Brand SA paid over R97,000 per month for web hosting which really cost R2,495 – CEO

Brand South Africa CEO Kingsley Makhubela has lambasted a web hosting contract with marketing agency Avatar due to its excessive fees.

Avatar, however, said Makhubela has it wrong.

Carte Blanche recently showed that Brand SA was charged R97,459 per month for hosting 3 websites – brandsouthafrica.com, globalsouthafricans.com, and brandacademy.com.

What stood out in the Avatar hosting invoice was the extremely high “Additional Data” and “Excess Web Traffic” fees.

The website hosting packages cost R300 per domain, but only included 500MB disk usage and 500MB web traffic.

The brandsouthafrica.com domain racked up “additional data” and “excess web traffic” fees of over R75,000 per month.

According to Carte Blanche, the hosting was outsourced to Hetzner, which offers unlimited traffic on most of its hosting packages.

It is therefore unclear why Avatar was charging these extremely high web traffic and data fees.

Website traffic

According to Similarweb, brandsouthafrica.com received around 260,000 visits and 383,000 page views per month.

This means the website can be hosted on an affordable shared-hosting package without any traffic or storage concerns.

The globalsouthafricans.com domain has very low traffic levels and the brandacademy.co.za domain redirects to Brand South Africa.

Moving to Hetzner

Brand South Africa has since started to pay Hetzner directly for its hosting, and is now paying R2,495 per month.

The websites for the organisation are hosted on a “Managed Commerce” server which comes with 1TB of traffic and 1TB of SSD storage.

“We are now paying R2,500 per month, and the conventional wisdom out there is that it is still a lot of money,” said Makhubela.

“They [Avatar Agency] were charging us R100,000 for doing nothing,” he said.

Hetzner comments

Hetzner confirmed to MyBroadband that it is currently hosting Brand South Africa’s websites, but said it could not divulge further details about the commercial agreement.

Hetzner added that they charge all their customers the same fee for their hosting service as per their website, without any hidden fees.

“We are very transparent on what we charge customers and what they receive as part of our service,” Hetzner said.

While it did not comment on Avatar’s behaviour directly, the company said it expects its resellers to be upfront with their customers and provide them with all necessary information.

Avatar explains

Avatar has dismissed Makhubela’s accusations, however, saying he was not comparing the same scope of work in the segment.

“Hetzner provides them only with a basic hosting package, judging by the price they were paying,” Avatar told MyBroadband.

Avatar said that an independent forensic investigator examined all of its hosting invoices and costs, and confirmed that the scope of the cost of hosting by Hetzner (the hosting service) was just one component of the contract fee.

The agency said it provided more than basic hosting for the websites it looked after, which included:

  • Server Administration
  • Security
  • Technical SEO upkeep
  • Framework updates and modifications
  • Technical maintenance

“It was inaccurate to compare the two costs as they are not the same thing,” Avatar said.

“The forensic report also detail that once they appointed Hetzner, they also appointed a second service provider for technical maintenance, but Carte Blanche did not factor those fees in the hosting fee comparison.”

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Brand SA paid over R97,000 per month for web hosting which really cost R2,495 – CEO