Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
The Almighty Buck

R.I.P. Linuxbox 144

Submitted by many: Linuxbox (AKA MassLinux), the hosting service that provided free server space for many open source and free software projects, went offline today at noon. Chris Gann, the company's owner, told me (by phone) that he's about $7000 short of keeping things going, which is almost exactly how much he's owed by deadbeat "paying" customers. Chris is a truly nice person, which may be why so many customers figured they could get away without paying him. If so, this is a sad commentary on the current Internet business climate.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

R.I.P. Linuxbox

Comments Filter:
  • by J4 ( 449 )
    Llama Communications [llamacom.com] $6.95 a month...I chuckle each time I cut the check.
  • This sort of thing happens all the time. Unfortunately you cant run a business expecting everyone will pay you. Even if you dont have people who are withholding because of some sort of greivance there's always customers who will be consistently late every time. It's just the way things work. The bigger the customer the longer it will take you to get a check. It's sad, but it's business as usual.

  • What about helping him in other ways? I'd be willing to provide a domain and host it if he'd like to switch over whatever domains he wanted to it. I'd even go so far as to provide him total access to the "host" domain, complete with username, password, etc. What do you all think? Chris, if you're reading this, reply to this.
  • There are a lot of commercial software packages and hosting services which provide for credit card transactions. Also third party companies that specialize in that sort of thing.

  • Wow. How's that <b> tag treating you?

  • No setup whatsoever. I will handle your credit card for you (Well Kagi will, actually, at this time, but you don't even need to register with Kagi)

    The goal of tipjar [tipjar.com] is and has been since 1996 to provide a virtual equivalent of the ability to drop coins into musician's instrument cases without requiring download of any additional software by anyone.

  • While I don't have a ton of bandwidth to throw around, I do have a dedicated DSL connection and would be willing to host a few of the smaller projects that have become homeless after this incident, if two conditions are met. First, I would have to clear this with my DSL provider because I don't want to voilate my contract. Second, I would want to hear from Chris Gann himself confirming the good intentions of whomever I might be hosting. If you are one of those who lost a home, contact me at jamie at jamie.ufies.org and we can discuss the feasability of doing this. A disclaimer: I can make no guarantee of stability or availability... this machine is my personal box that I use for other things like quake and school work. If you can find another place to host your project I strongly suggest doing so. If, however, you are totally without options, I might be able to help out, if only temporarily.

    Tell a man that there are 400 Billion stars and he'll believe you
  • It happens in every business man. Some people are just deadbeats... that's all there is to it.
  • Hehe... I could start a business and be the first "Repo Man" of web sites...
  • Does anyone know of similar services?

    Anything I've seen adveritised locally is at least CDN$20 per month to host a domain name. MassLinux had packages starting at US$5 and I liked that.


  • I just sent them an e-mail to see if they: a) are willing to accept donations b) can accept donations I wasn't sure if there were issues with them just taking money via donation (taxes, etc), but perhaps if they just sell a bunch of e-mail addresses to us at say $5 or $10 a piece, that'd be cool. If I hear anything more, I'll make sure to post back here with the details.


  • If they really wanted to endear themselves to the Linux and OpenSource communities, Andover might want to take a looksie in that direction...

    What do you think Rob? Is it worth making inquiries? After all, it's just some host space, right?
  • I'm sure since he has customers that he can snag some venture capital to keep the business afloat until he can force the deadbeat customers to pay up. (good way to do that: disallow all access to their site until they do)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's a shame to see somebody's generosity rewarded so poorly. Maybe everybody on Slashdot who sees this should send him a dollar. Then he'd have his $7000 in not time.

    First post perhaps...
  • It's everywhere.. it reminds me a lot of BBS's in the old days.. tons of people would come and freeload as the sysop slaved away, and only a very small few would contribute. It's nice to think that you can get by on grateful people giving you money for your hard work, but it just never works out.

  • by seizer ( 16950 )
    That's heartbreaking. To think that he's going to have to operate more cynically in the future - his trust has been broken. Ouch.

    --Remove SPAM from my address to mail me
  • The prices at LinuxBox/MassLinux are some of the most reasonable I've ever seen! I really don't understand how people actually expecting service can have problems paying. I certainly hope that the service to these deadbeats is turned off as well!


