This scenario is so common it's scary. In fact, the last two clients we took on went through this.
You have a website through your digital marketing agency, for which you paid a small, but not insignificant sum.
Either an overly aggressive salesperson told you that the site was yours or you were cleverly led to believe the site was yours, but a clause buried in your contract said otherwise.
You hire us – because we're awesome 😉 – and we go about the process of transferring the website to a new server that you control.
We ask your previous agency for one of two things:
- FTP access to the server (so we can transfer everything), or
- An export of all the website files and the database (so we can transfer everything)
Your previous agency sends us an MS Word doc filled with content for each page of the site…and that is all.
We ask again for one of the two things mentioned above as those are required in order to transfer the website.
Your previous agency informs us all that you don't actually own the entire site.
You own the content, you may own the copyright to the design, but there are some components of the site that they can't provide because it's "custom-built intellectual property."
In spite of the fact that this is arguably against the terms of the WordPress license – a license that requires any derivative works (including plugins & themes) to inherit the GPL and hence be made available to you – your previous agency sticks to their guns.
You feel a bit lied to and have to pay to have the site rebuilt from scratch.
Some of the largest local SEO companies in the country are doing this. Watch out for it.