EIG is basically a host of scams now.

One web developer’s story about the downfall of web hosting (EIG/Site5 review) – part 1

Okay, so this is going to be a bloggish rant about EIG – Endurance International – a web “hosting” company that’s ruining the web for everyone. If you hate salty rants, browse something else, please!

I’ve been an independent web developer since around 2004, and even though maintaining and hosting websites is currently more of a hobby than anything else, I still do have a few dozen customers with one or more websites or other systems hosted by me. For more than 10 years I’ve been hosting both my and my customers’ websites on a few different web hosting or cloud providers, and some services on servers I hosted myself. I joined Site5’s customerbase in 2013, after Clients From Hell endorsed them repeatedly (it was a paid promotion – but still, a good word from a trustworthy source). 

In case you don’t want to read a longer text, check this out.

EIG didn’t immediately destroy everything. But eventually they did.

For a while everything was pretty good with Site5. Especially their Customer support was fast, responsive and knowledgeable, and all of their reseller hosting stuff was working fine.

In 2015 Endurance International Group bought Site5. They told nothing about this to customers – of course that was a good idea, because everyone hates EIG, and letting people know Site5 was acquired by such an awful company would’ve probably scared away even more customers than now. In 2016 something flipped in someone at EIG’s head, and they suddenly let all of the Site5’s customer service staff go, and even shut down the helpful old ticket robot that used to respond quickly to everyone wanting to open tickets – now you don’t get any responses to emails you send them, and hence don’t even get a ticket ID. You are only left with the emptiness in your sould for weeks, until they finally maybe pick up the ticket.

EIG-Site5’s standard process for customer service includes sitting on the ticket until you complain about it on Twitter. This applies also to emergency issues, like total server outage, which they every now and then have. They usually don’t even update anything about these on their status page until afterwards. The only way of getting some information about your service’s availability was using services like “Down for everyone or just me”, Jetpack monitoring or similar.

Going downhill

During mid-2016, when I was bitching about another server outage, a customer service representative tried to comfort me by saying this:

The quality will probably improve once we finish transferring everything to our new servers from the old ones.

That was a bit surprising to me. I had not heard anything about the takeover, or any transfer processes being planned before this – and I really doubt, that changing the servers, that worked fine under Site5’s administration, to ones under the administration that can’t manage the old, well working servers either, is going to do any good.

It may save them some money, but I doubt that’s going to benefit the customers at all. I think it just enables them to perhaps sack even more customer service representatives.

It only occurred to me later, that they are actually changing the servers from Amsterdam to USA – which means that they were planning on moving all of my customer information to servers outside EU, which is illegal, and not even informing me about that.

That’s not what a web hosting company should be doing. Their actions should NOT make their customers criminals – and especially not without first letting them know.

Uptime of 80% or so

After yet another outage, I actually confronted Site5’s support staff about their 99.99% uptime stats shown on their website. I already knew they were total bullcrap, but wanted to hear their take on that as well.

The rep told me, that’s the percentage of time the server is turned on – it doesn’t mean it has network connectivity, or that any services are on – just that there’s power on the physical machine. “Well that doesn’t do customers much good, now, does it?” I asked. “No. But that’s how we measure it.” was the response.

Well, drat. To me, that’s not uptime they are measuring, but rather the time the servers are theoretically turned on. I guess they are allowed to report whatever uptime they want, and whatever the stat was, there’s no way to verify it anyway, because the hosting company can always just claim that whatever’s pinging them is using unsupported method or whatever.

Site5 minor outages
Site5’s minor outages

Even a company with great staff might suck

Now, my sympathies are with the former customer service staff, and I’m rather certain even the current staff are doing their best in horrible conditions. Site5 had staff all over the Globe, most working remotely, and I’d say they were well motivated (and well paid). EIG’s staff (the ones that they didn’t sack yet) are probably mostly located in Poland and India – poor folks – which inevitably cuts down their ability to service customer at any given time, well motivated and well fed. I mean, when you’re hungry and chained to your desk at some damp cave in Poland, it’s difficult to care much about a random customer’s web site being down.

EIG now operates a lot of once respectable web hosting providers (see list below), that have generally gone to absolute bottom-tier of web hosting providers. That’s a real shame, since quite a few of them were quite reputable to begin with.

