The Death of 250Free.com

If you have a personal site with 250Free or a business site with 250Host, you’re obviously aware of the hosts’ offlline status since Christmas 2010. At first most 250free members thought it was a minor server glitch; it couldn’t have been a lapsed domain name renewal as Brian Salisbury, 250Free’s proprietor and manager, renewed the domain names November 2010. Obviously he wanted to continue the business, but I suspected bad money issues. I was so right about this when someone in a WebTV/MSNTV newsgroup passed along an interesting link. Here is Brian Salisbury’s real “reason”. I won’t rehash Brian’s four-month debt or that a seemingly profitable business (Takes in approximately $1000 per month) is now broke. Once the bills are paid, what does he do with the profit? Not improve the business as most reputable web hosts do. No file backups in the event the entire works go belly up, like it almost did a few years ago. I was primarily on WebTV at the time thus had no way to back up my data unless I made at least one or two mirrors. Thank goodness I salvaged what few pages I made via Google’s cache, copy the HTML then transfer each and every page to Tripod and Domania. Unfortunately I didn’t mirror what few files I had left at 250Free, one being a circa 1925 photo of my dad and uncles. Again, thank goodness for taking a copy to my WebTV scrapbook days before I uploaded the photo to 250Free.

250Free’s been offline nearly a month. No one can access the site other than that personal note from Brian dated January 13 explaining this fiasco. That means everyone’s site is down, no one can login to the file manager, files cannot be accessed, even most pages cannot be retrieved via the Wayback Machine. However, those who are on premium plans are still being billed for services (non-existent services now!). That’s right, credit and debit cards are being charged as I write this.

Brian is getting several offers from various web hosts, but he seems to take his time. The longer 250Free remains shut off, the slimmer the chances of salvaging any files, but he’s sure collecting all that monthly dues from his customers. I know of no other web host who, if things go bad, continues to take the customers’ money but offers not one explanation why the service is offline. One host I use,Webbywarehouse has one proprietor and manager; that is, he does it all by himself. The same day 250Free went down, WWH had a minor server glitch. This was the Sunday after Christmas, and Brian Abbott, spending the weekend with his folks, drove back home, late at night, on a mountain road, through snow and rain. He promised to have the problem fixed by midnight his time; WWH was back online a hour earlier. How wonderful that this Brian is not at all like the other Brian. He does not vanish when the service goes haywire, does not clam up when things go wrong or how long before it’s right, all the while taking the clients’ money. I can say the same for many web hosts, some of which I patronized during my WebTV-only days, hosts that actually had the set-top browser crowd in mind. Ask any WebTV user from back in the day, and mostly likely you’ll hear praise for hosts such as WTV-Zone, Domania, and the previously mentioned WWH. You’ll also hear horror stories about a similar situation that almost mirrors 250Free’s. Owner sets up web host. Owner promotes his service via the WebTV newsgroups and mailing lists. He takes clients’ money and promises utmost uptime and reliability. All’s well until the server dies too many times. Data is not backed up. Clients are growing frustrated. Owner simply walks away. Files lost forever, clients seething and damning the owner for days. Okay, Webbies, sounds like the old Dreamserver fiasco during the early 2000’s.

All I know is if and when Brian Salisbury gets 250Free turned back on, his clients, paying and free (which by the way, runs into the six figures) will grab any and all surviving files and run to a more reputable web host. I wouldn’t doubt, and I’m surprised no one has mentioned it, that the paying clients whose credit and debit cards are still being charged for non-existent service have contacted the Nevada state attorney general and Better Business Bureau, even looked into filling criminal charges.

Yes, I foresee numerous complaints filed against Mr. Salisbury ranging from embezzlement to fraud to theft. Even those who are generously offering to take over the business sense something not quite right about the man. Is he really looking for a way out of a messy situation and truly is sorry how he screwed his customers, or is he out for a quick buck off the misery of others? Stay tuned as this sorry drama unfolds.

