It seems to be getting harder to find a hosting company with very good tech support. For business web site hosting, the company needs to have techs on duty 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The techs also need to be experienced.
While most of the larger hosting companies do provide 24/7 support, we are seeing a decline in the quality of the services provided by some hosts. I don’t know if the problem is the lack of training and experience, or the subcontracting of support services to overseas companies. My gut tells me that the issue is the former, rather than the latter. I for one am getting tired of having to explain how a web site works to people whose job is to maintain web servers.
The latest example is a recent go-around with tech support at the largest domain registrar in the USA, who also offers hosting services and features images of hot babes on their web site. You can probably figure out who that is.
We have a client whose e-mail stopped working for their WordPress site. Due to the nature of their industry, functioning e-mail is a critical aspect of their business. Setting up e-mail forms for a WordPress site is a no-brainer process using popular plugins such as Contact Form 7, which is used by literally millions of web sites. For sites with critical e-mail needs we use an additional plugin called Contact Form 7 to Database Extension, which records all data in e-mail form submissions. That is how we knew there was a problem with e-mails not being sent to the client’s e-mail account, which was also set up at the same hosting company.
This was not a matter of a few e-mails evaporating. No e-mails were being sent either to the client’s domain-related e-mail account or any other e-mail accounts we tried using. We also updated WordPress and all the plugins. Still no e-mail. This was not a software issue with the site.
A call to the tech support group resulted in an hour-long conversation with a tech who knew some jargon, but really did not know how web site or e-mail operates. He supposedly ran some tests and came to the conclusion that everything on their server was functioning properly. He said it was definitely a software issue with the web site, which they do not support. He also said the messages were probably getting caught by spam software due the ‘From’ address on the e-mails. He did not comprehend my explanation that each e-mail is set up to use the sender’s e-mail address in the ‘From’ line so that our client can easily respond to messages. In other words, each From address is different.
I did try to explain the nature of the site and how e-mail servers operate, but he was convinced that the messages were not getting out because they were probably being trapped as spam. He did not grasp the fact that this is not an e-mail marketing site, but is rather a lead generating site. There are no e-mails being sent unsolicited or in quantities to anyone.
I tried to escalate the issue to a more senior technician, but was refused access to someone with more experience. The tech then claimed that a senor guy ran some additional tests and concluded that the problem was a web site software issue that they do not support. I found it unsatisfying to strangle the phone, but that was as close as I could get to the moron on the other end.
The Solution to the Problem
The solution proved to be simple. We simply moved the site to another hosting company. It took less than 2 hours to set up new hosting, change the nameservers and move the WordPress site. This is not a plug for a hosting company, but we moved the site to HostGator, which is one of our preferred WordPress hosting companies. In about two hours the site was up and running with fully functional e-mail. Everything has been working perfectly since then.
The moral of the story is that you should not hesitate to move to a better hosting company when you cannot get a host’s tech support people to cooperate. Big names do not necessarily mean better support. This is the third time we have had to move a web site in the past six months due to poor support at various hosting companies. It will probably not be the last time.