
This was huge for us as we were starting to get our groove back, we were in a better place than we have been for months and we were actually making money which was working well for us after the major struggles we faced.
During the development of our new site we decided to develop this by ourselves and only ask for advice if we were really stuck. I was engrosed in YouTube videos on editing CSS, HTML, SEO social media algorithms and even went into Java-script. This was a very intensive learning and development period, I was even trying to study for exams during this phase.
Hard Lessons paid off.
As we implemented our new found knowledge and mixing a bit of webdesign and SEO into our site, we suddenly realised that our web traffic started to triple and increase for the next couple of weeks. This was really fantastic but however this brought up a new issue which was performance.
What we came to realise was that shared hosting had it’s limitations and the thousands of visitors on our site was too much for our hosting plan to accommodate.
We had an email from them stating that they have placed limitations on our site restricting visitor flow and thus restricting potential customers. We needed to upgrade our hosting plan or transfer to a better provider.
Invoiced for IT services from a Firewood company.
Amongst our hosting plan issues we also received a 2.5k invoice from a firewood company for IT services for the last 12 month period, Yep it was Porky-Joe, the sweaty fat fuck was at it again.
You see Porky Joe had started a new company and got wind that Romantic Gestures was up and running in no time, making money and didn’t need any files he had held to ransom.
The stress of our website horror story that affected my relationship with my wife caused by this sweaty beast was pretty horrendous and yep we were close to a divorce. However after seeking legal advice we just ignored that mangy cattle beast and hope that he would give up his mission to suck our finances like a scummy parasite.
Change of plan.
We decided to change hosting providers to see if the new providers would accommodate our increased web traffic as we attracted international clients from across the globe. Sure enough we found a much cheaper option on a shared server platform, this seemed like a better option than having to spend thousands on a VPS plan, or so we thought.
After a month our web traffic started to spike and we were informed that we would need to upgrade to a VPS server within 14 days or we would have our site shut down in order to accommodate the other sites that were on the same server.
No time to be cheap.
As we learned a hard lesson, we conceeded that we would need to spend $800 – $1000 a year on a VPS hosting plan. This was a huge cost to a growing business, but we had no other option. Although we saw a vast amount of cash coming out, eventually we saw even more site performance bring in more sales and interest.
At this stage we realized that we needed to focus on providing the quality website experience and not how much money we can save.
The rampant pig.
After a couple of months Porky-Joe sent a final email stating that he was considering legal action in order to recover costs of 2.5K for conducting the following:
- Hosting the website
- Continuous development
- Email hosting
By then we were a bit more confident that he would back off after we had an expert state the fact that we could counter-claim for:
- Damages due to not operating a site for 3 weeks
- Cost recovery for developing a new site
- Emotional distress
- Illegal transfer of domain ownership
And to top it all off we discovered thanks to our lawyer friend, his claim would be thrown out because:
- He sold his business and the new company had no contractual agreement.
- He did not sign any shareholder agreement.
The start of something new
Porky-Joe suddenly realized that his fat hands would struggle to get any cash out of us, in fact he realized that he would of ended up hemorrhaging money due to the extensive distress and hardship he caused.
With one of our struggles over we looked towards the future and realized that this heart-ache made us stronger in business and also more experienced in maintaining our website as well as developing it.
- We were forced to became website experts.
- We learned that you don’t have to depend on other people to host for you.
- We learned from online content and did this ourselves.
- We became more knowledgeable and street smart in maintaining control.
- We don’t have to give up ownership.