rafalskiy's picture

Recurring Monthly Charge from Amazon, what is it and why do you neglect to mention it anywhere on this site?


Update: The original poster is referring to the $10 monthly fee  for the Pay-per-use plan on the TurnKey Hub (formerly known as the "Hobby plan"). Skip ahead to the official TurnKey response in Alon's comment below.
Bill's picture

I have the same concern. I have not intentionally agreed to be charged any fees and was surprised to see this one. Please refund the $13 and terminate any accounts I may have with TurnkeyLinux.

Sergi Morraja's picture

Plan: Pay-per-use ACTIVATED!

Really??  Who activated this?  Not me, for sure!

Liraz Siri's picture

Hi Sergi. If you haven't read any of the advance notifications sent out by us or Amazon you could be forgiven for thinking we had come up with a way to magically sign up users to TurnKey plans on Amazon. The truth is simpler.

We renamed the Hobby plan (which you did sign up for), to the Pay-per-use plan after adding support for all the large instance sizes to the Hub in the last maintenance release. We renamed the plan because we thought it would be confusing to call it the Hobby plan when it supported on-demand deployment of all the beefy, powerful instance sizes.

Other then that, I think Alon did a good job clearing things up in comment below.

Ryan J's picture

My AWS account was also billed $13 unexpectedly.

I went through my email and see that on June 21st I got an e-mail from Amazon Payments indicating TKL pricing was changed to $10 per month recurring.  However, I didn't notice the initial email and was surprised to see my AWS account charged today.

I understand if you guys want to start charging a monthly fee for your service, but I don't think one email without any type of confirmation from the user is adequate notification of the change.  The email I got wasn't even from TKL, it was from Amazon Payments.

What's going on?  Was this something done by accident?

Liraz Siri's picture

1) Hub announcement sent out on the 8-10 of June, timed so it would be one of the first thing users saw when reading their email at the start of the work week on Monday.

2) First Amazon price change notification sent out with two weeks advance notice.

3) Second Amazon price change notification two weeks later when the price change went into effect.

Jeremy Davis's picture

Which I at least got...

But obviously with so many posts from so many users in such a short period of time, TKL hasn't done enough to inform users of the changes... I have made direct contact with the core devs (they are offline ATM) and hopefully one of them will post here soon.

Liraz Siri's picture

Jeremy, many many thanks for providing "emergency response" on the forum and advising people to wait a little bit for us to respond. As you guessed correctly both of us were sleeping when this started. Not the best timing for an angry mob to form at our gates.

Hindsight is always 20-20 but seeing that how some people seem to have missed all the advance notifications and been caught off guard perhaps we could have done more to force people to pay attention. OTOH, I'm not sure that sending another email (or two, or three) would have done the trick. Some people are just unreachable by email some of the time. Something I can certainly relate to. When I'm deep in development mode I sometimes don't read my email for weeks at a time, sometimes longer.

I suspect it might be impossible to reach 100% of users reliably but hopefully by explaining the misunderstanding and offering refunds we can make things right with most people who would otherwise fall between the cracks.

Eric (tssgery)'s picture

I am not saying it's right... but I did find an email from Amazon Payments on June 7 that showed the $10 monthly charge. The $10 is shown WAY at the bottom of the email and I didn't scroll past all the regions that I don't use so did not see it either.


I've cancelled my TKL applications on Amazon. Even if I had seen the $10 fee, all I do is run backups with TKL backup/restore and a $10/month premium is crazy.

Jeremy Davis's picture

I can understand your concern and annoyance at this occurring the way it has, but please keep calm people. Obviously it is far from ideal, but just hold off a sec...

Resorting to threats before the core devs have had a chance to even look at this issue (let alone respond) is a little too much I think. It is ~2am in Israel right now...! They are no doubt sleeping and not even aware of this issue...

Seriously it is $13... I'm sure you can hold off for a few hours to get some sort of response from the core devs before getting yourselves wound up into a lather of indignant fury!?

Liraz Siri's picture

If you sign up for something with a credit card then you could conceivably expose yourself to fraud because the system is basically built on trust. Technically the vendor can bill you any sum via credit card and when it shows up on your billing system if you don't agree you can contest the charge.

With Amazon's billing system however, vendors like TurnKey don't have your billing details. We can't sign up users for anything from our end. We send users off to Amazon where they sign up for an application, then we query Amazon's system to find out whether the sign up is complete.

A price change is possible, with proper advance notice (2 weeks at least), and what seems to have happened here was that some users, such as yourself forgot that they were even signed up to the service (which was part of the problem because we were paying Amazon to handle each sign-up), missed all 3 email notifications and then rather than waiting for our response assumed the worst and jumped to a few rather hasty conclusions.

Rick's picture

I am pretty sure I received at least 4 e-mails (from both Turnkey AND Amazon) prior to this change. 

