You have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a website host.
In recent years, Endurance International Group has increased the chances you choose them by gobbling up hosting companies including JustHost, HostMonster, BlueHost, and HostGator. But they’ve decreased the chances you stay with them by delivering the worst possible customer service.
If you want to position your company for short-term growth and long-term woes, follow their lead.
Unfortunately, I rely on HostMonster (soon to be past tense). Laughably, I see a fair amount of customers say nice things about these companies, especially BlueHost. I have to gather either:
(a) They used to provide good service. Or
(b) The customers aren’t paying attention to the despicable service they get.
Let me tell you about the service I get—or more accurately, don’t.
HostMonster knows how to strike out.
HostMonster and all these Endurance-owned hosting companies who share data centers had this massive blackout. My site goes down. Their site goes down. Millions of sites go down.
No apology. No proactive action. The company just sort of hides in the corner, essentially conceding, “shit happens.”
I look the other way. But then another service interruption occurs, not immediately after, but close enough in time where I’m still feeling the sting from the previous d-day.
I get on the phone, endure the ridiculously long wait queue and when my number is finally called, I state my case to some powerless phone support geek. I tell him I pay for uptime and want to be refunded when I don’t get what I pay for.
He says, “So sorry.” He tells me he fields this request all the time. He gives me an email address to bark at. I write a polite, but pointed email asking to be treated fairly.
Whoever’s job it is to respond to these emails apparently has the year off. No response. Not even a “So sorry.” Silence.
Mega service outage number-who-knows-how-many. Now, understand, website hosting is a bit like a car battery. You don’t generally talk about how well it’s doing its job, right? You simply notice when it’s not.
Of course, you get irritated. No battery, no car, no go.
But you can’t even hitchhike or take the bus when your website is down. You wait.
HostMonster somehow always manages to go down on days when I put something new up—new content. Without fail, I find out about the blackouts from one of the 5,000 people on my email list, who respond to a notice I’ve sent with something like, “I clicked the link in your email, but your site won’t load.”
This time I’m not up for wasting my time with their customer abuse team.
And then it comes to contract renewal time. I ignore the warning emails because I don’t care to jump when HostMonster says jump. Eventually, my phone rings.
HostMonster wants my money. I explain to the nice chap how ironic this is because I want their money, that is, I want some of the money I gave them back.
When he asks why, I go to town. Surprisingly, this guy seems to care. He responds by asking me to renew.
This reminds me of a little episode at a Mexican restaurant (we’ll call the place MexMonster). The food server comes and asks me how my meal is. I say the beans are icky. They’re 90% water and 10% beans. She gets right on that and brings me a much larger serving of the incredibly bad bean “soup.”
Why would a response to “I don’t like your product” be “here’s some more of it?”
I tell the concerned voice of HostMonster I am not going to renew because (1) the service has sucked and (2) the company has chosen to ignore my requests for compensation.
Magically, this customer service representative DOES have the power to credit my account. He promises he will rebate a prorated portion of my last year’s bill, give me an extra month of service on my next contract, and allow me to abort service at any time I choose with a prorated refund.
Interesting. Now the deliberation becomes more about time than money. Do I really want to sign-on for more aggravation just because the company is suddenly being fair about the fees? Do I settle for bean soup when I ordered beans?
I have a little meeting with myself and one of the voices on the myself committee reminds me what a pain in the buttocks it will be to switch hosts. The technical crap I choose to know nothing about. The planned downtime for the migration. The who-knows-what-nightmare-will-come-my-way factor. And the inevitable, waiting my turn in the phone queue to talk to someone who can’t help.
I decide to live with watery beans.
Two strikes. Three balls. (HostMonster has a lot of balls, but we have an analogy to protect here.) Payoff pitch.
Guess what? My site goes down.
Phone queue. Lengthy validation questions. More dumb questions. Hold please. HostMonster needs to run some tests…
“Yeah, looks your server is down. So sorry.”
