When I began to actually have my first website hosted, I was using Aletia, which was bought out by JaguarPC. Then I switched to Drak.net which was bought out by A Small Orange. But unlike with JaguarPC, A Small Orange did not degrade my service until it was almost unusable. But it was more of a premium web hosting provider. You didn’t get all the bells and whistles. But you got affordable, reliable website hosting.
But I was ready for a change. I was slowly gathering web clients after trying to get rid of them for years. I wanted a reseller account so I could sell full service accounts to people, not just multi-hosted domains I managed. I wanted renewable energy. I wanted Canadian data servers. I wanted some bells, damnit. And the whistles.
I don’t feel like that anymore. Because the only way to get that is to fall for the nonsense of unlimited this, and extremely high that for such an unreasonably low price. I narrowed it down to two Canadian companies: HostPapa and GreenGeeks. GreenGeeks I already use with another organization I work with. It was fine, if a little slow. I thought I could do the most with HostPapa and it came highly recommend by friends, and I was using their servers at a previous job.
I did some research online. The some reviews of HostPapa were poor. Or rather, were extremely bad. So bad, from websites I honestly think look like fly-by-night operations, I took them with a extra large purchase of salt. What if this company just extorts protection money to get good reviews. I also didn’t believe the many glowingly positive reviews I saw. Can I trust either of these reviews? They never truly sat right with me.
With a small amount of trepidation, armed with some reassurance from friends, I made the plunge this month.
Monday morning, around 6:40 I purchased my account. Almost immediately I was given a username and password and access to my reseller account. At 7:02 AM opened a ticket asking for a private name server, as the knowledgebase told me to do. I knew from my last transfer to a new service that I needed to make a backup of my cPanel account and upload that. But which would be the best way to send the file? I opened a ticket around 8:02 AM asking what their preferred method was after searching the help section.
A friend asked why I didn’t use live chat. It was early: I figured either they might not have tech support on live chat, I was too tired to deal too much with it and wanted to do something else for the moment, and wanted to wait a few more hours before I began the transition because of some final changes I was making to one of my sites. I also wanted to make sure none of my clients were going to be making changes during the transition.
So, for my private name server, I asked them what I need to do at 7:02 AM. At 4:02 AM the next day, I got a response.
Ticket No: 1411486
Subject: Create Custom Reseller Nameservers (snowbank.ca)
From: “Shawn P. Conroy”
To: HP – Support (Support English)
Date: 2014-02-03 07:02:11
Date: From: Message 2014-02-03 07:02:11 “Shawn P. Conroy” Good day,
I would like to use private nameservers for my reseller account. I just bought the domain semanticcomputing.ca and would like to use that domain for my name servers. The support section told me to open a ticket from the dashboard.
Can you help with this?
2014-02-04 04:02:59 Tim R <> Hello,
In order for custom nameserver entries to be created for your reseller account, you must first contact your registrar and request the creation of two “glue records” with the following information:
ns1.snowbank.ca (IP: 126.96.36.199)
ns2.snowbank.ca (IP: 188.8.131.52)
When these glue records have been created, please reply and let us know so we can start the next step of the process.
Technical Support Representative
2014-02-04 10:02:49 email@example.com Thank you Tim.
1. The private name server will be for the domain SemanticComputing.ca not my ‘primary’ domain.
2. I have set the A-Records for ns1 and ns2 as recommended. Ready for the next step.
If you look at the time stamps you will see it took them 23 hours to respond to my simple request. 23 hours. For a ticket to be responded to AT ALL.
My second ticket was at 8:02 AM on the Monday. (I am beginning to wonder of there is something wrong with the ticket system that makes every entry be listed as two minutes past the hour, or if it’s just a lot of coincidences.) This second ticket was about the transfer.
Ticket No: 1412714
Subject: Transfer Reseller Accounts
From: “Shawn P. Conroy”
To: HP – Support (Support English)
Date: 2014-02-04 04:02:23
Date: From: Message 2014-02-03 08:02:10 “Shawn P. Conroy” Good day,
I just got this reseller account and wish to transfer over my personal cPanel account. When the backup is generated should I tell it to send it via passive FTP from my old server directly to my new server?
2014-02-04 12:02:54 firstname.lastname@example.org Okay, I have uploaded the cpanel backup from my old host to the home folder on my HostPapa reseller account.
Please replace my account with the contents of the backup (including my personal websites).
I just wanted to be sure I would do things right. The last time I did a direct server to server transfer of my cPanel account and nearly overloaded one of the servers. But, I got amazing speeds! I didn’t want to be the start of another professional relationship.
24 hours passed with no response. As 30 hours neared I uploaded the cPanel backup and posted the second submission saying so. By this point I had already noticed that I seemed to be able to do a restore myself, so it might not be required that needed the ticket at all.