  • I guess I don't know off hand what sites were hosted there, but I suppose I could pick up maybe _A COUPLE_ of people who are left homeless on current.nu [current.nu]. (Seeing as Chris Gann got nailed by some users, I think I would insist on him vouching for you first though).

    If you know who might need a host, email me at rob@freshmeat.net [mailto].

  • I'm game. $7000 is nothing to bunch of people like us. He may even get more.

    I don't even care that I'm in another country and will have to send a money order. Too bad you can't send absolutely anybody money with VISA easily, that would rock.
  • Roblimo writes: "Chris is a truly nice person, which may be why so many customers figured they could get away without paying him. If so, this is a sad commentary on the current Internet business climate."

    God, I second that. I did about $1,500 worth of work for a prominent Linux company at cut-rate -- plus fronting them $800 worth of supplies -- and it's taking a court order and collection agency to get the money.

    Want a recipe to sink a free-software project? Don't pay your bills... don't show up to meetings... go back on your word... take weeks to ship orders.... The real shame is, you not only sink your company -- you could minimize the honest work done by dozens of volunteers.

    If you want your project to be taken seriously, you have to act like a real business. Free software demands extra responsibility to promulgate and promote the work done by contributors.

    Anyway, sincere condolences to Chris and others involved in LinuxBox. Sadly, you're not alone. :-/


  • by StalePez ( 18519 ) on Tuesday August 10, 1999 @10:11AM (#1754235) Homepage
    How can I express the thanks and gratitude I have for the overwhelming amount of support I have received from the community. Amazing, simply amazing. I have been at a loss for words for some time now, and that has remained mostly unchanged, however I feel it's my duty to make an appearance to let you all know how I feel personally about this. I had lost a lot of faith in people since the troubles started brewing, but thanks to all of you I have renewed energy and hope!

    For those of you wishing to make donations or send money, you may do so by sending check/money order/cash/shoelaces/whatever to:

    55 Water Street
    Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

    I wish I had something more prolific to say, but unfortunately I am still sincerely at a loss for words both over our tragedy and over your generosity and support. We really believe in Open Source and the OSS community at large. We have always been avid supporters of linux since that cold autumn day in 1994 when I first discovered SLS Linux :-)

    As it has been known for some time, the domain name LINUXBOX.COM has been for sale. We wanted to use that revenue to expand our GNU/OSS offerings and create a nice site dedicated soleley to those efforts. It's still for sale :-) Unfortunately, due to lack of investors, this was a necessity for us.

    I have been getting a TON of email, I will respond to all of it. Right now my hands are shaking and I'm too excited and shellshocked to be of much use, but let me just say one last thing: From the bottoms of our hearts, we thank you all tremendously!!


    Chris Gann
    MassLinux [linuxbox.com]

  • Darn it!
    I was literally just about to move my site there. They had everything I wanted at such a decent price.

    This must be a sudden decision, I was speaking to one of the guys there as of last night.

    Anyone know of any other good linux web site hosters? I was looking to spend about $10 a month and the features they offered were great.
  • Okay, I just noticed pointers to Llama Communications [llamacom.com] and HE.net [he.net] above. Others?
  • Unfortunately, I've attempted to get VC money, bank loans, personal loans, private investment capital, everything. Sadly, noone wanted to step up to the plate, despite the glowing references of our customers and the GNU/OSS community. If we had the money tomorrow, we'd be back online, believe me!! This business is my life, working for this cause only makes my life better.

    Thanks again!!

  • I can provide hosting to 2-3 of the software projects for $20 a month. I'd need a letter of approval from chris and all. That includes access our domain servers, perl, etc.
  • Llama would have gotten my business if they'd been abe to create an account in under a week or respond to email at all. I don't know if they still have the policy of not responding to any email to any of the addresses listed on their website but that's what happened when I tried...
  • Take a look at www.sunsetd.com

    They are hosting both my site, and my husbands site, and they're pretty cheap (I pay around $13 a month).

