On Monday, we left for our annual vacation in Carbondale, IL.
On Monday afternoon, I received a few messages from colleagues and clients that our Wittefini site was down.
“Ugh,” I thought. “The second I get out of town and have access to the worst internet connection apart from being in Cambodia, my site goes down.”
Since I had limited internet access, I emailed my host (DreamHost.com) from my wittefini.com account on my phone. I explained that the site was down and to please help. The response was:
I am sorry, but the nature of the problem with wittefini.com is sensitive
and to discuss it properly would require providing confidential
information. As you have written us from an email address not listed at
an authorized point of contact for the account under which wittefini.com
is hosted, we can provide you with no information regarding this matter.
You will need to contact the owner of the hosting account for assistance,
and if they need help have them contact us directly. If you are the owner
of the account, you will need to either write to us from the email
address established as the primary contact email address for the account,
or otherwise demonstrate to our satisfaction that you are the owner of
To do this, reply to me with the answers to the following questions about
the hosting account:
1) What is your full name and address as shown on the account?
2) What is your mom’s maiden name?
3) What are the first 4 digits, and the last 4 digits, of the credit card
in your name last used to make payment on the account?
Once I receive your reply to these questions, and verify them against the
account records, I can further assist you with this matter.
I would very much like to help you and I appreciate your understanding
that it is necessary we confirm we are communicating with the owner of
the account before divulging any sensitive information with regard to our
customers’ accounts to protect the integrity and security of the account.
Any numb nuts would be able to see that the web site’s status and my inquiry really had nothing to do with each other. My personal information had nothing to do with the site’s status.
This is what happens when customer service acts like a bunch of fucking robots instead of mindfully helping people. It’s like the wait staff at a crappy restaurant. Refilling a glass or replacing an accoutrement takes very little more than basic observational skills. Only the customer service idiot is incapable of doing the one-step legwork of, “Oh man, it is down. If you sign into your account, you can likely restore the site within the host panel.”
Tah-dah … that’s good customer service. That’s GREAT customer service.
Apple did that to me before. I called for the answer to a simple question, and they wanted to verify everything from my underwear size to my mother’s maiden name. “You need all this to tell me how to reset my PRAM?”
The folks at DreamHost turned a site down for two hours into a site down for a week. A week when new customers and old ones were accessing its portfolios to determine whether we were the right fit for their company or project.
After sifting through a mire of responses with how to fix the problem via web sites that are expired or not down, I spotted a link to how to fix a site that has been infected with malware, which they claimed was the problem. Fixing the site ruined by malware required backing up our site and its databases. It required deleting EVERYTHING from our host and then sifting through the code of the sites to see what did and didn’t belong. I was to remove what didn’t belong and re-place everything on the host. Voila! All would be better!
The fix seemed so Sisyphean that I needed to wait till I returned from vacation and get on a faster speed internet connection. My head spun with all the info and all I needed to do to fix my issue.
Out of frustration, I twittered DreamHost today. I received immediate responses. Because public complaints are worth more to their customers than private ones. They’re approached more mindfully.
In the end, their responses were more concerned with my profanity than with helping.
While doing a major backup of the site, I found a button in the DreamHost panel to restore the Wittefini site to a backup. I clicked it and Pow! Within 5 minutes, the site was back up to the exact way it was when it went down. I had updated it Monday morning with a blog post, and that post was in tact.
Something we could have done on Monday afternoon from my phone took a week of headaches, frustration, piss-poor, absent-minded customer service before I finally found the solution on my own.
I’m dubious that DreamHost will apologize. I’m not expecting any kind of reimbursement from the possibility of missed jobs. So what they will fail to do in customer service and in the absence of refund, I’m charging them in the form of this negative review.
Shame on DreamHost for not going the extra mile to help me eliminate the problem, quickly and easily at my first request.
Robots are bad customer service representatives, DreamHost. Grow up. I contact you so very infrequently. One time in 10 years should certainly warrant a marginally better experience.