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  1. #1
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    iWeb8 Technologies - A Flat Out Nightmare

    I warn you, there is not a single good thing to be said about iWeb8 after our vast experience with them so if you want cliffnotes, picture a man shuffling through around 100 emails, invoices and chat logs while screaming in frustration. I’m attempting to piece together a structured account of our experience at iWeb8 Technologies through all that so bear with me here.

    We run a non-commercial website that receives around 20 million page views per month. The problem is we quickly outgrew our technical know-how and had a pickle on our hands once our dedicated server at HostGator started buckling under the pressure. Friday is our most active day, as that’s when we have new content for our members – it’s also the day when our server became virtually inaccessible due to the traffic. We needed a solution, because HostGator basically told us to upgrade our machine or stop bothering them, [click here] for that story.

    We narrowed our choices down to 2, SoftLayer or iWeb8 Technologies. We called them both up and learned about their datacenters and what direction we should go with our situation. SoftLayer’s salesman misunderstood a bit (as we later learned, more on that later) and offered us an overwhelmingly costly setup (upwards of $1500+ per month). iWeb8 ‘s sales representative “Brian” reeled us in with a couple promises –
    1) The solution they outlined to us (2 web servers, 1 database server) would work.
    2) If we opted for Level 5 management ($149/month) they would “treat our servers as if they were their own” (word for word)

    We were very excited and worked out the details with them. We were convinced to go with a 12 month plan which would save us money in the long run. Our server manager suddenly switched from “Brian” to “Patrick Bertrand” at that point. And then the problems started.

    The very first Friday we were fully set up on their servers, we crashed. We crashed under less traffic than our single cheap dedicated server at HostGator handled. It took iWeb8 1 hour to reboot our server. The next Friday, we crashed. We were down for 3 hours before we were rebooted. On 11/08/07 We asked for a hardware diagnostic and an inquiry into why we were crashing with pretty much twice the power we previously had – they told us we should add 2GB more ram to our servers for $50/month each.

    We had them install the 2GB on one server to do them in phases, and thus minimize downtime. After the installation of ram that server performed far worse than it ever did before, and shot up to 100% CPU usage with 1 user online. This was my first experience with the post 6 PM Janitors who man their support staff. Apparently after that timeframe all the knowledgeable techs go home. After hours of waiting and talking on live chat / phone (to the same person every time, the only person who answered…) I was basically told that nobody there could do anything and I would have to wait until 8 AM EST for a senior technician to look at it. OTHERWISE, I could pay $180/hour or some ridiculously high number to get it immediately looked at. That Level 5 support really pays for itself huh?

    I hired an emergency outsource administrator to look at it, he quoted me at $200 until the problem is resolved which was a steal. He found that I didn’t need ram at all. It was in fact my faulty motherboard that was causing the problems on that server. Ooooooh! Thanks for doing your “hardware diagnostic” properly and telling us to upgrade our ram for $50/month iWeb8, you’re really looking out for your customers. Finally at 12:15PM EST noon the next day it was looked at and replaced.

    Exactly 1 week later on 11/15/07 all of our servers went offline for an hour or two. We were told it was a network issue and it was resolved. Nice.

    Now here’s where the monster problems started. On the evening of Tuesday 12/01/07 all of our servers went offline. We opened an emergency ticket and the Janitor responded saying 3 apache modules were missing (huh?) and that it was fixed. Thing is, it wasn’t fixed at all. All 3 servers were still offline and unreachable. Finally our outsourced server admin gets into one of them and sees the load at 150+ with a ton of httpd threads open. He runs netstat and concludes we’re being DDoS attacked. Swing and a miss again, iWeb.

    After exchanging pleasantries with the Janitor all night the senior staff finally got in at 8AM. His conclusion was to shut down apache and wait it out, since iWeb8 has no DDoS mitigation systems. Great. 2 days pass and nothing improves. We talk with our server manager to find out if we can terminate our contract and take our business elsewhere due to the pile of [expletive deleted] they’ve dumped on us ever since signing us, and the uselessness of “Level 5” support. He responds saying, and I quote

    “Concerning level 5 support, have you requested the monitoring service alerts to be sent to our sysadmin cell phones ? if you did please provide the original RT number so that i can investigate to see why it has not been done on our side”

    Wonderful. So you’re basically paying for nothing until you use your psychic powers to determine that you need to request something you thought was assumed with your $149/month. Nowhere when we signed up were we told we had to submit a ticket to request that our Level 5 support is useful. He also mentioned that the original salesman was “wrong” in offering us the phrase “we treat your servers like they’re our own”.