  • Netscape Communicator 4.05....an application log has been generated by the old caring Dr Watson. Kaboom.... Guess I'll go home and use Lynx then, office PCs *mutter*

    --Remove SPAM from my address to mail me
  • Last week Rob shortened the limit of handles from 30 to 20 characters. If you had a handle that was larger than 20 characters it has now been trunccated to 20. Try logging in using the first 20 characters of your handls (spaces included) and your old password.

    I went from being "Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love" to "Lord Kano-The Gangst", I had him shorten it even further this weekend.

  • I just talked to the guys at Linuxbox and they're open to getting donations. So if you've got the money and want to support what they do, whip out your check book and send some money to:

    55 Water Street
    Shelburne Falls, MA 01370


  • So, we screw our own people instead of supporting them. Makes me wonder how many people are in this comminity because they think that they can get something for nothing. This stinks. I was SOOO mad when I read this. I was planning on moving my own project over there.

    I do have to say though that this isn't just our community who does this. My brother and I were forced out of business b/c our "customers" wouldn't pay up either and we had no recourse that we could afford at that point to collect from them, contracts or no contracts. It costs money to sue in Canada.

    I'll just say this about my experience: never take on accountants and real estate companies as clients they are the worst.

    My sympathies to Chris. I've been there. It sucks, especially when your own community has pulled the shaft on you. If that's what you like doing though Chris take what you've learned and start again. This time though screen you customers and get payment in advance. If they don't pay you take their site off line within a couple days of their payment being overdue. You have to play tough. Put it in the contract. I'd also say charge a late fee on payments, or if they continue not to pay have a clause where you can confiscate their stuff. You want to be nice but you have to stick up for yourself too.

    I'd follow the admonishment of one of the other posters. Post a list of the dead-beats on the web for all to see. I'd like to know who to throw the rocks at.

    Good luck in the future.

    ************************************** ******
    Superstition is a word the ignorant use to describe their ignorance. -Sifu
  • To all interested parties-

    If anyone is displaced by the closing of Linuxbox, I can offer you an alternative.

    Sprawl.Net is a server of mine that is located at a fairly large ISP in New York state.

    If anyone wold like, I can set something up for you on Sprawl.Net.

    Email me with questions, comments, etc...

    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately
    explained by stupidity.

    -Robert Heinlein, 'Logic of Empire'

  • I setup an account about a month ago at linuxbox. I like the service and the staff. I setup my account, saw how things worked out and a few days later filled in the payment form. How many people did this ? :(
    I wonder how many fukin porn dealers abused linuxbox :(

    Fair well
  • by Anonymous Coward
    To all the people that have showered us with love over our current situation, we thank you.

    I've spend the last two years making sure that Linuxbox was and is the best possible place for free gnu/oss hosting and commercial website hosting to support the gnu/oss community. I don't want to see it go.

    I didn't want to sit idle and not mention what a great job chris has done for Linuxbox and also, all the staff at Linuxbox. So, as I sit here and think about our future, I would just like to say, don't give up on the gnu/oss community, they're the ones that brought us here. There just seems to be those slim few that decide that they don't owe a community who has made them. Never-the-less, I say again, Thank you for your support in our time of need. If you would like to make donations, please do. We sure can use it.

    55 Water Street
    Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

    Ryan French
    Linuxbox Staff
  • Hey, I was just wondering... How do you go about being able to accept credit cards? Do you have to buy a special hardware solution, or is there another way? Anyway I was planning on offering some cheap web hosting and pop email accounts as soon as I get a DSL line, and just wanted to know.
  • I use pair.com for my hosting. Basic service starts at US$5/mo. Hosting your own domain with telnet is US$10/mo. Not too bad. Their price list is here [pair.com].

  • If you are one of the people who were affected by LinuxBox's demise, we may be able to help you out. System 12 has room for about 20-30 small, community-related projects. While our own project wont be formally unveiled for another couple months, we can offer sanctuary on a temporary basis for those of you who need to get your projects back up on short notice.

    System 12 is a community project funded by VA Linux Systems. We have a Dual P3/500 SMP box with 512MB RAM, and 36GB of space sitting on a rather fast connection. If we can help, send us a short email [mailto] telling us who you are, the name of your project, a short description of what it is, and a way we might be able to reach, and we'll see what we can do to help.

