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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    92

    How SolarVPS lost my business after nearly 10 years.

    I do not lightly post bad comments about businesses but in this case I think people in this community should know how I was treated as a customer.

    I am sorry that this is going to be very long but I want to be thorough so everyone knows I am not doing this without good reasons.

    I have been with SolarVPS for many years, always praised them, recommended them to everyone around me and always said I would never leave them.

    For a while I had a good size VPS (don't remember the specs) and I also had a few hosted exchange accounts for a year or two. My needs changed, I sized down and for the last few years I just had a small unmanaged VPS at their VPS Color branch for $50/year.

    So recently I received an email from them telling me I need to upgrade my VPS because the old server I am on is obsolete. The email included a promo code so my new VPS would pretty much cost me the same as the old one if I stick to the same basic VPS.

    So I went to their web site to purchase my new VPS and proceeded to choose my configuration. Unfortunately for me, a bug in their purchase form gave me incorrect information about the price.

    After making my choices, I entered the promo code I had received and the form showed a price of $15/month. It is more than what I was paying before but that was normal since I chose a bigger configuration.

    As the price was quite low, I decided to pay for a full year so I changed the billing cycle to "Annually" but the form still showed $15. I then tried Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-Annually but the amount never changed.

    That should have raised a red flag and I guess I was a bit stupid there but I assumed it was just a bug in displaying the amounts. Since the price changed from whatever it was to $15 after I entered the promo code, I assumed I would pay $180 for a year so I confirmed the order and provided my credit card information.

    And that's where the bad stuff started. A few minutes later, I received 6 emails.

    First one was the standard "Welcome" email
    Second was an order confirmation for Cloud Hosting for $204.00
    Third was an order confirmation for Backup Storage for $180.00
    Fourth was the specs of my new cloud vps
    Fifth and Sixth were the invoices for these two orders.

    How was this possible ? The system said my configuration was going to cost me $15/month, how could I be charged nearly $400.00 ?

    The email I had received about the need to upgrade said to reply once the new VPS was purchased to proceed with the migration. I replied to it explaining the situation, clearly stating that I did not want to pay $400/year for a VPS.

    This was Sunday, January 26. Two days later, on the 28th I had not heard back from anyone at SolarVPS so I decided to call them and to email Ross Brouse, their COO, about it. After all, Ross never missed a chance to tell customers that they can write him anytime.

    I tried every single email address I could find for Ross but all my emails bounced back.

    On the phone I explained my situation to someone who was a little rude. As soon as I started he interrupted me to tell me there was problems with this and that and that I needed to wait before logging in. I has to raise my voice a little to ask him to listen to me so I could tell him that was not the problem I was having.

    I then explained the situation and said I wanted to cancel the orders which he did. He also told me that the promo code only works for Monthly payment and that I must not select another billing cycle.

    That would have been a nice piece of information to put in the original email they sent me.

    Then I asked him if he was authorized to give me Ross Brouse email address and he did. I wrote to him to bring this to his attention.

    Later that day, I received a reply to the email I sent Sunday (my reply to their "need to upgrade" email). The sender apologized for the delay in replying with the usual "we have lots of inquiries" and said she recreated my experience and saw what went wrong. Here's a portion of her message.

    I've recreated your order experience and see where the order page didn't reflect a clear picture of what the price is for the first 2 months compared with the subsequent months. Furthermore, our initial email failed to explain that the 2 months free includes everything except for Mission Control and Disaster Recovery. We regret not fully explaining that in our first email to you. I hope you'll give me the opportunity to correct this and help you upgrade to the SolarSystem
    This statement is actually partially wrong and/or incomplete because their initial email did not say anything about 2 months free. It only included a promo code but gave no details as to what discount this code actually would give me.

    The instructions were to go buy my new VPS. It never said that the promo code only covers hosting services and no add-on, that what it gave me was 2 months free and that I ABSOLUTELY needed to choose monthly payments.

    Before going any further, I decided to wait for the refunds to appear on my credit card. On January 30, I saw a refund for the $180 invoice but not for the other one. I also found out that I was losing money on this because I am Canadian and the refunded amount in Canadian dollars was $11.16 less than what I had been charged orginally. I was charged $205.53 and was refunded $194.37.

    I replied to the email I had received from the person who said she recreated my experience to state that I was only refunded one invoice and that I lost money in the transactions. I CC'd Ross Brouse on this.

    And this is when I got the reply that really angered me. This came from the guy I talked to on the phone.

    Eric,
    The both amount were refunded at the same time, with 20 seconds difference - sorry, i couldn't do that faster(see below).
    You signed up for a year not because of any issues with our billing system , you just did a mistake.
    We have few hundreds of clients who signed up without any issues .
    I hope you will see the refunded amount ASAP.
    So apparently this was all my fault, I made a mistake, it was not an issue with their billing system. Then I wonder why they fixed the bug after I was told they recreated my experience.

    But then, hundreds of clients had no problems so I guess that makes me the stupid one.

    And mind you, there is no mention in his reply about the money I am losing.

    So I called my credit card issuer and they said they couldn't see any other refund waiting to be processed. They told me to wait and if I still don't have it after 15 days, that I should call them back so they could contest it with the merchant.