As for threatening the devs of Turnkey for a charge of $13, come on...  First off, they volunteer their time to make these appliances so giving them a measly $13 is almost an insult for the hard work they've done.  Second, Amazon is who is processing your card through Visa and if you think any reports about a company who processes billions every year and has their own claims dept to handle such issues is going to do anything, well that's one of the funniest things I've heard all day.

Be nice, chalk it up to a misunderstanding and get your refund.  No need to bad mouth such a beneficial project to others who might not mind paying such a small fee every month.

...and no, I have no affiliation with Turnkey and when I saw the charge was coming I actually upgraded my account to the next level up.


Liraz Siri's picture

Going over some of the other reactions made me question where all our good Karma I thought we had coming our way had gone flying off to. Then I got to reading your comments (and Jeremy's) and that made me feel so much better. Thank you so much for your support. It's heart warming and a huge encouragement.

Now I think I'll get back to helping release tkldev.

They volunteer their time to make these appliances so giving them a measly $13 is almost an insult for the hard work they've done. 


A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
Freely offer to do something.


Key word there is volunteer If they were in it for the money they should have said so from the start. That would be like the debian dev team turning round and saying, Oh that $13 on your credit card, that was us cause we think we should be paid for our volunteer work

Jeremy Davis's picture

Look you've made it clear that you're not happy. I get that... But no need to go off hot headed and start slandering the TKL devs before they've even had an opportunity to respond. Making wild accusations is rarely useful or constructive. Like I said above they are probably still blissfully unaware of the concern this issue is generating and knowing them for the years that I have I am sure they will do all within their power to make this ok.

As for volunteering... Considering that these appliances and the infrastructure and tools that support them are available completely free of charge (if you self host etc) and that they work tirelessly to make the experience as good as they can, I for one do not think that it is unreasonable that they get some financial compensation.

Does that make this current situation right? No of course not but I think they at least deserve an opportunity to respond/explain before you start bad mouthing them and carrying on... I'm not sure how much you have contributed to TKL but it seems to me that whinging on this thread is the extent! Not that you don't have a right to complain about this, but you have made your point. Winding yourself up ranting on and trying to throw your weight around while the only people that can properly fix this sleep is not doing anyone any favours and from where I sit makes you look like a bit off an ass...

So I repeat, please breath deep, don't do anything rash and wait to hear from the TKL guys when they get up and have had a chance to digest what is going on here in this thread. If there has been no response within a reasonable timeframe then perhaps some of the bitching in this thread is warranted, but until then...

Liraz Siri's picture

Matthew seems to have eventually realized he had not unearthed a viper's nest of unholy financial fraud.

As I pointed out to him, it would have been nice to get just a bit more benefit of the doubt before some people jumped off to the nastiest of conclusions but my partial disappointment doesn't prevent me from appreciating just how blessed we are to have people like you around to be the voice of reason and calm things down when the need arises.

So thanks again mate!

Rick's picture

It's quite easy to cancel your account. Just login to the hub and under your profile choose cancel next to the pay-per-use plan.  I canceled mine after I upgraded because I saw both were listed still.  You probably have to go through Amazon for the refund. 

andmalc's picture

The $13 charge is billed as EC2 usage.   I logged in to Turnkey Hub where I haven't been for at least a year.  It shows no EC2 connection and the setup indicator for 'Backup and Migration' shows incomplete, i.e. that I've setup a connection to S3 but not selected anything to backup.

My AWS EC2 control panel shows no content at all.  My S3 control panel shows some old buckets of personal files I uploaded long ago.

In other words, this has to be an error.

Jeremy Davis's picture

And quite possibly a mistake on Amazon's end... But we won't know any details until the devs get a chance to have a look at this (hence my request for calm and a little patience).

Rick's picture

Login to the hub, click on "EC2 Account" and in the right column you will see "Plan: Pay-Per-Use" with a link to cancel it to the right. 

Jeremy Davis's picture

Thanks for your patience and willingness to give them a chance to make good on this. I'm sure they will. Hopefully they'll at least post here ASAP...

Liraz Siri's picture

Hi Erik. First of all, don't panic! Even if you missed the 2 emails from Amazon, and the Hub announcement and the blog post you will still get a refund. See Alon's comment below.

Secondly, I agree that the formatting of the two price change messages sent out by Amazon is not ideal and I wish we could do something about it, but it's an automatic message sent out by Amazon's billing system and it is completely out of our control. We don't control the ordering of the items. We don't control how long it is. The only part we control (besides the pricing) is the "message from the vendor" which is up to 250 characters long (e.g., a tweet and a half). Amazon puts the message from the vendor on the bottom of the email I think, and we used most of that space to include a link to the blog post with the full details.

Liraz Siri's picture

Listen, it's natural for you to expect us to see things exactly from your perspective and anticipate what you are interested in, how you read or don't read your email (e.g., those first 200 lines on gmail), etc.. It's a well known cognitive bias called the curse of knowledge.

That doesn't mean the implication of dishonesty is fair though. The Hub announcement I sent by email was a text version of the blog post announcing the release. Usually we just send a link but I anticipated that some people might not click through so I sent the content instead. We had been slaving away at the maintenance release, 64-bit support, tkldev and the changes to the Hub for months and we figured all of that was something TurnKey users would be interested in learning about.

