So, here's something neat. I wanted to pay for my web hosting with Ethereum. You know be the change you want to see in the world yada yada. That should be simple right?
Criteria: They accept crypto as payment.
Do me a favor and search for "Web hosts that accept crypto". You'll get a bunch of lists telling you which hosts accept cryptocurrencies as payment. We have options. That's good because one of the hosting providers that I keep seeing on the top of these lists is up to some shenanigans. Let me explain.
I went to Hostwinds.com, a web hosting provider that accepts payment in Ethereum as well as a ton of other cryptocurrencies. I picked a package that came to $118.38.
I accepted "Cryptocurrency" as my payment method and then hit "Pay Now". This brought me to a Coinpayments gateway which allows you to choose which cryptocurrency you would like to pay with and how much it will be in that coin. I clicked ETH which showed that the exchange rate was 2.7834300 ETH. Perfect. There on the screen it shows $118.38 and 2.7834300 ETH.
Click through to complete checkout and it brings you to the Coinpayments payment screen. All you have to do is shoot the Ethereum over to the address listed and you just payed for your site in crypto! See, the future is here people!
But wait, here's what you may not have noticed:
Good thing I checked. That would have been a good old fashioned open-air-market gypsy hustle. Thats like 349% of the initial invoice amount. I thought something was wrong with thier payment gateway, maybe there was a switch that was stuck in some machine somewhere. A little WD-40 and a little percussive maintenence and that sucker would start spitting out some realistic exchange rates. So I shot over an email. I like to be helpful. This is what I got back from Hostwinds:
Oh, nevermind. You guys have it like that on purpose...
So it turns out if you want to avoid price-gouging you should just not use crypto with Hostwinds.
It's not even that they are clearly robbing people that bothers me. It's the fact that it's not even listed on the invoice. If you are going to pinch me at least put it on the invoice.
But lets just do a little more digging.
You know how sometimes you go to point something out and the person who you are telling it to doesn't quite get what you are trying to say? After my initial outrage I though that maybe the billing department didn't quite understand HOW FAR OFF they were with thier exchange rate. I refuse to believe that people are terrible (I'm wrong, they usually are). So I thought that maybe this poor lady in billing was used to people compaining that the exchange rate was off and it was supposed to be like a 5% markup. Maybe thier payment gateway was having some sort of glitch in the matric and wasn't updating prices correctly (Spoiler alert: It wasn't. The markup is 100% on Hostwinds' end). So I tried to find another site that used coinpayments as thier gateway. Luckily another hosting provider did (Spoiler alert, I wound up giving them my money).
Enter player 2 - Hostinger.com
So I tried to replicate my experiment on Hostinger, another hosting provider that accepts crytpto.
I got the invoice as close to the dollar amount that I had initially with Hostwinds.
Oh would you look at that. They use Coinpayments as well! And look at that price in ETH! It almosts looks like I'm paying the amount I was invoiced! Lets check.
Well I'll be. Guess who gets my money. Hostinger.com does. And I'm glad I did because thier customer support has been super helpful and they have a slick interface for poking around and finding new and creative ways to pretend to be a systems administrator. Best of all they aren't a bunch of crooks.
I'm not getting any kickbacks for writing this. No affiliate links or anything. I just think people should know what they are getting into. If you are using crypto to pay for things online, just make sure you double check what you are being charged. There are plenty of people who are willing to take advantage of someone to make a buck. Even companies that look like they are otherwise well respected.
At the time of writing this, Hostwinds.com is being purposely misleading with thier crypto exchange rates. They are ripping people off.