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> *Note: Promotion code available for new DigitalOcean customers only.

This type of promotion really aggravates me. I'm not just saying this only about the announced GitLab/DigitialOcean partnership, but rather as a general comment as I see this customer acquisition ruse quite a lot elsewhere too.

I spend money with DigitalOcean. I don't feel particularly rewarded for my loyalty when I can't enjoy the same promotion as some new customer, who may never spend another cent with DO.




Two years ago the GitHub Student Developer Pack gave me $100, which I have been using to maintain a tiny droplet (literally changed my life, thank you). Last month Digital Ocean sent me this message:

    We’re truly sorry if this came as a surprise. 
    As of March 2015, we revised our Terms of Service
    announcing that we’re no longer able to offer credits
    that do not expire, and any unused credit added to your
    account more than 12 months ago will expire.
I still have over $80 of credit left, expiring this month. I understand why they are doing this, but it left a bad taste because of the small values involved, retroactive action and lack of communication (I didn't get this March 2015 email or any reminders since).

This also creates a perverse incentive to burn the credits in a blaze of glory. I'm restraining myself, but I can only image the headache this will create across all users.


If people are looking for a way to use up credit and want to support something useful, run an Archiveteam Warrior. Helps to archive (soon-to-be) dead websites and and isn't too resource-intensive on the provider.

http://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Warrior


What does archiveteam do differently than The Internet Archive? It wasn't clear to me reading their about page, as well as some odd main projects with IRC channels being a main goal.


They try to do complete crawls of sites (mostly of user-generated content) that are known to go offline soon or at high risk of doing so, vs the Internet Archive crawler which as far as I know crawls everything every now and then.

If a siteowner is willing to hand over a data export to archive.org or another archival site they don't have to do that, but not many do.


I got the mail in early april, and it, in fact, even violates German law (promotional coupons and promotional credit, if not otherwise specified, is valid for 3 years, and can not be revoked via ToS changes).

But I do not wish to sue, as it would just cause me a lot of trouble, and I’d rather spend the money on a hoster I can actually trust. Instead of a hoster violating laws and frauding customers out of their legal credit.


In most cases, you don't have to sue or even threaten to sue.

Drop them an email pointing out that they're not complying with the law and ask for your expiration to be extended to the right date.

Odds are customer support will do a quick googling, say "oh crap" and then update the expiration accordingly with a polite sorry note.


I tried, they told me I’d have to sue, as they couldn’t easily determine if the law would apply to them just by Googling.

Worst of all, I had to pay 5€ actual money to activate the 100€ of promotional credit.

I made a purchase, which contained at the moment that I'd get 100€ of promotional credit for an unspecified time (therefore 3 years), and instead I wasted 5€ on nothing.

EDIT: I should probably just to a chargeback via PayPal.


DO are not bound by German laws.


If they have German customers, they are bound to German laws because they are doing business in Germany. Sure it will not apply to American DO customers, but if they to have German customers, they are bound by their local laws and those laws apply to protect citizens of that nation.


>If they have German customers, they are bound to German laws because they are doing business in Germany.

that is simply not true... Now for DO it might be because they have EU possibly even German Data centers but simply because a Citizen of Germany visits a web site and signs up for a online service does not automatically make german laws apply to that business.

Now it possible you could sue in Germany, the American business would ignore you, and any judgment you got from a German Court would likely be unenforceable in the US


> DO it might be because they have EU possibly even German Data centers but simply because a Citizen of Germany visits a web site and signs up for a online service does not automatically make german laws apply to that business.

Are you saying this because you are extrapolating from American law regarding whether a company has a 'nexus' within a given state, or perhaps thinking about taxation?

In those specific cases, what you are saying is true, but in general national-level governments do not care that foreign companies are not actually headquartered within their borders. They demand (arrogantly one might say) that all companies doing business with their citizens follow X,Y,Z rules or else they'll try to sanction the company.

Granted if a company is truly foreign then any sanction would be pretty limited in scope.

However, easy sanction is to stop credit card processors and banking agencies from dealing with a foreign company thus stopping your citizens from easily giving them money.