Maybe we could have done a better job in anticipating the confusion but I think it's rather unfair to try and imply that we were trying to hide the new pricing structure considering we sent out 3 email announcements, created a new pricing page on the Hub, and discussed the rational behind the price change in over 200 words in the most significant blog post we made this year.

Hobby => Pay-per-use: The Hobby plan has been renamed Pay-per-use.

Supports deploying any S3-backed instance size, including all of the new large and x-large 64-bit only instance sizes.

Users that signed up to what we used to call the Hobby plan should receive an email from Amazon in the next few days detailing a price change which will come into effect two weeks later: we'll be dropping the markup on usage fees from 15% to 10% and adding a $10 monthly fee.

We aren't too happy about having to change the pricing structure of what was formerly the Hobby plan. Unfortunately, in the wake of a series of steady price reductions in instance usage fees this plan has gone from bringing in a small amount of revenue, to barely covering costs, to actually costing us money. This happens because Amazon's billing system (AKA DevPay) charges us a small fixed fee per user that signs up. It used to be that the markup on usage fees covered this cost but now users with significant usage do the math and just sign up for a flat-rate plan.

Instructions for canceling or switching to another plan are available on the Hub. See Account Details in your Hub account's "EC2 account" page.


So if anything was hidden it was hidden in plain sight. Also, when I wrote the announcement I appreciated that not everyone would be interested in every bit of it which is why I made the announcement skim friendly by adding structure and headlines. 

Let's just say if the nefarious intentions you seem to be implying were true and we had any intention of sneaking something through we haven't been very smart about it. As said evil sneaks we also wouldn't take this issue so seriously, provide prompt response along with cancellation and refund instructions for everyone effected. Instead we'd have conveniently forgotten to discuss the new pricing, deleted any mentions of the issue on the forums, denied refund requests, put on our trusty bandanas and screamed "so long suckers, you'll never see your $13 bucks again!".

Sure in retrospect we may not have done the best job anticipating that some users that had signed up for the Hobby plan had long forgotten about it and would ignore any emails sent from TurnKey directly or from Amazon on TurnKey's behalf.

But let's not get carried away. Worst case scenario people who haven't been paying attention get billed a relatively small amount of money, cancel the pay-per-use plan, get the monthly fee for July immediately refunded and can ask Amazon for a full refund for the other $3 for June. Not ideal, but not exactly a disaster either.

Liraz Siri's picture

I don't think anything we've ever done at TurnKey has raised as much controversy and ill will. With hindsight, despite the pressure and workload involved in pushing out a release I think we would have taken a bit of extra time to search through the Hub for inactive users who weren't likely to pay attention and then sent them a specially targeted message with nothing else other than the price change. I don't think we would have grabbed everyone's attention that way either, but probably at least a few more people would have noticed.

Anyhow, thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it.

Alon Swartz's picture

And what a morning it is. Just opened my laptop after taking my son to pre-school and saw this forum thread.

First and foremost, if it isn't obvious we don't want anyone that isn't happy with the work we're doing at TurnKey to help fund its ongoing development.

The $13 you were charged is made up of $10 monthly fee for July + $3 in monthly fees since June 22 when the price change went into efect.

I'd like to encourage the outraged users who overlooked or somehow missed the multiple price notifications to help us set things right by cancelling their subscription to the Pay-Per-Use plan (formerly the Hobby plan on the Hub). You can do that by logging in to the Hub, going to the EC2 account page. In the Account Details you'll see the plans you are signed up for. Click on the Cancel link for the Pay-per-use plan. As soon as you cancel you will be immediately refunded the pro-rata share of the $10 monthly fee for July. If you do that right now (Wednesday) you'll get $9.20 credited immediately to your Amazon account.

As for the extra $3 billed for June TurnKey doesn't have direct control over Amazon's billing system so there's no button I can push to initiate a refund request from our end. However, you can contact Amazon, Amazon will in turn contact us to authorize the refund and we will approve it. 

I'm open to ideas on what else we could have done to try and prevent some users from missing this, but short of sitting down in person with everyone effected there's no way to guarantee that whatever methods we use to inform users about something like this will grab the attention of 100% of users.

Multiple notifications were sent out well in advance regarding the price change. TurnKey sent emails to all Hub users as well as all website newsletter subscribers. Amazon sent out a notification on June 7th regarding the upcoming price change, and followed up with another notification on June 22nd when it went into effect.

Additionally, we published a blog post on June 6th detailing the price change:

Users that signed up to what we used to call the Hobby plan should receive an email from Amazon in the next few days detailing a price change which will come into effect two weeks later: we'll be dropping the markup on usage fees from 15% to 10% and adding a $10 monthly fee.

