That's what he said.

Lessons in Crappy Customer Service, or Why I Ditched 1&1 Hosting

Sat, 09/03/2011 - 17:59 -- Doug

Here. This might make your
cancellation go a little more smoothly.

The Eight Hour Lunch Web site had been running slowly for quite some time. I was getting "out of memory" timeout errors, simple pages were taking forever to load, and things around here were generally painful to deal with. I knew it wasn't my fault--my settings were as good as I could make them. So I decided to talk to 1&1, my hosting provider.

I had been a customer since 2007, so I thought maybe they'd show a little love. No dice. They said they could help, but it'd cost more. About $160 a year more, just to make it work. Their admin panel performed about as poorly as my site, so I took that as as sign of what I could expect at any price. After a long weekend of sleep deprivation, I managed to power through an upgrade from Drupal 6 to 7 and was ready to transfer my domain name.

To transfer a domain name (say, like eighthourlunch.com), there's a code you need to give your new registrar. It took me an hour to find it on my 1&1 account. The first time I tried to use it, it failed. I tried it a second time, same thing. After a third try on the next day with a new code, it worked. Now it was time to to cancel the account.

After 20 minutes of digging around the 1&1 site looking for a way to close my account, I gave up and googled it. (It’s cancel.1and1.com, in case you're wondering). The problem is, the cancellation form didn’t work. The site said I couldn’t cancel my hosting because I didn’t own the domain name. Should that have mattered? I was cancelling hosting, not domain registration! At any rate, their instructions were to call.

So I dialed the number. On the first try, I pressed 3 to discontinue my account. The system hung up on me immediately. I dialed back. This time I pressed 1 for sales. This time It rang. Hmmm...

“Thank you for calling 1and1 sales. Our customer service department is happy to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please call back later.”

Click.

Oookay. Someone needs to find a new phone switch programmer.

So I called back on Monday and I got through this time. The price I paid was fifteen minutes of hold music abuse. It seemed to be playing from an old Pentium 100 with sand or maybe dehydrated babies in the hard drive. The sound kept dropping out about every second or so, somtimes for longer. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that their hold music seemed to be at least consistent with their Web hosting.

Once I had a live person on the line, I explained my situation to the service rep. She said she could help me, but I'd need to give her my account password first. WHAT THE HELL? My account password? Not without a gun pointed at me.

I asked if I could talk to someone higher up, She said yes, and tranferred me to a guy in tech support. Of course she didn't bother explaining anything to him, so I got to explain everything again. He put put me back on choppy hold.

Now I'm going to share with you an exceptionally rare moment in which I actually screwed up. While readjusting the phone, I fat-fingered a key and hung up. SHIT.

Are you bored yet? Well, I'm bored, so let me condense the rest. I spent a total of 40 minutes on the phone just to find out that:

  • Sometimes they ask for the password to prove you are who you say you are. That still sounds weird to me.
  • I would have to make my cancellation after the domain transfer went through.

So the domain transfer is through, and I won't be giving another cent to 1&1. I do have a question though. Does this mean they've been keeping my password in plain text all these years for anyone in customer service to see?