Thursday, June 28, 2012

Webhosting with 1and1

It started out well, but it devolved into strange domain freezing and impenetrable wall of silence.
In 2004 or 2005 1and1, back then a major European webhosting provider but with little name recognition in North America, decided to set up shop in USA. The webhosting market was under assault from the nth dotcom bust, Google’s predatory practices of bankrupting its hosting providers & cannibalizing them and the commoditization of the industry. 1und1 wanted to make a splash, so they started by offering a multi-year free hosting option which not only that I took, but I even recommended to my friends and clients. The offer was so good, many thought it’s scam but I had heard about them before – they were solid.
I wasn’t interested much in hosting, but I had registered a bunch of domains with them and it was hard to move them elsewhere. It had also been impossible to cancel these domains. Their prices were low and they were a known quantity. Though their customer service wasn’t always up to my standards, the industry was and still is plagued by low revenues and volatility. Things were not much better elsewhere.
1an1 maintenance pageThere was intense pressure to upgrade my plan even though I didn’t need higher transfer limits – I was hardly serving anything at all from this account. I also uncovered a number of limitations:
  • the field for CNAME was too short and I could not use the branding option of Feedburner after it’s been taken over by Google and new rules came into existence
  • simple actions that should have been possible through their Cpanel necessitated login via shell and even then there were strange errors generated; the server hosting my account seemed misconfigured
  • some widely used Python modules were not installed and could not be installed for my package – the only other option was a VPS
  • customer support tried to be helpful but took far too long to investigate and insisted on having emails explained over the phone, taking hours to determine that nothing could be done to resolve some problems other than, as above, “upgrade” to a VPS and resolve it myself
  • there was intense pressure to upgrade and abandon my existing plan; often, a rep would call pushing vigorously another plan and claiming they can no longer offer what I had for the money I was paying; when I would start discussing closing my account they would relent, another polite rep would call, then I’d be given the opportunity to rate the performance of the second, polite rep
Finally, months ago, they upgraded me without my permission to a more expensive plan. My protest emails were ignored. I decided to transfer my domains out and close down the account, but the interface did not work. Again, no response to my emails and certain health issues made it difficult to call and talk. The credit card I had registered with them expired and I did not renew it. My domains are now frozen, the account shows “deleted” and I cannot even access the interface anymore. I’m prompted to enter my credit card number, but they would not tell me what is the amount they want to charge.
20120628-000-screencapI sent a letter to their CEO:
Oliver Mauss
CEO 1&1 Internet Inc.
701 Lee Road, Suite 300
Chesterbrook, PA 19087
Fax: 610-560-1501

20120628-001-screencap-chI requested a reply by the end of today, and the deadline is approaching. It is truly sad, but it looks like this problem might have to be resolved in court of law.

LE: Out of curiosity, I did a quick Google search for "1and1 webhosting". The results were frightening:

Michael Gray wrote in his blog describing an experience remarkably similar to mine.

They are by far the worst hosting company. They make it impossible cancel and account, and if you don’t do it correctly they will keep billing you. Think you’ll be ok when your credit card expires don’t worry they will keep billing you and eventually refer you to collections. When you call to speak to a supervisor and tell them to cancel an account you aren’t using anymore and is in collections, they still won’t cancel it. They will however keep sending you an email to an address that no longer is in existence and refer you to their online web form.

At WebhostingUnleashed, john (6820), Raj Virk (6254) and Lorralien (5721) described their terrible experiences as well.>
  • This company outsources its customer support team. This means that if you have any technical problems, it's going to be difficult to get through to them. (6820)
  • It was stressful these days ms hosting is compatible with scripts well this hosting ppl weren't they had no compatibility with php scripts.. so i called them up and switched my account but this hosting is very limited as well we bought a plan for 2 domains the second domain name was a waste it was or something i wanted to use it for if I wanted to change my name but nooo. 1and1 is not the best choice (6254)
  • I was told 4 days ago that my site was mysteriously 'down' due to a, and I quote "major server crash in your area', and to expect it all to be online within a 'number of hours'. no, not one hour. not two or three hours. A NUMBER of hours. Man alive. Stay the heck away from these guys. I lost two days of work. (5271)

I tried to write a review but it did not go through – it seems that the review website is no longer accepting reviews and its backend is dysfunctional. When I clicked the confirmation email link I got “Sorry, but we can't find a reccord that matches this confirmation URL.“ Clicking their “contact us” link resulted in a 404.