We aren't too happy about having to change the pricing structure of what was formerly the Hobby plan. Unfortunately, in the wake of a series of steady price reductions in instance usage fees this plan has gone from bringing in a small amount of revenue, to barely covering costs, to actually costing us money. This happens because Amazon's billing system (AKA DevPay) charges us a small fixed fee per user that signs up. It used to be that the markup on usage fees covered this cost but now users with significant usage do the math and just sign up for a flat-rate plan.

Instructions for canceling or switching to another plan are available on the Hub. See Account Details in your Hub account's EC2 account page.

We were hoping that at least one of the notifications sent out in all directions, from multiple sources would catch everyones attention, but obviously some users slipped through the cracks.

Lastly, no need for the threats guys. TurnKey is not evil nor out to bleed you dry. As Liraz mentioned in his post for-great-justice:

We've come to understand (the hard way) how important it is to become financially sustainable and have sources of revenue. Thank goodness we can pay the rent now while working on TurnKey full-time. But this isn't about the money for us. We want TurnKey to be more of an open source project that has a little side business going than a business that has a little open source project going. As far as we're concerned the business stuff should just another piece of infrastructure that helps keep TurnKey ticking. Like our servers. It shouldn't be the focal point and it should serve the open source project rather than other way around.

We do need to grow the team and bring more full-time people on board and that requires expanding our sources of revenue. But ultimately what we want our team to be doing is supporting a rich, vibrant community that celebrates open source. Not "maximizing shareholder value". We think there's a way to do that that isn't based on wishful thinking and open source pixie dust, but only time will tell if we're right.

In the meantime if we want to hold on to our somewhat ideal, naive notions we have to stay in control. That means going against the flow, ignoring the siren call of investors and doing stuff with our own time, on our own dime. We pay for that by going slower, but in our minds that's a small price to pay for staying true to ourselves and to the open source spirit that led us to found TurnKey in the first place.

I agree wholeheartedly there's a tremendous amount of room for improvement. By all means voice your opinions, ideas and criticism. We read everything, even when we don't have time to respond.

Bear with us: from where I'm looking there are some very exciting times ahead as we lay the critical pieces in place required to unlock TurnKey's true potential. We're working on that right now. We still have some hidden aces to play that we hope will delight our users and the open source community. I'd share more details except that we've made enough public promises that I'm worried of breaking so I won't make the situation worse by making even more of those. For now let's just say we're making good progress on a lot of stuff behind the "core" event horizon and we are feeling very optimistic about TurnKey's prospects for the future. Stay tuned!

Bottom line folks, sorry about the mess. We tried, but obviously failed with a number of users. If anyone needs anything, feel free to drop us a line.

Bill's picture

Hi Alon,

First, thanks for all the work you guys have done with TKL. Your appliances are the core of much of what we do on a very meager budget. Please do not be discouraged by this bump in the road.

I made the effort to cancel the Pay-Per-Use Plan as you suggested but when I go into the EC2 Account tab it tells me I have no Amazon EC2 account and that I need to create one. Apparently they believe I have one since my account was also charged. Can you advise me what steps to take from here?

Jeremy Davis's picture

They do often read the forums but I know they are also busy working on TKLDev so probably a good idea to contact them direct via the Hub feedback (blue button on the left when logged into the Hub). That way they will also be able to look into it from their end and hopefully see what is going on...

The other thing you could try is just logging straight into Amazon and see if you can see it there...

Firstly, sorry for the threats. But, try to see it from my point of veiw. I stopped using your product, quite a few months ago (possibly even a year ago). I dont use your product anymore so i dont keep up with your blog. Also i run many other things through amazon so i tend to disregard most of the auto sent bulk mail from them (quite careless, but im busy, and they send me lots of rubbish) .So after not using your product for such a long time i suddenly find a US$13 charge on my credit card from you guys, and was like WTF!!!. 

Liraz Siri's picture

Hi Matthew. I think I can appreciate your perspective and can definitely relate to the too busy to read my email bit. I've been going through a rough spot with my inbox as well these past couple of months.

If you have any ideas on what we could have done differently to grab the attention of busy people like you I'd like to hear about it.

Regarding your reaction and similar reactions like it I can understand. Given all of the sneaky, unethical nonsense that can happen online I can see how this would be a sensitive issue that would set a person off, especially if they're having a bad day.

I'll admit I am a bit disappointed though. It would have been nice if you and other similarly outraged users (and former users) would have given us the benefit of the doubt and a chance to set things right before assuming the worst and lashing out and even issuing threats.

We're working on TurnKey for love, not money. If money was the primary motivator we'd have some serious reconsidering to do because it's really hard to live it up working on free software. Sure the Hub brings in a modest amount of revenue but the vast majority of deployments are self hosted. TurnKey's Amazon cloud deployment side business brings in just enough to allow us to working on TurnKey full time, but it's still a small fraction of what we could make working on non open source / proprietary software.

Alon Swartz's picture

As mentioned above, TurnKey doesn't have direct control over Amazon's billing system so there's no button we can push to initiate a refund request from our end. I really don't know why the AWS rep sent you that email, it just doesn't make any sense...

