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Billed Before Providing a Credit Card

I have a free Netlify account and haven’t provided a credit card number. When I ran out of build minutes for the month, I was billed $7 for extra build minutes, then told that my sites would be suspended in 28 days if I didn’t provide a credit card.

This is a very surprising experience for me. On every other service I can think of, if I have a free account, and I run out of what is offered for the free account, nothing is provided for me until if and when I provide my credit card. In this case, I would have expected Netlify to simply stop running any builds, while continuing to keep my sites active. I can’t think of another time I was billed without having provided my credit card, then told that what was offered to me for free would be taken away if I didn’t provide a credit card.

I’m not personally under any burden from this; it’s easy for me to host my sites elsewhere. And I’m not even mainly concerned about the messaging. I got an email that 75% of my build minutes were up, so I had that warning—but it didn’t say that (unlike every other service I’ve used) I would be billed money and my free services would be taken away. And I’m not concerned that this goes against what Netlify said—for all I know, this was in the agreement when I signed up. I’m also not suggesting Netlify is obligated to provide me any particular free services.

My main concern is that this isn’t a common practice for free services. If I needed to watch every free service I used to see if they were going to bill me at some point, I just wouldn’t sign up for these services.

If Netlify continues with this billing practice then I can’t recommend it for any developers in the future. Even if they are planning on paying, promoting Netlify promotes this surprising billing practice that will entrap other users into bills they weren’t expecting.

Could a Netlify support person please clarify whether this billing practice is Netlify’s intentional choice and whether they will persist with it despite how different it is from the way other free services work?

Hey Josh,

thanks for your comprehensive and thoughtful feedback. We consider it to be high praise that our customers are willing to take the time to formulate their thoughts about our services, both where they are exceeding expectations and where they are potentially falling short. I’m going to ask for some clarification from our team on this, and we will respond here. We appreciate the opportunity to check in about this.

Hey Josh,

I had a chance to touch base with the team about this, and again I want to say that we sincerely appreciate the time & investment to tell us how you’re experiencing our billing. I realized you pinged us a couple times on Twitter and we weren’t as responsive as we could have been, but I’m glad we’re talking here now.

We hear what you are saying, and we agree that what you are describing has room for improvement. We want every part of your experience using Netlify to be as awesome as the deploy process and that clearly hasn’t been the case for you (and likely others) with regards to build minutes. So thanks for speaking up and giving us a chance to look at this and make it right.

Next to acknowledging that there is room for improvement around billing, here are a few more important points we wanna make:

  • we launched the build insights in your dashboard not too long ago, where you can get more information on what your build usage is like for your sites.
  • we’re gonna take a closer look at our messaging and review how we’re setting expectations around billing. To that end, you mentioned not seeing the patterns we are presenting on other services you use. Do you have some services that have a really outstanding way of dealing with their billing that we should be looking at? That would be helpful.
  • we are currently working on more fine-grained control over stopping and starting build processes, which will give you the ability to more easily control your usage. That’s coming soon, and we think its going to make a big difference.

Thanks again for your time. If you have further suggestions to add on to the above, please let us know so we can consider how we might do better.