Hosting the Leading Websites:

Talking with Hosts

See in FAQ

When Signing Up

When you’re about to sign up for Web hosting, don’t commit to very much until you’ve had experience with that Web host. If there’s a money-back guarantee and its terms are simple, you can commit to more when you start, but still you should limit your exposure. Plan to take the time to test early and thoroughly, so you’ll know in the first few days of service whether you’re getting what you were promised.

Customer Service

Customer service can be vital in a hurry. Try it ahead of time to find out how good it is. Some people need it and you may be one. If so, reviews indicate that some people are, colloquially speaking, ready to bite someone’s head off over bad customer service by their Web hosts. The quality of customer service probably varies a lot and I didn’t evaluate it. Better hosts should let you talk not only with customer service representatives, usually for free if you’re a customer, but also with high-level people at technical and management levels, although you may have to pay a lot extra for calls to stratospheric offices. You should try to be well-informed ahead of time in order to get better answers to your questions when you finally ask. To that end, you should look for books, technical news media, and online forums. Some Web hosts may have additional resources available, such as FAQs (lists of frequently asked questions and answers), their own articles and forums, and email support. The acid test of customer service is in how they handle questions that go beyond the answers in their FAQs, articles, and fora, both during daytime business hours and during off-hours and holidays. Business hours may depend on the time zone where your Web host has offices and which days of the week customer service is open may depend on local culture. Your website is supposed to run all the time and you may need help with it at any time.

When techies speak broken English, unless they’re in customer service, don’t worry about it. The techies were hired to be techies and only need to talk with a few people at the company, not you. As long as they know their way around ribbons or recursion, you may be getting high-quality service, interpreted by managers with polished English. I’ve seen good software that was apparently skillfully patched by programmers who could hardly write English, and writers have the chance to edit their own words before clicking the “Save Changes” button. What matters is that the system delivers what you need. Stephen Hawking is not just an old guy with a robotic voice. He is also a leading-edge researcher in space science and taught university-level math and that’s what counts. A disproportionate number of people who are top-notch in math or computers are also on the autism spectrum. We probably get better math and computers because of them.

But, even with bad hosting, you may not need live support. Without it, you may save money, because customer service is expensive to provide and you pay for it somehow. Decide whether live support or chat is critical or a deal-breaker for you and choose a host accordingly.

Remedies and Preparation

The host may promise you the moon although the tech people can’t deliver it. When you talk with sales people or when you have a problem, take detailed notes, and the sooner after what they describe the better. In severe cases, talk with a lawyer and prepare affidavits. Consider if the warranty of acceptability applies to your case in your jurisdiction.

Even if other forms of support are inadequate, sending a letter or closing your account may be what you need to do. If writing to the host doesn’t work, write to the host’s CEO, postally rather than by email or phoning. If the CEO’s name is not on the host’s website, poking around the Internet may find it. While it may be tempting to fill the missive with motivational prose, focus on facts and be specific about what you want the CEO to do for you. Ultimately, if customer service is bad, switch hosts.

Escalation is possible. If other forms of support are inadequate and you’re on the verge of closing your account, sending a letter may be what you need to do. If writing to the host doesn’t work, write to the host’s CEO by name, postally rather than by email or phoning.

Cut off payments, if necessary. If you pay by credit or debit card, try to get charges reversed. Consider using one credit or debit card for nothing but this hosting service, so, if you can’t delete your card information from your host’s records, you can tell your card issuer to cancel the card without affecting any other spending elsewhere.

Suing usually won’t be productive.