Web hosting brands owned by EIG:

2slick.com
AccountSupport
A Small Orange
ApolloHosting
AptHost
Arvixe
Berry Information Systems
BigRock
BizLand
BlueDomino
Bluehost
BlueFur
BuyDomains
Cloud by IX
Constant Contact
Directi
Dollar2Host
Domain.com
DomainHost
Dot5Hosting
Dotster
easyCGI
eHost
Escalate Internet
EntryHost
FastDomain
FatCow
FreeYellow
Glob@t
Homestead
HostCentric
HostClear
HostExcellence
HostGator
HostMonster
HostNine
HostYourSite.com
HyperMart
IdeaHost
IMOutdoors
Intuit Websites
iPage
IPOWER/iPowerWeb
IX Web Hosting
JustCloud
JustHost
LogicBoxes
MojoMarketplace
MyDomain
MyResellerHome
NetFirms
Networks Web Hosting
Nexx
PowWeb
PureHost
ReadyHosting
ResellerClub
SEO Hosting
Site5
Southeast Web
Spry
StartLogic
SuperGreen Hosting
TypePad
USANetHosting
vDeck
Verio
VirtualAvenue
VPSLink
WebHost4Life
WebHosting.info
Webstrike Solutions
Webzai
Xeran
YourWebHosting

 (up-to-date listing at http://www.linux-depot.com/non-endurance-international-group-eig-hosting/)

Finally, I realized there was nothing a customer could do, but changing providers. The only way to affect the company is to vote with your wallet and take your money to a company that’s not going to make you a criminal.

TL;DR:

EIG, and all of their puppets like Site5, Arvixe, Bluehost, HostGator etc., are volatile and non-reliable hosting providers. Please pick someone else.

A short (and a bit out-of-date version of everything above):

EIG sucks, Site5 sucks, Bluehost sucks, Hostgator sucks...
Image from http://www.webhost4lifereview.com/ – they’re doing it right 🙂

I have since changed hosting providers. Here’s to hoping my next provider will NOT be acquired by EIG anytime soon.

After all is said and done, I hope Ben Welch-Bolen – the founder and former CEO of Site5 – is still able to sleep his nights well after knowing, which company he sold Site5 to. The wish to make an eventual exit is understandable, but after all is said and done, I’m wondering if there actually were no better options than EIG… Not only for the customers, but also for the poor old support staff that were handed the pink slip. Most of their some 70 people were apparently let go, after EIG transferred the support to their “support team”.

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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.

10 thoughts on “One web developer’s story about the downfall of web hosting (EIG/Site5 review) – part 1

    1. Read your blog post(s) – glad to see I’m not alone, although also sad to see others are/were also suffering from EIG’s shenanigans.

      I didn’t even realize Site5 was sold until afterwards, when someone tweeted about it. And sure enough, for a moment things didn’t really change, just in last August everything fell to pieces (at least for my account), when the support staff was laid off. For me Inmotion and A2 were a couple of best options for the next provider, but I ultimately settled for a little smaller company that had very good latencies to Nordics where most of my customers are located in, and also had superb customer support. I wish Inmotion serves you well though – they seemed very promising, too!

  1. Hi, I read this after a tweet from Reviewhell. I was with Arvixe and the same thing happened. They got rid of support staff, kept upper management and our QA Department (which was more of a disciplinary wing and not ISO 900x compliant).

    It seems crazy; I can see getting rid of redundant staff, like management and redundant departments, but Web Hosting customers thrive on uptime and support and when you take away the server monitoring and system administration staff AND customer support, you start losing customers. I calculated that during the migration alone Arvixe lost $1.2 million in refunds and credits alone, and that is not counting those that did not renew their service (my guess is about $4 million from what ASO/Arvixe employees told me). So, if my estimates are right that would be $5.2 million lost from the purchase price instantly.

    I assumed EIG made a mistake, so I even wrote a proposal to them with my numbers and offered to try to reverse some of the damage done and use my experience with past migrations, staff changes at Arvixe and elsewhere to see if I could make it so Site5 and others took less of a hit financially and got no reply from them.