I am not extrapolating from American tax law at all

I as an American citizen am in no way bound by German law

For example If I put a website selling digital Nazi Merchandise, and a german citizen buys it, I am in no way violating the German ban on those things because I am not bound by german law, any attempt to enforce germen law upon me would quickly be squashed by American Courts as a violation of my free speech

Now Germany can forbid it citzens from going to my site, it can attempt to have that site blocked from Germany, it can even prevent other german businesses from doing being with me (including credit card company as your example) but it can never compel me directly as I am not under their authority at all


They could just instruct banks to sending payments to DO. I don't think DO would want to lose all German start ups and customers because of a few stupid coupons.

Germany probably could not stop people from visiting their website, but stop payments would be just as worse for DO.


They have data centers in Germany, ran ads in Germany, did business with German banks, and so on.

Yes, I’m pretty sure if they interact with a German customer, they are bound by German laws.

Would be a shame if their data centers were seized if they wouldn’t comply...

(I’m not sure if German courts use this technique, but it’s commonly used by US courts to force German companies to adhere to US laws, like in the many "Germans can’t sell Cuban cigarettes to Danes in Germany due to US embargo of Cuba" cases, so precedent exists.)


> Would be a shame if their data centers were seized if they wouldn’t comply...

> (I’m not sure if German courts use this technique, but it’s commonly used by US courts to force German companies to adhere to US laws, like in the many "Germans can’t sell Cuban cigarettes to Danes in Germany due to US embargo of Cuba" cases, so precedent exists.)

Could happen, but not easily. If they got sued, lost and had to pay, ignored that as well, then a gerichtsvollzieher would try to force giving over existing assets. In the most extreme cases that would include a data center, it happened for example that they tired to size an airplane when an airline did not pay a (comparably small) fee.

Of course it won't happen as no one will sue (I could've, but had way too small an amount in credits and asked for a prolongation of the deadline instead), and I'm sure DO would react in such a case.

Still: To have promotional credits run out after some time is not customer friendly, and this discussion shows that the dollars they save pales in comparison to the amount of goodwill and thus business they lose. I told them so.


I won't sue either, but as I had to pay actual money to be able to use the promotional key — and now lost the ability to use it — I'll do a chargeback via PayPal.

I thought about going to the Verbraucherzentrale, I mean, it's their job to do this.

Prolongation of the deadline wouldn't help me much either, though, because I'd need at least half a year — which they definitely won't give me, I've already asked.

And I was actually planning to switch a new hoster with my servers this month. Won't be DO now.


> Prolongation of the deadline wouldn't help me much either, though, because I'd need at least half a year — which they definitely won't give me, I've already asked.

For what it's worth, they gave me a year.


I am now going through PayPal’s resolution center, asking for the 2 extra years I was promised, or a refund.

(As I don’t have a credit card I had to pay the 5€ activation fee through PayPal)

EDIT: I also sent a message to GitHub’s student contact mail, warning them that they might be on the hook for promising free $100 DO credit for unlimited time, and they might want to ask DO to fix it, or change their advertisement.


To compare I currently have $8,194.54 credit with Linode which I received through referrals. I've had most of them for over 6 years[1].

[1] http://uggedal.com/journal/vps-performance-comparison/


Do it, they're incentivizing you to bring up 8 VMs or 1 really big VM.


Yeah, but I don't have the use for 8VMs. Give me notice and I will try to use it up. But don't give me a month, I can't effectively use that in time. I can waste it, sure. But that's not the point of the credit in the first place.


I received this email as well and a friend recommended I donate the server uptime to boinc[1] which can make better use of it than trying to find something to use it on.

[1]: https://boinc.berkeley.edu/


My charity of choice was GIMPS ( http://www.mersenne.org/ ).


Did you try asking for an exception?

I see others in this discussion have done.

Also based on my experience with DO (small ex customer, on aws now) it absolutely wouldn't seem out of character for them to fix that.


> I didn't get this March 2015 email or any reminders since

I checked my emails as well when I got that. There was no notification in March or since of that change.


Oh, this is what I'm (currently) doing. I got the same message, and it most assuredly was surprising.

Admittedly, having that many boxes has been kind of fun...


Hi! If you have never applied a promo code to your DigitalOcean account in the past, this code will still work for you. It's really just meant to give new users a chance to try out DO, and we've provided similar opportunities many times in the past.

Just to be clear, we are powering free CI runners for all GitLab.com users. In all honesty, the promo code was a bit of an afterthought.