Anyway, I suggest you cancel your subscription to the Pay-Per-Use plan, which you'll immediately receive a pro-rata refund for (should be around ~$9). For the other $4, you'll need to contact Amazon for that. Amazon will in turn contact us to authorize the refund and we will approve it (or if the rep looks in the CRM, will issue the refund automatically and just update us).

Conph1g's picture

We have not been running an appliance for many months. We have been caught by the charges and know you would love to make things right.

Looking forward to your speedy and positive intervention & response.

Amazon Case 102816871




Liraz Siri's picture

Don't worry, Mr. Config even if you missed the advance notifications you can get a refund. See the official TurnKey response in Alon's comment up above. I slapped a yellow notification box on the original post that will hopefully help prevent others from missing it.
Ryan J's picture

I'm pretty sure I didn't get an email directly from TurnKey about the change, but I did get both emails from Amazon Payments, so it's at least partially my own fault.  Thanks for pre-approving refunds for those of us that weren't paying close enough attention.

In my case, I would have preferred if my account had been temporarily suspended.  I don't think it's been used for over a year, so it would have been reasonable to consider it abandoned.  I'm surprised you guys don't suspend inactive accounts regularily, especially if every abandoned account is costing you a flat fee.  Had I realized my unused account was costing you money, I would have come back and disconnected it as a simple courtesy.

I know that suspending accounts runs the risk of halting the service of someone who uses it, so I can't say I blame you for erring on the side you did.  I'd probably do the same thing if I were forced to choose from two bad options.

I also think a lot more could be done upstream with Amazon Payments.  If you speak with them, feel free to pass on these thoughts.

The emails I got from them weren't very good.  The first email had the recurring fee burried at the bottom of a lengthy list of intance pricing.  The second had the recurring fee noted at the top, but, at a glance, the entire email looks almost identical to the emails they send about pricing changes for the pay-per-use services.  I very likely glanced at it, assumed it was per-use pricing changes and, since I wasn't using the service, ignored it.

All of the emails I get from Amazon Payments are plain text.  Plain text may be necessary, but the important information seems to get lost in the huge dump of instance pricing they include.  In my opinion, changes to flat, recurring fees should be sent in separate emails with clear subjects that indicate the change, especially in cases where a flat, recurring fee is being introduced.

Had I gotten an email saying "A recurring $10 per month fee has been added to TurnKey Linux on EC2", I don't think I would have overlooked it.

Amazon Payments could also give users better options when singing up to services like TurnKey Hub.  For example, an option to temporarily suspend access to the service if a recurring fee is added or changed, but hasn't been approved by the account owner.  That way the user has the ability to judge the risk of unexpected pricing changes vs having the service interrupted.

An option to consider a service abandoned and suspend access after a set period of no usage would also be a good idea.  In my case, the API key associated with my TurnKey Hub account should have been revoked automatically long ago.  I don't think I had any usage associated with it for over a year, not even S3 storage.  It would have been better for all 3 of us if my account would have timed out at some point.

Liraz Siri's picture

Hi Ryan, have you checked your spam folder for the missing Hub announcement? Check for an email from "Liraz Siri AT turnkeylinux.org" Around 7-9th of June.

Regarding Amazon Payments I agree 100% that the situation is not ideal, especially when things have to change, mostly because people are used to billing systems based on credit cards which are much more flexible and give the vendor a one-to-one billing relationship with each customer.

Amazon's billing system doesn't work like that however. With Amazon the user, not the vendor, has full control over the billing relationship.

On one hand this is a good thing because the vendor doesn't have to securely store your billing credentials on his end, which means nobody can steal your billing details and sign you up for something you aren't interested in.

On the other hand it's bad because vendors working with the system don't have the flexibility to unilaterally stop billing you if the pricing structure changes and you haven't been using a service in a while. If we could do that I agree it would be a good idea and preferable to having to ask non-active users, some of which don't even remember signing up for the service to do this on their own.

Instead of a one-to-one relationship with each customer's we have a product code that lives on an Amazon web page. We send users off to this web page from the Hub to sign up for a plan and we send them to another page to cancel their sign up. But beyond checking whether or not you are currently signed up we have no control. Amazon's billing system handles everything, and in exchange they charge vendors a small amount per sign up which eventually added up so that the service was no longer profitable.

Jeremy Davis's picture

I just cancelled my pay-per-use plan (I haven't used S3 backed servers for a long time anyway... Only EBS backed ones) and instantly got a $9.23 credit on my Amazon account! Nice one! Personally I'm going to consider the $3.77 difference as a donation to TKL! :) The process was pretty straight forward and easy to follow...

Liraz Siri's picture

So it makes perfect sense that you get an automatic pro-rata refund for (most of) the July fee when you cancel the plan.

Like it says when you click on the $10 fee on the Hub's pricing page:

Pro-rata refund:  

 If you cancel the plan you only get charged the pro-rata share of the monthly fee (e.g., if you cancel after 10 days, you'll get charged a 1/3rd of the monthly fee).
Sergi Morraja's picture

Hi all and devs,

I tried but don't find this information anywhere. Please point me to it if exists, thanks.

