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In my company we are supporting a client's website. However, when the quote was signed, the hosting fees where totally ignored on our side and it turned out that they are actually quite high. Due to this mistake, we are making only a fraction of the money we should make and this contract is not very beneficial to us. Still, the contract hasn't change for 8 months or so.

So my boss came out with a solution: let's migrate the website on another less expensive server without telling the client. This is made at the detriment of the client as the new hosting doesn't include all the services it included before (support, frequent backups etc) and that the overall operation of migrating the website is not without risks. And on our side, it would let us pocket the difference between the two hosting fees without anyone noticing (hopefully).

I am in charge of preparing this new server, but I think this solution is actually really bad as it is made 100% in the back of the client, where discussion could have lead to an acceptable compromise with him. Otherwise, we currently have a very good relationship with this client.

I don't really know what to do:

should I do it without questioning my professional integrity ?

should I tell him that he should just recognize his first quoting mistake and let the client know that our relationship is not very beneficial to us and we would like to raise our fees ?

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    What is your role/designation ? Do you believe you can talk to your boss and convince him (without making any bad impression on you)? – Arun Xavier Feb 4 '16 at 3:13
  • Do you think your boss knows it is wrong to do something like this without telling the client? I think you should establish their moral compass before you think about any action. – Viv Feb 4 '16 at 3:15
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    Does the contract specify that your company is responsible for hosting support and backups? If no, there is no problem to stop with these things. While it's not exactly nice to stop after 8 month without even telling the client, and if/when the client notices if may be a factor if you or someone else gets future jobs, you are in a commercial company, not charity. (And honestly, if the client fully relies on someone else for backups for something important, doesn't matter who it is and how much was contracted and paid, he/she is quite naive) – deviantfan Feb 4 '16 at 3:22
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    You say that the hosting fees were ignored when you quoted the client for the work; however, does the contract specify anything about the nature of the hosting of the site? i.e. does the contract promise the client anything which you are currently providing but would not be if you made this change? – Carson63000 Feb 4 '16 at 3:58
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    Joe: Not at all, probably the tone of my sentence was wrong. I meant to suggest him, not to actually tell him what to do (of course) – TheTrueTDF Feb 5 '16 at 0:16
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Your company is in business to make money, so that should be your focus. Hosting doesn't make a great deal of difference. Either the services are available to make the site work eg,. database, ssl cert etc,. or they're not. Migrating a site is not that much of an issue either, so long as it is done properly.

Unless your contract says to host with a particular provider, I don't see any ethical considerations.

I host many sites, I see it as up to me which provider I use and which package I choose, and although cost isn't a factor since I don't make those mistakes, I have zero hesitation in migrating half a dozen clients if I'm not getting good enough service.

If however you're billing them for a dedicated server, static ip and autobackup package, but your boss is telling you to put them on a shared server. Then that is a different matter.

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    That is a decision for the boss to make, you shouldn't go over his/her head. – Kilisi Feb 4 '16 at 3:53
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    I totally understand that the decision is his to make, it's just it makes me uncomfortable and that i have a feeling I should do something about it, but maybe I should just do as I'm told and that's it. The package has already be downgraded as much as we could (without the noticing the client still) – TheTrueTDF Feb 4 '16 at 4:21
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    I don't think you have anything to worry about, even if the client does mention it, it's still not your problem, it comes back on your boss. Try not to stress on things you have no control over. – Kilisi Feb 4 '16 at 4:25
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    Okay I will go with that as anyway it seems to be the only possible, realistic option. Thanks for your help ! – TheTrueTDF Feb 4 '16 at 4:30
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    Done plenty of migrations, they all go smoothly if you prepare properly, but I do them early hours of morning and flick an email to the client that I'll be working on his site at X oclock in the morning anyway. If you prepare properly you have the site up and tested thoroughly while DNS is still pointing at the old one, so when ready you basically just change the DNS settings, takes a few seconds I guess, must be quite interesting however you do it it you have issues. – Kilisi Feb 5 '16 at 3:46
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The backup of the servers & support, etc., are either in the contract or not.

If yes, you're being asked to change the product so it's no longer in compliance with the contract. Your business needs to decide if violating and losing the contract is worth the risk--punitive terms are likely in the contract itself.

If no, then the backups & support, etc., are for your insurance, not the client's. If the client thinks your service quality is low, the client may opt to leave. That's a rational business decision on both sides. You may even offer to change hosts back for a re-negotiated price. That's also a rational business decision on both sides. Your company's reputation may be damaged, and it may not, but that's a business decision. Your reputation is worth a lot, but you may have to take a dent to keep the lights on.

Your professional integrity only comes into play in whether you (a) highlight the issues/downsides to your management, and whether you (b) tell the truth when asked about the service change to everyone and anyone.

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You have a good relationship with the client because the client apparently got an excellent deal (due to the incompetence of someone at your company who didn't calculate the cost of the deal correctly).

Not that this has anything to do with the workplace, but honesty is often the best policy. Your company should tell the client that they made a mistake, that they are not charging enough due to the high quality = expensive hosting, and that they need to either (a) charge more, (b) switch to cheaper hosting, or (c) cancel the contract at the earliest possible time.

Switching to cheaper, lower quality hosting without telling the client could lead to disaster. If the client relies on the site being backed up by the hosting company and that doesn't happen anymore, and then something goes wrong, and there is no backup because of that change without telling the customer, I'd see a lawsuit coming that drives your company into bankruptcy.

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It doesn't seem like this client knows much about the hosting if they're not getting the bill. Your company is picking the host and assuming the risk.

You can't tell your boss what to do. I don't think there is any violation of the client, so you shouldn't inform them either. If they hire someone to do your job and pay them less money (maybe they're less qualified), your company probably won't inform the client or alter their fee. They accept responsibility for getting the job done.

What you should do is suggest they give the client a choice. Pay more money for a better provider or pay nothing for a less expensive provider. The client can pick and choose, but there should be no expectation on their part to get something for nothing. If they like having a lot of backups, they should pay for them.

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