    He responds again saying the website is working from his side. We test from 3 ISPs and proxies and we can’t connect, so no, it’s not working. Our server admin determined that their solution involved blocking pretty much all incoming traffic except their own range. We once again requested that the contract be terminated, as we were blatantly lied to on multiple occasions and they’re threatening our website with their poor level of service. He says he needs to discuss it with the higher ups.

    At this point I’d already moved my sites to a 2 web server 1 database setup at SoftLayer, they put my site under their Cisco Guard and their team actively worked against my DDoS attack, ending it within a few hours. I’ve been happily at SoftLayer ever since 12/5/07 without any issues on this setup. See my review of them by [clicking here].

    Anyway, on 12/17/07 iWeb sends a global email to all their customers informing them that “Improvements will be made to night and weekend customer service”, thus admitting that they were actually manning their Janitors – too little too late though.

    On 01/15/07 we still hadn’t heard from them (except for a couple dozen invoices that failed because we weren’t going to send them anything until this was finalized), so we talked to our lawyer and threatened legal measures on iWeb8 if we didn’t hear from them so that we could terminate the contract. On 01/16/07 we got an email from Patrick Bertrand confirming that the contract could be ended, they would send us the details later.

    Turns out the details was they wanted 20% of the remaining contract value to terminate, which he ensured me was a “good deal” because “he knows his company and this is the lowest they’ll go”. Is he trying to sell me a car or what? At this point it’s whatever, if we can pay $1,495.26 (20% of the remaining contract) to make the iWeb8 nightmare end, let’s do it. So we did, on 01/25/08 we paid the entire amount and our contract was effectively terminated.

    Now in March the nightmare returns. We receive an email from them demanding that we pay $740.00 for “services” rendered from the period of when he said he’d talk to the higher ups till we were waiting for them to do virtually nothing until we called them up in January.

    At this point we’re weighing the option of paying off these swindlers and being done with it once and for all (even though they’ll probably come back to us in June with “interest” invoices on this current one) against fighting it. That’s where we’re at now… I hope this was enlightening for you if you’re considering falling for iWeb’s lies, random surcharges and all in all horrible service.
    Last edited by pixd; 03-11-2008 at 03:11 PM.

  2. #2
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    Do not pay.

    Talk to your lawyers and tell iWeb to go jump in a lake. I am saying this even though I have a lot of respect for iWeb. They just dropped the ball on this one and someone isn't paying attention to what happened. You have an agreement to terminate with a payout which was ridiculous to begin with since from my perspective you didn't get the services provided but I know sometimes its best just to pay hush money to terminate cleanly and move along.
    André Allen | E: aallen(a)linovus.ca
    Linovus Holdings Inc
    Shared Hosting, Reseller Hosting, VPS, Dedicated Servers & Public Cloud | USA, Canada & UK - 24x7x365 Support

  3. #3
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    First I am sorry you had issues with our services, I am aware of some sales related issues lately (which should be almost solved at this time) but the technical side of our operations is normally appreciated.

    I will try to get more details about this particular case. I guess you bought our Web Cluster offer (2 load balancers, 2 web servers and one database server). We have a lot of customers under that special high availability plan, some with multiple web servers and multiple database servers and yes we treat their servers as if there were ours and all the customers I know under that plan are really happy with it, but getting to the required level of support on such a high availability solution is not something that is done magically, it is only possible with communication between our team and the customer.

    Customers need to detail their complete setups, explain what they are doing with the servers, tell us what ports we should monitor 24/7 and what response we must take upon notifications, tell us what special configurations they use, what content they want us to backup (as the plan also includes backup space) if they need us to replicate the content on the web servers, etc. We can also assist the customers in taking the good decisions related to those things but again it is only possible with communications with the team. This procedure is supposed to be explained by your account manager (in this case Patrick Bertrand) and is outlined in some documents you sign when you sign up or in the welcome letter. I will double check to see if there were problems in communicating this to you. I am not saying you did not do it, but just trying to explain the complete process.

