Billing shouldn't be a nightmare for your customers

Protect your customers with billing limits!#

We often come across threads on twitter and elsewhere talking about how cloud billing is broken. There is no technical reason why SaaS/IaaS/PaaS/Your-favorite-as-a-service providers can't setup graceful service limits.

Recently, we came across this twitter thread:

Imagine being that student. You are thrilled about that idea you thought of during class, dreaming up clever ways to approach your project and riding that wave of excitement to setup a data processing job. Only to jolted awake with $8000 in unexpected bills! Good mornings start with coffee, not panic and accidental bills + student loans.

This made us think. How can we protect our customers. We don't want them to face this kind of unnecessary panic from unexpected bills.

Encourage learning#

As an industry, we should be helping students and people who are new to programming. Write more blogs to help them. Write guides and tutorials. Share those hacky gists that helped you out at 3 AM.

But also show support by making sure they aren't afraid to try out things. And if they misconfigure something, protect them by setting good defaults and limits. What @alexwlchan's did there was compassionate and empathetic, and deserves recognition.

Everyone makes mistakes#

These kind of problems can't always be chalked up to inexperience either. We've all had days when we were distracted or just tired. And sometimes the UX of a settings page isn't the most friendly.

A great way to protect users is to make sure settings screens are clear and simple. Billing and setting screens are often tucked away in the corned of the product roadmap. Those aren't the shiny features product manager are going to be excited about.

But we should protect our users and implementing billing limits is a good step to alleviate a lot of pain as evident by these threads. This is not a small problem, nor is it limited to a few cloud vendors or service providers. There are literally full fledged businesses built as a band-aid:

Billing limits#

With our new billing limits feature, MediaMachine is taking steps to help protect our customers from unexpected bills. We want our users to get a good night's sleep without worry about out of control costs.

Since our billing is metered, we only charge for what our users use. Our implementation now allows users to set a Warn Billing and Max Billing values.

Warn Billing: when the metered bill crosses the threshold, we send a reminder to our users.
Max Billing: when the metered bill crosses the threshold,
we stop processing newer requests for that user to protect them from overbilling.

Our modern tech-stacks are built on top of various SaaS and other service vendors. For example, at some point Hacker One was using more then 220 SaaS services to build their platform with a team size of 200 Source. That means we rely on each other for creating value. We should be kind to each other and encourage people who are learning how to create software.

Just as we were inspired by @alexwlchan's tweet, we hope to help spread the word and inspire other companies to protect their customers.

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