The Great Web Host Saga

This post was very nearly titled “CWI Hosting are a Pack of Festering Arseholes, Who Deserve to be Shot, Hung, Drawn, Quartered, Run Over by a Tank, and Then Really Hurt”, but I thought it was a bit too long.  The story starts halfway through last year, when I received the yearly renewal invoice for my web hosting.  I was surprised, to say the least, to see that my web hosting had increased by 15%.  Upon further investigation, this was due to the 15% “Environmental Surcharge” that had been tacked onto my bill, without my knowledge.

I immediately contacted my host at the time, CWI Hosting, and asked them why there was this new charge, and why I had not been informed of it.  I received a response indicating that the new charge was because of rising energy costs for their servers, and that they had informed me of the charge the previous month.  Well, I checked my email records, and I had no such email from them.  I checked the records of contacts I’d had from them on their own support site, and there was nothing there, either.  So, I reluctantly paid the extra fee, seeing as I wanted to keep my hosting, and resolved that I’d move to a different host before the next renewal was due.

Fast forward to May this year, and I’d found a new host, who were here in Australia, which was a big bonus, as it means less bank fees for processing foreign currency, and a decent chance of getting phone support.  I looked into what was required to transfer the domain, and found that I first needed to unlock my domain, then submit a transfer request.

I also found that the transfer would take around a week, due to the way global top level domains (i.e. .com etc.) are handled.  No problems, I’ve got over three weeks until renewal is due, that should give me ample time to get this sorted out.  Well, wasn’t I wrong.

It turns out that CWI’s response times for support tickets goes from under 24 hours to a week when you want to move away from them.  A week after requesting the unlocking of my domain I received the advice that it was unlocked and ready for transfer.  I duly submitted the transfer request, and sat back to wait.

At the end of a week, with no sign of a response from CWI, I contacted them, and asked about the progress of the transfer.  I never received a reply to this request.  The week after submitting that request my hosting renewal with CWI became due.  Perhaps I’d unconsciously been expecting CWI to mess me around, but I’d made sure that my credit card did not have enough credit to cover CWI’s charges.  Just as well, because they have consistently tried charging me 5 or 6 times a week since that date.

In total I have tried contacting CWI about 15 times, through various means.  In the last two and a half months, I have been promised, via their support chat, contact from a supervisor within 24 hours on no less than four occasions.  At no stage have I received any such contact.  In fact, I have received exactly one response.  I had contacted the administrative contact for the domain, asking if the transfer process could be completed in a timely manner.  I received a response to this email, asking for further information, which was duly supplied.  This email, and a subsequent one were both ignored.

After over a month of inaction, I ended up taking matters into my own hands.  I contacted Tucows, the wholesaler for my domain at the time, and outlined my tale of woe.  Their response was heartening, at least.  They enabled me to first change the admin contact for my domain to my own email address, allowing me to respond to a transfer request.  When I found that I required an authorisation code for the transfer, which was being held by CWI, Tucows came to the party, and after giving CWI one further chance to actually do what they were supposed to, they provided me with the means necessary to transfer my domain.

To cut a long story short, CWI hosting effectively took what should have been a two week process, and dragged it out over 9 weeks (65 days from when I requested the domain to be unlocked to when I had full control of it again).  In doing so they have charged me for a service which I do not want, require, or even have any more (a month after renewal was due they canceled my hosting, effectively killing my main email account and website).  Apparently they are unswayed by my arguments that their lack of action is to blame for this, and to this day are still trying to charge my credit card.

Fortunately, there is one bright point to this whole sorry tale.  My new hosts, Webcity, have been nothing but exceptionally pleasant to deal with.  Response to email support requests have been prompt, and in addition, I have the ability to phone them and talk to a real person, in the event that something requires urgent attention.

Edit:
The saga continues, in Part 2.

It’s Alive!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done any work on my website.  I’ve spent the last two months trying to get control of my domain, and switch to a web host that doesn’t seem to be intent on shafting me (which will be the topic of a post in the near future).  Now that I’ve succeeded on doing that, the plan is to set up a half way decent site.  Of course, these things don’t always go to plan, but I’ll try my best…