    I also do not understand why you are talking about server reboot delays when all servers are provided with remote reboot ports you can use to reboot the server yourself at anytime. You also seem to be mixing DDoS related issues with server support issues. As for DDoS protection service, we introduced such services on our new web site yesterday which will be available in 2 or 3 weeks.

    I will try to get more details and should will be able to give you feedback shortly about the billing issue.
    Last edited by atchoooo; 03-11-2008 at 04:44 PM.
    :: Martin Leclair
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  4. #4
    I wouldn't have paid them the original amount to make them go away. Our lawyers would have gladly went after them. Glad Softlayer is giving you what you want!

  5. #5
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    I will try to get more details about this particular case. I guess you bought our Web Cluster offer (2 load balancers, 2 web servers and one database server). We have a lot of customers under that special high availability plan, some with multiple web servers and multiple database servers and yes we treat their servers as if there were ours and all the customers I know under that plan are really happy with it, but getting to the required level of support on such a high availability solution is not something that is done magically, it is only possible with communication between our team and the customer.

    Customers need to detail their complete setups, explain what they are doing with the servers, tell us what ports we should monitor 24/7 and what response we must take upon notifications, tell us what special configurations they use, etc. This procedure is supposed to be explained by your account manager (in this case Patrick Bertrand) and is outlined in some documents you sign when you sign up or in the welcome letter. I will double check to see if there were problems in communicating this to you. I am not saying you did not do it, but just trying to explain the complete process.

    I also do not understand why you are talking about server reboot delays when all servers are provided with remote reboot ports you can use to reboot the server yourself at anytime. You also seem to be mixing DDoS related issues with server support issues. As for DDoS protection service, we introduced such services on our new web site yesterday which will be available in 2 or 3 weeks.

    I will try to get more details and should will be able to give you feedback shortly about the billing issue.
    Give me a break Martin. Let's not try and patronize me and justify horrible support with "high availability". Like I said, there were over 100 emails, phone conversations and live chats exchanged during my tenure at iWeb.

    We spent 1 week preparing our move to iWeb and detailing our setup with your sales team. You received our traffic logs and bandwidth graphs and offered us a solution that you said would work. It didn't.

    I looked over everything and not once did you team mention that in order for Level 5 support to be useful to me I needed to open a trouble ticket and request it. What was I paying $149/month for? It certainly wasn't intended to be a charitable donation to the BS foundation.

    I wasn't clear on the reboot delays. You gave us a pretty bland control panel for rebooting that never worked properly - we would reboot and the server wouldn't come back up so we had to get in touch with your support staff who took several hours to remedy it.

    I'm not mixing up anything with the DDoS issues. Your team wasted valuable time on wild goose chases with all of our issues including that one. It was our own outsourced admin who gave the heads up in every case. I don't really care if you're introducing new DDoS measures in 2 or 3 weeks. Where was it 3-4 months ago? Why did SoftLayer fix so easily something that you said couldn't be fixed? They identified the ip ranges of the attackers and ended the attack quickly. Your team did nothing.

    and yes we treat their servers as if there were ours
    What? Now you're saying that again? I was told that the first time Brian said that to me it was wrong, because he was "new". There's another lie I guess. Unless you don't treat your own servers too good.
    Last edited by pixd; 03-11-2008 at 05:08 PM.

  6. #6
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    Ouch, this certainly is a pain in the ***.

    Hope you'll manage to get it sorted out.

  7. #7
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    My only additional comment is that you probably shouldn't expect DDOS mitigation is it is not explicitly stated. That is a special service. I really do hope it works out.

  8. #8
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    I will not start a debate here.

    I believe you when you say you had a bad experience. I hope you believe me when I say that such experiences are not current at iWeb (and you can search WHT to confirm) and my concern is to understand what happened in order to make sure such experiences do not happen again. I need to get the facts and will get back to you. And yes we do treat web cluster customer's servers as if there were ours, and we normally treat those servers very well .... there are limitations (the level 5 package includes 2 hours of software work time per month per server) but I expect the same response times and problem resolution approach from the staff on our customer's servers vs on our own. I know it was not the case for you and my duty is to understand what happened and make sure it does not happen again.

