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Basecamp Doesn’t need My Business

I have been using BaseCamp for a handful of smaller projects during the past year. At $49/month for secure access, it has been very convenient but borderline productive. I like to stay informed about emerging technology, and while I use ActiveCollab for hosted projects, BaseCamp has been super easy for smaller clients and low-activity, longer term relationships (where information might be archived for a long time, accesses infrequent but by different people, etc).

Last week while traveling I misplaced my primary business credit card. Rather than worry about it, I stopped into the nearest bank branch and reported it lost, requesting a replacement. No worries… 6-10 days in the mail. A few days later my Basecamp subscription tried to renew itself. Oops. Invalid credit card. I received this notice:

Hi John- We just tried to process your monthly Basecamp Plus subscription for $49, but your credit card (xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-XXXX) transaction was declined.

The reason given for the declined transaction was: “The payment could not be captured: This transaction has been declined”

First, you and your clients will still have access to Basecamp for the next 6 days so you’ll have time to update your card information.

You can update your credit card info or enter a brand new card at: https://XXXXXXX

We’ll try to charge your card again in 3 days. If it fails to go through again, we’ll try once more 3 days later. If it fails that time, your account will be frozen until you log in and enter a valid card.

If you wish to cancel your Basecamp account, log in to: https://XXXXXXXX Then scroll down to the “Need to cancel your account?” section. Next click the “Please cancel my account” link. Once you cancel you won’t be charged again.

If you have any questions, please email us at

So I replied to the email address they provided, explaining that 3 days was not long enough to replace the card:

Hi guys.

My cc was stolen and I processed a request for a new one tuesday (7-10 days to get it). You have a 6 day policy… that won’t work for me. Is it a firm policy? I could use another card if necessary but that messes up the business books so I figured I’d ask. Otherwise I’ve been happy with the service.


Now I could go use another card, but in this case it would be a personal card or a card assigned to a different business. I’ve been a customer for almost a year, why shouldn’t I get a few days to replace the card? Anyway, I never got a response and on the 3rd day I got another warning and on the 6th day god froze my account:

Hi John-

We’ve sent you two emails, and given you 6 days to update your credit card information, but unfortunately your card is still being declined.

Your account has been frozen until you can provide a valid credit card number.

Next time you login, you will be prompted to enter the new card. Every one else will be denied access to the system until this has been done.

So, I entered a personal credit card, reactivated my account, and will now transition away from Basecamp completely.

What was the final straw? No response to my email. Freezing my account including access by others. Imposing a 3 day waiting period for a credit card update. All careless, “I don’t need your business” decisions from the “BaseCamp Team”.

Time to move on. ActiveCollab has been great and very easy. Time to leave Basecamp to the corporate people.

Resources: Basecamp, ProjectPier, DotProject (a One-Click-Install on Dreamhost), ActiveCollab


  1. I have a request. Since you’ve been using both Basecamp and ActiveCollab now, could you write a post where you compare them?

    Friday, November 23, 2007 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  2. Tarry G wrote:


    Interesting I read what you had to write with a totally different spin (till i got to the end). I thought their email to you was courteous, very clear and reasonable. In fact as i was reading your post i thought it was going to be a “good ending” story…
    I’m surprised that your credit card company would not give you a temporary number while you were waiting for you card to arrive. Anyway sorry to hear it ended up that way.

    btw – I’m not connected with or have an account with “basecamp” – in fact this is the first of heard of them.

    Love your blog John – keep up the good work!

    Tarry G

    Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 12:09 am | Permalink
  3. john andrews wrote:

    Hi Tarry.

    I think the Web2 people live in a different world, not based in reality. What do they have to lose allowing a known customer to extend a week or two with a credit card problem? Nobody resolves a CC issue in 3 days. Many don’t even respond to emails in 3 days. At worst, expend a brain cell and allow the account to continue with a visible interstitial warning or something. But to close it is rude IMHO, especially when I might have clients logging in an using it even when I am not.

    For the record t-mobile, verizon, and just about every other company I charge on my card has handled this well in the past (I have lost it before). Hence my understanding that Basecamp simply doesn’t need/want my business. That’s fine, too.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 12:23 am | Permalink
  4. JC wrote:

    We had a similar experience when we were basecamp users. Similarly, if your primary account holder is on vacation, it is possible that you won’t see these emails until it is too late. That is why at OnStage Portal ( we have a generous grace period and are more than willing to accommodate our customers when they need it. I know you said you use ActiveCollab, but if you’re still evaluating which system to transition your basecamp account to, please check us out.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 7:40 am | Permalink
  5. JIm wrote:

    Take a look at ProjectPier open source. It is the fork of Activcollab (who are now charging too much) and being worked on by other open source developers.

    $49 is too much per month.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 8:58 am | Permalink