TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

Billing?!?! Hobby plan at $50???

I am confused. I set a billing alert to go off if my charges reached 5 dollars. On the TurnKey Hub it calculates one price, about $24 dollars. I thought, no sweat, when I view my Account Activity on Amazon it says around $4. Today I noticed in the fine print to check "View AMI Paid Activity." So I go there, and it says I'm going to be billed for $50??? This is outrageous, please tell me TurnKey isn't going to screw me over like that. Everything I saw said a lightly used hobby plan was free from both Amazon and TurnKey. I just wanted to experiment with a virtual server to see if it is a service I might be interested in using seriously. I don't even see a contact for billing inquiries. Three different amounts, which one is accurate? Does anyone know with authority on this matter? Please help!

Jeremy's picture

Not sure where you read it was free

I don't recall ever reading anywhere where a Hobby plan was free!? The only way it would be free were if you signed up to Amazon's 'Free Tier' (1 free Micro server for 1yr) and then either took the TKL 'Micro 14 Day Free Trial' or signed up a friend to the Hub. Then you would get one Micro server free for one year.

Unless you do it that way on the Hobby plan you pay AWS charges +10% +15% of AWS charges (TKL premium - which is calculated and charged by Amazon). See here (linked to from here). Note that unless you use the free trial or sign up a friend Micro servers are unavailable on the Hobby plan (only Small and Medium S3 backed instances).

If you have a significant amount of data being backed up (TKLBAM), that may also be a factor?

If you wish to contact the core devs direct, I suggest using the blue feedback button (on the left when logged into the Hub).

reply

I signed up for Amazon's free service. According to them, I owe them about four bucks.

I also signed up for the TurnKey Hobby plan. Amazon, however, is saying I owe fifty bucks to the TurnKey ami vendor. 15% of four bucks sure ain't 50. I used a simple wordpress site for a couple weeks, backed up one time, with no use of any special features or snapshots, etc. This is absolutely ridiculous, the benefits TurnKey offers are in no way worth 50 dollars. Even their flat rate plan was only 20. I set alerts, I checked the balance often, I took every reasonable step to ensure that I was not rising above the "free" limits. I used to reccomend TurnKey to everyone and I, in good faith, was trying out their latest endeavor. Don't worry, it will never happen again. I am documenting all this activity and will be speaking with Amazon.

 

Where did I see free?

 

 

Should I also include shots of three different and wildly conflicting balances?

Jeremy's picture

Notice that Micro is crossed out!

Micro Servers are crossed out meaning that Micro Servers are not available on the Hobby plan by default... Therefore 15% doesn't apply to Micro servers anyway (only S3 backed Small and Medium servers if you are on the Hobby plan).

As I said in my post above - the only way to get them free (from TKL monthly charges - ie on the Hobby plan) is either the 14 day trial (which obviously is only free for 14 days - $20/mth after that ie Budget plan) or refer a friend (and they then need to sign up). If you have been running your server for more than 14 days or you haven't had a friend that you referred sign up, then you will automatically be on the Budget plan ($20/mth - unless you cancel it). So that would explain the $24 that the Hub is displaying (You are on the $20/mth Budget plan - not the Hobby plan).

How/why Amazon are saying $50 I have no idea. Unless you have a mass of stuff backed up (IIRC TKLBAM S3 storge is about $0.14/GB) I don't understand where the other ~$26 comes from (assuming that the $50 includes the ~$4 from AWS as well). Perhaps there has been some genuine mistake somewhere?

No problem talking to Amazon, but I'm not sure what they will be able to do for you. Have you tried speaking to Alon and/or Liraz directly yet? I suggest that before you get too excited you have a chat with either (or both) of them. They are very friendly, helpful, reasonable guys who I am sure will be able to help you work out what has happened. If there has been an error I have no doubt that they will go out of their way to help you sort it out.

Koluskomtu's picture

billing

Yeah.

 

I began with the hobby plan, I think. I decided to upgrade to the budget plan and now I am charged for both. Do I delete the hobby plan @

http://www.amazon.com/dp-applications 

  ????

Will this delete my turnkey instance on Amazon ?

 

If I end up reserving an instance do I need to delete the budget plan?

 

None of this information is clear to me. You'd think if you sign for a higher grade that would be an automatic thing.

Seeing Turnkey has no real contact or billing department, I'm left to discuss it in this forum not knowing if my bank account is getting drained.

Jeremy's picture

I would think that the Hobby servers would transition across

So let me get you straight. You had some servers running under the Hobby plan (S3 backed Small or Medium servers which attract AWS charges + 15% TKL premium). You then upgraded to a Budget plan (which allow either S3 or EBS backed Micro, Small and Medium servers - and attract AWS charges + flat $20/mth TKL). You are now being charges $20/mth + 15% TKL premium on your existing S3 backed (Small or Medium) servers?