    Regards,
    Last edited by atchoooo; 03-11-2008 at 07:40 PM.
    :: Martin Leclair
    :: Linkedin Profile

  9. #9
    These guys are amazing. They get everyone to sign a contract but we were smart about it. We only setup a Nagios monitoring server with them some 6 months ago but we told them we would not sign any contract. After we told them we would go elsewhere they agreed. So we did not sign their contract and 4 months later we cancelled their service. Even after we cancelled they left the server running for an additional 2 months. Finally around the 3rd month they got the message.
    << Please see the Rules page. >>

  10. #10
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    My only additional comment is that you probably shouldn't expect DDOS mitigation is it is not explicitly stated. That is a special service. I really do hope it works out.
    On that issue my problem was not so much the lack of mitigation equipment (though if I was running a datacenter it would be something I would invest in, despite the high cost). It's that they developed a history of telling me the problems are something that they are not.

    Them: Add more ram
    Reality: Faulty motherboard

    Them: Apache's modules are messed up
    Reality: You're being DDoS attacked

    Them: We can't do anything about this DDoS
    Reality: If we invested a couple hours we could stop this type of attack in iptables and .htaccess deny rules.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by atchoooo View Post
    I will not start a debate here.
    This attitude right here is a problem. Never once have we heard an apology for all we went through with your company. We paid your $1400, wasn't that enough? Leave us alone. The reason this post exists is because you're threatening collections agencies and calling us trying to take even more money from us after our contract was effectively terminated.

    Quote Originally Posted by atchoooo View Post
    I believe you when you say you had a bad experience. I hope you believe me when I say that such experiences are not current at iWeb (and you can search WHT to confirm) and my concern is to understand what happened in order to make sure such experiences do not happen again. I need to get the facts and will get back to you.
    I'm not really here to help you improve your services. What you do with this thread's contents is up to you. Do you realize how much of mine, and my partners time your company has wasted? The only thing I'm expecting from iWeb is the retraction of this $740 bill and an apology from the staff involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by atchoooo View Post
    As I wrote before, we will offer a DDoS attack detection & mitigation server upgrade in 2-3 weeks for about $50 per server but at the time of your order, we did not offer it and never stated that we offered it. If your problems were DDoS related and you thought our services included some kind of DDoS attack protection or detection system, then the problem is not really related to our services but more to you expecting a service from us that we did not offer.
    Try and understand my problems before making this assumption again please. My problems extend far beyond the DDoS issue, that was simply the straw that broke the camels back as it were. For the record (to other people), SoftLayer offers this service for $5 under a Business Continuance Insurance plan, and it provides more then just DDoS protection. I'm sure other big datacenters have similar cost effective protection.
    Last edited by pixd; 03-11-2008 at 07:57 PM.

  12. #12
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    I told you I was sorry and I would investigate the issue. It was meant to be an appology, sorry if it did not look like it was. As for the collection agency thing, let me investigate the issue and I will get back to you or post what comes out of my investigation here when I understand correctly what happened. Softlayer's Business Continuance Insurance plan is a good package and with the addition of our DDoS protection appliances we hope to be able to offer such a plan. Give me some time to get the whole picture of what happened and I'll be back. (sorry I made a mistake editing my previous post and deleted part of it).
    :: Martin Leclair
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  13. #13
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    At 10:58 AM this morning I received another email from iWeb. Again with the collections agency threats.

    Hi xxxxxx,

    Your account has been suspended because you failed to pay your invoices
    on time. To reactivate your account you need to pay your balance and contact
    our billing team at [email protected]

    If we do not receive your payment, your account will turned over to our
    collection agency [Dun & Bradstreet]. This could affect your credit
    ratings if you do not pay your due quickly.

  14. #14
    I am following this thread with interest, as I am a client of Iweb. I'd like to say that I always have been treated well their staff, even if there are some issues with billing that has to be sorted out. It is not that I have been overbilled, but some routines seems to not be in place, leaving a confused client (myself) having to write to Iweb - and all out of a misunderstanding.

  15. #15
    Can't help thinking why the quality of service is so variable in this industry... I bet there are those that will sing the praises of this vendor but pixd had a horrible experience.

