A Small (Rotten) Orange

This blog disappeared for three days earlier this week, which seems like a long time on the Internet. The reason was a dispute with my hosting company, which was solved by ditching them and going with a new, much more helpful host. Details below.

I don’t even remember where I first parked the chasclifton.com domain, but it ended up with a small, Pagan-friendly service, Draknet, which also hosted The Wild Hunthere is TWH founder Jason Pitzl-Waters’ interview with owner Jennifer Lepp. If it was good enough for Jason, it was good enough for me, and I became a happy customer.

Jennifer seemed available for service problems at all hours of the day or night. Maybe that is why she finally sold out to Austin-based A Small Orange, which was OK too . . . until it was bought by Endurance International Group (EIG).

Some of the largest and most successful web hosting companies in the industry, including HostGator, BlueHost, HostMonster, A Small Orange and HostNine have been bought out by Endurance International Group (EIG).

Have a look at the comments on this review of A Small Orange as it is today:

When I read through the Terms of Service for all of the services offered by A Small Orange the general message becomes clear. The proprietors of the company, Garret Noling and Mohsin Kamal, designed and operate A Small Orange so that it will exploit a popular social trend, mislead and confuse the prospective customer, promote a service fee as necessary when it is not, collect as much money as possible, and perform absolutely no customer support for domain registration customers.

I could add mine too. Every stereotype of bad India-based tech support is there, starting with the robotic responses in slightly odd English that never exactly answer the question that you are asking.

Another reviewer put it this way:

Customer service does not exist. Its either bots or people just copying and pasting the exact same message over and over again. I’m not joking here, I received the exact same email each time after responding to their emails. Including one where I asked them why they keep responding with the exact same message. Not acceptable on any level.

Last year I tried to get an SSL certificate because Equinox Publishing wanted one, since they also run this blog on The Pomegranate’s website. A Small Orange took my payment but never could deliver the service, to the point where I had to cancel the credit card transaction.

When a well-known politics-and-law blogger recommended Hosting Matters last month, I started thinking about switching.

Then ASO struck again: they announced that I had exceeded my bandwidth limit for April, 50 gigabytes! Hello, does this blog generate that kind of traffic? Are thousands of people downloading movie trailers? They shut down this blog and another unrelated subdomain last weekend.

What I suspect happened was simple extortion. Back when Jennifer Lepp owned Draknet, she tried raising money at one point by selling lifetime accounts. I paid $150 for a Lifetime Junior account—plenty of service for my needs—and then paid only the domain-registration annual fee thereafter. It was a good deal.

When ASO bought her out, they honored those lifetime accounts, and EIG had honored them too, only they were bothered, I suspect, by the “lifetime” part. Solution: force users to pay for more bandwidth.  Of course, I could not get a straight answer from them about traffic logs, etc., but you have to wonder what their plan was.

So, as I rode Amtrak’s Lakeshore Limited eastbound across upstate New York, I was tapping away at my keyboard, and lo! someone was replying with coherent, relevant responses. There were a couple of glitches, but by Wednesday, this blog was back online.
For a complete list of EIG’s companies, go here.

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