    Good luck,

    Bowie J. Poag
    Project Manager, System 12 (http://system12.com)

    Bowie J. Poag
  • Hope he gets enough to keep things running. I'm in for $10. Just have to make a stop on the way home today.

  • We've been hosting many various open source projects for a long time now and would be glad to host more. So if you are homeless--or if you are starting an OS project--drop a note to me or to Donald Sizemore dsl@metalab.unc.edu [mailto]
  • Now that is a great story. And I thought I was clever by writing my consulting rates with a 10% "discount" for payment before the due date, back in the dark ages when I ran my own show. I can see that I should take some cues from the likes of you if I ever get back into that biz.
  • WebSupreme (www.websupreme.com) has a good deal. 300MB server space, SSL, and lots of other features. $8 per month for resellers, $12 without the reseller discount. (and they host on Linux!)
  • I don't suppose it would be possible to get a list of the domains that didn't pay, would it? Not for anything nasty, I just want to make sure I don't support them accidently.
  • Bah, humbug. I've spent more on Linux software than I ever spent for MS stuff. I've bought multiple version of Linux for myself and others. I bought CivCTP, OSS sound drivers, XingMP3 Encoder for Linux.

    I remember buying DOS 6.0, and I never even installed it. It sat there in the shrink wrap till I chucked it out. I just couldn't bring myself to pay for 95. NT I got for free, so MS didn't get any money there (from me). I imagine I've spent 10-20 times as much on Linux 'stuff' as I ever did on windows stuff.
  • I have bandwidth that I can spare as well. I can at least take a couple of open source projects that need a home.

  • BTW-

    I could take 5-10 sites for no charge, then I might charge a nominal fee for others.

    I can do domain hosting, webhosting, FTP services, mail redirects (Qmail rocks!), etc... Disk space isn't an issue, as I can add more (to a point).

    Its my way of saying thanks to everyone for helping with Linux/OSS. Getting work done would be alot harder without Linux/OSS.

  • Of course I agree that Chris should be payed by his paying customers. He really doesn't deserve to be left in the cold.

    On the other hand, I don't think he should bear the cost of hosting Open Source projects either. There are some less costly methods of hosting those projects.

    For example, I have a host at the University of Utrecht [www.uu.nl] who is allowing me to use some of their bandwidth for free. I am willing to host some open source projects and have all the resources available. Whenever I need more bandwidth, hardware or whatever, there's always been a nice company that came up and offered help.

    Just mail me (email on my home page) if you need to host an Open Source project on NL.linux.org [linux.org]...

  • There are so many hosting and ISP businesses that have ran out of cash and have been bought out, or shut down.

    It happens all the time, businesses shut down due to cash flow problems, and no it's not just because Linux users don't pay up. It's not fair to say that, and it's just as bad as saying everyone from Redmond came from hell.

    I send my condolences to Chris, and thank him for all the time he spent on MassLinux.
  • It's not a free software supporter, but check out http://llamacom.com. telnet, mysql, php3, mod_perl, ssh, own domain, unlimited mail forwarding... i believe prices are $7-50 or so... I've got a few domains hosted by them for $20/month.
  • Hate to be a broken record, but... I provide free open-source project hosting too. Have for over a month. Really. Not a word of a lie. http://www.xnot.com [xnot.com]

  • Are there any other services similar to that offered by hackerserver.com? I'd like to find a place that would allow me total control of a box with some decent bandwidth (or perhaps just a good co-location deal?) The only problem I have with hackerserver.com is that name and the tone of the web site: it's a bit too "l33t, d00d" for me.
  • Count me in

    If there is some official place to send this $$$, i'll help
  • CSoft networks [csoft.net] has packages starting at US$5. They've been slashdot advertisers for a while too.
  • I talked my boss into letting us take on 1 or 2 small sites that were hosted free on Linuxbox. We are a startup hosting service, so right now we can't take more than 2, but I really wanted to help out in any way possible (to give back to the community that has given so much.)

    Email me at extremeforce@pcisys.net [mailto] if your site just lost free hosting on linuxbox. (This is my personal email. We are not pcisys.net)

  • I've got a $20. People this could be a real opportunity to shine and help this guy.
  • When a person makes a commitment to pay for something, or writes a contract to do so, they should pay up.

