bad support staff

Hostgator is Post-Traitor


Here’s why you should never use hostgator’s services. They are post-traitors. They lose mail data. And then you can never get it back. In short – they can not be relied upon for hosting your data, which is precisely what their job is.

I have been using Hostgator since 4 years now for my professional photography domain I started with the US servers after which my account was shifted to India servers following their expansion into India just a month after I signed up.

Since then, my experience with HG has been a living hell! Their India team is the most unprofessional team I have EVER seen for ANY service, full of incompetent duds who know nothing, pass personal comments and now they have gone and lost 6 MONTHS OF MY MAIL DATA with the following solution – “Now it can not be retrieved”.

I have raised issues several times with hostgator in the last 4 years of my painful journey and have even received calls from their US branch thanks to the unprofessional behaviour of their India support staff. I thought that with time, things will improve with the India operation because they might just be having teething troubles. However I was being impractically hopeful! Their team was AS PATHETIC 4 years back as it is TODAY.

Right after shifting to India servers, they lost a lot of my professional mail data (of 2 weeks) in June 2011 because their servers marked my mail account as a “demo account” for some stupid reason. This caused me huge losses not just in terms of the overseas opportunities I lost, but also in terms of my repute. All my clients considered ME unprofessional because I wasn’t responding to their mails, instead it was HG that was unprofessional by dropping mails and I had no idea that mails were getting dropped! Now HG has lost 6 WHOLE months of my mail data and the previous incident of June 2011 seems minor in comparison because at least then, I was able to retrieve mails from the server & get back to those who had tried contacting me and pick up pieces of my reputation somewhat, bit by bit. Currently they say that “Nothing can be done about the data loss”!! How pathetic is this organisation that loses professional data (unheard of) – the very data they are supposed to be hosting and then their employees have the gall to say that nothing can be done about it!

For the purpose of this post, I will look past the various issues I’ve faced over the years including loss of mails in June 2011, difficulties faced during account transfer to India, hosted images not showing on the site, the site being too slow, various downtimes, global outages over the years, unavailability of SSH multiple times, Google adwords credit NEVER given till date, harassment at the time of renewal for 3 years in 2012, unprofessional behaviour by Indian staff, unavailability of their tech support senior people during all this time, etc – and – get to what all I have faced just THIS year.

1. On 11 Jan’15 I realised that my site had been down on 10th and decided to upgrade the wordpress software & plugins to the latest versions. I kept trying to upgrade and I kept getting server timeouts and other errors. I thought it was something to do with my internet service provider. Little did I know that it was HG all this while! I couldn’t even access it via SSH or FTP! Ultimately when I contacted HG – following are the issues I faced:

a) NO contact information available on their website. Raising support ticket fetched no response. Live chat was offline even though the website screams 24/7/365 support!! What a rubbish claim. No contact number mentioned for support requests – only for billing and abuse. Their Toll free number wasn’t mentioned anywhere AT ALL. I was ironically, fortunate enough that my past miseries with HG had made me store their toll free number in my phone and I used it after I got no response whatsoever from even their twitter handle!! Why do they even have twitter presence when the duds maintaining it get back to people AFTER THREE DAYS!! This is how pathetic HG’s accessibility is – to even get heard at the basic level.
b) I managed to call the toll free number which after great difficulty and very long holding times, connected me to someone who put me on hold and then the call was disconnected! And this wasn’t the only time this happened for me to think that it was an exception! I talked to 5 different people mostly because the tollfree number just disconnected multiple times! I must say that the technical support staff is MOST incompetent EVER. They do not know even the basics of what they are talking about.
Firstly, my website’s ports had just been blocked out of the blue – with no notification or email or sms or anything at all! With the amount of marketing spam these guys send, could they not have autogenerated an email which alerted me to the issue? The customer instead has to DISCOVER the issue first – time does not matter here, then bang her head against incompetent tech support staff and THEN get to the point where the issue is disclosed to begin with! I was told that there was some malware on my site which is why my site’s ports had been blocked!
Here’s what I found on running a 3rd party check on my site:

Which means that HG has some beyond imagination parameters based on which malware is detected! Whatever it was – was NOT SO life threatening that my entire site had to be blocked due to some reason and that too WITHOUT NOTIFYING ME!!
c) Ultimately I had to tell their staff to at least fix SSH access which was previously working, so that I could at least upload files I wanted, into my hosting account and fix the malware issue. Even that had been disabled. Sadly their tech support staff was absolutely unaware of what I meant. One had no idea of how to enable the port used for SSH. The other told me to use putty instead! This was in spite of my sharing screenshots of the SSH command issued on terminal (In Mac OS). When I told her that I am on Mac OS and that putty was only for windows she started arguing with me! Instead of putty on Mac OS, one needs to run the SSH command from the terminal (app in Mac OS). Ultimately she consulted someone senior and came to the same conclusion that terminal has to be used. and FINALLY she managed to enable the port. It took me ALL day to get this mess sorted.
d) With every passing issue, I managed to unearth newer ones! this just shows how PATHETIC their tech support staff is and how unimportant PROCESSES are to hostgator! Now that my site was supposedly infected with malware which was mind you, NOT detected by any other malware detection software in the world, except for the one on HG, I was supposed to run a malware check through cpanel each time after changes, to see if the malware had been finally removed or not. In order to do this, I had to login to cpanel. I logged in only to realise to my horror that the credentials I had been using for years did not work – AGAIN NO NOTIFICATION for any resetting of the same had been sent.
e) I finally got my password for cpanel reset (do i need to add how difficult that was?) and then realised that “change password” option was NOT in cpanel at all! I AGAIN called their pathetic tech support staff and landed with another dud, who now told me that the very round about way of resetting one’s cpanel password, was NOW through the billing account! SERIOUSLY? AGAIN, so much marketing spam and these guys could not deem it fit to send ONE mail that mattered? One informing their customers that NOW they have to go through this roundabout way for changing the cpanel password?!! And to think that I wasted so much time trying to figure our where the hell that option went! I was told that this was for our own security and benefit. Well could the dumb unprofessional hacks i.e. HG’s tech support staff not think of sending a mass mail informing everyone about this so called benefit? If they are doing such a great service to their customers, why not brag about it? Refer to the numerous amount of marketing spam comment again.
f) Finally, i managed to change my password for the billing portal, then accessed it, changed the password for my cpanel, then accessed THAT and finally fixed the problem on my website which if you ask me – WAS NOT THERE TO BEGIN WITH. Also, their tech support staff was very very rude to me in this time frame and this one particular person was constantly muttering an exasperated “oh god!” under her breath. When I mentioned that the tollfree no was still NOT listed on their website she said “if you can google it what is the problem?”.. Their staff seems to have been trained to find faults with their customers rather than fix their issues! Appalling! I fixed my issues and thought that was the end of it but the next day my passwords did not work YET AGAIN and I had to reset them YET AGAIN. However this time I knew the elaborate process – no thanks to tech support staff. Why could these people not have sent ONE mail about how this worked now?!! Priorities much? What will I do with all the crappy marketing mails if I am already an unfortunate customer of theirs? What matters more to existing customers is what my data is going through at their hands! and needless to say that even the marketing spam is useless because all deals apply ONLY to new accounts and not existing ones! So why even send the stuff to existing accounts? Why the laxity in sending mails that matter? And How dense and rude does the support staff have to be in each call? Not to mention the average holding time of at least 20 minutes if you call them.
2. I had thought that HG would at least learn *something* from all this mess that they had created but I was so SO wrong! Also, I was dealing with a knee injury and consequent surgery + physiotherapy in this timeframe, so I let these incidents go without reporting them officially, even though I had been urged to do so by HG US twitter handle. On 27th May one of my clients alerted me that she had sent me some mails, some days back. which I never received and I fired up my mail client and realised that I had not been receiving ANY MAILS since the last 6 months+ ! I have put a forwarder on my mail id hosted by HG and even though the forwarder was working fine there were no mails received from the time period of 8th Dec 2014 to 27th May 2015 on my mail server in question!