The solution to me is to not provide free credit, but to credit the creation of a new droplet for existing users. Many will scale up and not scale back down. If im on the edge if i need to throw another droplet behind the loadbalancer and your like DO IT, you've been a great customer so we'll give you a month free for the new capacity, am i going to risk removing it.... not if my product is doing well. its a WIN WIN. an offer like this would be awesome to roll out to loyal customers with semi-produciton work loads (2-4) medium+ droplets already. It solves the problem of incentivizing loyal exisiting customers, along with driving business needs of not burning money without a return. Also HMU if your looking for a SVP of Product or something like that, I clearly have some good ideas for you.


This is an awesome thing to do, and I think if people knew that was the case they wouldn't be upset by not being able to use another promo. I started using DO with a $10 credit years ago, and still love the service. Thanks guys!


Hi! I think when people use openings like that in comments, emails, etc., it comes off as pretentious because you are in fact not excited to talk to me and are doing so out of pure necessity.


"$10 credit on sign up" vs "$10 credit for all existing customers" is a significantly different story in terms of the cost to the business. This is offered as an incentive to start using the service, not to keep using it.


and make sure you use the credits as soon as possible

http://pastebin.com/enmCYWbH


Yeah, I know what you mean. Existing customers are left in the dark, which is definitely not a great feeling as a paying user of DO.

My company paid for their instance of gitlab, I'm not a paying user though ( yet - too small), so this hasn't got anything to do with gitlab ( referencing the answer of gitlab themselves :) )


> Yeah, I know what you mean. Existing customers are left in the dark, which is definitely not a great feeling as a paying user of DO.

You get the (new) additional services being provided in part by DO. You're literally NOT in the dark. As an analogy my parents have a house alarm system. It was installed 5+ years ago and they pay a monthly fee. You can bet that the newer television ads for this nationwide company (cough ADT *cough) show WiFi enabled controls and whizbang stuff on the master panel -- their alarm master panel is the same panel for the last 5+ years and has never been touched by a technician.

I can give the same example for my Comcast cable box. It's the box I got when i got the initial subscription. Typically promo codes are for new customers, OR new promotional offers wherein you'll migrate your whole account to a new tier of service.

They aren't going to hand you $10 to simply continue to use their (updated) service for them. While you benefit from the new services anyways.


I think while understandable, it's a bit irrelevant. DO is either worth it at the price you pay, or not worth it. It's like when I buy something at the checkout and then the next week it's on sale at a discount. Either that item was worth it to me at the mark up (in which case I bought it) or it wasn't (in which case I would have passed). I think that's the same here. Sure, I'll feel "hey, I could have saved "X" and true, I could have, but I obviously found value at the price it was being offered.


I can understand that you feel this is unfair.

Here's our point of view: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11529780


Sorry that's a cop out. The complaint is that promo codes for a brand new, very useful integration are limited to people who statistically are less likely to use them (new users on a new platform). "We hope you continue to enjoy paying for great boot times and UX" is... not a reply worth typing, honestly.

I'm a small DigitalOcean customer. If you want the promo to be cost effective, limit it to the first 250 users or whatever. I don't think anybody here would give you a hard time about protecting the financial integrity of a program. But don't hide behind that if it's really just a way to get a few new users in the door (which is fine!) - just be honest about it.


I strongly suspect that promotion has terms controlled by DigitalOcean and not GitLab.

You'd probably get more mileage at complaining to DO than you would to GitLab.

---

EDIT:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11529949

> @fweespee_ch: if they're not reading HN, they're doing it wrong anyway.

Fair enough. I just think trying to force a response out of GitLab employees is the wrong route to take when they have no power over the coupon.


The terms if the coupons are set by DigitalOcean and not GitLab. But as GitLab CEO I understand that they have these terms in order to make it cost effective for them. We'll certainly mention the feedback that existing customers would also like to enjoy the same coupons.


@fweespee_ch: if they're not reading HN, they're doing it wrong anyway.


This does not sound like point of view, just a generic, corporate style message that does not address the issue in any way.

Rewarding only new customers is mobile phone operators style bite that decreases value of the brand and product. In this situation hosting company knows its not easy to move the servers to different host (at most cases) and uses that as an advantage to milk the customers more.

If they ever would actually release promo on their anniversary or something and give $5 to all registered members, they would get more good press than they could have ever dream of.


Sorry if I sounder a bit generic. I'm GitLab's CEO so I can't comment in the name of DigitalOcean. Also see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11529957


Ah no problem, just pointing out its not really explanation or anything that could bring more in to this issue. Thanks for being responsive though.


Thanks for understanding.




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