    Yes, Linux is about "free" software, but: (a) that is "free" as in "freedom", and (b) software doesn't include services rendered.

    Yes, Linux folk are generally amongst the most pleasent, friendly, supportive, generous folk you could ever hope to meet. That doesn't mean you have a licence to rob them blind.

    Yes, everyone has money-flow problems, from time to time. But giving -other- people money problems as a result is simply a good way of compounding the problem, not solving it.

    I think those who owe Chris Gann money should pay up, in full, plus make a donation to him to compensate for their failure to pay on time. These people owe it to Chris, for providing the services he has.

    There is -NO- excuse for depriving the Linux community of a service, for short-term gain. In the end, even those folk who have held back money will lose, as now they'll have to buy more expensive services elsewhere, for online stuff. Their short-term gain is their long-term loss, as well as everyone else's loss.

  • Sites that are homeless because of this loss might want to contact VA Linux; VA provides free hosting for a large number of Open Source / Linux community sites. I'm sorry to see Linuxbox go...

    James Byers
  • ...think about how many more people get a copy of windows and don't pay for it. Your pathetic comment goes nowhere, but I would guess that you know that.

    --Remove SPAM from my address to mail me
  • This really irks me, to see someone like this taken advantage of by the very community he was tryping to advocate and help. I think this is a sad commentary about how many people out there that claim to want to do good with open source and free software are just as willing to screw someone as everyone else. IMNSHO this makes them just as bad as the very corporations they are trying to "show the way". I mean who couldn't pay the, what, 5.00-21.00 USD they owed. This is ridiculous, these people make me sick. Hypocrites one and all, they cared nothing for the person/s behind what they were taking advantage of or for the ideals and morals of the community. I wouls send money if I thought it would help, and guess what I never even used the service.I hope that any one of the deadbeat bastards that helped do this read this little rant get highly offended. Those people have ruined something for the rest of us and should be in some way punished by the community, I say have Chris give us the list of non-paying customers so that we can exact payment from them. Be it money or service they should pay, and pay more than what they owed because now none of us can ever use that resource again. So lets e-mail chris get the list and post here and on all newsgroups to let the world know what a waste of life these people really are.

    Ok moderators, you can waste you mod. points moderating me down cause of flamebait, I expect it.
  • the subject says it all.
  • He was an ISP, and MS are not. How are MSN doing ? not so well last I heard.

  • I'm in a company that's about to launch yet another ISP and hosting service, and the decision made from day 1 is that we _only_ accept automatic payment through credit cards, because it's a joke to have to try to hunt everybody down.
  • I normally don't condone open blacklisting or this kind of thing but who was doing this? It seems perfectly reasonable to me to request compensation from their deadbeats or some form of explanation. If they provide neither then post a list of the offenders, I'd like to know which OSS projects aren't paying their way, assuming that it was some OSS projects who weren't. From my consulting days, I know how hard it can be to collect from someone who decides to screw you, that's still a game the big boys can play best because when you're small you can't afford to pay and then wait for collection, not when you depend on that money. A well worded letter which explains that compensation or an explanation is needed or else your name will be publicly posted would probably shake out a few dollars. Give them a chance to explain or pay and then tell the world who it is.

    Likewise, I've been a student, I've survived for 2 weeks on $10 before, I know what it's about. If there are projects that can't afford a home and need one that kind of list should also be put together, I know there are people who are willing to help in whatever way they can and that might be as simple as mailing a check for $5 to somebody.

  • I've discovered Linuxbox in may 1999.

    It was 6 months that my best friend, Hamid, was died, and since this time I wanted to make a website to honour his memory.

    My website started, hosted by the firm I used to work, and was designed by them. But, as I did not work any longer for Babel, I had to find a new home for hamidsfriends.com [hamidsfriends.com].

    I went in Bordeaux, where my family lives, and I discovered Linuxbox at the cybercafe, because on Freshmeat I had found a nice software whose homepage was hosted there.

    I could not imagine that you can have a shell account, php and mysql for $10 per month. So I immediatly signed up, and payed 1 year by advance; Chris got my domain name for me, and payed for me; Later I sent him money via the postal office because I's difficult to send cash to the States.

    He, and rudog were very kind, and I've talked with them lots of time. When I finished my day, I found them online, and we talk lots.