If so, then that isn't the way it's meant to work! I suggest that you contact the TKL devs via the blue Feedback button (left hand side when logged into the Hub). If you don't get a response quick enough for your liking then in the meantime, you could do a TKLBAM backup of your existing (Hobby) servers and start new Servers and restore your backup there. I would make sure that everything is working as you expect it prior to turning off the old ones though (because as you probably know, if you stop an S3 backed server then your data is gone...!)

Koluskomtu's picture

The blue feeback button

My issue with the blue feedback it is difficult to get refunds thru it. The business model for TKL is wonderful all accept for complaints and ticketing. I contacted Amazon and they directed me to my billing info with both the hobby and budget plan being billed. Last month was $90.00 . Way over what I am willing to pay. I do have regular backups as well as the backup/migrate module in drupal. The server instance has months worth of customization so there are some concerns. I also have the site mirrored as a virtual box on my local host. So, I'm covered.

 

I did contact the feedback form several times with no resolution.

I will study up on which plan to remove and take as many precautions as I can. I do want to save money in the long run so it also makes senses to reserve an instance in order to save 65%. 

My only concern with beginning with new servers is all my eclipse Amazon configuration (even though I am seriously considering Netbeans) would need resetting and the installed packages like GEOS for locations would be wiped. 

Chris Musty's picture

My Opinion

I am no TKL basher, I love the service and plan on expanding rapidly when they get the hub working in Sydney but I do think the different plans need a bit of rejigging.

I guess the difficulty on this side is not seeing what it actually costs Alon and Liraz to run things. I have seen some reports somewhere on here that they lose money somewhere.

I am on the middle support tier (budget) and am about to pay for the professional tier (again when Sydney is online) and can see where people get tripped up.

AWS having a free service for 12 months yet not being immediatly available in the hub (unless you email a friend or try it) would definately turn people off.

A suggestion (and once again I am ignorant as to what happens behind the scenes) - all services available accross all tiers. Business plans attracts say 5% usage, budget attracts 10% and hobby 15%???

I understand telling a friend will expose people to TKL but I can assure you I have no real motive to bring people aboard but my involvement in programming circles I know for a fact brings people in here - particularly my involvement with realsoftware, my signature reads "Turnkey Linux Appliances on Amazon Web Services = unbelievably easy to deploy servers for WE" and they are linked. IE the product is so good people want to rave about it.

Chris Musty

Director

Specialised Technologies

Koluskomtu's picture

Upgrade path

By all means, no clear reason to bash the product. If anyone has followed all the steps involved in building a server, they'll appreciate what TKL has. Turnkey Linux and Amazon flow really well together. With so many cloud companies, I'm a bit surprised they dropped the ball on billings issues and ticketing. Isn't that the core of their business or any business i.e. satisfying customers?

I would have to agree

I too am frustrated with my TKL experience

I am willing to pay for support, to have my issue resolved, but that option isn't available.

 

Here's how the TKL Hub is set up from my perspective:

- Pay amazon for their hosting service. Support is through amazon

- Pay TKL for their hub service. There is no support

 

If I'm paying for a service, there needs to be a ticket system or some sort of support escalation. 

 

Most of the web products I use are open source. The dev's give the product away, but charge for a year subscription of support. Works pretty well IMHO. Of course there are forums for the self help crowd, and those are great as a first line of defense. But when something goes wrong, it's great to have the paid support option

Koluskomtu's picture

pay for support

There in lies the problem. I really do feel the model for linux is open source. That being said, the community should come together to solve problems. TKL is a paid service because of the HUB. The individuals who participated in building the code never got a dime. A simple How to You tube video on the subject of upgrading your Amazon service should be taken into consideration. If I resolve the issue, I do feel as a user I should take the inititive to document any troubles, I run into and post it on the forums in order to resolve it. Drupal.org does this well, However it can get tricky with all users helping one another because solutions are more difficult to find. The money taken in my TKL should not just have a person responding to issues and complaints but in depth tutorials or how to's directed toward paying customers. Amazon does this and is responding to my inquiry with technical spam asking me if my problem was solved or not with customer survey's in the event that I was not pleased.

Although, I hate survey's and usually try to ignore or lie just to bother them, in this case they are appropriate.

Feel free to spam me if I don't post a tutorial of some kind directed at this problem.

this.

The money taken in my TKL should not just have a person responding to issues and complaints but in depth tutorials or how to's directed toward paying customers

 

This would be awesome.

 

I agree that the forums work pretty well. But I have been guilty of spreading misinformation when I answered a question incorrectly. At the end of the day, forums are a great learning experience, but they do create a lot of "slush" for folks trying to get something resolved

Look, I don't know how to do everything myself, but b/c of opensource software we run our online business with 2 ppl and outperform companies with 1000x the budget that we have. Since I'm able to run on Joomla/LAMP/Hub, that network of developers is important to me and however I can contribute to make it sustainable is important as well.

