Received an email-flyer this morning from one of my web-hosting providers, inviting me to join their new cloud-storage service, JustCloud. “It’s Free!”, it says, everywhere on the flyer and on the website; “Get Your Free Cloud Storage! – Sign Up Now!”.
Um. Yes. Well, I’m a cautious sort of bloke, and when I see the word ‘free’, I usually presume it actually means ‘free-for-a-given-meaning-of-free’, and I’d like to know what that ‘given meaning’ might be before I commit myself to going any further.
I start getting a bit suspicious when I note that despite the endless repetitions of “Sign Up Now, It’s Free”, there are somewhat-too-subtle hints that it’s not free at all: “No credit card required”, it says, in small print at the base of the ‘Sign Up’ dialog; and, in even smaller print elsewhere, ’14 day free trial’. Hmm…
Which is why it’s kind of interesting that nowhere on the accessible part of the website is there any mention of pricing. Nowhere.
My suspicions definitely aroused, I do a rather deeper hunt. Clicking on the ‘Sitemap’ link, hidden away at the bottom of the page, I can see there’s a link to ‘Packages’ and to ‘Payment Methods’. At last, some actual information about pricing here?
Sort of. Turns out it’s in the ‘Your Account’ section – which I can only see if I first log in. And to do that, I have to create an account; and to do that, I have to agree to their Terms & Conditions, which means I also have to agree to their pricing. Which, of course, I can’t see.
From the initial link it’s clear that this is a ‘special deal’ with my web-hosting company, so I try going to the actual root-domain to see if I can find any better information. But it immediately redirects me back to this ‘special-deal’ page. Some kind of cookie-trigger, I guess. Hmm…
So let’s sum up:
- I’m constantly being exhorted on the website to sign up for something that I’m told is free
- It is clearly not free
- I have no means, other than by signing up, to find out what the costs will be
In their defence:
- The initial sign-up is a ’14-day free trial’, apparently without requiring a credit-card
- The only way to test the service is to use it
- If I store anything on the site during that ’14-day free trial’, I will not be able to retrieve it after that without paying a fee which I do not know and am prevented from knowing before I sign up for the service
Overall, not quite a scam… but definitely not far off. In terms of business-ethics, dubious at best.
Sorry, JustCloud, but this just ain’t just. Definitely not impressed.
Over to you, folks: You Have Been Warned etc?