I’m in the market for a new hosting provider for Ghodmode Development. I acted rashly when chose GoDaddy years ago. I’ve often had billing problems and I found out recently that their support team are wholly incompetent.
So, I’ve been doing some research by comparing prices, service offerings, policies. For each interesting provider, I proceeded to look for forums and blog entries talking about the provider.
After reading comments, complaints, and rants about different providers, I decided that HostGator was worth a try. They are a low-cost provider with excellent service offerings and, most importantly, lots of happy customers.
I’m American, but I live in Malaysia. At times, this has been an issue in the past, so I knew it was worthwhile to check first. HostGator makes a statement on their front page that looks promising…
Since its establishment in 2002, HostGator has been a world-leading provider of web hosting service. Although our headquarters is in Houston, Texas, we provide top-notch service to clients from over 200 countries internationally with our staff of over 750 employees.
(I added the emphasis)
Even so, I still wanted to check, so I used their Live Chat system and asked several questions, including this…
(05:23:37 PM) Ghodmode: I'm American, but I'm in Malaysia. I've had some problem with GoDaddy accessing resources because of my Malaysian IP address. Are there any restrictions like that at HostGator that you know about?
(05:23:53 PM) Cole Le: Not that I know about, no.
Everything checked out and I signed-up right away. Their online ordering process was a breeze and their hostingplans promise “instant setup” “created automatically in 15 minutes or less”. So, I was just waiting for an email.
A little while later, I was wondering about the “instant setup” thing, so I called their toll-free support number to ask about the status of my order. During the call, after the rep. had opened my account information, I received this message in an email:
In order for us to continue with the account setup, please respond to this ticket with a scanned copy of a Photo ID such as as a passport, or drivers license. In addition to a photo ID, please include a scanned copy of the credit card that was used in your account purchase…
Although a little irritated by the extra step, I complied and, to add insult to injury, they wouldn’t accept my email:
Thank you for contacting HostGator.com. In order for us to further assist you, please click on the link below:
<cryptic link with some weird code>
Clicking on the link above helps us reduce spam and work faster towards resolving your issue. Please note that you must click on the link above, or your email will not be delivered to our team.
It’s a reply! You emailed me first!!
Anyway, I clicked on the link and waited… 3 hours later, I called again. Again, during the support call, I received the following message:
However, upon review of you ID, we would like to ask you to please send a photo of yourself holding your ID, near your face.
Please be sure that we can clearly see both you and your ID
“Oh! Fer Cryin’ Out Loud!” … I said that during the call and, although I thought I was on hold, the rep. spoke up and agreed with me. He also said that he had been through this before, with other customers and it always made them angry.
That’s just too much. I asked the rep. to cancel my account with immediate effect, but he couldn’t do it and just referred me to the cancellation page.
However, I did comply with the request for the picture of me and my ID… sort of:
There’s more wrong here than just the obvious. They claim international service, but they don’t deliver. They claim “instant setup”, but it seems that if I hadn’t called, there would be no chance to have my account setup at all.
Most importantly, they seem to have a discriminatory policy in place that isn’t documented anywhere on their site. That policy states that people in certain countries are identity thieves and they shouldn’t be trusted or respected until they’ve proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they’re not.
I signed up for three years, paid up-front, and I would have upgraded to a reseller account had everything gone well, but the moral of the story is that I don’t matter. HostGator is sometimes called “the world’s best hosting” and they have millions of happy customers to prove it. However, as with my current provider, I would be ashamed if one of my clients had to endure a similar experience.