I find it incredibly self-serving when a blogger leverages his platform for personal gain. So let me say this up-front: I’m not doing this to get anything, but rather to highlight a questionable customer-service practice.
One of my sites is hosted by Bluehost.com. Its rates are affordable, and its service is generally adequate. But during the last several months, I’ve experienced some “down” time. Bluehost offers “99.9% Network Uptime Guarantee.”
Today, after the site crashed during primetime, I decided to invoke the guarantee. Here’s the transcript of our online chat.
Bluehost: Welcome to our real-time support chat. Please keep in mind that I am on several chats at once. I may be a few minutes between responses. How can I help you today?
Me: My site is down.
Bluehost: Error establishing a database connection?
Bluehost: The admins are working on the server. It should be back in approximately 15 to 45 minutes.
[Note: 15 to 45 minutes is half an eternity online. It means I'm going to lose about one-quarter of a day's traffic. That's an expensive problem.]
Me: I have been experiencing quite a bit of down time on my server. To whom can I speak about getting moved to a different server?
Bluehost: We do not typically allow server migrations for performance based issues. We prefer instead to fix issues with your current server instead of moving you to another server. Server stability and performance are always our admins first priority.
Me: I’d like to speak with someone about migrating to a different server. Bluehost guarantees 99.9 percent uptime. My statistics indicate it is significant lower. Your policy is to guarantee 99.9 percent uptime, isn’t it?
Bluehost: We guarantee 99.9 percent network uptime as outlined in the Terms of Service. This is a server issue, not a network issue.
Me: As a consumer, I do not draw the distinction. If my site is down, the network is irrelevant. Please have a look at my file. You will see numerous queries about the server being down.
Bluehost: I apologize for the troubles. But I assure you we are doing everything we can to resolve the issue. I only see the server being down once in the last 7 days for performance issues.
Then the chat timed out. Bluehost obviously didn’t want to help me.
How could Bluehost have handled this differently?
First, the representative should taken a different approach to solving this. Instead of “apologizing” but then throwing the book in my face, he could have offered to upgrade me to a different server at a cost. That would have been an acceptable compromise.
Using phrases like “typically” and then only looking at one week’s worth of trouble tickets was also the wrong solution. If it is Bluehost’s policy to not move you to a different server, he could have simply sent me a link to the policy, which would have been incorporated in its terms of service. He didn’t do that.
Bluehost had an opportunity to turn me from a good customer into a better customer by upselling me to a less problematic, faster server. Instead, it told me to get lost. I expected better from the company and its visionary founder.
(Photo: san beiji/Flickr Creative Commons)