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50 Responses to The Death of 250Free.com

  1. Well, most unfortunately I’ve just joined the Official Screwed 250Free Customer List. My latest credit card report shows a $47.38 charge from 250Free/250Host. I’m making PDF copies of this plus the e-mail that notified me of the auto-renewal on January 23rd.

    250Free’s current problems actually began around October 7th-9th 2010. I could no longer access it from home, but could do so at work. Although I no clue then as to what the issue was, I decided it was time to abandon ship and successfully retrieved all files from my 250free site. I then signed up with another host, and so far all’s well there.

    The only hang-up was my domain name. I could still access it, and even re-pointed over to the new host site. But then I could never get a hold of anyone at 250Free, directly or otherwise, to work on fully transferring the domain over to the new host. Because of this, I did not immediately shut down my 250free account for good.

    Then, around Christmas, if not before, all access to 250free was gone! It was only after finding some forums and web-hosting review sites that I learned of the troubles 250Free was, and the possibility that I might never again have access to my 250free account. As for my domain name, I now know who controls it and so I do have access to that.

    But now, because I could not shut down my account when I was ready to, I’m currently stuck with an unwanted $47.38 “auto-renewal” charge. I had posted one complaint with the Nevada Better Business Bureau before I confirmed the charge. I now intend to post a follow-up complaint to Nevada BBB, mentioning the charge. I will also post a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

    No matter the final outcome, even if I never see the $47.38 again, I’ll survive this episode, and my life will go on. Hope everyone else involved in this will also survive and do well themselves.

    Thanx-A-Lot (except to you-know-who)
    Frank

    • Maggie says:

      I lost all my files on 250free, do have some mirrored at WWH..When Brian had that special this summer I did pay for a years worth of hosting.. I usually payed him by paypal so at least I am not having money still being taken out..
      I do however need a domain server now.. Brian at WWH is trying to help me.. I have never had any trouble with WWH..Had been wanting to switch my domain over for a long time..

      Well, catch him if can, I think he could least let us know..

      maggei

      • Pam says:

        What a contrast between the two Brians. At least Mr. Abbott, with all that’s been on his plate the past year, still takes time to work with WWH members, helps us out when needed. If there was a serious problem with WWH we’d hear it from Brian Abbott first. He wouldn’t run and hide from his paying clients like the other Brian.

      • Greetings …

        I assume that W.W.H. is a web-hosting firm. May I ask if you would please reply with its full name as well as how they’ve treated you.

        Thanx-A-Lot, Frank

  2. Jenni says:

    Hi!!! Brian’s a crock, all he cares about is his customers, that’s just not true as his actions speak louder than words. I’m lucky in that I didn’t have much to lose there, only thing I would have liked to transfer given the chance was some awards made by a friend who has passed away. Anyhow, I had this happen with talk city, and that’s going back (grin). I had a mid and graphic site with talk city when it poofed and said “never again”. I do have an account at the zone now and yep, I’m VERY pleased with it.

  3. Pam says:

    I didn’t have much there either, other than an irreplaceable photo of my dad and uncles c. 1925. Thank God I had a copy elsewhere, and it really makes sense to send copies of really important stuff elsewhere, like Tripod or the Zone. I have accounts with Domania and WWH and love it. Great service, honest and caring owners who don’t run away when problems arise. I hope Brian Salisbury learns his lesson from this fiasco.

  4. Pam says:

    “WWH” is Webbywarehouse owned and operated by Brian Abbott. It’s small compared to Zone but it’s far better than 250Free. $10 annually for 32 megs is a real bargain, a far cry from the $5/month I shelled out for Geocities. Nice FM, loads of tools, and very friendly customer service.

    http://www.webbywarehouse.com

    • Jim says:

      Pam what is going on at webbywharehouse, cant access site for 2 days now???

