Yet another tale of woe. is one of the largest web hosting companies in the world. They established themselves in Europe before making a big splashy entrance in the US a couple of years ago, with huge advertising sections on thick glossy paper in dozens of magazines. They offer rock bottom prices, a wide range of services, and well-designed online control panels.

I started using them and recommending them for domain name registration ($5.99/year), web hosting, and hosted Exchange mailboxes. A year ago I had a couple of reasonably good experiences with customer support.

A client called up a few months ago and complained that he had a terrible experience with an aggressively incompetent tech support person in India. Hmm.

Two friends had so much trouble with the hosted Exchange service that they cancelled the service. Another lost access to his Exchange mailbox for a day and got no satisfaction from his phone calls.

Today a business client learned that had locked his account, turned off his web site, and stopped the company e-mail, with no notice whatsoever – no e-mail, no letter. There was an issue with the company credit card – details are hazy, but let’s assume the card lapsed.

The lack of notice was inexcusable. This has the potential to do serious harm to a business that lives by its e-mail.

The reaction from 1and1’s customer support was worse. A bored customer service rep explained that the account had been turned over to a collection agency, and nothing could be done until the business “negotiated” a payment through the collection agency – at which point 1and1 would have to be called again to throw the switch on the domain names. There would then be even more of a delay, another 24 hours, before the domain came to life and the mail started to flow.

This is very bad.

Many businesses with millions of customers get treated to web pages like this one full of complaints, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant to run across them, and it’s a little hard to find people praising 1and1 recently. There are some anecdotes about support being outsourced and company properties being relocated – and a persistent theme that things at 1and1 have deteriorated fast in the last six months.

Sonic does domain name registration and web hosting. Their mail handling for domains is primitive, their online controls are clumsy – heck, even their sales pitches are a bit confusing. But I don’t think Sonic would allow your domain to go dead without notifying you, and so far Sonic hasn’t started routing support calls to India.

Hmmm . . .

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