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Well, my links didn't work for that entire weekend. At time, I did some research through my ISP that put me in touch with gateway site for my service provider. When I contacted gateway company by telephone, they advised me that my service provider's servers were dropping all connections and nobody there was responding!
It just so happens that that particular service provider prominently advertises "24/7" support service in all of their marketing copy! Well, I'm sad to report that not once that weekend did anyone at that company ever respond to one of my many e-mails or phone calls. It appears they all took weekend off and crossed their fingers that problems wouldn't occur. Unfortunately for their customers, problems did occur. So, effectively, my two sites were shut down for an entire long weekend because of that problem. There went another 5 to 10 sales!
To add insult to injury, these people never once contacted me following week to apologize for inconvenience and loss of business they might have caused me (as well as to thousands of others, presumably).
Lost Weekdays. Lost Sales.
A couple of months ago, links to my "big name" payment processing company stopped working for an extended period of time. I found out later that they had experienced a major power outage that shut down their entire network. They were out of commission for somewhere between 12 and 20 hours. Apparently, they did not (do not?) have a backup power source in case of such an interruption! Duhhh, this is year 2002 isn't it?
This is a major online payment processor I'm talking about here folks. Shouldn't such back-up be standard for a major payment processor? The implications of this for small online business person were enormous of course: during that period, literally tens of thousands of dollars in sales were lost by thousands of that service provider's customers!
At least three more examples of such shoddy third party service provider incidents that occurred over past year come to mind as a write this. But alas, I'm out of space.
Bottom Line. Don't Accept It.
If you use third party services for anything like link tracking or payment processing, don't assume that things are always running along smoothly on "automatic pilot" as some of Internet gurus would lead you to believe.
Be constantly vigilant, and when you discover a problem, sound alarm right away, and don't let your "service" provider off hook until problem is fixed.
If you get any kind of "run-around" at all, head for major message boards and discussion forums. That should get them to take you a bit more seriously in a hurry.
Finally, whatever you do, DO NOT accept type of third party service breakdowns that I describe above. They wouldn't be acceptable in offline business, so why should we accept them online?
Shaun Fawcett is Webmaster of writinghelp-central.com and author of the eBooks "Instant Home Writing Kit" and "Instant Recommendation Letter Kit". His popular FREE e-mail course "Tips and Tricks For Writing Success" offers tips on all types of home and business writing. Sign-up for FREE at: http://www.instanthomewritingkit.com/free-course2.html