There’s a fine line between humor and condescension; more than a few customers felt that hosting provider Dreamhost crossed that line today.
The company overbilled nearly every customer, by a total $7.5 million dollars. The mea culpa came in the form of a blog post that featured Homer Simpson and featured such quips as “The joke is on you!” along with an apology and explanation. Basically, their billing system added a year’s worth of extra hosting charges to every single account (meaning, by the way, that Dreamhost is doing around $7.5 million in annual revenue). Many accounts were also shut down due to non-payment.
The apology was clearly heart-felt and genuine, but emails to us along with many of the 250 comments to the blog post suggest that a more straightforward apology may have been in order. Examples:
it is time you realized when the light jokey style in which you run this business is NOT the appropriate tone. Any of us involved in running a business knows when you approach your customers with a serious tone. Your customers are taking that tone with you; Time to step up and be serious and act like your company depends on it. I think it does.
Thanks for the jokes. I’m out of here.
Please, show some genuine concern for your customers. Sure, you screwed up, but I don’t see any sort of genuine concern other than the $7,500,000 in credit card debt you accidentally set off.
Jokes are NOT APPROPRIATE in this situation….Do you realize that for some credit cards, you have just pushed them over their max, meaning some people will pay fees, overage charges, higher rates PERMANENTLY, and their credit scores could be affected? Will you be reimbursing those charges?
Coincidentally, in Dreamhost’s last monthly newsletter they talked about their new offices and joked “If your next web hosting bill from us is mysteriously tripled, now you know why.”