I still had not received a second response from my private name server ticket after 30 hours. In 30 hours I had gotten one response.
Imagine if I had used live chat and the problem was fixed. Imagine if (as I imagine some friends saying) I called HostPapa up and got it fixed. I would be under the impression that they have good customer service. But it wouldn’t be true. I don’t always have time to go to live chat. Though I did have the time this week. I just didn’t wish to. I wanted to post a question, and come back and work on it later. Sometimes I have commitments I cannot get around and tickets are useful tools because they allow you to post and run. They keep a record if the issue comes up again. There is great benefit to this type of system.
And I hate using the telephone. Such old technology. Very 20th century.
I started looking at alternatives. I made lunch and decided if I got back to my computer I would close my account if I still did not have a response.
Guess what happened next?
Ticket No: 1413456
Subject: Close Account, Full Refund, Please
From: “Shawn P. Conroy”
To: HP – Billing
Date: 2014-02-04 01:02:43
Date: From: Message 2014-02-04 01:02:43 “Shawn P. Conroy” Good day,
I am very dissatisfied with my first 30 or so hours with HostPapa. Support takes about 20 hours to respond to my tickets at all. One ticket, started yesterday in the AM asking a single question, hasn’t been responded to yet.
Website migration has not happened yet. By now I was hoping to have the new DNS updates propagating across the net.
Please close my account and refund my credit card the almost $300 I paid. Reseller account is included on the page that says:
Our Pledge To You: 100% Service Guarantee
30-Day RISK FREE Money Back Guarantee
I thank you for refunding my credit. Have a nice day.
Yeah, I closed my account.
After no response from billing after a couple hours, I called. Someone from billing came on and I said I wanted my account closed. He walked me through the online process. (Not by email, not by phone, not by ticket. Only by clicking a link in the client area. That’s fine.)
I got a preliminary email within an hour or so. And a final email about a day later. The charges were reversed, and I got my money back completely.
HostPapa, like JaguarPC and I assume GreenGeeks and HostGator are all in a race to the bottom of the market. To make the least expensive most feature rich packages to get the most clients with mediocre service. A Small Orange, my previous and now still current provider is not like that. They have high tech facilities which means they have less storage, and less bandwidth. But faster servers and better uptime.
I decided to stay with them, especially as I was hosting other people’s websites: I had looked in to alternatives, but the best options didn’t offer reseller accounts.
Changing my mind
There is no way I could possibly change my mind. I’ve seen first hand how their customer support works for over 30 hours. The fact that some people seem to get around this does not help me. The fact that some modes of support are treated more seriously than others is, if true, upsetting. I should not have to fight for equal treatment. There is nothing I can think of that would grind all their customer support to a halt for over 30 hours. A bad shift? It happens. People calling in sick? Sure! But not this.
But wait, there’s more
In some simple irony and a obvious self-righteousness, I’m going to point out that their ticket system is broken. Every ticket message is posted from two minutes past some hour. However, I just checked the email I got when Tim R. responded at “4:02” and the email is timestamped as “4:50 AM.” So their interface for viewing tickets doesn’t even display them right. A pointless, unfair punch? Maybe. But I don’t feel like holding back today.
What about GreenGeeks
Not only are GreenGeeks the same type of company as HostPapa and JaguarPC, but they also have slow servers as I have been using 200 Please, some of Pingdom’s tools to and UptimeRobot to watch server speeds for the last week or two.
See for yourself
Here’s some quick links to reviews of HostPapa, so you can see it’s not just me. I probably believe both the good and the bad now. I think their customer service is so uneven and their servers so periodic that without a systematic review we may never know what their actual customer support is like, or their server uptime, or even server speed.
- Web Hosting Reviews gives HostPapa 12% with 1 out of 18 recommending them. This was the website that was so ugly it made me question all the others. So sketchy I wasn’t sure how to trust any such review. Now I know you need to find and compare these reviews with actual people’s blogs to find the right balance. I also recall other sites showing discount codes and affiliate coupons. How can you trust that?
- http://www.whoishostingthis.com/hosting-reviews/hostpapa/ gives them 3/5.
- http://www.hostreviewsite.com/reviews/Host-Papa has no overall score.
- http://hostingreview360.com/hostpapa-review/ This one really helped me think it might be okay for me, being in Canada and having website that are mostly targetted to local groups, businesses and charities.
- http://www.webhostingsecretrevealed.net/hosting-review/hostpapa/ gives them 3/5.
- http://webhostinggeeks.com/user-reviews/hostpapa/ rates them at 4.08/5.
- http://www.hostjury.com/reviews/Hostpapa rates average to below average.
- http://www.hosting-review.com/canada-web-hosting.php says they are great.