We’ve all seen the commercials for this web hosting company (that shall rename nameless in this article). They lure you in with great deals for the first year of hosting, and tell you other things you “need” for your web hosting. They make everything sound so great, too…

“Professional email address? Yes, we can do that for just $9.99/month. How many email addresses do you need set up? Five? Great. That’s just $49.95/month. No, that’s not included in your hosting plan, you need to pay extra for your email addresses.”

Uh, you shouldn’t have to. All of the email addresses I provide are part of the hosting package. Oh, you also neglected to mention that the $9.99/month is an INTRODUCTORY offer, and that the rates go up to $15.99/month after the first year. By that time, people are so used to how they’re handling their email that they are fearful of change and are drastically overpaying.

But I get off-topic. That’s not even what I want to talk about (but don’t get me started unless we’re stuck in an elevator together and have time to kill).

My first experience this week with this company was for a client that wanted to set up HIPAA compliant email addresses. Due to the various requirements that HIPAA imposes, a secure encryption process is required for your email to be compliant. There are several companies that offer HIPAA compliant email services, and I was tasked to come up with some recommendations.

After doing research on top-rated companies, watching demos, and seeing how good (or not so good) their customer service was, we were really looking at 2-3 companies (for ease of transition, one of them was this web host since my client’s emails were already with them).

My client thought that the email addresses they had set up were already HIPAA compliant. What they were not informed of, however, is that the plan they were on was necessary to be HIPAA compliant, but needed an extra step (which is quite a bit extra) to actually be HIPAA compliant. To make an extremely long story short, they decided to stay with this company for their email, and I was then tasked to get everything set up for them.

With several employees using using many different platforms to access their email, I wanted to ensure that the transition for EVERY employee would be as smooth as possible. So I had a lot of questions for my contact at this web host. He seemed like he knew what he was talking about and (of course) made it sound like an easy switch.

Once we nailed down a date for me to go in and get the emails set up in the office, I let my contact know so they could switch over what they needed to on their end. I was informed he might not be in the office that day. Great. So I asked for the name and number of someone else that I could deal with to get this all squared away. I wasn’t given one. Well, the last thing I want to do is to waste my client’s time (or my time, for that matter), so I phoned the department to make sure everything was still good to go.

Surprisingly, I was informed of some set-up information I had not yet received. It sounded easy enough, and I walked through it on my end. Easy peasy. That is until I was in the office and actually starting the switch over…

I have no idea how many times I called in, how long I was on hold, or how many people I talked to (each one assuring me that THEY were the right person to talk to). Bottom line is that they gave my faulty information more than once, and failed to do things on their end to necessitate the change. It took 6 frustrating hours for things to start working properly, and at the end of it I was hoping I was done talking to this company for a long time. Unfortunately, that didn’t last.

The very next day, I had someone else inform me that their site was showing “under construction”, and wanted me to deal with the same web host to get their site back up. Awesome.

I should let you know a bit of a back story here… Several months ago, this web host had moved this client to a new server, and we’ve had problems ever since. So I knew going in that this probably wouldn’t end well. And I was right.

After a lengthy phone call, all I was really told was “the hosting is working properly” over and over and over again. No answers for questions I posed, such as “then why did this stop working as soon as you moved servers?” or “then why did the under construction message show up after you unsuccessfully tried to fix another issue?”.

This client is on a fairly tight budget, so all they really wanted was the site back up, but didn’t want to invest in some upgrades that really should be done. But regardless of that, don’t tell me that the hosting is fine when I know it was screwed up on your end. Take responsibility and fix the problem. That’s what you’re getting paid for. When all was said and done, I got their site back up, with zero help from this company.

While it might seem like this post is just me ranting and slamming a different company, it’s not. I admit it has been a bit therapeutic writing this, but that was not it’s intent.

What I really wanted to do here was to point out a few things about big hosting companies like this one. What do they really care about? Job security? Their bottom line? When their lunch break is? Or do they really care about their customers? I’m sure some of the employees care about their customers, and not all my dealings with this company have been bad ones. And not all of their services are created equal – some departments seem to really know what they’re doing, and have been helpful in the past.

But when they don’t provide pertinent information, continuously pass the buck, insist that “everything is fine” when it’s clearly not (because of something that THEY did), won’t take responsibility for their mistakes, and worst of all won’t take the necessary steps to fix the problem, I think there’s an issue there. And I think everyone should know about it.