Last month, I got three mysterious donations to my site ($100, $10, $10) all at about exactly the same time. Also, they were from folks completely unknown to me; usually donations come from mailing list participants at my Dreamhost-hosted list.
I thought that this was pretty odd, so I popped open a chat session with Dreamhost support:
[quote][i]Reply from DreamHost (Jan 2, 2014 - 19:34:13 / #84138506)
Subject: Live chat transcript for 2014-01-02 19:27:32
Begins: 2014-01-02 19:27:32
Ends: 2014-01-02 19:34:13
Duration: 6.7 minutes
[19:27:32] info: Please wait for a site operator to respond.
[19:27:37] info: You are now chatting with ‘charlie’
[19:27:42] charlie: Hello how may I help you?
[19:29:09] Greg Merritt: Hi! I just received three donations on my dreamhost site, all at once tonight. This is almost suspicious – hardly any ever come in, and they’re usually from people who I recognize as mailing list participants. Could something have gone wrong? Are there any weird scams with the donation feature…?
[19:31:37] Greg Merritt: (Hello…?)
[19:32:09] charlie: One moment please
[19:32:24] Greg Merritt: Ok no problem
[19:33:18] charlie: I do not believe there is a problem with the donations feature. It is possible that you did receive these donations. If you would like this looked into I would recommend submitting a ticket.
[19:33:35] Greg Merritt: Ok, will do. Thanks!
[19:34:06] charlie: Welcome.
[19:34:12] info: Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.[/i][/quote]
My bad; I didn’t follow up with a ticket. I guess it was a combination of being busy with the rest of my life and with Charlie’s lack of concern that anything could actually be going wrong.
Last Friday, February 21, I received two e-mails, just minutes apart, entitled “Chargeback.” The first said that mysterious donation #1 ($100) was retracted, and that I must log in immediately, make a payment on my account, plus pay a $50 fee.
The second of the two e-mails, received minutes later, indicated that mysterious donation #2 ($10) was retracted, Dreamhost shut down my sites, and they would only accept paper checks as payment:
[quote][i]DreamHost Billing Department email@example.com
Feb 21 (5 days ago)
We have received a notice that there was a chargeback made by the owner
of the payment method that you paid for your account with. This is a
very serious matter. I have deducted the amount of the chargeback,
$10.00, from your account (#1050906) and added our standard fee
of $50.00 as well.
This is a time sensitive issue and must be resolved promptly. Please
reply to this email with information about how you will deal with this
situation. I have disabled your account on the basis of fraudulent
charges and non-payment.
If you would like to transfer domains you have registered with
DreamHost, we will need your full cooperation.
Please read the following very carefully
You will need to pay all fees related to the chargeback ($50 for each
dispute), the charges for any prorated used hosting, and for any domain
registrations used that remain unpaid as a result of the chargeback.
Additionally, you will need to pay for any free domain registrations
that came with hosting as a result of early termination of your hosting
account at the cost of $9.95.
The only method of payment that will be accepted is check or money
order in US Dollars. (Credit Card, Rewards, Gift Certificate, PayPal or
wire transfer will not be accepted.)
i. Check or money order should be made out to “DreamHost Web Hosting”.
ii. Payment amount should be $10.00.
iii. Write “Account #1050906” on the check or money order.
iv. Mail approved payment to:
417 Associated Rd.
Brea, CA 92821
- Please note that this address does accept overnight/expedited delivery
services, however since deliveries go to an off-site location they will
not be delivered to us immediately since we get mail deliveries twice a
Note: Check payments are non-refundable!
- When we receive your check, we will send you an automated email
telling you that your payment has been credited to your account. At this
point, you must send in a ticket alerting us that your payment has been
received so we can temporarily re-enable your account so you can
transfer your domains.
I thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon.
DreamHost Billing Department
I responded to these, asking for help, and referenced the original ticket number of my support chat with Charlie.
On Monday Feb 24, I received the third chargeback notice (the other mysterious $10 donation), with a note as above; I also responded to that, referencing the other open tickets.
I have received notice that my tickets have been passed on to specific support people, but that was days ago.
My original assumption was that somebody had put my donation form on their site, or some other back-end snafu with Dreamhost, and that it would get worked out. My best understanding at this point is that the “donators’” PayPal accounts had been hacked, and that the bad guys tested them out on my Dreamhost donation widget. (Why, oh why?!?)
I did not, however, expect that I would be held responsible and shut down.
Does anyone have any advice? What should I do? I want to stay with Dreamhost, it stinks that bad guys have messed up my hosting (not to mention other people’s PayPal), and I am happy to pay for Dreamhost services…although I would not like to pay $50 fees for something I didn’t do, and reported promptly when it occurred.
(Not to mention that this suggests a simple way to shut down any Dreamhost site with a donation widget: Make two donations, and then retract them! o.0 )
Thanks for any help or advice anyone can provide.