    Now, I miss them : I'm homeless again.
    I was very happy to have a place on the net where I was able to put my website.

    The last time I talked chris, he has lots of signups, but not many paying clients. And it was terrible.

    Later, I've convinced a friend of mine to signup 2 : 2 frenchmen on Linuxbox :)

    And today, the linuxbox adventure is finished.

    I'm very sad for them; I cannot say lots, but I'm still convinced that there is a place for affordable webhosting, with real features.

    Go, Chris. Don't give me my money back, you'll need it.

    I'm dreaming of a new linuxbox.
    Professional webhosting for everyone, doesn't it taste like the linux spirit?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes, but ... if you have serious penalties (and Texas, for instance, allows penalties, but not interest)(and this is a key issues, as the state will fine you if you try to assess interest-based penalties) built into your contracts and they sign it and part of the contract states that the penalties are not covered by the mediation clauses (yes, I paid a lot for these contracts), then a)you will get paid far more that they could reasonably get from repurchase fees and b)they will either drop you (fine) or do things properly next time (fine as well). Example: I do UNIX consulting and some staffing, and I did some work for a large real estate holding company here in Texas (mostly Dallas, but also Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Ft. Worth). They didn't pay. I was out about $300,000 for two months of work for 22 people. I was onto a few more contracts to I just coped (unhappily), relied on a loan from the bank that I use (I do a lot of work with them and have maintained a solid relationship) to cover costs, and patiently reminded the company every week with a registered letter, with return reciept, via my attorneys, that the fees were building up. This went on for two months (90 days past the end of the project). About 90 days after, I recieved a panicked call from an accountant there who had noticed the fees and so on for the first time. You see (I had discovered), they would let the bills ride for at least 60 days after they were due because they could, and they would file any letters in the same folder to "age" until they got to them. Policy. So this poor beancounter had opened a file full of polite letters referencing the contract that they had signed and pointing out the penalties that they were paying, which at that point were almost as much as the contract itself. I referred him to my attorneys. They wished to litigate, we said fine, and then apparently someone finally READ THE FSCKING CONTRACT THAT THEY HAD SIGNED and realised that they hadn't a hope in hell of winning this one. They paid: $300,000 for the contract (as agreed) $265,000 in penalties $120,000 in legal fees (mine) I cannot see, barring heavy work with offshore bridge loans or something, how they could have made 120% on the money in three months. I expect that they will not do business with us again. Their loss. Lesson: Pay a very good team of attorneys for your contracts as soon as you can afford it. I have seen contracts that took 30 minutes to write and saved by butt and cost $200 and I have seen 120 page monsters that cost $20,000 the first time. It was worth it. Of course, you have to take what you can afford, but get the best that you can afford, and always assume that people will litigate if it is cheaper and structure contracts to make it far more expensive.
  • mfroot wrote:
    Hey, I was just wondering... How do you go about being able to accept credit cards? Do you have to buy a special hardware solution, or is there another way? Anyway I was planning on offering some cheap web hosting and pop email accounts as soon as I get a DSL line, and just wanted to know.
    Getting paid is a pain in the neck no matter what you do. I've owned an ISP for coming up on four years, now, and I don't have any trouble getting paid (for service---consulting is another matter) because I don't treat any customer as special and everyone pays in advance. (Even Fortune 500 companies: I get a check from Paramount every year, before they get the service.)

    In order to process credit cards, you need two things: a merchant account and some means of processing the charges. If you've never done this before, you'll likely have some trouble getting the merchant account so you might have to deal with a company that specializes in giving merchant accounts to "high risk" ventures. (That's you, until you've got a track record, and maybe even then. We'll be terminating our relationship with our current bank because they won't set up a merchant account with us despite our nearly four-year record.) The one we used is a company called Cardservice, International. Their discount rate (the amount of money they withold when they put charges in your account) is slightly outrageous and their "lease to own" deal on equipment is VERY bad (to the tune of about five times what the terminal is worth.) However, they'll take just about anybody.

