Blog Pile

CogDog’s Law of Service Providers: They All Suck or will Eventually Suck

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cc licensed flickr photo by Edd Dumbill

I’ve done (more than) my share of posting complaints about companies. AT&T. Alltel. Dreamhost.

Invariably, someone will chime in that either (a) they have not had an problems with Xxxxxxxx or that (b) Yyyyyyyyy is better.

There is a problem of extending one’s individual experiences to everyone.

My new theory is that even if your mobile/ISP/web host provider is not causing you problems, and you feel compelled to extoll their virtues, eventually, if you are around long enough, they will short you/cut you off/drop service/ break. Then you will be running to twitter or your blog to declare that “Zzzzz Sucks!”.

That’s why I am a bit loathe to just hop from one to the other, and deal with all the transition tasks therein, when I am in the midst of some recurring “suckage”. Of course there is a breaking point, but I just expect with all the customers companies deal with, and their own tightening corners (meaning laying off tech and support staff), the suckage will eventually catch up to me.

So all we can do, as singular victims, is to publicize suckage so at least there is a trail out there for others to find, and suss out for themselves.

This has been the longest pre-amble to declare that my webhost, DreamHost… sucks. Which means that more than a few people will chime in, “Hey, I have no problems with PinkHost!” or “HostoRama is Awesome!”

Dreamhost purports to offer status on the services, even with shiny RSS feeds. In the 2 or three years they have been sucking, in the outages and server crashes that have affected my site- not one was reported there. I stopped subscribing to that feed long ago. I monitor my status using ServerMojo, which checks my site several times and hour and sends notifications when it is down, and documents downtime for me.

The typical status process is:

* Someone emails “hey, dude, your site is down” or I try to post something to my blog and never get there
* I verify other services (other hosted domains, ftp, telnet) and confirm, “yep, my sites are down again”
* I submit a ticket
* I get an automated response thanking me
* a day later I get something like “I apologize for the downtime you’ve experienced. The webserver you are on (sobe) crashed, and was just rebooted. We are currently still investigating the cause of the crash at the moment, but your sites are back up and running.”

I contacted them as usual after a prolonged series of outages in November 2008. The usual happens:

It looks like the server on which your site is hosted (sobe) was experiencing a few issues that required a restart. I checked the sites your referenced and everything seems to be back up and running.

I have been experiencing increasingly slower response time in accessing my web site over the last few weeks, and the servermojo tool I use to monitor it messages me almost daily that my site is unreachable.

It does look like sobe has undergone quite a bit of troubleshooting due to network filer-related issues.

You may want to consider volunteering to upgrade to our newer servers (that won’t have the same problems as the server you’re currently on as the file servers aren’t networked at all). Eventually, all users will be on these servers, but as that is a massive undertaking that could cause a few errors for some users based on how their site is configured, we are starting with volunteers first.

You can find out more about this by going to Billing / Manage Account in your panel, or by clicking here: https://panel.dreamhost.com/index.cgi?tree=billing.accounts&

Then, click the “UPGRADE TO UNLIMITED DISK AND BANDWIDTH FREE” link.

I was optimistic about the upgrade. Then I got a response message with this timeline:

“it could be done next week or next year”.

Hmm, does this suck?

But moving means taking days to package my stuff, set up new accounts, disrupt domains, emails, and eventually have NewHost eventually suck.

In late January, 2009, the cycle repeated, again, this server crash happened yet was never listed in the DreamHost status page. They issues almost the same response to my report:

I apologize for the downtime you’ve experienced. The webserver you are on (sobe) crashed, and was just rebooted. We are currently still investigating the cause of the crash at the moment, but your sites are back up and running.

So I fire back, to prod them a bit, since losing a customer should get attention.

My sites are down again. Dreamhost’s service level has slipped from tolerable to “I am shopping for a new host” your status indicators never provide status but I have data from a service that monitors my site that documents uptime of way under what you advertise.

Please fix the server

to which they respond, offering me the same unfulfilled promise from 3 months earlier:

Hi Alan, I’m very sorry that it’s taken this long for anyone to get back to you.

We’ve been working on some issues on your webserver “sobe”, however we haven’t been able to get them completely tampered down just yet.

We are still trying to get this resolved, however it seems this may be a lengthy process. I would like to offer to move you to a new server, however there are some caveats involved as the move would have to be to our new cluster (per our newsletter).

