Surprisingly good support from a hosting company – worth a shout

Surprisingly good support from a hosting company – worth a shout

In 1998 I started a small online business (unfortunately) and had my first experience selecting a hosting company. Back then, it wasn’t really a big deal because mine was too small a business to have much hosting needs and in those early days there was less competition between hosting companies. All I was concerned about was having adequate storage space. Traffic wasn’t even a problem. Still, I ran into unexpected difficulties and soon learned that even very small businesses have more to worry about than just disk space. The support was the detail I hadn’t considered.

That first experience soured me a little because I learned that it can be like pulling teeth to get support from a company that doesn’t take that aspect of business seriously. The company I first stayed with turned out to be in someone’s home, a fact that was never advertised. The guy was nice enough and went out of his way to accommodate me whenever my support questions came up weekdays between 9am and 5pm, his time. Even then, I wasn’t impressed with his level of experience.

Since then I have experienced no less than six moves, and until this last one, none of them were easy to tolerate. If I remember correctly, the second hosting company I tried had a tendency to go offline too many times and attempts to get support were frustrating. An e-commerce site cannot afford to be available to customers only occasionally. By this time my business had grown quite a bit and I had become very sensitive to this aspect. It was a bitter experience and I stayed with the company for less than a year.

Next came a well advertised hosting company that had gotten some good reviews, although I’m still a bit suspicious of the so-called reviews it finds online, and while the initial move went well, I had ongoing problems with connectivity and again , horrible time to get support. For one thing, there was no phone support. Everything had to be submitted via a support ticket. This is pretty common, I’ve found, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with support tickets, unless they’re slow to resolve and there’s no alternative route to support. Also, there was a very obvious language barrier that led me to believe that “Support” was located offshore. I’m certainly not racist, but I think it’s imperative that both sides understand each other for anything constructive to happen. It was ugly.

The next experience was horrible, more than any other, because after a few months of reasonably adequate accommodation the company I had transferred to simply went out of business, without any warning. This was a bad word thrown around the internet and became a well-known debacle.

Go to my latest forced move. The hosting company I’ve been with for the past three years, I will say, has been a good host. It will remain nameless because I have no malice in it. I had to move because as an e-commerce site I am required to demonstrate PCI compliance in order to continue accepting credit cards over the internet. This fairly new security measure is one that I applaud, as it goes a long way towards providing the buying public with the kind of hard and fast security that has been lacking until now, but because my hosting company couldn’t or wouldn’t provide a PCI. compatible environment I was forced to find a new host. I imagine there are thousands of businesses struggling to find hosting companies that meet this need, which is one of the reasons I decided to write this article.

I found as a result of McAfee Secure, a well-known company that provides online businesses with security scanning and certification. I was told that was one of the few hosting companies they felt comfortable recommending. When I looked at the available packages that this hosting company offers, I have to say that I was not surprised. The packages are quite small, but the price is also very affordable. The BIG plus was that they obviously presented themselves as a leader in the effort to be and remain PCI compliant for the sake of all their e-commerce customers. I decided to try them. My expectations were low until I called the phone number on the home page. . . and got the owner!

Jim Walker not only answered my questions, he did so with candor, kindness and enthusiasm. He didn’t sell any more. He actually went out of his way to make sure I knew exactly what the company could do and what not to expect. There was very little of the latter. I didn’t keep him on the phone, he kept me. He talked to me for over twenty minutes and didn’t hang up until he knew all my questions and concerns had been answered. The result was that I checked in an hour later, via the online process. Yet. . . I knew I wasn’t expecting an easy transition. There was a shopping cart that needed to work, a Linkpoint gateway that needed to work, and several other site features, including the installation of my privately owned SSL certificate, that needed to work fine. I crossed my fingers and waited, while Jim and his support team shook my hand all. I didn’t have to upload a single file. My entire site was moved from the current host to TVC and all scripts and applications were handled with care and concern.

Yes, there were problems. My payment gateway on Linkpoint refused to install properly and I expected it to take days to fix. But Jim, himself, kept at it over the weekend without interruption until it was done and running perfectly. We exchanged dozens of emails (less expensive than phone time, and email allows for a record of the process that can be saved), and all I had to do was provide him with access information to various sources where I knew that he could find the information he needed. .

Jim doesn’t know I’m writing this article. I’m doing this because, quite simply, I’m blown away by the truly impressive support — no, let’s do that with a capital “S” — that provided me. Others must know about this company. Hopefully, this article will make the road less bumpy for others who are forced to find PCI compliant hosting and for no one with none the kind of website you’d want hosted by a smart, helpful and friendly company.

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