My question: On canceling the Pay-per-use plan can I still use S3 backups and Dynamic DNS at the Hub? These are the only services I'm using as I really am a hobbyist (I think the old "Hobby plan" was the perfect plan for me...). 

For long time, I was thinking your great effort deserves more revenue from me. For that reason I did a micro-donation, and was thinking in doing another. But from paying an average of 4cents/month to a 13$/month is a really big jump for me.


Thanks in advance,



Liraz Siri's picture

Hi Sergi, yes the S3 backups and Dynamic DNS are separate services that won't be effected. The pay-per-use plan is for on-demand deployment of S3-backed instances on Amazon EC2. It costs $10/mo btw, not $13/mo. I think the extra $3 is the pro-rata payment since June 22nd.

Users who cancel the Pay-per-use plan can still launch Micro sized instances. We call it the evaluation plan but you can use it for whatever you like if Micro is enough for your needs.

Liraz Siri's picture

Hi Jan, sounds like you don't need the Pay-per-use plan. Log into your Hub account, go to EC2 Account page, and in the Account Details section see what plans you are subscribed to. If you're signed up to the "Pay-per-use" plan, click Cancel and follow instructions. After you cancel, you'll get an immediate pro-rata refund on the July monthly fee.
Sergi Morraja's picture

Liraz, good to know. I would have felt really sad to say goodbye to all of you!

I just cancelled my Pay-per-use plan, and Amazon returned me $9.17. The rest, like Jeremy, don't mind me.

A thought for the future: Here I think has failed the communication. In my case, a simple mail with a simple self-explanatory subject would have been enough. Although this may not apply to others.

Rick's picture

I am sure that this thread would be a LOT worse had the accounts NOT been kept online and instead each account with a live server either shutting down or being suspended/deleted.  I too would be singing a different tune if that were the case.  If I were in the same situation as the devs I would choose to do it the same way.  Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils.

I do agree that the 15-page email from Amazon was a bit lengthy though.

But very few of the people complaining had a live server running. most of them had forgotten they ever signed up, and had stopped using TKL a long time ago. I myself had a few MB's of backups, which i asumed would have been wiped out when i hadnt logged in or made any new backups for ~ a year.



I dare say for most of the people who just had backups, their monthly bill from amazon would be lucky to go over $1 per month. i think my last bill was 16 cents.

Liraz Siri's picture

Matthew, I agree that it would have been preferable to handle inactive users differently (e.g., cancelling their sign up entirely or requiring them to opt-in instead of opt-out) but Amazon's billing system doesn't allow us to do that. See my other comment regarding how it works differently from the credit card system people are used to.

Thanks, i put all my thoughts on the matter in an email to you and Alon. Alon already replied and cleared much of that up for me.


Bill's picture

Guys, I made the effort to cancel the Pay-Per-Use Plan as you suggested but when I go into the EC2 Account tab it tells me I have no Amazon EC2 account and that I need to create one. Apparently they believe I have one since my account was also charged. Any suggestions?

Jeremy Davis's picture

Particularly Alon's initial post in this thread and one from Liraz specifically covering accusations of revenue raising...

At risk of repeating something that the core devs have already stated: Bottom line is that if scamming people and making lots of money was TKL's plan then I would suggest that they probably should have thought it through a bit more. It probably would have been much easier to scam people if they hadn't blogged about it and sent offical TKL email (as well as the mandatory Amazon ones). Also they could have profiteered more if the increase was significantly more than $10/mth. Preapproving Amazon to refund all money for this PR blunder is a really dumb way to scam people out of their money too. If scamming was the plan then contesting every refund request, not answering emails and blocking/removing posts (such as yours) from this thread (in fact deleteing this thread altogether) would have been much more effective...!

So I find your suggestion outrageous and completely inconsistant with the facts at hand (even if you don't believe the core dev's posts above)... To suggest that Alon and Liraz have worked tirelessly for years to build TKL up to this point and done this to simply to make a 'quick' few hundred extra bucks would be laughable if it wasn't so offensive...

Jeremy Davis's picture

You must have been signed up to both the Hobby plan and the Budget plan at some point (because the TKL devs can't sign you up for anything - you have to do it yourself), but perhaps as Hobby plan was free (and just charged a % premium) perhaps you weren't aware of the fact that you were signed up?

If you have no use for S3 backed instances (and it sounds that you don't) then you can safely cancel the Pay-per-use plan. You will automaticly get a pro-rata refund (in the form of an AWS credit). If you want the rest of the money back too (which at a guess will probably be about $4) then you can apply to Amazon for a refund of that too (read a few posts above for a link on how to do that...)

Hendrick's picture

all my instances are ebs backed and I do not need S3 backed instances. I 'll try to do what you recommend. But I am just wondering why I got signed up with pay per use plan. I only signed up for a USD 20.00 plan / Hobby Plan

Previously Amazon micro instance was only S3 backed. So when I created a micro instance, it was S3 backed but after installing the micro instance I restored my backup to the micro instance and  it automatically became ebs backed. It might be the reason Amazon put me on a pay per use plan on top of Bronze plan. I am just guessing. 

