EIG sucks, Site5 sucks, Bluehost sucks, Hostgator sucks...

One web developer’s story about the downfall of web hosting (EIG / Site5 review) – part 2

I was able to actually get most of the money EIG got from me back from them by opening a Visa claim. In this short post, I’ll try to explain how you can stop your money from being funneled to EIG’s greedy hands… Even if your hosting provider was taken over by them.

What happened to Site5 (and others that were acquired/savaged by EIG)?

I was a customer of Site5 pretty happily for a long time, until Endurance International Group (EIG) took them over, wrecked their infrastructure, likely moved all of the customer data outside EU (which is against our laws) and let all of the customer support staff go. Site5 was not a cheap service provider, so I hated to see I was paying for premium service, but receiving potatos instead. And of course it was sad to see a once prominent web hosting provider fall to pieces like that.

My earlier post describes my experiences with them a little more accurately. This post – like the Part 1 – could probably be written about many other brands of web hosting, too. But truthfully, EIG’s acquisition spree has been so extensive that it’s difficult to avoid them altogether nowadays – but if you do, you save yourself from quite a few grey hairs!

Avoid EIG to avoid unnecessary trouble with your web hosting

First of all, avoid brands owned by EIG. They are generally cheap, but not worth the extra work and the lack of support. With Site5, after the “old” support staff got fired, it started to take the current staff months to respond anything to most messages. To my experience, only billing questions were answered quickly, and the response is of type “everything works as expected, uptime is 99.8%, no refunds.”

Site5 / EIG took 19 days to assign a ticket number
Site5 / EIG took 19 days to assign a ticket number

Funnily enough, it seems that their slowness has only gotten worse after the initial shock, so I’m guessing their backlog is just growing and growing. I got a response by someone to my ticket about email service being down roughly 2 months after I had canceled my service. That’s around 4 months after I opened the ticket… And that was the first, non-automated response to the ticket.

Site5 spamming me months after I cancelled my service with them
Site5 messaging me months after I cancelled my service with them

They did also ask for feedback, which I tried to send them (by simply responding to email, because I surely wouldn’t fill any forms with PII for them). That email didn’t go through, because they hadn’t configured the feedback system to handle emails – which, again, is very descriptive of them.

I tried responding to their feedback email
I tried responding to their feedback email… That didn’t go well.

That email feedback not going through is luckily a great excuse for me to rant on my blog. And I’m fine with that.

How to get your money back afterwards?

Be sure to let them know you’re not satisfied with the service, and document what you’re saying. I had complained about the actual outages and the smaller issues with the servers, and about the fact it took weeks to months for them to respond to any tickets. That means, that luckily I had a real “document trail” that I could show to my bank! This helped them understand how everything was falling apart, and that I wasn’t getting any service for the money I had paid.

After realizing that the game was over for Site5, I started looking at other options. It took me a moment to find another web hosting provider, but after the migration away from EIG/Site5, you can safely cancel your service with Site5.

Reporting the issue and opening the claim case

I reported all of this to my bank and issued a Visa claim. The report contained a lot of screenshots, and information about the outages (mainly from Jetpack or other external sources, as Site5’s own diagnostics showed 99.8% uptime. I also got a confirmation from Site5’s customer representative, that their uptime only measured the time the server was turned on – so it could be disconnected from the internet completely, or all the services could be down, but it would still be considered “up” by Site5, as long as it had power on. Screenshot of this email probably helped the bank evaluate the situation.

I did also argue, that I never signed any contracts with EIG, so my money should never have been sent to them. Bear in mind, that EIG was now operating under the bought name of Site5 – but the staff and at least parts of the infrastructure were EIG’s. I’m pretty sure that argument doesn’t really work.. In a business takeover like that, pre-existing contracts just usually are handed over to the new owner. Still, I wanted to buy my service from Amsterdam, and from a quality provider. Instead, what I got was a potato provider (likely HostGator’s datacenter) from Texas.

Verdict

It took my bank (and probably Visa) a few months to handle the case. In the end, they ended up issuing me a partial (but significant) refund, which was pretty much what I was looking for.

Even though EIG had acquired Site5 early in my billing period, the problems started months later. I got refunded roughly for all the time after Site5 support staff had been let go. That was fine with me, as that date marked the point, after which the service quality completely plummeted.

My Finnish bank (S-Pankki) handled this case very well. I’d imagine it has to be confusing for them to handle issues like this without much domain knowledge. My reports contained information such as uptime, which probably isn’t very clear to them. But everything went well with them, so that’s good.


I hope this post can encourage someone else to issue a Visa claim too, to get their money back. You’re probably not getting your money’s worth from EIG-owned providers, so you’d be better off paying a decent provider. And hey – maybe, if enough people vote with their wallets, EIG will do something to improve their service levels, too! 🙂

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Antti K. Koskela

Solutions Architect / Escalations Engineer at Koskila / Norppandalotti Software / Valo Solutions
Antti Koskela is a proud digital native nomadic millenial full stack developer (is that enough funny buzzwords? That's definitely enough funny buzzwords!), who works as a Solutions Architect for Valo Intranet, the product that will make you fall in love with your intranet. Working with the global partner network, he's responsible for the success of Valo deployments happening all around the world. He's been a developer from 2004 (starting with PHP and Java), and he's been bending and twisting SharePoint into different shapes since MOSS. Nowadays he's not only working on SharePoint, but also on .NET projects, Azure, Office 365 and a lot of other stuff. This is his personal professional (e.g. professional, but definitely personal) blog.

4 thoughts on “One web developer’s story about the downfall of web hosting (EIG / Site5 review) – part 2

  1. Site 5 needs to be shut down, it is so damaging to vast numbers of businesses. My site was down for three weeks without any explanation until I had to make the leap to move to a new server. Everyday they told me it was being looked at and no one would imagine an ssl problem would take >3 weeks to fix. Now my emails are not working, over 24 hours so far, angry clients of mine, unable to run my own business. It is hideous. So pleased you got some money back at the least and also moved away from these criminals.

    1. Hey Michael,

      Thanks for the comment! In a way it’s really empowering to know I wasn’t the only they’d been screwing over. I really hope you get your services up and migrated somewhere else soon! 🙂 I also strongly suggest opening a Visa/Mastercard claim if you paid using a credit card – even though they’ll require some documentation to be sent over, it’s probably going to be worth it!

  2. Sad example of reckless restructuring! Looks like parent EIG fired 90 support staff late January after acquiring Site5 > begin downhill slide. Search Twitter for @site5 to see the result. Sadly may still be a profitable move for them. All my sites offline for 30 day now, no support, switching now. Glad you sorted it out Antti.

    1. Hi Alex,

      Thanks for the comment! I agree – it was the beginning of the end for Site5, when Endurance International sinked their claws in them. I really recommend, that if you paid the hosting with a credit card, you issue a Visa/Mastercard claim. There’s a chance you’ll get some of the money back, and at least that’s a handy way of getting back at them a little! 😉

      All the best and good luck with changing providers!

Let me know your thoughts!