Posts tagged ‘thinkhost’
My name is Max, and I work as a freelance web designer and developer (among other hats). When I started out as a web designer, my first client was a sculptor who wanted me to build him a gallery website for his sculptures (they were incredible). I had learned web design in my free time at school, and as such had always used the school’s servers to host personal or example web pages, so when it came time for me to build the sculpture site, I looked around on the internet to find a place where I could get some inexpensive hosting.
Naturally, since I was going to be paying for it out of pocket I wanted it to be inexpensive hosting, and furthermore, I wanted to be able to host multiple websites and domains on one account in order to be able to expand and do more websites for people. So, after doing some internet research, and looking at some of those “top-10” or “best hosting comparison” sites you see all over the place, I settled on Startlogic as the host I would use. Unlucky for me that I didn’t know any better…
Startlogic gave me the run-around like none other. Check out the Startlogic page for a summary of my experience with Startlogic. Fortunately I managed to get away from them with my money back and my sanity mostly intact. They are definitely NOT the best inexpensive host!
Next up on my mis-adventure was OneandOne. I also found them just cruising the net, and their price looked great, and I liked the fact that they were described as being the “biggest” and “number one” hosting company on the web. I figured that if they really were that huge then all those people must be satisfied to stay with them and keep signing up, right… Wrong. I can also emphatically say that OneandOne is NOT the best inexpensive host. Read about my experience with OneandOne here.
Now, I use Web Hosting Buzz and consider myself lucky to have found such a great host. I didn’t fully realize how lucky I had been in finding Web Hosting Buzz until I had done some more work as a web designer for clients who already had webpages, and I was forced to interact with their hosting. I came to realize that it wasn’t just Startlogic and OneandOne that were bad hosting companies – there were many others.
Sure, StartLogic and OneandOne had good features and good prices, but what they didn’t have were the customer service to back it up. In my experience working with many different hosts I have found that things always go wrong with servers. Its just in their nature. And having someone on the other end of the line to fix the problems when they arise makes all the difference.
So, for my first client as a professional web designer, I decided to purchase a shared hosting account with a web hosting company so that I could host a number of websites (both mine and future clients). I went searching around the internet, and found a site that had a “top-ten web hosts” list. Startlogic was rated #2, and their comments read something like “best customer service in the field, with a great feature set.” Me being the inexperienced customer that I am said “wow, best customer service, that sounds great, just what I need,” and I entered my credit card info to make the purchase.
Bad sign #1: I waited for the welcome e-mail with my login info, and it took three days to show up. Shouldn’t they have it all automated and shouldn’t the e-mail get their immediately after I click submit?
Bad sign #2: The Startlogic Vdeck control panel is absolutely terrible to work with. They seriously need to hire someone with some user-interface design experience.
Bad sign #3: I was able to log into my hosting account, but the domain I had registered (for my client) wasn’t associated with the account and I couldn’t find the info for how to manage the domain anywhere in the Vdeck. Of course I had been charged for it…
Ok, so the beginning was a little rough. I send an e-mail to StartLogic about the fact that they charged me for a domain and yet it didn’t show up in my account.
Bad sign #4: It takes 6 days for an e-mail to get back to me from a customer service rep. And all the e-mail said was, “will you send the account details so that I can look into it?”
Hmm… It seems to me that from my e-mail and the fact that I sent them my username that they would be able to figure out which account is mine, and look into it without needing to hear back from me. If this is really the “best customer service in the field,” I can’t imagine what it would be like to see a company that was rated one of the worst!
So, I send back an e-mail with my account name and the other info the customer service rep asked for, and start waiting. At this point I’m still not too stressed, since I’m just working away on the website for the client, and I’m not going to need the hosting for a bit anyway, and I assume that the domain will show up in the Vdeck before too long.
Four days later, I get an e-mail back from a new customer service rep saying that he had looked over my account’s communication file, and that he would be looking into my issue. He said before he could do that though, that he would need me to send him my account information and the name of the domain that I had registered…
Uhh… So, this would be the second time that I had sent in my account information, and I had stated the domain I was having problems with in my original e-mail. Can anybody spell incompetent?
Now, I’m really starting to get annoyed with StartLogic and the horrible Startlogic Vdeck. I decide, however, to give them one more chance and send back an e-mail with the requested information and a note saying that if he had really looked over my communication file, he would have seen that I had already sent all the information he requested.
Five more days go by, and I finally get an e-mail back from Startlogic. Big surprise, its a new customer service rep – this time a woman. She says, “Hi, I’ve looked over your communications file, and I would be happy to help you with your issue. If you can just send me back the following information, then I’ll get right on figuring out what the problem is.” And then she asked for the domain name I was having trouble with!