Koluskomtu's picture

Responsibility

I think because of the open source model of TKL, a video for visual learners on signing up, upgrading, and deleting plans from the amazon payment portal system screen would be more user friendly. The responsibility is both TKL's and users that run into problems and have found solutions. If you solve a problem share it with everyone so others can find help. If your are an experienced user and have a better way to go about solving a situation by all means add to the conversation.

Jeremy's picture

It's a catch 22 for the devs

I think they agree that more/better docs would be a good thing. But as you know that sort of stuff takes time. And most of their time is currently spent developing. If they stop doing that to focus on docs then the development will fall by the wayside.

However, I think you are right in that a Hub signup video (or series of videos even) would be a real bonus. And perhaps needs to be made a priority by someone!?

Koluskomtu's picture

Delete hobby plan

Well. I deleted the hobby plan. It is that simple. I backed up my instance and took a few precautions. It

canceled and sent a confirmation notification. This is in the Amazon payments dialog.

I wrote Amazon and asked for a refund for the previous billings.

 

So, if you upgrade from hobby to budget. Remember to delete the hobby plan in the Amazon payments part of your console, otherwise they will keep charging you.

If this was clear to others let me know. It wasn't to me. This should be automatic.

Jeremy's picture

Thanks for posting back

And I agree that it should be automatic (assuming that it deosn't interfere with your existing appliances that were running under the Hoby plan - which it sounds it doesn't). At the least it should be clearly documented somewhere where you will see it during the upgrade process. I have lodged a bug here.

Koluskomtu's picture

Now I'm lost

Argghhhh!!!

 

So, after canceling the hobby plan. Amazon send me an e-mail that I need to build a EBS backed server because I'm still being charged hobby plan. There is not hobby plan listed now since, I canceled it. Is anyone available to suggest how to build another server that is EBS backed? I added a EBS-volume but it does not allow me to add snapshots.

This is the quote from the Amazon e-mail:

I've checked your account and unfortunately it appears that your currently running instance, i-XXXXXXX, is still running on an AMI for the TurnKey Hobby Plan. In order to completely transition to the EBS-backed Budget Plan you'll need to launch an EBS backed instance to replace it.

If I can't make a snapshot, how do I start a new instance that is exactly the same as my current instance? Do I need to start afresh?

Jeremy's picture

I was under the impression that S3 backed servers still work...

But perhaps not by the look of it. I can still run S3 backed servers on my account AFAIK (but I haven't actually tested it to see if there are any charges...)

If you can still access the VM why not use TKLBAM? Then restore your data to the new EBS backed appliance.

Koluskomtu's picture

EBS-backed

I'm thinking if I sign up for the budget plan originally none of this would be a problem. I use TKLBAM for all my backups and a separate drupal module for content management. They want it to be EBS so it can take "snapshots".

 

Any documentation of building an EBS backed appliance? I should be able to access TKLBAM since it is mandatory to sign up for it. I added an EBS volume to my old instance and it did not count as an EBS appliance. Is EBS-backed an option when configuring a new instance?

Koluskomtu's picture

new instance

I began to launch a new instance for fun and noticed this. I added EBS backed and my old domain.

It says Warning Currently assigned to Small drupal 7 will be reassigned.

*don't know what this will do.

If it erases the old small drupal can TKLBAM restore an older version and

keep the EBS backup so I can please the Amazon billing technical people?

Thanks Jeremy for putting up with my noobishness.

Jeremy's picture

No worries about newbishness! :)

We've all been there! :)

If you have a TKLBAM backup of your "Small Druapl7" then you should be fine. My reading of your screenshot is that the hostname (ie www.kolusk...) will be reassigned. I would imagine that your old "Small Drupal7' will still remain (but will only be accessable via it's public IP - won't be accessable via that domain name anymore).

But TBH I would test your current TKLBAM backup (in another Small instance) before risking anything. But that's just me, I get overly anal about testing that sort of thing these days (lost too much data in the past from making rash desicions without enough forethought)...

Koluskomtu's picture

EBS-backed

hmmm....easier than I thought. I did not try to create a new instance from a backup which is an option.

I backed up my old small drupal instance and created a new instance with the same setting except I set it as EBS backed and used the same domain. I used the Webmin to restore an old TKLBAM backup. It only listed one backup where the Hub lists several. I don't know if this is an issue for some. It may be important to backup with Webmin otherwise, I'll need to experiment with creating an instance from a backup in the HUB.

 

The restoration took a while but it was successful. I e-mailed Amazon support and informed them the server is now EBS backed.

I will make a you tube video and list a screencast link on this forum. So, it is less scary to upgrade.

Jeremy's picture

Good work! :)

And that'd be brilliant if you make a video! I think we need more/better documentation of lots of stuff around here..!

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