On downloadable party kits and the downside of internet selling

On my Organizing A Murder website I have various types of murder mystery party kits. A particular favourite are the downloadable party kits. They have the big advantage of immediacy for a last minute event, and you can print out the instructions, clues and the like as and how you want. You might not have a glossy box or a DVD of third rate actors giving hints, but there's a lot to be said for the medium. What's more you can be much more flexible. Boxed sets pretty well always force you to have an 8 person party - the downloadable kits allow for anything between 6 and 33 players, depending on the game. (Not to mention the Organizing a Murder book of 12 events that can have any number of players.)

But all good things have their downside. Cream cakes bring podginess. Alcohol makes you unhealthy. And selling via the internet puts your business in the hands of an internet hosting company. The people who make most of the downloadable games I sell had their server go down last week. For days there was nothing there. To make matters worse, their email was hosted on the same server, so it wasn't possible to contact them. I didn't have a phone number, so had to resort to writing by snail mail. In all they were unable to do business for about a week.

Not a total disaster, but highly irritating, particularly when you are feeling smug about having a business that isn't put at risk by the snow. If you do have an internet-based business, it's worth making sure that your hosting company is easily contactable for when things go wrong. A colleague of mine always uses US hosting companies on the theory that most of his potential customers are in the US, and the site will be faster there. I think it's more important to have your hosting company relatively close by (and in the same time zone) so you can do something when the inevitable happens.