Tech Support Hell – One Technoslave’s Story

Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Utterly, completely, incomprehensibly unbelievable.

That’s my reaction to my current web hosting company’s support policies. It’s so bad, I’d almost prefer NO support whatsoever. But it’s a little late for that, isn’t it? I’m tied in for a year.

Searching for a web host was fun. Tons and tons of companies out there, willing to give me better and better deals for hosting. I finally settled on My Site Space. Wow, I thought, I can get the auspicious-sounding Developer account.

It’ll give me over a gig of storage! It’ll allow multiple domain names with their own accounts (five)! 50 gigs of transfer monthly! Free domain name! How can I go wrong?

Easy. Choose the wrong hosting provider.

It started fine: got my space, paid my measly $100 for a full year (extra money saved for paying early). Then I tried to get my free domain name. How? No answers on the web site!

OK, no problem, let’s post a support ticket. So I posted one:

When I signed up for the Develop account, and paid for a full year, I was promised a free domain.

Here’s the promise:

However, I did not see a place, when signing up, to order that domain. How can I do so?

The answer came fast enough. “You need to contact sales.”

Very odd. I mean … sales is who you contact BEFORE you’re a customer. Support is who you contact AFTER you’ve become a client.

Very very odd. I mean … aren’t they all part of the same company? Aren’t you, a support technician, there to help me? Shouldn’t it be YOU who contacts sales and says, “hey, here’s a client, he didn’t get his domain, can we get him one?” (Even supposing sales needs to be a part of the process, which is very, very, very odd in itself.)

To add insult to injury, the support tech CLOSED the ticket … after posting that horrendously inadequate response! Isn’t it the client’s job to close the ticket when s/he feels that his/her needs are met? That’s the way it’s always worked for me before.

So I posted a new ticket, explaining just those things, and got the same response – with the addition of a cheery “Please let me know if you have any questions.”

Defeated, I contacted sales, who got back to me in about a week, and went back and forth with them for another 2 weeks, and now I finally have my domain (I think).

That process was easy, however, compared to getting SSH access to my account. Incredibly stupidly, I assumed (ass out of U and ME) that any account that dared refer to itself as a Developer account would never, ever, not include SSH access to the server. I want SSH access since that’s how I’m accustomed to working. I like to build and install and change stuff right on the server, in the command line.

Tough luck: not available. Tickect submitted, reply returned:

We have disabled the SSH access on the domains for some time. Please let me know, if you have any more questions.

Ticket closed.

This time, I wasn’t so stupid as to submit a new ticket. I emailed sales right off the bat. And, I titled the email with words calculated to get the attention of the most blase salesperson: “May need to cancel account!” The response came quickly: we had to disable it temporarily because of misuse; it will be restored soon.

Great, I thought. When?


I gave up for a while on that one, then, when I needed to edit my .htaccess file for some mod_rewrite stuff to make my URLs more search engine friendly, I asked again – via email to sales. Surprise, surprise, the answer was still “soon.” However, this time the sales guy (name: Raj something or other; time he returns emails: always overnight; location: obvious) suggested I check the forums periodically, since “info will be updated there regularly.”

OK, I thought, let’s check. And lo and behold, the seas parted and the moutains rejoiced, I found exactly ONE thread on the My Site Space forums about this topic. Date posted? January 2004! Date now? Almost May!

Not impressive.

But I’ve kinda gotten used to not having SSH access. I still want it, and in fact need it for a couple of things, but I can wait a bit more.

In fact, without SSH access, I started using My Site Space’s automated installer … they’ve licensed a tool called Fantastico that will auto-install a whole wack of stuff for you: blogs, scripts, websites like PHPWebSite, etc. etc.

OK, I’ll use that instead of the shell. Unfortunately, all the stuff is out of date. So, in my long-suffering way, I submit a trouble ticket:

Can you please upgrade the b2 installation that Fantasico runs to the latest version?

Here it is on Fantastico:

This is version 0.6.1

Here’s the latest version:

This is version 0.8.9

There is a big difference! Please update Fantastico.

This is, I think a reasonable request. After all, I have no shell access. Installing via FTP and updating permissions etc is painful in the extreme. And if they have they tool, they might as well be installing the latest versions.

Here’s the response:

Hello John,
Please put this issue at

If you have any further queries feel free to contact us again.

Thank You,

Piyush P,
Technical Support,

Great. Now I don’t have to talk to sales anymore about my SUPPORT issues. Now I have to talk to THE FREAKING BILLING DEPARTMENT! And the trouble ticket? Closed, of course.


I cannot but think it’s a deliberate pattern of dealing with obvious troublemakers like myself. We’re just escalated along the chain, handled, and put off for as long as possible.

There is a great article archived at Salon on precisely this sort of stuff, from a guy who actually worked in support.

Support? What a joke. Maybe I’ll go buy a bra or something instead.