I’ve been with HostGator for several years, migrating there from GoDaddy due to extremely slow hosting. It was love at first site; my WordPress sites ran fast, support was fast and easy (phone, chat or email) and everything just worked.
Then I started to have problems. The first problem was my sites slowing down to a crawl. HostGator helped me identify WordPress’ heartbeat API as the issue and things went well for awhile. Then my account went down.
My account has my business website as well as 7 other websites, set up as subdomains. Three of those sites are customer websites who just needed basic brochure-website style hosting. It was a shared hosting account and worked just fine for years. None of the sites (including my business site) get a huge amount of traffic. My bandwidth usage is just a fraction of what I’m allowed.
Two weeks ago, after running nine updates for WordPress for my business site not only my business site, but my entire account was “turned off” by HostGator due to excessive server usage. All of my sites were down, including my customer accounts. All without notice. It took 20 minutes for me to receive notification by email. I was working in my WordPress account, so I knew my site was down, but this was the first inkling that all of the sites were down.
I disabled all of my plugins by FTPing in and adding “-disabled” to the end of all of the plugin folders. Then I filed a support ticket. My site came up about two hours later, so I began activating plugins, only to get three activated and have the site go down again.
At this point I got on chat with HostGator to be told that they don’t support WordPress, yada yada. Not much help. So, I deactivated the plugins again, re-opened the support ticket and eventually got the account online again. Only to have it go down again the next day. After much more to and fro-ing I finally got the account to stay up by deactivating Yoast’s SEO plugin. However, this wasn’t an optimal solution, so I considered switching to a VPS.
I have a limited budget, so I looked around at larger, reputable companies, got prices and then went and talked to HostGator customer retention. I’d already paid a year in advance to HostGator for my shared account, which I would lose if I switched. Hoping I could get the balanced switched over to my VPS, I told the rep the pricing I was seeing elsewhere, what I needed, yada yada. In the end I negotiated a one year half-off deal with my balance applied to the new hosting account. I’d be getting managed hosting and was assured that support would transfer everything to the VPS account. I was given a URL to step-by-step instructions to get it going.
I was a little confused by the instructions, but I got my VPS transferred and emailed the department identified in the instructions to get my DNS set up correctly. Everything seemed pretty smooth, but once I was given the go-ahead to switch my domains to the new DNS I found it wasn’t working. Another ticket, 24 hours with no response, and a chat session and phone call later I finally got it working, though they didn’t transfer the domains that were registered with HostGator as they were supposed to, I got that done.
All my sites were finally working. The emails for my subdomains were working correctly. However my main domain’s email – which is my main business email – was not working correctly. Another ticket, another 24 hours, another call and finally I’m told something wasn’t set up right, but it is right now. But I still can’t log into my email account. Using the control panel webmail interface I get an error messages that my domain doesn’t exist. I file a support ticket on August 1st (a Friday and later in the day) By mid-Monday I’ve received no response. As the wait time for the phone is excessive, I go to chat. The rep reviews everything and tells me that the ticket is in the hands of the “Linux guys” and there’s nothing he can do. I ask if they are working on it and he assures me they are. I ask if I can talk to them and he says they don’t take phone calls.
He then suggests I just use Google Apps to manage my email! The hosting company can’t set up email accounts correctly themselves, but expect users to do it or use a third party server?
Tuesday, still not working. No response to my ticket. I add a note to the ticket documenting my chat session and also the fact I tried setting up a different email account for my business – no accounts for my business will work at all. I DM @HostGatorSupport on Twitter and ask them to escalate my ticket. No response.
Wednesday, still not working, no response to my ticket. I write this blog post, which will be Tweeted, not only to show the problems with HostGator customer service, but maybe, possibly, to get someone at HostGator to either get my account working correctly or agree to refund all of my money so I can go elsewhere.
Note: I am now receiving business emails. I achieved this by redirecting all email to my business account to my personal account. But I still can’t access my business emailboxes.
Updated on 6 Aug 2015: After another very long chat session where the chat person could see the problem (the VPS was set up incorrectly) but couldn’t fix it, I was assured the problem would be escalated. Within an hour I received notification that it was fixed, which I confirmed this morning. We will see how the next year goes (I’m paid up a year in advance). I’ve been contacted by several companies including Host4Geeks and DreamHost and I plan on checking them out before renewing.