I hooked up with my first ISP back in 1995, when I put up a web page to advertise Electric Avenue, my 21 line dial in BBS. (I’m sure you’re impressed with the brilliance of that business plan.) Since then I’ve done business with a half dozen different internet service providers. Some started out great and turned to garbage. One that I really liked fell apart when the founder died unexpectedly. One raised their prices too much when this site went over their 250 meg limit. But through them all, the good ones and the bad ones, Startlogic stands out and the lousiest, most miserable, most horrible ISP I’ve ever dealt with.
Shortly after I moved this site to Startlogic I started the Podcast Peer Awards, and opened another Startlogic account for it. Things were uneventful for a while, until Startlogic started randomly bouncing my e-mails. E-Mail came in OK, but sending them out became a crap shoot. It was because they had their SMTP server set to use some craptastic blackhole list, and sometimes my IP was in it, and sometimes it wasn’t. This was before they had the kinks worked out of their “Never Let The Customer Contact You” policy, so I was able to get through occasionally, where I was given a lecture on spamming (which I have never, ever done) and treated like a criminal. After the tenth or twelveth time this happened I wrote them a ticket that told them I needed this fixed again and condemmed their incompetence.
I got a phone call from them. They actually called me back! And the reason for the call left me nearly speechless, which has happened approximately four times in my entire life (and I’m an old fart). They were calling to yell at me for questioning their competence! Not to help me with the problem, not to apologize for being complenety bereft of anything resembling a clue, but to chastise me for being pissed off about them breaking a crucial feature over and over and over again.
I was amazed. I was flabbergasted. I was disgusted. I’ve made a living doing various forms of technical support for most of my life. I know my customers on a first name basis and like almost all of them. And when they frustrate me I’m still Mr. Politeness, because I have to be. Being rude is not an option. Revealing simple annoyance is not an option. Like everyone in support I’ll sometimes make disparaging remarks in private, after I’m finished dealing with someone, but never, ever to the customer.
But here they were, calling me to bitch me out for being annoyed at their incompetence.
It wasn’t too long after that I moved davehitt.com to Dreamhost, who I’ve been happy with. They actually respond to questions and frequently have the answers. What an amazing concept in customer service.
But the heart of the Podcast Peer Awards is the forum. I guessed that moving a live BBS from one site to another was going to be a big risky job, and I had paid in advance for a year, so I left the site on Startlogic.
This week Startlogic blew up the forum. They completely screwed up the server where the database resides, making it impossible for PPA members to log in and converse and cast votes. I got some help at the phpBB forums, but there was still one problem with it that I didn’t know how to resolve. Like a fool I wasted an hour waiting on hold (“your call is important to us”) and had their “live” chat window open, before I gave up. An SQL guru where I work showed me how to fix the last remaining issue (it took, literally, fifteen seconds) and the board worked flawlessly for nearly ten hours before Startlogic fucked it up again.
I’m so annoyed and disgusted I tried to buy startlogicsucks.com, but someone beat me to it. I could write a small book on the stupid, horrible things that Startlogic has done, but I’ll settle for making it a blog category and telling one of the stories from time to time.
In the meantime I’m making plans to move the PPA to Dreamhost.