Anyway, I will stick to my original Bronze Plan and cancel the Pay per Use Plan.

Jeremy Davis's picture

The Hobby plan was free (but with a 15% premium on AWS charges) but only supported S3 backed instances. Originally this was the only plan TKL had available. This has been rebranded the Pay-per-use plan (and now attracts a $10/mth fee).

The Budget plan was $20/mth and only supported EBS backed instances (inc Micro). AFAIK Micro instances have only ever been EBS backed. This is now the Bronze plan. 

As you have seen it is possible to have both plans active (this is because some people want/have both S3 and EBS backed instances.

Eric (tssgery)'s picture


Some, hopefully, constructive criticism
I've been known to voice an opinion or two, but I think they have always been considered constructive. Hopefully, the TKL folks will think the same of this.
I love the idea of turkeylinux. There is no other distribution that is as easy to customize into whatever we want. The concept of building a patch that can be applied to either a deployed instance or the installation iso itself is incredibly powerful. I have built several patched for distribution here and run several others for my personal use.
Where turnkeylinux falls down for me, is in the attention to detail. Here are a few specifics:
- I've posted this before but the library of appliances is too big for the community. 100+ appliances can not possibly be built, tested, and supported by the core developers, Jeremy, and the community. Instead, my perception of what has happened is that appliances have been built because they could be.I would much rather see 10 rock solid appliances that can be counted on for being secure, stable, upgradeable, and supported. With such a large library, people download and try things out only to find problems (sometimes obscure, sometimes not). After seeing problems, people leave.
- Recent billing issues with Amazon. Firstly, I'll say that I have no idea how to have made that a non-issue. I am all for helping turnkey out by donating a few dollars for services I use (which is only tklbam at this stage) but I do find it odd that I was automatically optedin for the $10/month plan when I have never deployed a turnkey instance to Amazon. People who would like a refund are now caught between amazon and turnkeylinux, which is not a good place to put your users.
- Until very recently, progress on turnkeylinux essentials (64 bit, newer distribution base, etc) was going very slow. I posted some thoughts a while ago on this very matter and am pleased to now see some of the issues being addressed. While it's nice to see progress, it'd be great to also see a roadmap with dates on it. When will TKLBAM support postgres? TKL core 13.0 RC was released in January, when will it be 'GA'? What is really on the prioritized list of things to do and when are they projected to be done? I understand that turnkeylinux isn't a 'business' so I'm not expecting the predictability of one, but some insights would be good.
- It's good to hear that the development/build tools might be opened up for other to help. If that occurs,it has potential to allow turnkeylinux to live up to more of it's potential... if (and only if) the community gets more lively. Jeremy is always on and helping people out wherever he can. Otherwise, we can go weeks without hearing from anyone. It's hard to build an active community, but people need to be around, posting, writing blog articles, helping with development/testing, etc.
I feel this the turnkeylinux effort is a hobby for many people. If that's true, great... just let me know. Otherwise, I'd like to see it get more publicly visible care and feeding.
Jeremy Davis's picture

And I am hoping that some of the issues you raise will be addressed as a matter of course once he transition to GitHub is complete, and with the release of TKLDev build environment. 

I know the core devs don't like to release stuff until they think that it is ready, but often that means that they are working away 'in the dark' (so to speak) and results in an appreance of them being absent. Hopefully the changes will result in more of the dev work being done 'in the open' and more interaction between the core devs and the community.

There has also been many good community members (yourself included Eric) that have contributed some great work to TKL but often there has been a lack of timely official response from TKL. I think there have been many opportunities lost in this regard as community members have moved on when it seems that their contribution has not had any obvious result or response. Again I am hoping that the current changes (once completed including the release of all the appliance code and TKLDev) will result in a more agile response to community contribution...

cmoman's picture


I too have been bitten by the pricing change.

I signed up for an account last year. I spun up a few virtual machines with the longer term view that I might use them to test development ideas and then show them to work colleagues.  The pay per use idea was promoted heavily in the literature. 

They were advertised as 'no commitment' and so I thought, what the heck? give it a go and kept in the back of my mind that they were available if I wanted to use one or two.  I have long term virtual server contract with another company but like the preconfigured nature of the Turnkey/Amazon solution and they were so easy to use.

Where you guys went wrong was thinking you could change a pricing plan to a recurring liability without your customers *active* approval.  I work in an engineering consultancy world and I cannot suddenly expect *all* my customers to start paying me $X amount per month because they've contacted me at some stage in the last two years.  I could sell them a plan for ongoing support but unless they agree, I can't start billing them.

You can justify your 'but you were sent an email' response but that doesn't cut it.  Without unconditional acceptance of your new terms there is no new contract in place. The correct thing would have been to suspend everyones account after a warning period.

