Let’s say you built a 24′ x 24′ detached garage in your back yard. You hire a contractor to build this for you. Everything is done to your satisfaction and you pay them and start enjoying your new garage. Then, in one year some of the drywall starts separating. You call the contractor, and they come over and fix it at their expense, because it was caused by their workmanship. Things are resolved and you both move on.
But let’s say next year, the city changes their building codes. The new code says you can’t have a garage wider than 20′ in your back yard anymore, and they will not grandfather existing builds into code. Would it be reasonable to expect the contractor to fix this for free? After all, this change wasn’t their fault or a result of their workmanship. They built the garage you paid them to build, at the specifications that were in place at the time they built it. The contract was completed and delivered. For this reason, it would not be fair to expect them to redo the garage at their own cost.
This Situation Can Apply to Websites Too.
If your website integrates with third-party service, such as an online payment gateway, or social media network or plugin, you can sometimes run into a situation like this. There is always the possibility the third party (your payment provider, Facebook, etc.) upgrades their systems or changes how you connect to their service. For example, when the site was originally built, they required X for your site to connect. But in 2 years, they upgrade all of their systems and now require Y. Until you update the site to work with Y, that feature may be broken. This is the equivalent of the building code change in the garage example.
Having WordPress Helps…
You may not realize it (and that’s a good thing!), but this kind of thing happens all the time. The good news is most of it is simply fixed because you’re using WordPress and we run daily updates for you while you’re hosting with us. So the vast majority of problems like this are eliminated with a simple update (and if that is available, we’ll definitely try it first!) So this situation is fortunately relatively rare, but it can happen once in a while where an update can’t fix the issue.
Some Advanced/Custom Features Can’t Be Patched Automatically.
Some changes won’t be covered by these automatic updates because they weren’t built by WordPress. They are a customization built just for your site by nine10. When we build them, we build them to the specifications of the day and ensure they work. And if they break because of our workmanship (e.g. the drywall separating the example above), we cover that while you’re hosting with us. But we can’t foresee or predict changes the third-party will make to the spec, much like the homeowner couldn’t predict the code change made by the city. In this case, we will charge a fee to change the application to fit the spec.
The Bigger Picture: Technology Goes Obsolete
You likely own a phone and computer—possibly several at work. And owning them for as long as you have, you expect that they will need to be upgraded from time to time, and it’s just a cost of owning technology. Nothing like that lasts forever. Your website is a piece of technology too. Part of a very fast moving segment of technology, at that.
So we always recommend that you maintain a budget for website changes and upgrades as part of your marketing, capital or IT budget. Eventually technology will go obsolete—it’s a fact of life, and simply a cost of owning a website. Especially one that integrates with more advanced features and helps run your business.
We’ll always try to do what we can to fix the issue as cost-effectively as possible, and if there is a simple one-click fix, we often will do that and not charge our clients for it. But if it’s a more complicated job that requires rebuilding a feature or hacking something new, there will likely be a charge, and we’ll let you know up front what it is and what your options are.