    To process the cards, you'll need some kind of equipment or software. Depending on how you want to do this, you can get either one and it'll work. A terminal is somewhat cheaper than Linux software (from Hell's Kitchen Systems---check their ads in Linux Journal and Sysadmin) but is vastly less convenient for you to use. If you decide to go with a terminal, you're best bet is to look in your local yellow pages for used office equipment places who will likely have terminals for reasonable prices. The vendors of the equipment or software may even know who to talk to if you want a merchant account. (I would if I was one of them, but I'm not.)

    One thing you should remember is this: Always get a signature. If there is a dispute (and there will be disputes) you win if you have a valid signature. You lose if you don't. (We always cave when we get the "blue envelope" so this is hearsay, but it comes from a source that I tend to believe.)

  • I've never seen or heard of a Western Union around here.

    I learned Western Union splices in school, but that's about the extent of it :-)*

    When sending money around to immediate family members away, we just transfer into the account. And for free, too. We can now do it on the www.tdbank.ca site really quickly.

    When the banks are different, you have to wire, though. That costs money.

    Oh well, it's still going to be a money order anyway. Hohum.

    All I need now is an address and some free time.
  • Well, Business is Business People, You have to have a plan of attack and a way to cope with normal business issues. Non paying lusers is a huge problem with any business. Hell, i don't pay all my parking tickets myself and that effects one person or another in one fashion or another.

    Basically my gist is your business model has to compensate for these people. If they are a problem, sell off the accounts to a collection agency and get what you can. Write off as losses and save some cash on taxes.

    While i have faith in the linux community, you don't just close doors because you have a few deadbeats. 7000 in debt is NOTHING and i think thats kind of rediculous to shut down.

    I've missed car payments, i've paid my telephone bill late. I had to go to the hospital and spent every dime i had on that.. other people have the same problems and can't make payments. BUT they do turn off my services, disable my long distance or notify me of there cancellation/reconnection policy

    So just get the deadbeats to pay, or cancel there accounts and focus on new and incoming sales and paying customers.. OBVIOUSLY the current pricing model doesn't cover your costs so that may be the biggest concern rather then blaming it on the customers

  • Acually, AOL always gets paid. On time. Because they get your credit card # and put $22 on it every month.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The link to his site has this address:

    55 Water Street
    Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

  • hmmm....$7000 vs. $billions... Who can afford deadbeats? I know the principle is the same, but geez...
    Besides, free windows CDs make great coasters for the coffee table.
  • I smell a snail-mail bomb comming...
  • No matter how much I liked someone, if they signed a contract where they had to pay x, then they should pay! It's hard to actually run server and bandwidth w/o the dineros. That's the way it is these days, I'm sad to say....it's a reality, not necessarily a condition.
  • Not really, it sounds like it is delinquent 'paying customers' who are causing the problems. It doesn't say at all what percentage of those paying customers are Linux users.

  • ..partially because of the prices, but really because of his support of Open Source projects. Although my site has nothng directly to do with it, I do use almost all Open Source tools to create the site (I do have a weakness for Dreamweaver...). I saw it as my chance to put my money where my mouth was. And so I did -- I paid for my first month as soon as I got the bill. And, for what it's worth, I was right -- There are damn few ISP's who are willing to work with you like these guys did when I moved over. Their docs wern't the best, but the guy helping me fixed me right up, which counts for a hell of a lot in my book. I'm willing to pay twice as much for this kind of service -- and will, if given the chance. Tell'm to pull the plug on the grifters, and let's keep going! :)
  • It really is a huge problem in all businesses, especially small ones. Larger companies are horrible about paying bills. They will push you around like you don't even exist. Your terms might say "Net 30" on your invoice, but when you call they will just laugh and say, "Well, we don't care what the terms were, we only cut checks twice a year". There was an architecture firm where I live that actually has a "secret" policy to be at least a million dollars in debt at all times.

    What's sad is that there is nothing you can do about it since using the law against them will only hurt you in the long run (you destroy your relationship with them), and there are too many other saps out there willing to get their account, even if they do take a year to pay.

  • I'm in for a few $$$ someone should set up a web page....
  • I'm in to help ... only with the disclaimer that
    unpaid sites have 15 dayz to comply or get
    rm -rf 'd

    how about a
    c/o slashdot mail
  • Hear yee hear yee,

    I just mailed $20 out to help make up for the welching losers out there that haven't paid up.
    Obivously, I didn't need to do this, but even more obivously I didn't do it for the sick jerks not paying their debt.

