The past couple of weeks have seen a startling rise in the number of WordPress.com users posting in the Community Forums wondering how they can purchase a single upgrade to enhance their free WordPress.com website, most particularly the Domain Name and Domain Mapping upgrades. As most of the current forum volunteers have been around for some time, we were confused why these same users weren’t able to access these individual upgrades from their website’s Dashboard>Store>Store as we could.
Today, the picture became much clearer when a new WPcom user posted in the forums that when she clicked on the link to the Store in her site’s Dashboard, she ended up on a special page in the New Dash that only offered her either the Premium Bundle or the Business Bundle. Individual upgrades were not available to her.
After digging a little deeper into the New Dash, it does appear that WordPress.com recognizes that the custom Domain Name and Domain Mapping upgrades are make or break features for many users and these upgrades are still available through the “Domains” link in the Upgrades sidebar. (see Update 2 below)
But, and it’s a big one, any other individual upgrade (No Ads, Extra Storage, Custom Design, VideoPress, Site Redirect, etc.), other than the ones mentioned above are no longer available to new WordPress.com users. This means that new users who run out of storage space after a while and want to buy only the 10GB space upgrade are being forced to purchase $80 worth of unwanted upgrades to do so. New users who want to try their hand at CSS now have to buy $69 worth of additional upgrades just to do so.
It would not be an exaggeration to say I am astonished and disappointed at this move by WordPress.com to the point where I feel I can no longer recommend using the site as readily as I once did. Many of these additional upgrades within the two offered bundles are not going to be used by most users and the cost of setting up a self-hosted site, and possibly other managed WP hosting, may fall within this price range. When time and research allow, I’ll post back with some relevant links.
Your thoughts in the comments are welcome.
Update 2: On the Domains page, I was able to click through to map a domain I own without problem. The new user, however, was not. They were re-routed back to the bundle. Thankfully, Staff later reversed their decision and these two upgrades are available to new users as well, for now. (See comments below.) As I am fond of saying, WPcom is a continual work-in-progress and may go pear-shaped without warning.