Just haven't been inspired enough to write here lately, I'm truly sorry about that. Today though, I thought to share a Hostgator review and customer service related rant I've had building up for some months now. A year even.
A little background music first
I've been designing web sites since 1998 or so. I am well versed (and self taught) in html, css, php, mysql and so much more. I've used shared hosting, reseller hosting, dedicated server hosting and am very familiar with WHM and CPanel (really dislike Plesk). So I've personally experienced a lot of different kinds of site and server issues over the years for the many sites I own or managed for other people. Personally and in my own interests, I have had nothing but pleasant CS experiences with hosting related issues.
I have worked in the customer service industry all of my life. Most recently for Bell Internet as a CS Agent and in Retention where I often referred clients to tech support for many internet related issues. I was not limited to what I could or could not say – I did not have a set of canned messages to use. I used experience and good common sense. As a younger person, I worked in CS as both a cashier and a supervisor for retail and in the hotel/resort industry, where I worked over the phone (reservations) and at the front desk of many a hotel in several provinces.
Consequently, I have a high expectation of customer service and professionalism (as should everyone). I know what's unrealistic and wildly out of the range of "normal" when it comes to customer service dealing from both the CS rep and the customer perspective. I know my rights as an agent, an employee and a customer – and I have flexed those rights like a finely tuned muscle where necessary.
North (Canada) or South (USA) or International (dealing with Int'l call centers), I know customer service. Yes, I could well be a customer from hell, but frankly if you experience that from me you've earned it. Enough said, right? Those of you who have worked in CS implicitly understand where I'm coming from.
A (formerly) beloved hosting company sold to the Dark Side
I have been a loyal and happy customer at Hostgator.com for some 10 years. I joined way back when the founder was hosting sites out of his California apartment while he went to college. The customer service there had always been stellar. So much so that I referred everyone I knew or even came across to this hosting site that has recieved many awards for its service over the years. Further, I link to Hostgator from nearly every site I manage, in support (and for an affiliate link, admittedly). Though when I move site hosts that will be removed, promptly!
In 2012 Brent Oakley decided to sell the company and travel the world for a while. I can't blame him, I'm sure he earned it. Sadly, I think (as many others do) he killed the company by doing so. I'm sure it was a painful decision for him to sell, but ultimately it is the customers who suffer most. Brent is probably on a beach somewhere sipping cocktails. I would be too if I could.
Hostgator is now owned by a huge company called Endurance International Group, who is notorious for gobbling up smaller hosting companies. In fact, it is part of their business model.
"Acquisitions are a key component of our growth strategy. Using a proprietary methodology, we have completed acquisitions with more than 30 hosting companies and migrated more than half-a-million customers onto our platform since 2001."
Hostgator customer service now in a severe decline
It is no wonder that customer service has declined severely. Over the last year I have had to repeat myself numerous times to make my support issue implicitly clear to agents who only do a half-assed glance at my support tickets. It has taken several days of back and forth email and tickets to resolve my issues. Whereas before the sale of Hostgator, not only were my tickets answered within a few hours, but my issues were resolved in the SAME DAY.
Previously, if I had a site admin related issue, something related to name servers or back end issues, Hostgator staff went out of their way to educate me so I could manage future occurrences better. Or prevent them entirely. After they resolved my issue. Personally, nicely and professionally.
Now? I get a canned message from a seemingly random agent name – suspiciously with a very North American sounding name. Yes, like many Canadians, I prefer a North American agent who can speak, read and write English fluently and with an understandable accent. Yes, I have personally dealt with international call centers while I worked in the industry on numerous occassions. So I don't say that blithely. I'm sure it is a universal issue, English is said to be the toughest language to learn.
Whether Hostgator now uses an International call center or not, it is quite clear that customer support agents do not seem to be very knowledgeable anymore and this could be why:
"… they actually are capable of providing "customer-education issues" because they are unable to do any technical changes at the "technical support" desk themselves. They simply log a call and leave it to overworked and incompetent technicians to "fix". Often this takes so long that the customer has already left by the time they get to attend to the problem."
Fine. So their customer service agents may not be directly at fault due to poor training and/or having a lack of being able to do anything but escalate to a tier 2-3-4 support agent. The fact remains that there is a customer service issue – customers are not being served well or even in a timely manner.
Time to move the homestead
I have come to the conclusion that it is long since time to move my site(s) to a new site host. Yet like a true Canadian, I won't be hasty. I'll be calling customer service lines and asking a ton of pre-sales questions. A Canadian one this time. I already have some really great recommendations.
If you are a disaffected Hostgator customer looking to change site hosts, be sure to look up the long list of sites on the link below. EIG really has gobbled up the competition – they own a vast many hosting companies now. Make sure yours is not on the list.
What is your favorite hosting company? (if you say GoDaddy I cannot be held responsible for my instant and very violently negative reaction)
P.s. I didn't even get into site speed issues I've been having with Hostgator. Let's leave this post about CS.