FishWisePro is a web site that provides information on all known species of fish. It is published by the author of www.fishwise.co.za, Dennis Polack. I have been privileged to help Dennis by developing the web site pages that extract the data from a SQL database and display it for the user.
We chose WebHost4Life last year because they offered enough disk space and database space to support a large database such as this. Now they have "transitioned" the site to their "new platform" and predictably it doesn't work.
I visited the site today only to discover the site is completely blank. Fortunately the data upload is going according to schedule, because we reorganised the database structure, and I re-generated all the data support pages to match the structure a week ago. I wonder how long the site will be down this time?
Update 28 March (day 1): I logged ticket no 6883865 and called international long distance to the USA to their "support" number. So far all I have is the following boilerplate response:
Hello,So basically they haven't admitted it but they have screwed up and now I must wait for 2 days for them to look into it. I'm willing to bet it takes longer than 48 hours.
Thank you for contacting Support.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. I have checked your website http://fishwisepro.com and I was able to duplicate the issue. I have asked a member of our team who specializes in website issue to review your account. You should be hearing from this specialists within 24-48 hours. If you have any questions in the meantime, please let us know and be sure to refer to the link http://www.webhost4life.com/member/sconsole for the quickest service.
Thank you for choosing WebHost4Life, we appreciate your support.
Update Tuesday 30 March (day 3): as expected, the issue is not resolved, so I have changed the front page on the old platform in the hope of embarrassing them into changing to the new platform. My wife calls this "guerilla warfare". I call it revenge. As soon as they let me edit the files on the "new platform" I will be able to fix any errors, or at least tell them what's broken. Right now they are just wasting everyone's time.
Update Thursday (day 5): It's now 5 days since they stuffed it up, and finally we are on the new platform after much begging and pleading. Overnight they screwed up the site again, redirecting everything to a blank page. But at least now I have access to the files so I can repair the damage. The migration is 34 days late. Not bad for a 2-bit hosting company.
Friday 2 April, 14h20 SAST (day 6): I came in to the office to work on the web site (it's a public holiday in SA) and was greeted with an HTTP error 503. Basically that means the web server is broken. Last night the SQL Server vcnsql82.webhost4life.com was broken or flaky. Today its backup wizard doesn't work. They are obviously having a great time in the server room. I wonder how many days it will take to fix?
Update Saturday (day 7): According to ticket #6902824 the problem was resolved after 22 hours, but the site still isn't working. So now we have had to reopen the ticket. That means the site has been unusable for pretty much an entire week.
I'm not the conspiratorial sort, but I get suspicious about the slow progress in fixing these problems. Especially when they offer a special "Premium Support" option for an additional $29.95 per month. Read between the lines in this sales pitch:
All of your support will be delivered by a team of North American-based Premium Agents.Does that mean I'm not getting support from North American-based agents at present? Does it mean that "normal" support requests don't get priority? The usually say that I should expect a response within 24-48 hours, and in the "how did we do?" survey they ask if the problem was resolved within 72 hours.
You'll have access to a customized online Support Console that you can use and route online requests to our Premium agents.
All of your requests will be expedited. So if your Premium Agent needs assistance fulfilling your request, our Tier II agents and Engineers will give it special priority.
What Makes a Premium Agent?In other words if you pay four times the "Advanced Hosting Plan" you get the "A" team who are not nearly as useless as the current "B" team. Spot the ripoff. Now there is talk of a class action lawsuit in the USA, and a community action group of current and past WebHost4Life customers.
The most experienced agents, those with the longest tenure at WebHost4Life;
Agents with the highest internal quality scores, based on audits conducted by our Management Team;
Customer Favorites! Premium Agents consistently receive high customer-satisfaction ratings from customers like you.
Wednesday 7th (day 9): The site is down again, and remained flaky the whole day. It either gave out partial pages or refused connections completely. I had to report the problem twice, because the first "help" chat agent refused to log the fault. Ticket #6918854 says they are still "researching" the problem. It took them 5 hours to start working on the issue.
Sunday 11 April (day 10): Site up and down again, refusing connections. Error page not working, stats not working. So far I have been in contact with their abysmal chat line 17 times in 2 weeks. Total time wasted: in excess of 24 working hours. Cost: at least $1200, excluding phone calls and bandwidth costs.
Update: one of their "Escalated Support" people said he was getting fast load times (within 1 sec) measured using a Firefox add-in called "lori". Here are my results:
"New platform": Time to first byte: 17 sec, time to completion: 63.9 sec. Depending on how you do the maths, that's anything from 45% to 193% slower on the "new" platform.
Delight customers and help them succeed by profitably delivering superior solutions and an outstanding customer experience.
Their customers think otherwise.
Thursday 15 April (day 12): last night these bright sparks enhanced my outstanding customer experience by deleting the Mustang.co.za SQL database. I wonder what else they plan to break?
I was able to duplicate your issue. In order to investigate further, I need to escalate the issue to one of our technical specialists. You should be hearing from this specialist within 24-48 hours.They also changed the stats settings to use AWStats instead of Webalyzer. I wonder why they did that?
Mon 19 April: Today's "outstanding customer experience" is the discovery that the FTP service has been randomly refusing connections all weekend. And another day's worth of server logs is missing. I'm really not looking for these problems: I note them as I bump into them, that's all.