      • Pam says:

        I wish I could tell you. My guess is an outage, and Brian is aware of it. The problem is he can’t post to the forum because all WWH is out. I’m still monitoring the situation and will get back to you.
        ,

      • Jim says:

        thanks…I thought maybe it was just me having problem..if there is anything I can help with ..let me know
        Jim Hogan
        pokie03@gmail.com

      • Jim says:

        Crazedwriter ,Pam, have you heard anything from Abbott about webbywharehouse, he should at least have the decency to e-mail all of us as it has been at least 6 days now that it is down
        Don`t mean to bug you, know it is not none of your doing, but you are the only one he will communicate with.
        thanks Jim

      • Teressa says:

        Yes, I been really flipping out over this! Glad I found your post.

      • Steel Dragon says:

        If there really is an outage, that’s fine. Stuff happens. But why can’t Brain send out a quick e-mail to all of his paying customers? It wouldn’t have to be anything elaborate. Something along the lines of – “Sorry everyone, but WWH is experiencing an outage right now and I am working to get everything back in working order a.s.a.p.” It’s not a difficult concept. He has everyone’s e-mail.

      • Jim says:

        Got that right Steel Dragon he should e-mail all of us to let us know what is going on, but then he ignored some people that were blocked from their sites or upgrades one gal for almost two months this spring, looks as if the writing may be on the wall

      • Teri says:

        I totally agree. I wouldn’t be near as upset if I had heard SOMETHING from him. But I was told he only worked on the site on week-ends anyway, so I’m afraid if he doesn’t get it done this week-end, we have to go another week. I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs their site :yesterday”…he owes us some kind of workd, we are paying him.

      • Pam says:

        Right now, the only way I can relay any information from Brian Re: WWH outage is through the newsgroup. This is one time I’m thankful i hung onto the LBB. It is a bit of inconvenience since I have to leave my PC, go upstairs. log in on the webbie, then copy and paste the stuff in the NG. And this is what I’ll mention to Brian in our next communication. He asked me to suggest ways to improve WWH service, and one big way is to keep your customers informed when there is trouble. I’ll run a couple ideas by him, also to the NG. A one-man operation needs to keep its people informed at all times.

  5. Just saw this posted at 250free.com and 250host.com

    [Begin Quote]

    A preliminary deal has been reached for the transfer of 250Free.com and 250Host.com to an experienced business.

    More details will be following soon, and yes, I expect service to be restored shortly.
    🙂

    [End Quote]

    Let’s hope that —

    (1) this is -TRUE-
    (2) it happens -VERY- soon
    (3) we get full access to our accounts
    (4) those who, like me, want unwanted auto-renewal charges reversed are allowed to negotiate with whoever this “experienced business” might be.

    Thanx-A-Lot (except to you-know-who)

  6. Pam says:

    That is very good news. Now let’s see how many grab their stuff and leave or stay with the new owners. Either way, all this mess could’ve been avoided if B.S. got off his ass and took the offers that first day. No one will ever want to do business with him anymore. He’s ruined himself.

  7. James Frank says:

    this whole ordeal has been a nightmare; it’s been over 6 weeks since my site has been online (i was a paying customer). i’ve been trying to transfer to another host, but since there isn’t really such a thing anymore as the email address support@250free.com
    my new host is having a difficult time getting me back online. i remember like 5 years ago or so, brian salisbury was a great help to me; now his legacy has become, as i said before, a nightmare

  8. Just an FYI, I *hope* to be able to get the servers back up long enough to allow customers to get their data back, transfer domains, etc. Obviously, there won’t be any continued billing. This is simply an attempt to help in some way. Please see 250Free.com for the latest.

  9. Pam says:

    Oh Brian if any one of those other hosting companies ever approach you again with an offer to take 250Free and 250Host off your hands, PLEASE TAKE IT! How sad to lose one of the remaining web hosts that was truly a community, so much like the old Geocities before Yahoo took over. So please reconsider those offers if ever they come your way again.

  10. Well what happened? Everything was back up, but I’ve been so busy with life outside the internet I couldn’t pull my files off the site before 250free.com went completely away. It came and went with no warning to me.

    • Pam says:

      It was open for approx. 28 days late April into May then it went belly up again. I was able to log in long enough to zip and save my files. I hope Brian can restore it again so more can get their stuff, but I doubt it. Looks as if those who still have stuff at 250free are out of luck. Wonder if those on Platinum plans are still being charged?

