Parallels Plesk Billing (ModernBill) Web Hosting Billing System Review

Parallels Plesk Billing formerly known as ModernBill is a billing system used by web hosting companies and professionals. ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) promises to offer automated billing and easy web hosting management of customers and invoices. When starting a web hosting business you will need a billing processor for PayPal and credit card payments. ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) is just one of many billing products available to web hosting companies.

As a web hosting professional with seven years of experience in the industry, I have used ModernBill (now known as Parallels Plesk Billing) for automated web hosting billing for almost three years. During the time of use of this billing program, I have gathered information that ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) may not be a good solution for web hosting billing and customer management. Here are several reasons why ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) may not be the right billing solution for your web hosting business.

ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) is beautiful to look at, but hell to use. I must admit, the first time I opened up a version of ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing), I was taken away by the smooth 2.0 web look of this billing system. It has beautiful graphics and small design touches that make it pretty, however those same graphics can take a very long time to load.

On client side, images can take a longer time to load because of customer’s internet connection. While your web hosting client may be an inexperienced online user, they can be frustrated with using ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) and the time it takes them to process an online payment. If a web hosting client grows dissatisfied with the billing system they will complain to you, their web host, and you will have to compensate for it.

It takes magic to install ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing). In all seriousness, an individual with a background in server management and web hosting knowledge is unable to install this billing program without help. As a customer, I have raised my dislike of the installation process and initial setting changes. The instructions can often be confusing and initial settings seem to be scattered. Several times I was left having to go back into administrative settings and make changes such as business name, or invoicing options. These changes were done after ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) was up and running for months, and some customers received invoices with ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) as the company name instead of MyBusiness name. It is embarrassing for web hosting companies to have to deal with this, because such settings should be done at the initial installation and the system should save all options at the initial setup stages.

ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) is setup right but it is not working right. In three years, I had to raise several support tickets and even seek help throughout the web hosting community. The most frustrating part would be that ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) would have so many bugs and glitches. The automated system can stop suspending overdue accounts, or may leave a web hosting account on the server even after that customer has been removed for ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) billing system. Credit card processing in ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) can stop automatically processing charges on customer’s due date. Even though it would be setup to run in the middle of the night, ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) would not process credit card charges and I would have to do so manually.

ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) required cURL to run, which is a command line tool used by programmers. On one of the servers I had ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) setup, it would constantly display cURL errors for one installation of this billing software. Yet the same exact setup of another installation would work completely fine, without a cURL error.

Invoicing and payment system setup in ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) is also confusing. It can be difficult to setup when ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) team inserts language that is not common for web hosting professionals. Sometimes, due to bugs, settings you have chosen in invoices can somehow disappear and customers can be billed or double billed. In one instance, customers were billed as soon as invoices were generated instead of being billed on anniversary dates (due dates). This is so embarrassing when web hosting customers submit helpdesk tickets and blame you for overcharging them.

ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) will let you buy hosting, but not a domain name.
This was one big issue I had with ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing). It would allow customers to purchase web hosting plans, or packages with a web hosting plan and a domain name. However, it would not allow customers to purchase a domain name only. When I raised concern in ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) support forums, I was told that ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) is a web hosting billing system, therefore it is made for web hosting plans only. Excuse me, but a web hosting plan has to have a domain name. It completely beats the purpose of providing a customer with a web hosting plan but not giving them the ability to purchase domain names.

This particular issue caused me to process domain names through another billing system, which often confused customers and sometimes upset clients. Again, the web hosting professional has to take all the blame and explain why ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) is now allowing purchases of something as simple as a domain name.

ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) and eNOM do not get along. ENOM is a domain name provider, and as a web hosting provider you can become a reseller of eNOM for domain names. This is a great tool for web hosting professionals, as they can offer additional services to customers and earn extra money off of domain name sales. However, ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) will try to sabotage your attempt at registering domain names through Enom.

Customers can use the domain name lookup tools in ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) to see if domain names are available or the public WHOIS information (WHOIS is a public tool which you can use to see who registered the domain name in question).

ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) often gave false information, such as saying a domain name was available to be registered when it was already taken. Customers would get their hopes up, or try to process orders and pay. I would then have to deal with upset customers who paid for a domain name that was not available.
The billing system would often hang during eNOM registration process. It was so slow that at one time I completely stopped using it. It was faster for me to go directly to eNOM website and process domain name purchases manually, which completely ruined their “automation” promise.

ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) support can be called terrible and non-existent. Web hosting daily operation is time consuming. A lot needs to be done to take care of customers and provide quality services. Dealing with billing issues because of ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) bugs takes away the time you can spend making clients happy and earning money. Constantly making sure invoices are being paid correctly and that the system is functioning really ruins your daily operation.

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When seeking support from ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) it can take days to resolve emergency problems. Being completely out of billing system for days during this emergency can ruin your sales, because no new orders can be processed and no invoices can be paid. Customers can grow upset because they cannot purchase additional products or they are unable to resolve a billing issue.

ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) support team has given me plenty of headaches. Sometimes, I would receive a reply that was a question. Sometimes, that reply would be to the point of ridiculous, such as asking me what my billing link is. Not only does my billing profile provide the registered and licensed url, but also my helpdesk ticket would require me to fill in this billing link. Also, my ticket information would hold billing link information and even administrative login.

The support is absolutely terrible, and sometimes they will even ask to bill you in order to resolve a ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) bug. Additional billing became quite common at one time, where customers were charged for 15 minutes of technical support or an hour of support. These billing charges were to fix existing and known bugs, instead of providing actual fixes that would completely remove the glitches from their billing system.

Upgrading ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) would often break the entire system, causing havoc or requiring support. At one time, I was told by a support staff that the reason why ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) was so excruciatingly slow on my server is because that server was full. Meaning it had too many web hosting accounts on it. The server in question had only one account on it, for the sole purpose of running ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) web hosting billing system. Staff member was obviously wrong, and information given was incorrect.

Overall, after three years of trying to make this billing system work and dealing with complaints from customers, I gave up on ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing). This web hosting billing system let me down way too many times, and took too much time away from me. In the end, it was not worth keeping a bad billing system that only frustrated me and my customers.

Web hosting companies can grow quickly in size, with thousands of customers to manage and process in billing. ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing)’s billing solutions have several ongoing problems that make it difficult for large web hosting companies to run their daily business.

When choosing a billing system for your web hosting business, my suggestion would be to not try ModernBill (Parallels Plesk Billing) and look for something that can actually function on a daily basis.