I was beginning to wonder if this was all some sort of scam.
I sent an e-mail back. Here’s the text:
Yes, you can help me, but no I won’t send you the information you requested, because I don’t care about getting the hosting working anymore. I would like you to help me get my money back (as promised in you 30-day warranty), and to transfer the domain I registered with you guys over to Name.com. The customer service I have received has been terrible, and the hosting and domain that I purchased never worked for me, so I would like to cut my losses and switch over to a different host. Please send me back an e-mail with information on how to transfer over the domain to Name.com.
PS. Since I have some experience with the StartLogic customer service team now, I fully expect you guys to screw this up. Therefore I will send an e-mail and call the support desk every single day until my domain is transferred.”
Of course, after sending this e-mail, nothing happened for 5 days (and 5 e-mails and 5 calls), but eventually I did get my domain transferred to Name.com and got my money back. Why did I chose Name.com? I actually asked a friend of mine and he gave me the recommendation for them, and since then I’ve been more than happy with the service at Name.com.
Similarly, I ended up eventually (with a misadventure with One&One first) using Web Hosting Buzz, which has been a great web hosting company for me. Web Hosting Buzz has allowed me to cut through all the headaches and hassle, and provide exactly what I needed to keep me sane, and my client’s websites up and running. And unlike the horrible Startlogic Vdeck, the control panel interface for Web Hosting Buzz is excellent.
Finally, I would also strongly recommend keeping your domain registrar and hosting company separate. I know its very tempting to sign up for one of those packages that has a free domain included with the web hosting, but if anything ever goes wrong (as it did for me with both Startlogic and OneandOne) then its much easier if you have your domain with a different company – you can just make a backup of everything on the web server, cut your losses, and run.
So, back when I was still relatively new at web design, I was cruising around the net looking for web hosting after my bad experience with Startlogic, and I found One&One at one of those “Top Ten Hosting” pages that supposedly reviews the different hosting companies and declares which ones are the top ten to deal with (last time I ever trust one of those sites, by the way). I see One&One on there and along with checking out a couple of other ones decide that One&One looks pretty good and the price is right for both their hosting and their domain registration. So I decide to bite and buy a domain and the basic hosting to go along with it. This is where the headache starts, and is certainly the last time I buy hosting without doing my research. Now I use Web Hosting Buzz, and highly recommend them.
I start getting set up, and the control panel One&One has is just about the worst thing to work with. Ever. Impossible to do anything I want, and there’s no support documents anywhere that tell me what I need to know in order to be able to figure it out. I mean, seriously, it wouldn’t cost One&One all that much time/money to pay somebody to write up some REAL support documents that actually tell people how to use the hosting services. And I already know a thing or two about building a website – I can’t imagine how terrible this would be if I were a total newbie…
So, as I’m wrangling with the hosting and trying to figure it out, I make my second major mistake – I decide to buy a second domain from One&One. Stupid.
I go through with the process, my credit card is charged, and I wait three days, and the domain doesn’t show up in my account with One&One online… So, starting to feel kind of frustrated, I decide I’ll call up customer service and see whats up.
A lady answers the phone, and I literally can’t understand a word she says. Part of the problem is the accent, which I don’t recognize and can’t understand. Also, the volume coming from her end is extremely low, so I have to strain to hear it. 10 minutes of wrangling with her we’re still at square one and she hasn’t been able to understand my problem.
I start demanding to talk to her manager, but she keeps refusing me – says he’s busy and unavailable to talk to customers at that time… Now I’m starting to get kind of pissed. I tell her to take down my phone number and have her manager call me when he is available.
Five business days later I still haven’t heard back from One&One I call the customer service again. Same run around – this time the dude on the other end of the line understands my problem, but can’t help me with it – he doesn’t understand what is wrong on their end. Six more phone calls to One&One (all initiated by me) and I’ve still gotten nowhere. There is no customer follow up, and I never talk to the same person twice. Half the people either can’t understand me or I can’t understand them.
So, after about a month of wrangling, I finally give up and want to cancel my hosting, get my money back for the domain I never received, and transfer my other domain away from One&One over to a different host. Hah! Good luck…
I’m going to spare the rest of the details, but suffice it to say that six months later I finally got reimbursed for the domain that I never got, and two more months after that I was able to transfer my domain away from OneandOne. I never got back my money from the hosting and ended up paying for the whole 12 months. Anyway, at least I was able to prevent them from charging my account for more time by proactively calling them up and swearing at them over and over again…
In summary, my customer experience with One&One was one of the worst customer experiences I’ve ever had… The small amount of money I saved by going with One&One was definitely not worth the headache and pain of the experience.