Monday 7 March 2005

Don't host your site with, for they are twats.

You may be wondering what caused both of my domains to suddenly and inexplicably be taken down by my hosts, I certainly was. Had I been instalanched? Had my stats suddenly gone through the roof for some other reason? Had I broken one of their rules? Was one of my CGI scripts a security risk? All of these possibilities occurred to me, but one thing that I certainly didn't consider was what in fact turned out to be the real problem: the whole thing was simply's renewal process.

Yes, when see that one of their customers' accounts is up for renewal, they don't send any advance notice, they don't send an invoice; all they do is disable the entire domain and then send the customer this email:

You have items with us that have been suspended and require renewal! Please visit http://, log-in to the client section and view your renewable items and take appropriate action with each of your renewable items.

And then they printed my username and password in the email, which is a tad unprofessional.

8-95 sent this email, by the way, to my address at — the same domain they had just taken down. Quite how they expected me to read it, I'm not sure. I didn't see it until this morning. And they do have my Hotmail address, so could have used that, but chose not to.

Anyway, at the time, I didn't know any of this. I thought there was a genuine problem. So I logged a case on their support desk:

Hi there.

Both my sites, and, have been suspended today. Could you tell me why, and how I could reinstate them, please?

Thank you.


I logged that as "Urgent", gave them a few hours to respond, then escalated the case to "Emergency". Why not? For all I knew, it could be an emergency. Since they hadn't contacted me, I couldn't even be sure that it was them and not some hackers who had taken my sites down. Escalating the case got a response: they changed it from "Emergency" down to "Normal" and didn't reply to my question.

Now, I think it was pretty clear from my initial message to them that I didn't know what was going on. Not clear enough, though. Here's the eventual reply from Joe, who, I'm sure, only has the same name as me in order to be difficult:

It appears to be suspended for billing issues.

Please paste your payment receipt into this ticket for verification.


Verbose, eh?

"Billing issues". That's very vague. You haven't sent me an invoice, or a renewal reminder, or any sort of bill. You haven't provided me with a link to a payment page where I could submit my credit card details. And now you want to see a receipt? You think the best way to contact a customer when their renewal is due is just to shut down their site and wait for them to complain? Are you insane?

By the way, when you took over Futurehosts, you didn't bother transferring across my payment details, so I had to pay you before my renewal was due. You owe me money, in other words. I didn't bother mentioning it at the time, because it was a paltry amount and I figured it was more Futurehosts' fault than yours, but, since you're taking such an appalling attitude to me, I bring it up now.

Put my site back up, please, and send me an invoice like a civilised company would do.

(Futurehosts are the company I originally went to for my hosting. They were really good, but bought them out. Shame.)

Sure, I was being rude, but I was furious: he could have said "You owe us $20. Follow this link to make a payment." That would have been terse and annoying, but would at least have offered me the chance of putting my sites back up. Instead, he just cited billing issues, which might mean anything, and didn't even give me the option of paying. How incredibly stupid is that?

I had to wait another twelve hours for a response.

I can't reactivate your site until the hosting invoice is paid.


And that was it. No apology, not even any acknowledgment of anything I'd said. Their response to a complaint is simply to ignore it. I was hoping that they'd disagree with at least some of what I'd said — that they might, for instance, say that this wasn't their usual renewal procedure and that something had gone wrong this time — but no: I had to conclude that this really was their normal renewal procedure. And that they were therefore insane.

So I renewed for one month and I'm shopping for new hosts. Had sent me a normal renewal notice a few days in advance, I'd have renewed for at least six months, I would still be completely happy with their service, and you wouldn't be reading this. There's a moral to this story.

All this fuss prompted me to go and read 8-95's support forums. If you're thinking that maybe I've been unlucky and that 8-95 probably have a perfectly good attitude to most of their customers most of the time, I particularly recommend reading this thread. If you can be bothered.

If anyone from 8-95 is reading this, please be assured that you have every right of reply. You are hosting this, after all. Just send me an email and I'll publish it, you shower of twonks.

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