Friday, December 18, 2009

A Failure To Communicate - Web Host Death



Some web host companies, it would seem, are better than others. The one I selected for Elthos.com seemed a tad bit flaky but I was willing to go with it. They're tech support seemed slow, but responsive. When I had a questions, the turn around time was a day or two. Sometimes faster, but not that often. Ok, seemed like a small time operation, and I've got nothing against supporting small businesses trying to make it.

But then, one day, I go to www.elthos.com and the site is down. Just gone with a page that pointed to the hosting company. Okaaay... I let that go for a day, and then another. Fortunately, of course, I'm still in development and no one is actually on the site or using it. I was planning to open it up for a closed beta test this week, but I'm still working out some final polishing and data cleansing. But it's no fun to go to your site and see the web host company address for three days. So I send an email. No response until the next day, and then they ask which site, I tell them and the conversation goes dead there. Hmmmmmm... okaaay.

So I go to the web host site and try to log-on to the control panel and it keeps bringing up the user name and password dialog screen. Okaaay. So no access. I call. I get tech support. Fine, I tell him what's going on and he says "oh well yeah, your credit card failed four times in a row so your site's been disabled."

Um... did these guys never hear of a concept called "Email the Customer if there is billing problem"? So he then says he can take my credit card information. But I had already given it to then, and so I wanted to validate what they had on record. He says, "I can't review that with you, but I can update your credit card information."

Um... so he can TAKE my credit card info, but he can't *review* it? Um... why exactly would that be? That's odd. Ok, so I say,

"Can you put me through to billing please?"

"Sure."

Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep.

Then the line goes dead. They hung up on me. Um... weird. Maybe a glitch. Ok. I call back. The guy in tech support (who is very hard to hear because he sounds like he's standing 20 feet from the phone), listens to what happened, and then says

"Oh well I don't know if they're back there", and repeats his prior statements about taking the credit card info.

At this point I'm like, this is NOT a tightly run ship. I'm thinking when I go live with the site, I don't want stuff like this to happen, and this guy is not giving my the warm and fuzzies about his company at all. So I say,

"Hmmm... I'm not sure that's such a great idea."

To which he says,

"Ok well thanks for calling", and hangs up.

Huh? Wow. So these guys are like not very interested in keeping their customers at all, are they. It's like he just didn't care.

So I send an email over to the sales department which says this:

Hi,
I have had an account with EDT hosting for about a year. I went to my site and found that it was disabled. I never got any emails from EDT indicating why this happened. When I called I was told that the credit card information I had given could be updated, but not reviewed by the support staff. I asked to be connected to billing so that I could validate the credit card information in your records. The phone beeped about 10 times and then hung up. I called back and the person in support (455-7108) said, "oh well I'm not sure anyone is back there." and repeated his earlier statement that he can update, but not review the credit card information.

I find the service level with EDT to be somewhat lacking.

1) why was I not notified by email that my account was due to be disabled after the first, second, third or fourth credit card issue?

2) why would the support personnel not be able to review the information pertinent to my account, and then send me to billing, only to have the phone hang up because he's "not sure if anyone is back there"?

This is a rather unprofessional operation, I gather. I understand if you guys are a small shop, and I have no problem with that, and don't mind supporting small businesses. That's not the issue. But not getting a warning email when one could easily have been sent is a bit below par, don't you think? Fortunately, I'm not actually running my site yet, as it is development, but had I been I would have found the inconvenience unacceptable.

I thought you should know. Thank you.

A few hours later, I go back to the site to see if maybe by some outside chance they made a change. Why not? And now, no longer entirely weirdly given the trend so far, I find that I no longer get a web page that points to the hosting site, as I did before. Instead I get dialog box that asks for a user name and password, NT Authentication. Woah? Wuh now? Gosh, I suppose he just eliminated the site maybe?

Anyway, it is all too strange and really highly unprofessional, so I decided to go with a different hosting company at a comparable price. This time I looked up the company in google and found that by and large people are saying good things about it. Great. I'll try it.

And these are the kinds of little things that happen as I try to get my Elthos RPG Web Application online. Fun.
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