Short version: Because support costs money to provide, and our service is based on a "pay for what you use" principle.
The professionals who provide support do expect to be paid. And unless you're satisfied with the sort of people that mumble at you from prewritten scripts that may or may not be related to the question you asked, they expect to be paid pretty well. It's a very difficult job that requires extensive technical and people skills, almost constant training, and a lot of dedication.
That money has to come from somewhere. So all web hosting companies charge for support, and there are five ways to do it:
- The company can operate at a loss, backed by investors, trying to slurp up customers by giving away service, including support. (This approach still charges for support, it just charges the investors instead of you.)
- The company can offer "free" services, including support, by inserting ads into your hosted content. (This approach still charges its customers for the cost of providing you support. Bad news, you're not the customer in this model, you're the product.)
- Hide the cost with higher prices for other services.
- Charge a flat monthly fee that is completely independent of usage.
- Charge for support directly.
Few companies more than a year old use strategy number 1, because it's really expensive and the market is too competitive; they either change or fail. Number 2 can work if everyone involved has low enough expectations. Most companies choose a combination of 3 and 4. So they may claim it's free support, but it can actually be quite expensive, especially if you aren't using it. That's where we differ; we use option 5.
As a "pay for what you use" service, we believe that if you don't use support, you shouldn't have to pay for it. So our model recovers the costs of support only from the people who want it. This has two major effects.
First, people who use support may pay somewhat more for it here than they would somewhere else (although it's hardly expensive as monthly web hosting fees go) since the cost of providing it to them won't be subsidized by a bunch of other people who pay the same amount but never use support. We do our best to make the support we provide worth the cost.
Second, people who never or only rarely use support can save substantially over the long term.
Of course, free support options do exist, but they are based on the people involved volunteering their time. (Like our forums.) These options are generally pretty limited because those volunteers won't have access to information about your membership or services. But they can still often be very helpful. (Like our forums.)