    I did it because I have been feeling the need to help the OSS community at least a little. Since I do use their software everyday at home and work.

    I use to contribute a lot, but with work and school. It's come down to sleep or code. (Yes, I know most would say code. But, if I get any less sleep I'll start falling asleep while driving.)

    So this is the answer. Or at least one of them. All the time I hear newbies asking how can they help if they don't know how to program.

    Well, sending even $5 to help others give webspace to OSS projects isn't a bad choice. Especially, if you are stressed for time.

    Helping make documentation is another one that most people can do with even bits and pieces of spare time.

    Reporting bugs is one that more people should do. It's not that hard. It doesn't take that much time. No really it doesn't, you can fill out some bug reporting information quickly to help others to make a better product for everyone.

    Even feedback helps!!! Make a few suggestions politely. And don't forget that it won't kill you to send a few quick emails to some developers saying, "Thank you for taking your time to make such a great product for everyone to enjoy." They will probably like the fact that someone took the time to exercise some manners and say thank you.

    Please, add to this list and exercise a few of these suggestions. Help make the OSS world a better place.

    Eros, apologizes in advance for any spelling mistakes and/or run on sentences. Please, refer to the paragraph mentioning sleep.

  • Wonder if it was the same outfit I worked for?

    I did ultimately get my $$$, but did the same thing you did - cut rate to help them out because they were struggling and *were* a linux outfit.

    Finally got the last of my money about a year later after being warned that if I talked about it, I wouldn't see it. Didn' have to, seems everyone knew anyway :-) No more, sad to say, I gave to the cause until it hurt.

    I do agree with the comment somewhere above, that the deadbeats get 15 days (check clears in that time) or out on their arse.
  • Wow. Interesting stuff. If you ever put any of your contracts up on the web I'd be very interested to see them..

    Under what pretext do you sue somebody when the fine is written into the contract? (Or is the whole point of your story that you don't?)
  • There are lots of places on the web (of widely varying reputations) where you can sign up and get online approval for a merchant account, often with better rates than you'd get at your brick-and-mortar bank. They direct-deposit (ACH) the money into whatever account you specify. Expect to pay from around 2% (if the plastic card and signed receipt passes through your hands) to 3-5% (if you take the order over the phone or net), plus a couple dimes a transaction, subject to a $10-$15 monthly minimum or so.

    That'll get you a Merchant ID number that targets your bank account. Then you need software/hardware. You can buy credit card terminals that swipe a card and dial out over a phone line for a few hundred bucksish, or look around for something used. Or you can get Windoze software and a modem to do it. For a server solution (that you can develop against), the name brand is ICVerify, and it's quite expensive.

    Or check out www.hks.net -- they sell Unix (incl
    linux) flavored software with full APIs (and lots
    of different bindings.)

  • Pro Windoz?? Are you crazy!

    Thats unethetical i say!

    Solaris, IRIX, *BSD Variants, Linux, BeOS, well just about anything! But Windoz?!?!

    Are you insane man, we need to send you to the digital insane asylum!
  • Try pair Networks (http://www.pair.net)

    They are better 'cos they use FreeBSD
  • Grrr.... that will teach me to use pseudo-html tags. My last post was meant to be a blatant tongue-in-cheek troll.
  • Read the original post. It's his "PAYING" customers that didn't pay up. As I read it, non-open source web hosting that he uses to keep the doors open.
  • My dad's website is hosted by them, my dad is genna be pissed
  • This type of negligence is, unfortunately, widespread throughout the worldwide industries. Not just the software industry.

    Lessons learned here: 1) Get everything in writing and 2) Provide in your contract that allows you, the payee, to terminate services with extreme prejudice in case of non-payment. That way if they decide to sue you for, oh, removing a website that they never paid for, you can counter-sue. Contractual obligations, and such. :^)

    Otherwise, common-sense cover-your-ass rules apply.

  • Most larger corps that I know about have a policy of paying at least thirty days after the due date because they can make more money then the late fees, if accessed, by collecting interest off of it in their accounts. It's just an accounting trick meant to maximize their returns.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky