I've been designing & developing websites since 1995. In all my years of experience I've never encountered a more inept hosting environment than Dotster. At one time I had nearly fifty clients hosted there, back during the days when they actually functioned with some level of integrity (or before I had more thorough knowledge of their ineptitude), and have since moved them all away. The problems I experience include:
• Multiple identifiers on accounts. This was the first aggravation I had to deal with. There's a 7 digit hosting Customer ID#, then another separate 7 digit number also associated with the hosting customer, a 6 digit 'webspace' identifier, and a 7 digit domain ID#. Four separate identifier numbers. This becomes fun when you have a few dozen accounts with Dotster and receive an email alert about an account, identified by only one of those four number. Happy hunting.
• Dotster's is one of the more difficult landscapes to navigate. Making that even more arduous is having to deal with smart-ass tech support reps who occasionally become insulting in their language behind their assumptions about how much a caller should somehow automatically, intuitively know about the maze the rep is already familiar with.
• In all the years I spent dealing with Dotster, about four or five before I wized-up, I never, ever, ever once got a billing rep on the line. Go ahead... try it now. Call 360.449.5900 and wait for the billing department prompt. You'll be told that everyone's busy, so please leave a message. Of all the places you don't want to insult your customers with that kind of message, billing should be at the top of the list.
• Suspicious billing practices. It got to the point that each time I tried to set up a new account, whether hosting or domain registration, my charge card would be hit with up to six identical, simultaneous charges, after which I would have to spend exorbitant amounts of time getting Dotster to straighten out the problem. Then I had to deal with my bank because these would often trigger overdraft charges. On one of the last occasions, it took nearly six months before the final charge was removed and refunded by Dotster.
• In the account settings there is an option to disable auto renewal of a subscription. I prefer not to have auto renewal, to be notified instead. What I was finding out, though, was that accounts I had specifically opted for non-auto renewal on were being renewed automatically, often hitting my bank account before I could transfer funds to cover them, resulting in overdraft charges. I got into such a heated discussion with a tech rep over this that I was transferred to an upper tier rep who engaged me in a shouting match, basically stating that auto-renewal was their default policy and if it happened in spite of a request to the contrary, too bad.
In the account billing settings you are forced to have a credit card number on file. When this happened I went into my settings and entered a bogus card number so that, until I could evacuate all my accounts, any renewals that came up would fail in an attempt to auto renew. Sure enough, I started getting emails from Dotster telling me they had attempted to renew an account (one that had been designated to NOT auto-renew) and that the card was not in service.
What prompted me to leave this entry on this forum today is that I got a call from a client a little more than a week ago saying he had just received notification of a charge on his credit card from Dotster. I had moved his account away from Dotster back around the first of the year and informed Dotster that the account was terminated. Sure enough, though, they billed him for another year's subscription. I logged into his account and found it to be still active. I got on the phone (if you need to talk billing with Dotster, choose one of the tech support prompts... that's about as close as you'll get) and asked the rep what was going on, why it had never been deactivated. Apparently, he said, the order never went through. He guided me through the process again, this time making sure I understood that when it looks like I've completed the cancellation process, it actually hasn't completed at all. Once the submit button is clicked, there's yet another button on the page you'll be returned to, an obscure little 'Place Order' button, a suspiciously unnecessary final step. I made sure the order went through this time, instructed the rep to initiate a refund to the client and to notify the client of the action. I was told the client would be notified.
This morning I got another message from my client saying he hadn't heard from Dotster. I went back into the account and it showed the status to be active. I got on the phone to a rep who said the order was still in progress and that the account would show as active until executed, meaning the burden is on the visitor to get on the phone & wait in the que just to find out that Dotster couldn't muster up the consideration to build a little 'Cancellation In Progress' notification into their script. When I asked why the customer had not been contacted that the request was being processed, he didn't have a clear answer. He had even less to say when I asked why it was that when a purchase transaction goes through, it does so at the speed of light, but a reversal of charges takes 7 to 10 working days, as he informed me.
It's too bad Dotster has deteriorated to the point that I wouldn't use them if they were the last service available on earth.
That is very deceptive, using cancellation to trick you into not canceling, this seems to be not unique to them, I have seen this done on many others as well, they use psychology to make it look like you've canceled when you have not, this isn't just for hosts many other industry use same method.
Once the submit button is clicked, there's yet another button on the page you'll be returned to, an obscure little 'Place Order' button, a suspiciously unnecessary final step. I made sure the order went through this time, instructed the rep to initiate a refund to the client and to notify the client of the action. I was told the client would be notified.
I find it interesting that the final cancellation confirmation uses a "Place order" button. Are those the very words they use? I find them to be rather confusing.
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