The recent plug for the “low cost” websites for community organizations by Huntsville’s Promise attracted my attention, mainly because we have been providing a similar service at a significantly lower cost with fewer conditions for over a year through our Walker County Online site – http://walkercountyonline.com – and also offer commercial caliber web sites through Scheel Consulting (ScheelConsulting.com). We are a *for-profit* venture, but charge less and provide a better service package than what is presented on the highlighted website. For example, while Huntsville’s Promise charges $25 for a local business to link in, our directory charges nothing, and most non-profits we will host for free, with no commitment to us other than to continue to provide the service they are dedicated to. When you get to their fees for hosting business web pages, I’m actually shocked at the outrageous prices Huntsville’s Promise charges.
By my calculations, the fees for the type of business web page services they list at $540 per 12 months for a 2 page site compares at $60 a year though our service, and we don’t charge the additional $240 per page after 2 pages so long as the site stays below a 5 meg storage limit. Though we host this example site for free, if http://walkercountyonline.com/org/mission (the Good Shepherd Mission, were a static business site, it would only cost $60 a year though us, but through Huntsville’s Promise posted price chart, a similar site of 5 pages (home page and 4 sub-pages) would be $540 + ($240 x3) = $1260 a year. Even our page maintenance charges for a commercial site like http://hearttx.com – with literally hundreds of pages created through the course of a year – comes out to much less than what Huntsville’s Promise charges for an inferior, basic, cookie-cutter web hosting package.
To me, as a local businessman, this looks like Huntsville’s Promise is trying to fund itself through defrauding local business owners who don’t know this official sounding organization is actually engaging in price gouging. It may be an honest mistake on the part of Huntsville’s Promise, but that is all the more reason that governmental entities should not be involved in private sector activities. This is especially true when their “official” stature gives them access to publicizing their “services” in ways the private companies they are competing against cannot. It’s a disservice to the community.
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