    Case in point, we did not have a great experience with Softlayer. One of the servers we provisioned kept becoming unavailable and even though we were paying for system monitoring and had configured in the portal to alert the NOC we had to request someone to investigate every time it happened. Luckily we weren't in production but this and other technical requests that were not handled in a satisfactory manner led us to ditch SL.

    In the end I think you get what you pay for. And although most people focus on RAM and CPU and such it's really operational excellence that differentiates the vendors.

    Cheers

  16. #16
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    Looks like iweb8 have made a big mistake and should be turning this around quite quickly, otherwise it might just be their ratings that will be affected.

    Good Luck Pixd
    ZXPlay
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasondbecker View Post
    Can't help thinking why the quality of service is so variable in this industry... I bet there are those that will sing the praises of this vendor but pixd had a horrible experience.

    ...

    Cheers
    That can be said for any industry however. Anyone with sufficient volume must be doing something right and are probably making some mistakes. I haven't met any company yet that doesn't make mistakes as any company is made up of people.
    André Allen | E: aallen(a)linovus.ca
    Linovus Holdings Inc
    Shared Hosting, Reseller Hosting, VPS, Dedicated Servers & Public Cloud | USA, Canada & UK - 24x7x365 Support

  18. #18
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    At 10:58 AM this morning I received another email from iWeb. Again with the collections agency threats.
    Those are automatic notifications. Could you PM me your account number or email address linked to your account so I can sort this out. I am travelling tomorrow, please do not worry if I can't get back to you before the end of the week.
    :: Martin Leclair
    :: Linkedin Profile

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Coolraul View Post
    That can be said for any industry however. Anyone with sufficient volume must be doing something right and are probably making some mistakes. I haven't met any company yet that doesn't make mistakes as any company is made up of people.
    I agree. Generally, the bigger the company is the more mistakes will appear on the forums.

    For example:

    Satisfy 99 clients out of 100, and get one customer coming onto the forums. Multiply that by 1,000, and it adds up fast.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by atchoooo View Post
    Those are automatic notifications. Could you PM me your account number or email address linked to your account so I can sort this out. I am travelling tomorrow, please do not worry if I can't get back to you before the end of the week.
    I sent the PM. It's funny though that with all the clues, including our account manager's full name you still have no idea who we are. Do you work in different locations?

    Also, we were billed another $15 today for a "reactivation fee". Was that automatic too?

  21. #21
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    As I confirmed by PM and email, your account's balance will be credited. Your balance was your server bill for the period between December 6th (when you first asked for cancellation) and January 22th (when your account was closed) . We accepted december 6th as your cancellation date and the billing should apply the credit to your account shortly. I hope this resolves the issue at your entire satisfaction and I am once again sorry for the bad experience you had with us.

    Regards,
    :: Martin Leclair
    :: Linkedin Profile

  22. #22
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    Thanks for straightening that out Martin, I appreciate it. It's a shame it had to be taken to this level since if some things were handled a bit differently we might still be a happy customer of you.

    Oh well, good luck with your datacenter, hope the service & billing hiccups get worked out so nobody else has to experience what we did.

  23. #23
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    HA! All you guys posting LAWYER LAWYER LAWYER don't realize the cost it would take.

    1.) Out of US company, your lawyer would first have to be able to practice in Canada.
    2.) The cost to fly, stay, and hire a lawyer in Canada.
    3.) The cost of a lawyer period.

    It is not my doubt that you people have money, but you have no idea the costs it would take to sue a web hosting company. I served GoDaddy with a Cease and Desist and that letter A LONE ended costing me around $100,000.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wrestler08 View Post
    HA! All you guys posting LAWYER LAWYER LAWYER don't realize the cost it would take.

    1.) Out of US company, your lawyer would first have to be able to practice in Canada.
    2.) The cost to fly, stay, and hire a lawyer in Canada.
    3.) The cost of a lawyer period.

    It is not my doubt that you people have money, but you have no idea the costs it would take to sue a web hosting company. I served GoDaddy with a Cease and Desist and that letter A LONE ended costing me around $100,000.
    Thats the most expensive Cease and Desist letter I've ever heard of, you should have served it yourself!
    Damien

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