I am going to tell you the story of how ProWebSite, my recent hosting provider, totally stuck it to me. I signed up with ProWebSite in late January of this year. I went to ProWebSite because I had very minor problems with QWK.net hosting. Let me say up front that it was a big mistake to leave QWK.net. Travis Burnside runs QWK.net and he is a great guy with a great service. If you are looking for hosting, take a look at what he offers. I can't express how much I regret leaving his service.
For nearly 9 months I was with ProWebSite. Their site isn't great, but the various hosting review sites rated them highly. And, they had pricing that fit my bandwidth and space needs. Since I have a site with fast loading pages (my pages are mostly text), I thought I found the perfect service.
But last Monday, stuff hit the fan and my site went down. At first, I thought their service was merely down for a few hours. However, the next morning I didn't get any mail and my site was still down. I was in shock! No email and no site! I frantically emailed ProWebSite. I received a cryptic email message that offered no explanations. By early morning I had sent off three messages and had only received the one useless reply.
I was in training all day Tuesday, so I only had a few minutes here and there to check on the progress. To my dismay, when I checked at 10:30 A.M., my home page was replaced with a page stating that "this is the future home of http://www.abcconcepts.fr", and some other alarming material. I sent off a message again but I received no reply. At this point I was very upset, as you might imagine.
So, when I got home Tuesday night I called the support line, which of course was not an 800 number. I talked with a person for about 5 minutes and he didn't help me. He gave me the number of someone else. So, I called that person and he was also completely unhelpful. He was telling me that he had never heard of such a problem. He suggested that someone was hijacking my web site or that perhaps it "fell into a black hole". In the background I heard a TV, some kids yelling, and more. I spent half an hour talking to a guy who didn't have a clue.
So, I called back the original person at ProWebSite and he told me he couldn't help me. He said that he helped people with email problems and that sort of things. I was forced to call back in the morning so I could talk with a server administrator. When I called, I had to repeatedly request to speak with an administrator. She told me that she could not help me. She told me that I'd need permission from the reseller and that she could not even tell me if my files existed on their servers anymore. Naturally, the reseller was the clueless guy who talked about black holes and site hijacking.
As you can imagine, I almost burst with anger. First, I didn't know I went through a reseller (big, big mistake), and second I couldn't believe I needed permission just to find out if my files still existed! Third, I will have pay for about 2 hours of phone calls that have done me no good. Obviously, this was a complete customer service nightmare.
Well, the story doesn't get any better. I have been writing to ProWebSite almost every day and they have still not helped. In fact, the last two times I wrote, they didn't even respond. I must assume my files, scripts, and email are all gone forever. At the least, I must assume that I won't ever be able to get them.
Travis Burnside and Jaron Rubenstein helped me track down the problem. According to my InterNIC listing, my web site IP addresses were wrong. ProWebSite never told me they didn't make changes to my listing. And, they didn't tell me that I should have made the changes. I have no idea how my site was getting along all these months with the wrong IP addresses... I do know that I will be much more careful about these things in the future. For your own sake, I'd advise you to do a WHOIS search on your site. Make sure your listing is in order.
That's about it for the story. I wrote ProWebSite tonight making one last request for help. I told them that I was going to go to every hosting review site and rate them as poorly as possible, and that I was going to point people to this report. Also, in the same letter, I told them that I was going to report them to the Better Business Bureau.
If you have other suggestions, let me know. I'd love to get some money back from them. I mainly want folks to avoid them so that they don't face the same customer support nightmare I faced.
UPDATE: I'm happy to say that ProWebSite will be refunding $25 for my lost service time. They also apologized several times, and took some responsibility for what happened. I now have a clue as to what happened:
Based on what happened, they are also stepping up their training. These are definitely some positive steps.
ANOTHER UPDATE (5-Jan-2000): My hopes were dashed. I received my credit card bill today and instead of crediting my account, ProWebSite charged me another $25. Needless to say, I'm furious. I also demanded a check this time. I'm waiting for this nightmare to end.
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