Vapors begin escaping from my ears. My bad for allowing this to happen. When your 60-month car battery dies after 30-months, you should change brands. When a restaurant brings you larger portions of dishes you dislike, it’s time to find another restaurant.
I ask the guy for a refund. He gives me the same email address I can write to to ensure I am ignored. I write. I may not have been quite as nice as the time before.
But a new development ensues.
HostMonster writes back. Here comes the best part, or parts, of this story: their email.
Thank you for taking the time to tell us why our service failed to meet your expectations.
We value your business, and would like to address your concerns as quickly as possible.
I understand your frustration regarding the server performance of yesterday July 1,2014, and I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience we have caused you.
Note the sincerity.
After reviewing your server logs and activity I can only determine the only downtime that occurred was between 1pm – 7pm.
“The only downtime is 6 hours” Only 6? Business. Hours. A down day.
The server needed some maintenance and this has been done to guarantee the performance of your services.
It needed maintenance? That’s a lie. Maintenance is planned in advance and not for 1 p.m. on a Tuesday. The server needed replacement. Apparently that takes “only” 6 hours.
I believe you are on a shared hosting plan which means you are sharing similar ip as other customer and this might be the reason you have been experiencing downtime.
The reason I might be experiencing downtime is what? Sharing similar ip? I think they mean other companies I share my digital space with got the same crappy service. I’m hearing something like, “You probably should have bought our service plan that works well.”
We did try to resolve the issue as soon as possible. I am not able to offer any compensation at this time but I would like to recommend you to look into different plan that might best suit your needs: https://my.bluehost.com/hosting/help/price
We choose not to try to keep you satisfied Mr. Feldman, but if you’re as stupid as we take you for, may I suggest giving us more money?
This is precious…
There’s more to the email.
How did we do? Please help us improve the support that we offer you
by filling out this online survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5PPBQR6
Are you laughing? Crying? They want to improve their support? May I suggest you start by caring about your customers? Maybe, actually deliver support?
It keeps getting funnier…
Introduce a friend to HostMonster and earn $65! Please visit: https://www.hostmonster.com/affiliates
Hey Barry, since you are an unsatisfied customer and spend the time it takes to write us those lovely hate mails demanding refunds, would you be so kind as to refer your friends?
Hold for the zinger…
Most questions can be answered by articles in our forum, knowledgebase, and video tutorials:
Most of the answers to my questions are “no.” No forum necessary.
HostMonster, you’ve struck out.
My story doesn’t end with bad phone and email support from a stubborn, non-caring company who thrives on disappointing their customers and wasting their time.
In the social media age, customer service experts always write about the value of offering support via social media networks, especially Twitter. Some companies do it well. I recently had a question for 37Signals and they responded promptly.
Some companies don’t do it. Their choice.
Some companies, like HostMonster, claim they do it, but don’t.
I found HostMonster has two Twitter accounts. I’m thinking…
- I have close to 10,000 Twitter followers.
- I write bold, opinionated blog posts all over the net that quite a few people read and share.
- I’m actually IN ONLINE MARKETING.
- I were a happy customer, I could help them grow their clientele.
- I’m about to make my beef with these butchers as public as possible. And I do, multiple times.
They have to respond, right? Afraid not. No “tough luck buddy.” No “sorry.” No “thanks for your tweet.” No nothing.
I think, well maybe at @HelpMonsterHelp, there’s a help wanted sign. I try their main account @hostmonster. I don’t need to tell you what happened.
But the next day…
I see “From: HostMonster” in my inbox. I’m starting to think a little victory is finally coming my way.
Did the CEO of Endurance International Group step in to help talk a pissed-off customer down? Does HostMonster regret treating me like the worthless customer I apparently am? Would HostMonster beg for me to tweet something nice about them?
Wishful thinking. The email was to alert me of new products. I have a unique opportunity to give these clowns more money.
I chose to write something not-so- nice on Twitter.
Then I chose to write this. I suspect someone will show my article to the people at HostMonster. And I know exactly what they’ll do about it.