    This morning, the second refund finally showed up on my credit card statement. For this I want to be clear that I am not blaming SolarVPS. It is very strange that two refunds processed within 20 seconds of each other would be treated by Visa over a day apart but that is not SolarVPS' fault.

    However, I am again losing money on the transaction. I was charged $232.93 CAD for a $204 USD amount and I am getting a refund for $220.78.

    At this point, I already spent hours on this which were not spent on working for my paying customers. I feel there is no point in spending more time trying to get that money back from SolarVPS, I'd rather put that time on billable hours.

    But that all leaves a very bad taste. I don't see why I should lose money because somebody over there dropped the ball.

    So this is how SolarVPS lost my business and ended up getting a bad review here. Before writing this I emailed them to say I would not stay with them.

    For the record, I CC'd Ross Brouse on that last email as well, although he has not replied to the previous ones.

    I think there's a lesson here to be learnt for all hosting providers. We, the customers, are your bread and butter. When you **** up, bite the bullet, don't tell us it was our mistake.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    731
    There is a lot of detail, but I read:

    * The hosting provider told you that after many years, they could no longer support your VPS on their obsolete hardware.
    * Something bad happened.
    * There were various exchanges of miscommunications and misunderstandings. Neither side wants to assume responsibility for what happened.
    * The provider refunded your money in full in their local currency, although there was an unexplained delay for one part of the refund. From the provider's point of view, you were refunded in full; who could reasonably ask for more than that?
    * Due to currency exchange fluctuations and/or foreign currency credit card processing fees, you lost CDN$ 24.
    * You expect the provider to assume responsibility, and pay additional money out of their own pocket to cover your loss due to foreign currency exchange, even though they already refunded your payment in full in their own currency.

    In my opinion, when a buyer chooses to deal with a foreign company, the buyer assumes the risk of currency fluctuations for refunds. The buyer also assumes the risk of future monthly cost increases (in the buyer's currency) due to future exchange rate changes, and so forth. It is not unlike many mail order companies, who will not pay for return shipping, even if the product was damaged or defective at no fault of the buyer.

    It isn't always fair, but it is the common way that things work.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    72
    Quote Originally Posted by vps_newbie View Post
    There is a lot of detail, but I read:

    * Due to currency exchange fluctuations and/or foreign currency credit card processing fees, you lost CDN$ 24.
    * You expect the provider to assume responsibility, and pay additional money out of their own pocket to cover your loss due to foreign currency exchange, even though they already refunded your payment in full in their own currency.

    In my opinion, when a buyer chooses to deal with a foreign company, the buyer assumes the risk of currency fluctuations for refunds. The buyer also assumes the risk of future monthly cost increases (in the buyer's currency) due to future exchange rate changes, and so forth.
    I think you missed the part about the website telling him he was signing up for a $15/month service, then proceeding to charge his card close to $400.

    Regardless, I'm a bit surprised that a cancellation of charges / reversal would not happen at the same exchange rate. It should be as if the transaction never took place, but this sounds like a refund was issued in USD instead of a cancellation/reversal of the original charges. If that's the case, SolarVPS should take into account the difference in exchange rates as the charges were their fault to being with. That is probably not going to happen, so OP should ask CC to fix this mess, though it doesn't appear he wants to spend the time on that.
    Last edited by MetroAce; 01-31-2014 at 02:20 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    731
    Quote Originally Posted by MetroAce View Post
    I think you missed the part about the website telling him he was signing up for a $15/month service, then proceeding to charge his card close to $400.

    Regardless, I'm a bit surprised that a cancellation of charges / reversal would not happen at the same exchange rate. It should be as if the transaction never took place, but this sounds like a refund was issued in USD instead of a cancellation/reversal of the original charges. If that's the case, SolarVPS should take into account the difference in exchange rates as the charges were their fault to being with. That is probably not going to happen, so OP should ask CC to fix this mess, though it doesn't appear he wants to spend the time on that.
    Good points. Nonetheless, SolarVPS probably assumes that they refunded his money as they see it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Costa Blanca
    Posts
    11
    EricG, the woman you dealt with there, were her initials J T

    I had a similar email about having to upgrade my vps, been with them since 2008 and not had a bad word to say. Their tech support staff are spot on.

    Dealing with J T and support tickets for what looks like a glitch in their order system, is beyond painful
    Along with several glitches with their customer area
    But if you put support tickets in about problems with the customer area, you will use up your 3 complimentary $10 tickets

    I had to use a different browser today to cancel a windows vps I have with them. IE11 hangs on the cancel button

    J T replies to support tickets once a day, about 11am her time

    Expect a reply after replying the same day and your in for a 24hr wait

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    73
    Another almost-10-year customer here. I've also been thrown into this migration vortex and am just wrapping things up. The process has not been smooth for me and I somewhat regret accepting their offer for migration assistance, because I think it's caused me more hassle in the end. I'm also convinced that J T is a part-time robot.

