the walking writer

As I write this, I’m currently uploading files to my new web host. I’ve been a loyal customer of A Small Orange for many years. I joined them when they were still a fairly small company, back when they still had customer forums and you could expect quick responses to support issues. A few years ago, ASO was gobbled up with many other web hosting companies by a company known as EIG. You don’t have to look far on the web to find a long list of complaints about web hosts owned by EIG. In ASO’s case, however, I believe they managed to hold onto their support staff for many years. Unfortunately, that seems to have changed recently.

Last month, I suddenly realized my site was suspended. I was rather surprised as I had seen the PayPal receipt for my invoice that month. After logging into the email I used for ASO, I discovered they claimed they never got the payment and had suspended my site. Now, I fully admit that I should have seen the emails warning me that they were going to suspend my account due to non-payment, but I’ve been using the same PayPal subscription for years without problem and as I said earlier, I saw the receipt for December’s payment.

So, I sent in a ticket. And waited….and waited some more. I looked at their Twitter and discovered their Twitter feed was full of messages to and from clients about tickets not being answered. Each time, the poor soul manning the Twitter feed would ask for a ticket number and problem to get the issue looked at. That is a terrible way to do customer service, in my opinion. In my case, I don’t have a Twitter account, so I decided I would just jump into their live chat. It took 15 minutes, but finally, I got someone to look at my issue and fix it immediately. I never really got an explanation for what happened, just some claim that PayPal had held onto the money for some unknown reason. The fact that they were able to fix the problem within mere minutes indicates to me that something may have actually gone wrong on ASO’s end. If it was PayPal’s problem, wouldn’t they have needed to actually talk to PayPal first?

Well, this little incident made it clear to me that I needed to look for a new host. During the holidays, I put it on the back burner, but I made sure to closely watch my invoices for January’s payment. Sure enough, once again, PayPal deducted my money and ASO said that my invoice had not been paid and that I was late. I responded immediately to the email they sent, and waited. Two days later, they sent another automatic warning email about the lack of payment. I replied to that email immediately. Two days later, they sent me a final notice about the non-payment, so once again sent in another email. Finally, four (!!!) days after the initial email I sent in, I got a reply. This time, they gave me a completely different explanation for the problem then they did last month. It’s pretty clear to me that they don’t know what is going on, and while they are willing to fix things for their customers, you could be waiting for days and days for help. I should also note the customer service rep offered no apology for the delays or the payment problem.

Based on reading their Twitter feed, I understand that ASO is having significant problems serving clients who pay far more money than I do. However, just because I am a small potato compared to other customers, doesn’t mean rather urgent issue can’t be fixed. It’s amazing to me that a web hosting company would ignore someone who’s on the verge of having their site incorrectly suspended yet again.

I am sorry to have to say that I would strongly recommend staying away from A Small Orange. Fortunately, there are plenty of other web hosts out there, including my new host, iWF Hosting.

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