Long ago, back in 2000, when ICDSoft was just a startup, I got an e-mail from a prospective customer in Australia. He was very polite and explained that he was an Indian student in Sydney who was running five web sites hosted elsewhere, and he was in trouble: his hosting accounts were due to expire within 24 hours, he was unable to pay on time and his web host was threatening to suspend all web sites. He asked me if I could help him by accepting his five web sites on board, and explained he would pay in a month. I was just reselling the service of another web hosting company, and I had to prepay each hosting slot in advance, with no option for refund in case the customer asked for their money back or failed to pay later as promised. As most startups, my financial situation was tight, so it was a risk costing several hundred dollars. However, I felt for him, obviously his web sites were important for him, so I decided to take the risk. He was extremely happy and thankful. 

He kept his word and paid exactly as promised, but what happened before he submitted the payment was quite unexpected: the very next day after I opened his accounts, I got another order from Australia, then another, and another, and another, tens of orders within several days, all from Australia and all from customers with Indian names. It was obvious that Nirmal, the Indian student in Sydney, had recommended me to his whole Indian community... This was my “The Power Of Community” Indian fairy tale.

From time to time, we get requests from customers asking whether we could renew their accounts and be kind enough to wait several days or weeks before they pay. My colleagues are instructed that in such situations we agree without objection; this is a rule at ICDSoft. We go even further: whenever a disaster strikes any part of the world (tsunami, war, etc.) I ask my colleagues to generate a list of customers that come from the affected regions and should any account from the list be due to expire, we keep it up and running until the customer manages to pay. In some cases, we add a year of free service to all active accounts from the affected regions, and we let them know that their bills are settled. Sometimes the cost of such an act is tens of thousands of dollars, but we never forget that we are financially strong because of our customers.

How will your provider react to such a request? I hope they are wise, and answers and decisions come from humans authorized by their boss to freely exercise their human virtues – their empathy and ability to foresee more than one step ahead.

If you are unsure whether your provider would do the same should you not be able to pay your bills on time, feel free to pass this story to them.