    I was interested in some of the points made about the initial email from solar, because my email did specifically point out the billing period limitations and exclusions, so it's possible your poor experience has been internalized to the benefit of the rest of us.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    /dev/null
    Posts
    469
    i don't like this way of dealing i'm not talking about solarvps only i'm talking about all providers who forces the customers to upgrade just to pay more i think they must move the old systems to the new ones with the same price and the same specifications without all these complicated procedures, i can call this "the easiest way to lose customers" its like kicking them out

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    73
    To be fair, I'm paying slightly less for a similar set of resources. It's not one to one, I get more of one thing and less of another. If I were a managed customer (I was) who actually needed to keep being supported with management (I don't), then I would be burned pretty badly, I think. They also offered a couple months free on the new pod (they should), since I'll have to run both servers concurrently for a while. And they offered to do the migration for me (As they also should).

    I understand there might be a need to retire old infrastructure and I think they took most of the right steps. The actual execution just could have been better. I also suspect some customers are getting burned more than others, due to the fuzzy definition (and history!) of managed support with SolarVPS.

  9. #9
    I was looking at trying them but will not risk my site after this review. Thank you very much.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Kepler 62f
    Posts
    14,877
    If you see any of my past praise of them ... disregard it for now. I'm not at all thrilled myself.

    Better hosts like LiquidWeb and EuroVPS do not have these issues!

    When EuroVPS migrated all VPS clients from old Virtuozzo plans to new Xen cloud plans, it was seamless. Not only that, but we got 11 *months* of warning that it was going to happen.
    || Need a good host?
    || See my Suggested Hosts List || Editorial: EIG/Site5/Arvixe/Hostgator Alternatives
    ||

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    292
    I can confirm that solarvps billing system had issues. I also once tried to order a vps and I also saw miscalculation. So the op is definitely not lying about this. Secondly, their solar control panel also has/had issues in which I was able to see all the pods of all the customers. I could easily manage all pods, restart, boot, shutdown them but I chose to inform solarvps about the same. I had opened the ticket about it too. Anyways these issues are nothing which are being faced now a days i.e major downtime of vps and when I asked them about downtime they said it would take weeks to fix it. I am finding something fishy about this as I have 2 vps with them and 1 is highly discounted (which was my first vps with them) and 2nd is not that highly discount and I am only facing issues with 1st vps.

    ---
    We are currently experiencing performance related issues with our NetApp SAN storage platform. We are working diligently with our vendor ( NetApp ) to resolve the issue based upon their specific recommendations. This is a process that may take several weeks to resolve, however, during that time you may likely see incremental performance improvements. Our engineering team is also working on standing up additional storage resources to continue to meet the demands of our customers. We will continue to keep you updated as new developments become available and any applicable ETAs related to resolution. As always, we sincerely appreciate your business and your support.

    Regards,
    Srikanth
    ---

    I feel that they are trying to make people leave the discounted vps, so they can resell them at higher price again. I am not accusing but its just a guess.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Chihuahua, Mexico
    Posts
    55
    @kikloo:

    I have 8 VPSs with SolarVPS, and 6 of them heavily discounted. Only one of the discounted and one of the regular price are having issues, but as I write this, they have been down for more than 24 hours (that I noticed). The days before they had also been very unstable. As you, I opened tickets and have gotten no reply. I only got two nights ago the same canned response you posted.

    Too bad for them. I have been really happy for the last 6 years with them, but I can't stand it anymore.
    Luis Alonso Ramos
    Intelectix
    Chihuahua, Mexico

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Moscow
    Posts
    1,490
    Good lesson for host to learn how fast they could lost client just for any even small problem now. I only would recommend to all affected clients little more patience as weel give more trust your old and well known host.
    **** happen there and here all the times, no one in the world can promise you 100% uptime or exclude mistake.
    Regards losses on TS due to refund unfortunately host could not help you with that because it is caused by payment system processing fee and your host never see that part of your payment.
    Rustelekom LLC Dedicated server since 2002, RIPE NCC member, LIR, AS51168

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    49
    However, I am again losing money on the transaction. I was charged $232.93 CAD for a $204 USD amount and I am getting a refund for $220.78.
    And there is nothing that you can do, because the merchant, in good faith, refunded your credit card account for the USD amount that was charged. It was obviously refunded at a lesser CAD amount because of the USD exchange rate.

    You can contact your credit card company and request a goodwill credit for the difference, but it's up to them. As a Canadian, you need to be wary when you deal with American merchants, because exchange rates can really do you in if you are not careful.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by rustelekom View Post
    Good lesson for host to learn how fast they could lost client just for any even small problem now.
    Competition makes it more of a value to find another host, than to deal with the headaches now. Can find another host; transfer; setup and have your IP repropagated within 2 days. Can't let those tickets sit on the backburner anymore.

    So it behooves hosts to try to please their customers, as Joe Schmoo down the street is eager to do so, too.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    92
    I'm surprised that most here tell me the money I lost is due to exchange rate. I guess I am wrong but I always thought in a case like this that the merchant would cancel the transaction, not issue a refund for the amount it charged originally.

    In my mind a cancellation would simply reverse a transaction at the same exchange rate that was at the time of the charge. A cancelled transaction would also mean that the credit company would refund their currency conversion fee instead of charging it again for doing a second conversion.

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