      • burning says:

        yes Pam!, i pulled my files out then too, theyre was a little while that 250free was back up in may (2011) i transfered some of my files to harddrive but was unable to move my domain then 250free was gone….just gone but strange thing is my domain is still up.. wich is good cause i payed it till 2013 but i wonder where it is hosted now and how i can get to it..

        in all fairness i got to say brian always helped me iv been with 250free almost from the start first i was payed later it just hosted domains and if theyre was a problem brian was always fast in hes replies and help i really wonder what happend to the guy how and why he let things go so very very bad,

  11. Dave says:

    I guess the thief has cut and run finally. The files were back up for about 20 days, but are now gone again.

  12. Dave says:

    DreamHost is giving discounts to ex-250free.com and 250host.com accounts owners.

  13. Dave says:

    Any updates on this fiasco????

  14. Pam says:

    250Free officially bit the dust last summer. Don’t what’s happened to Brian Salisbury as well as his legal and financial woes. Too bad it happened as 250Free was a good host, nice community too.

  15. Pam says:

    Re: The original post Re: 250Free’s Brian vs WebbyWareHouse’s Brian. That may change if I don’t hear from a certain person by end of next week. Anyone who has a WWH account should know the service goes offline for more than 24 hours at least once a month if not more often. The owner/proprietor/manager is no where to be found, and he does not provide his paying customers a current way to contact. No email, phone, or even forum private message. We can only pay for the service with check or MO, mailed the regular way. No debit or credit cards, no Paypal or Google Checkout. And some are lucky if the checks are cashed and accounts credited in a timely manner.
    I’m now having second thoughts on “helping” him and fully regret mailing that letter Monday. Yes, snail mail seems to be the only way to reach him. Sad to say but I guess it’s time to part ways long before my account expires. WWH is a good host; it’s owner needs some serious work in the consumer relations department.

    • Steel Dragon says:

      Pam: Let’s not forget that Brain Abbott cashes checks he recieves from customers but leaves them locked out of their accounts. I noticed he removed his e-mail from the “Contact Us” page. I’m with you. It’s time to get all of our stuff out of there and move to a webhost that actually cares and doesn’t ignore their paying customer’s. I wish Brian Abbott would either shut Webbywarehouse down or sell it to someone who knows how to run a business. I had a good run there but enough is enough. Such a shame that he ran WWH into the ground the way that he did.

      • Pam says:

        Here’s the latest scoop on Brian and WWH. He bought new servers and has transferred all data to them. Those servers are now housed at a data center where they’ll be watched (hopefully!) by trained techs 24/7. That should solve the frequent downtime. Now, if only Mr Abbott would develop some way for his paying customers to contact him and alternative means of payment. I mailed a letter to him more than a month ago asking if he needed help like Hella did a couple years ago. That worked fine but Hella’s been gone almost a year and things are falling apart. Brian cashes the checks but people are still locked out of their accounts. One guy posted on the forum that he paid $10 in August and still can’t log into his account. Here’s an idea: Those who are still locked out even though payment has been sent, and they have the cancelled checks to prove it should contact the Washington State attorney general. Brian Abbott needs to be reminded that WWH is a business, not a hobby as he claims. I bet this is why his painting business went south; he neglected the most important aspect of his business: the paying customer. I won’t be renewing my WWH account come May because of the inattentiveness. If another web host offers to take WWH off Brian’s hands he should sell it and let more capable people run his “hobby,”

      • Dave says:

        Who the heck is Brain Abbott? I thought the owner of 250free was named Brain Salisbury?

      • Pam says:

        Brian Abbott started Webbywarehouse back in 2003, the same time Brian Salisbury started 250Free. We know what happened to the latter. The problem with Abbott is that he’s AWOL most of the time. He runs WWH by himself with no help, and works a full time job. When I joined WWH his wife was the backbone of the business, but they split up about three years ago. The awful part is that Abbott still considers WWH his “hobby” and not a business. When one takes money from people in exchange for services it is no longer a hobby. Brian Salisbury on the other hand just let his financial issues get the better of him, but he stalled when other hosting companies offered to take 250Free off his hands. I hope a more reliable, more responsive hosting company would offer Mr. Abbott $$$ to take over WWH. Maybe the paying customers can get timely service.