Then, when they logged in (either before or after the end of the warning perioed), have a friendly message informing people that the old pricing plan had been terminated and invite them to sign up to the new plan. And then give them one more months access on the old regime to recover data should they wish not to continue.

People feel very powerless when an international company just starts billing their credit cards. Hence they feel the need to react strongly.  Some of your customers felt they had lost control.

I hope the feedback helps. I've had quite a few emails with Amazon and they've agreed to refund me fully.

You have great product and I know you are trying to turning this into a paying business. Hopefully these a just a few teething issues for you.


Chris O'Halloran

Jeremy Davis's picture

The TKL guys don't/didn't define the rules on how Amazon can and can't bill you, what's allowable and what's not...

There is no facility to get the approval that you desire before changing the plan cost (from free to whatever). Amazon only requires that you send an email (via their system) informing users of the change. The TKL guys did that plus requested Amazon generate an additional email, plus they sent a direct email and wrote a blog post (which if you were subscribed you would have also got an email about). I'm not saying that what they did was perfect. As someone else mentioned perhaps they could have sent a really brief and concise email that really grabbed your attention. Perhaps that may have helped...?

But the only way that they could have acheived what you want within the current Amazon system would be to cancel all the existing accounts (and thus destroy any running servers) so that you had to sign up to a new plan if you wanted to continue (although the destroyed servers would be gone forever). And perhaps that would have worked better for you. But what about TKL users that had servers running Do you think they would have been happy about loosing their data...? I'm sure that the virtiol would have been tenfold! Sure it sucks that you got charged $13 when you weren't ready for it, but what if instead you had a server running and it got destroyed without your express consent?

Beyond sending a short attention grabbing email (which I think in retrospect the devs would have done had they realised that the 3 or 4 emails users got wasn't enough to get the message through) and/or manually going through each TKL Hub account and cancelling each one that didn't have any servers running (and no doubt even that would've probably pissed off a few users) I don't think that there was much more that they could do...

With the options that seemed available to them I think they did the best that they could... You draw an anology with your engineering consultancy but I don't think it is quite complete... I think a truer picture would be if you had to make a decision between charging everyone who had ever contacted you (a fully refundable) $x/mth OR destroy the data of all your existing customers (potentially leaving them with no way of getting that data back). While it may seem harsh to those that had only had a look once to get hit with a (fully refundable) $13 charge, surely you can see that it would have been worse to destroy relationships with current paying customers (the better of two evils so to speak)...

As you have discovered getting a refund is fairly straight forward. This is because the TKL guys gave Amazon authority to grant blanket refunds... Normally the process is a little more convaluted...

So you are right, this is a far from perfect situation, but under the current Amazon rules and limitations I don't think they did too bad...

cmoman's picture

Hi Jeremy,

I appreciate that you're going into bat for Turnkey Linux.  My beef isn't really with anyone. Both Turnkey and Amazon are on the forefront of this type of technology, at least from consumer perspective, so there are bound to be teething issues.

By providing feedback to both Turnkey and Amazon I'm hoping that both entities will simply consider the need for more fine grained management of the customer interface when attempting pricing changes.  Amazon invited me to provide feedback on this forum.  I'm trying to be one of the helpful customers and am certainly not put off using Turnkey/Amazon products in future. But unless these kind of issues do get addressed then other customers may not be so forbearing.

All the best,

Chris O'Halloran



Jeremy Davis's picture

Yes your feedback is constructive and I apologise if I appear a little overzealous. This thread is getting a bit tiring for me, so I perhaps came across as a bit over protective. I have been involved with TKL for years and have developed a friendship with the devs so I know that they are really good hearted guys, trying to make a living out of something they are passionate about. Do they get it right every time? No of course not, but their intentions are good and they do their best with what they have (mostly not enough hours in the day...) 

But you are right, and you have every right to put your opinion forward. Thanks for being constructive and I apologise again if you felt like I jumped on you.

Hope you have a great day and look forward to more of your input! :)

Jeremy Davis's picture

But I don't think they did anticipate this outcome. They assumed (obviously incorrectly) that people read (all) their emails. I just think that their approach was designed to cause the least inconvienience to existing customers (i.e they didn't need to do anything but pay the new bill - or upgrade their account as relevant) at the expense of those who weren't current customers (they had to do something i.e. cancel their account). The blanket Amazon refund authority was done after the fact - as the devs' response to this thread and the direct emails they received. I am sure that they will make a point of constructing a brief and concise email about any changes such as these in future (as a direct result of this experience). But whether or not that will be enough for everbody is still unknown (and unlikely IMO).

Furthermore, the reality is that if people had read all their emails in the first place (and as you can read further up in the thread I too was guilty of not doing this) then they would have cancelled their accounts prior to the introduction of the new fees (assuming that they were unwilling to pay them). I think if they missed the 3 or 4 emails (like you, I and many others obviously did) then I doubt a line about getting refunds would have made any difference (although the brief email may have done better).

Jeremy Davis's picture


Because you can only ever be charged for things that you have authorised/signed up for (even if you forget about them... And the charges go up...)

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