If you’d like to volunteer to be moved to this new hardware (which I recommend), you can do so by following this link and then clicking the “Upgrade to Unlimited” link:

to which I reminded them, with links to my tickets submitted back in November, that I had done this, and had not gotten my server moved. Now we escalate a little up the chain, now getting a response from a Brandon there, from a different email address:

I requested to be moved from Sobe almost two months ago and was told “it could be done next week or next year”. I want either my host moved ASAP or an option to exit my contract and get a refund.

Hi Alan, things have changed since then, and I’m actually handling expedition for now.

If you do find that you aren’t moved over as soon as you need please let me know and I’ll be happy to see what we can do about canceling and refunding your account.

I’ve forwarded your request to the expeditionary team and you should be moved over within the next few days.

You’ll receive a confirmation e-mail from the team when they’ve completed your move so you can check over your sites for any issues.

Oh yay, I am now being helped by the expeditionary team.

Except.

Nothing happened.

Nothing expedited.

A three year paying customer is still on a server that has crashed numerous times in the last 5 months.

Does this suck?

The cycle repeated itself February 19. All my domains returned 403s. I had to tell Dreamhost that their server has crashed. Not that they would tell me.

So now I am going to remind them as much as possible:

It’s been more than a month since this message and I have not heard anything from DreamHost, and it has been since November 2008 that I requested, as instructed, for my web site to be moved from sobe.

I will do my best to remind you every day by email that you are not following up on this.

Now I expect comments questioning my sanity for staying with DreamHost.

But here is my deal. I go to all the trouble to pick up and move, and SnazzyAtFirstHost will be great, but eventually will… suck. Why should I go to the trouble to move from one suck to another?

My new mode of operating is that I expect all services, companies to suck. That way, if they don’t they have met my expectations. If for some reason, they don;t suck, then they will exceed my expectations.

Can you believe how many times I used the word “suck”? Oh boy, will the spam start coming in from the p*** sector.

Update March 9, 8:30 AM Raised hopes or not? I’ve heard that line before about that “expeditionary team”….

Hi Alan, sorry if we missed you somehow!

I’ve forwarded your request to the expeditionary team and you should be moved over today or tomorrow.

You’ll receive a confirmation e-mail from the team when they’ve completed your move so you can check over your sites for any issues.

If you haven’t been moved by tomorrow please feel free to write me so I can check in with the team and see what’s up!

update March 11 5:30pm I gave DreamToast an extra day to cone through. Another email today reminding them I have not heard anything from the “expeditionary” team. Was told that the move script was being updated and I was in queue for “maybe” tomorrow or Friday.

update March 16 4:30pm So the DreamHost expeditionary team is like what? busy huffing? Brandon, dude, it has been a week since your now empty promise. I am off to the form to pester you again by email. I am setting up a Google Calender item to remind me daily to do this.

update March 16 6:30pm Apparently Brandom has jilted me, and Mike is stepping in. Will he break my heart? He says I am his “personal queue” but does he say that to all the customers? Will I be left at the altar, waiting for my server move? Stay tuned to the next scintillating episode of “As the DreamHost Sucks”…

It seems that the tech before or whoever was suppose to start the move did not. I went ahead and put in the request to move, so hopefully it will complete by tomorrow morning. In the meantime i will leave your ticket open in my personal queue and get back to your in the morning to give you an update.

Thanks!
Mike G

update March 16 7:06pm Mike is da Man! I am wearing white to the wedding. My domain is on a new server, my web site loads at least 3 times as fast and my email zips in.

Now… why the f**** did it take since November 2008 when I originally requested to make this happen? Those are the philosophical questions that remain a mystery.

update March 17 5:02pm Oh they are huffing at DreamHost, cause I just got a notice that they moved my site again, to “wonderwoman” (great name for a server, IMHO)> So I wait, pester, whine, and watch my site divebomb for 4 fricking months and no action, and now they movee my twice in 24 hours.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Note- The Chief Dog has edited this blog spam -removed the stupid un-related URL to show the world how moronic blog spammers are.

    Original Comment: Reading about weight loss tips is always fun. Thanks for the entertainment. Do you mind if I ask for your email address?

    Blog Owner’s Response: Reading your lame attempt at link intrusion is never fun. Stupid fracking toe cheese eating spammer. Thanks for wasting my time. Do you mind if I ask for your bank account number?

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