If you live in Texas – you may have already heard the radio spots promoting “free websites” from Google. And if you are like me, you may have even seen the ads online. I didn’t pay much attention to the spot when I first heard it on the radio – I just looked at Lauren and laughed. But when I came across the ads this afternoon – I decided to look into it further and see what the promotion was all about.

Few facts: Yes, this is “sponsored” by Google. But the business end of this is being promoted by Intuit. Yes, you get a free website for a year (with a bunch of BUTs).

  • The website will only be 3 pages
  • You won’t have an email address that uses your domain (unless you pay extra)
  • You are stuck with their templates
  • After a year – you can purchase your site (for a ridiculous rate!)

So let’s look at the fine print of this:

Free seems too good to be true.  What’s the catch?

It’s all absolutely free including the web hosting for one year.  If after 365 days, you want to keep your website hosted with Intuit, you can pay $4.99 per month for the web hosting, and $2.00 per month for your domain. You may cancel at any time, and do not have to sign a contract for any period of time. Pricing based on current Intuit Websites prices. Prices are subject to change and determined by Intuit.

$4.99 a month for hosting is typical – and doesn’t seem out of control (at first). But then remeber – you are paying $4.99 a month for a 3 page website! If you want more pages, you have to pay more ($7.99 for 10 pages and upwards from there)! And $2 a month for  a domain? What the heck? You can get a domain for an entire year for $10 from GoDaddy – that’s a $14 difference right off the bat.

Some more detail:

Upgrading to the Business Lite package gives you up to 10 pages and costs $7.99/mo. Packages with ecommerce capability start at $19.99/mo. All paid packages include unlimited phone and email support. Pricing based on current Intuit Websites prices. Prices are subject to change and determined by Intuit.

Any company that charges you a hosting rate based on the number of pages you want to have is ripping you off. You can get a website hosted (and with email addresses) for $4.99 a month and basically unlimited pages. Now, if you have a site with thousands of pages you will need to pay for a better hosting package because your site will be taking up much more server space – but you still do not need to pay on a per page basis.

Even for the business owner that only wants a 3 page website – you can still get a better deal by going with GoDaddy for hosting, setting up a quick WordPress site (and using any number of free website templates) and you will get a free domain based email address. (No added up-charge)

Bottom line: Run far far away from this offer. It’s like getting a magazine subscription for $1 for the first year – they are just trying to hook you on a low rate so they can charge you more on the backend. Yes, the templates and drag and drop platform seem appealing – but you’ll never get to move that site or get away from the fees.

 

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  1. Deb says:

    Remember FREE is a common word used for baiting a consumer.

  2. Brian says:

    It really is a shame that Google is getting involved in this. I can see a few instances where a micro-business with close to no money may want to try this out but as you point out, hosting is cheap, domains are sometimes free for a year, unlimited e-mail addresses and your domain and the ease of WordPress make this a bad deal for small biz owners.

    Google’s brand is reliant upon the trust of its customers. We use Google for search because we trust it to give us good results, I hope they don’t damage that trust with this “almost shady” offering.

    As a small business consultant, I could never recommend these sites to clients or anyone else.

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