      • Dave says:

        I was able to recover most of my 250free data during Brian S’s re-opening last year. However I haven’t been able to find a new service to re-build the websites with. Nor do I have the hundreds of hours it would take me to do so. It’s pretty sad of Brian being so lame. Especially after how arrogant he was for years about his site. I guess we all should have known that what he offered was way too good to last. I don’t think that there’s a comparable service out there now that is as easy to use as 250free was for us who aren’t as adept at coding as some may be.

  16. Steel Dragon says:

    Interesting complaint about Webbywarehouse back in 2008. Seems Mr. Abbott isn’t all warm and snuggly after all – http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/webby-warehouse-eatonville-washington-c72399.html

  17. Steel Dragon says:

    I wonder if it would be worth the bother to get the Better Business Bureau involved. Here’s a link for the nearest BBB location to Richland, Wa. – http://spokane.bbb.org

  18. Steel Dragon says:

    Can’t wait for Mr. Abbott to reappear and give his usual excuses for being AWOL … “I’m busy” … “The holidays are hectic” … “I’ll be around more when the holidays are over.” Stuff WWH members have heard more than once. I don’t care if he has a full time job. He doesn’t have 30 minutes to an hour a day to sit down and reply to e-mails? He sure makes time to cash members checks and keep them locked out of their accounts. This guy needs a reality check quick.

  19. Pam says:

    The saddest part is that there are so many WWH customers who stand by this man and think he’s hung the moon.

  20. Pam says:

    And I’ve finally heard from Mr Abbott yesterday. I made a separate blog entry about that. The jury’s still out on whether I’ll follow through. He made me wait so I’ll make him wait!

    • Kaylie says:

      Hi there! I recently lost someone near and dear to me and was unaware of any issues with 250free.com until I tried searching for the site to save some of the photos I had uploaded on the site years ago, so is there no way of getting any of those files back??

  21. Steel Dragon says:

    Seems Mr. Abbott is up to his tricks again by ignoring his paying customers. Check out the latest on the WWH forum – http://bb.webbywarehouse.com/index.php

  22. Steel Dragon says:

    Brian rants in the forum about how WWH will remain even though msnTV is shutting down. Now, for the past three days, no one can access WWH or its forum. Hmmm.

    • Jim says:

      This is starting too look bad just like 250.com and I just paid for another year and also I have backed up all my files at bluehost.com just in case, looks like that was a good move as it is now 5 days since have been able to access webbywharehouse

      • Steel Dragon says:

        Can’t wait for Brian to return and give his usual long winded, overly complicated and technical excuse for what’s going on. If that’s what it takes to get our stuff back then I guess it’ll be worth it.

  23. Jim says:

    Looks like the end is near webbywharehouse is closing at end of 2013..also we are not allowed to respond nor leave any posts in the forum…guess abbott is hiding out somewhere

  24. Steel Dragon says:

    Try getting a hold of him using this e-mail addy – brianabbott67@live.com

  25. Steel Dragon says:

    Also wanted to mention for those who haven’t figured out how to sign into their WWH account since Brian removed the “sign in” link from the home page … there is a way to still log into your account. 1) Go to the WWH forum http://bb.webbywarehouse.com and click on the “Back to Webbywarehouse” link at the top left of the page. 2) Or you can use this direct link to sign in http://www.webbywarehouse.com/members/login/home.php … He may disable this soon. I wouldn’t put it past him.

    • Jim Hogan says:

      Thanks steel Dragon,
      I have always been able to sign in as have the log in page saved in favs.. I see abbott has also deleted all past forum posts and no one can post anything anymore.
      the last thing he posted was that wwh is closing on 12/31/13 and he was returning checks for recent renewals I wonder if anyone has had their check returned.

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