a) I called up HG immediately and (after being on hold in 4 different calls due to their pathetic tollfree service, finally connected and) spoke to a tech support person, who pretty much like previous encounters with their unprofessional staff started blaming ME for not having reported this issue earlier! Excuse me but how is the onus of this on the customer? Then she went on to ask me WHAT I was doing in the past 6 months and if this was a professional id , I should have been checking it more frequently! Flabbergasted at this personal investigation, I even asked her what business she had asking me such personal questions! Seriously, do these guys not record ANY calls? Do these people not train staff on mere basics?
b)  I had dislocated my kneecap in december, fractured it, ruptured one of my ligaments as well, and had to undergo surgery followed by intense physiotherapy to fix these issues and was bedridden for quite some time. This summed up my time from all these lost months. So excuse me, the customer, for not being able to live up to the high standards that HG has for everyone except the quality of their hosting, processes or their support staff. I had placed my faith in HG and thought that if I make whatever changes I have been asked to, post server migration, at least the rest would function fine and wouldn’t need my intervention, especially if I have other things to deal with (surgery and post-op rehabilitation). Clearly that faith was wrongly placed. Once the tech support person, got to know the reason for my absence, she was quite apologetic but she wasn’t sure about retrieval of mails.
c) Since 27th May, several people have written to me in context of this support request and the ONLY answer they have repeatedly given to me in these 2 whole months, is that the mails can not be retrieved because that server has been shutdown. SO? how does that concern me? They should have retrieved mails from backups. How to fix this issue is the tech support staff’s problem! The mails have NOT EVEN BEEN BOUNCING. My clients told me that the mails have been sent and yet I did NOT get them. They did not get any mailer daemons. So they have gone SOMEWHERE. The last time this happened in 2011, the duration was 2 weeks and the mails had been retrieved. This time the duration is MORE THAN 6 MONTHS!! And their staff says “Nothing can be done”. Well who the hell is responsible for this mess?
d) At the time of their server migration on 8 december 2014, the mail that was sent to all customers did NOT mention that mail settings had to be changed! Yet this is what ultimately had to be done to even get my mail to start working again! This is what was sent. No mention of mail anywhere.

e) Why could an automated mail not be sent for the mail server changes required? Was their tech staff sleeping all this while? What caused this major oversight? In fact I was told by their staff that they had been fixing problems as and when they came in!!! THIS is beyond shocking! As can be seen by the previous examples as well, Hostgator as an organisation, WAITS for their customers to first DISCOVER that there’s an issue, then to discover WHAT ISSUE and THEN they bother to fix it – not without personal comments & incompetence! This is the most unprofessional practice I have ever seen. Not to mention that the likelihood of people discovering problems at a point when nothing can be done, is rather high. And this is not for the first time with HG either. This is after having seen various service providers in the business because I have been maintaining several websites since a decade now! As showcased in the 11 Jan incident, Hostgator has NO processes whatsoever. And this is a wordlclass MNC we are talking about. They just put the onus of all problems on their customers. Even for basics like changes in login details and password resets and mail server changes!
f) Most importantly, WHY is the staff busy making stupid excuses now to justify the data loss which in turn is an unheard of thing! If a server is being phased out , there are backups, there are processes, there is documentation. There is absolutely NOTHING that Hostgator has here.
g) I have been exchanging mails with their idiotic India staff over this issue, since 27 MAY 15 now but to no avail.

The way their staff has been consistently unprofessional and technically incompetent, the way my experience has been over the last 4 years, needless to say I am not going to stick around with hostgator anymore. In this day and age, these guys are inaccessible be it social media channels or other traditional channels put up by them as their forefront. HG india twitter id got back to me after 3 whole days of the whole fiasco on 11 Jan. HG US twitter id however got back to me immediately. Why are the standards not same for both? Why are they even trying to run the HG India twitter id if the people handling it don’t operate as often as the social media world requires them to? Just shut it down. I would in fact, recommend shutting down Hostgator’s ENTIRE India operations because THIS PATHETIC an experience after shelling out so much money is not anyone’s cup of tea. In fact my local hosting service with no multinational operations has proved much better for the rest of my sites. At LEAST they don’t lose my data and then make stupid stories about it.

I would like to hear their Senior management’s comments on this. My hosting with Hostgator expires in 2 days. Knowing how unprofessional they can be, I won’t be surprised if they do nothing for the next 2 days, after which this issue will sort of become a moot point for them. But then there is consumer court for issues like this.
I don’t trust these people anymore. And going by my experience of last 4 years, neither should you. If you have faced any issues with your hosting provider, please share in the comments.