    Then it dawned on me: “They want this outcome”. Webhosting is an industry where things like credits, lost customers and refunds only become apparent at 1,2 and sometimes 3 year intervals with how the billing is done where as it is quarterly savings from last quarter and last quarter 1 year ago and that sort of thing that matter for investment banks to handle the next purchase. It is a lighter version of corporate raiding from the 1980s.

    They do not suck because they are idiots, they suck because that is their plan.

    1. That sounds very familiar… But also to make Blue Host, Host Gator and iPages seem like they are better when it’s all shit, it’s just a different subsidiary.

      Which they stated in there Annual Report:

      “We believe this trend assists competitors who have focused more heavily than we have on building consumer awareness of their brand, and that it has made it more challenging and more expensive for us to attract new subscribers. In order to address this trend, during the third quarter of 2016, we began to allocate additional marketing investment to a subset of our hosting brands, including our largest brands, Bluehost.com, HostGator and iPage.”
      ~ EIG 2016 THIRD QUARTER REPORT

      https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1237746/000119312516760305/d261302d10q.htm

      1. Thanks for your comments and insights, guys!

        The whole deal does seem pretty annoying – the only way of avoiding your hosting provider getting bought/merged/raided would be choosing a provider with such owners, that would not sell their company to a company like EIG. With Site5 I thought I was safe in that regard, but apparently I was mistaken.

        Raising awareness about companies acting like a horde of hyenas is pretty much the only thing a customer can do (apart from Visa claims, of course…) – it’s not much, but at least it’s something.

  2. Does anyone know when EIG acquired PowWeb? PowWeb used to have great support. I ran into my first issue in a long while 3 weeks ago and still trying to get my problem resolved. All of their support staff is in India whereas they used to be in the US and one phone call would resolve mostly all issues.

    1. Hi Paula, and thanks for the comment!

      It seems that PowWeb has been owned by EIG for a long time – I found this quote on another website, that does reviews of web hosting providers (PowWeb got 2 stars out of 5):
      “After starting out as a good budget hosting alternative, their acquisition by the big and powerful Endurance International Group (owner of many other web hosting services such as iPage, BlueHost, and HostGator) in 2006 seems to have reversed their progress.

      In fact, PowWeb’s online presence is more like a ghost town than an example of a thriving company.”

      EIG seems to be taking similar steps with most of the brands they acquire, but not at the same pace, so maybe PowWeb kept a small support team for a longer time on their own? Difficult to know, but EIG did recently fire a lot of people from their Austin-based operations. Maybe you actually had the luxury of speaking to a local agent until that? 🙂

      1. PowWeb did not keep any support staff after the EIG takeover. I know that because I had to fire all 25 members of the PowWeb support staff about two weeks after after EIG assured me (repeatedly) that all of their jobs would be safe.

        EIG asked me to ask the team members to stay on until the move to the Boston platform was complete (after telling them they were losing their jobs), I declined to do that. I told them they would only have a paycheck from PowWeb for another month, and I couldn’t even guarantee that (based on the fact that they’d already lied to me about the jobs) so it would be in their interest to find other work ASAP.

        The previous comment re: attrition is also correct. They expect a certain percentage of cancellations. It’s baked into their M.O. We were the largest host they had acquired when they took over back in 2006, and the upper management guys at EIG – one in particular – told me a lot more than they probably should have about how they operated at the time. I think he expected me to come and work for them, but I also declined that offer.

        The whole buyout was a horrible experience that I wouldn’t wish on anybody, and the worst part is it didn’t have to be a horrible experience for anyone. It was EIG’s policies and behavior that made it horrible.

        1. Wow – that must’ve been a pretty harsh experience. It’s really eye-opening for someone in customer’s shoes to hear what happens behind the scenes… And EIG’s practices sounds just plain inhumane.

          I was a bit disappointed in Ben Welch-Bolen, the founder of Site5, when the acquisition finally came to light (they didn’t tell about it, naturally). I wonder if he felt bad about seeing the company he’s worked so hard for getting completely ransacked by EIG, and seeing his former staff (some of which must’ve been his friends) getting ravaged by their new overlords.. But I guess in the end, money talks.

          Thanks for sharing! Hope your career after PowWeb has been less taxing 🙂

Let me know your thoughts!