At webhosting jury, they get 1.7/5 for support and 1.9/5 overall in 400 reviews.
  • this company is joke,21 May 2012 i paid for domain registration only, they asked me to call for account verification. i said, its okay, may be they just want to be sure. So i called them on 22nd May 2012
    Since then its saying domain registration error, they said call again for verification, so i called them 4th june 2012.
    Still the same issue, they said call again, i called again on 19th june 2012, and then send me another email, to call again.
    this is ridiculous, i am calling from internationally, i spend over 136 dollars on phone credit because of them and they still didn't fix the issue.
    where can i go for help
  • We are a startup specialising in web apps for government clients.
    Our server went down over christmas period 2011. 24/7 support was useless as technicians were on holiday. I was assured that data would be safe due to dual raid arrays and emergency backup. We spent a worrisome christmas and new year keeping clients informed with this assurance.
    One week into 2012, we were told the raid arrays had not been connected correctly and the emergency backups had not worked. All had failed, all data was lost.
    We had a previous backup, but we spent the first two months of 2012 working 100 hour weeks, moving to AWS and visiting clients to explain what had happened. We lost clients, momentum and motivation. None of which we have yet recovered.
    Email exchange with personal information removed below.
  • This has been a nightmare since signing up for a cloud server from 1&1 Internet Inc. on Dec. 30th 2011. I'll try and keep this short but I will post this on every web hosting forum website in hopes to recover my money AND save someone else from doing 'business' with these people.
  • The worst customer service I have ever experienced. Please note that you can only speak with the complaints dept through email. Any firm that isn't able to talk on the phone when they have issues is obviously never worth using. They are more expensive than rivals and offer no added value.
    I have just been stung with a bill for a full year service because it automatically re-subscribes. You would think it would be simple to stop this process - NO WAY - not with 1 & 1, and once it is re-subscribed, even 1 day after they will not let you exit. No refund policy, no complaints department!!!!!!
    If it was an option to give this firm 0 out of 5, it would be getting it.
  • I signed up for their package after seeing their tv advert, and regretted it almost immediately, their interface for building webpages is inept, illogical, and confusing. Not at all simple, and I found it very restrictive.
    In the end to cut a long story short I tried to cancel the package and transfer the domain to somewhere else, this also turned out to be a nightmare and I had the misfortune of experiencing their customer service team, in a word, useless.
    I complained to them but no no response, happily my domain has been transferred after I had to do all the arrangements, and they were no help at all.
    I recommend you avoid them at all costs
  • They sold me a domain name and offered 6 months of "free hosting" then their customer service refused to let me cancel the first time then lied to me the second time telling me I had another 4 months free.
    Now they have locked my account and are hold my business domain names hostage.
    They have cost me lots of business and still are costing me money to this day.
    Never use them. on top of everything else then they sent my account to collections to damage my credit.
  • My name is Michael Harris and I used 1 and 1 for over a year and once I decided to change my host website they made it difficult for me to change and locked my website and when I called I kept getting someone in the asian decent on the phone as a tech support person but they could not answer any of the questions that were asked and they never had the true information.
    I called and asked how long will it take to transfer my DNS name over to current provider and they told me 24-48 on March 9, 2012 but it is now March 13, 2012 and they still have yet to be able to do it and they are giving me bogus excuses from it may take longer, there is a glitch in the system and then email "transfer"depmatment and once I did that they apologize but had no answer and I asked to speak with a supervisor they could not provide one to me. I have lost thousands of dollars with 1and1 and if you want to keep revenue coming in as a business learn from my mistake and not use 1 and 1 or you can and be very sorry.
    I hope that this post help someone as it could have helped me if I had read it in the beginning.
  • Web-mail down now 12 hours. Unable to collect potentially vital e-mails. Dire experiences getting through on telephone. When I eventually got through (while waiting in the queue the line dropped 3 times) I was told 'don't worry'! No reassurance given as to when service will resume. I am very worried.
  • I singed up with 1and1 to use their web building package.
    I tried it out, but decided its not what I am looking for and sent them and email with request to cancel 14 days after signing up.
    I got a link with a guideline how to cancel. I followed the steps and cancelled the package. Few weeks later I received a bill from them for 80GBP, as it turned out, I have not cancelled.
    I went over the steps again and cancelled the entire package.
    3 months later - yesterday- i have received another bill for 80GBP
    I have written to them to ask if there has been a mistake and to help me with this cancellation issue, but I have been told, my cancellation will be effective from December 2012, so...a year after I have cancelled my account!
    I dont understand how they can do this and how they can keep charging people for services, they have cancelled and which are not available to them, for 1 year after the cancellation!!!
    Someone should do something about it. Really is hard to believe this can keep happening in UK in 2012.
  • 1 and 1 definitely has the worst customer service of any company that I have been dealing with. Their Tech Support people in the Philippines cannot resolve anything except the simplest issues. They are just message takers and you have to wait for a few days to get email message help from their real tech support and if that does not resolve the issue, you have to start all over again.
    My current issue is that they charged my account for $160 in error and after about 3 weeks of trying to get it resolved, I called my bank and they processed a credit for it, later, 1 and 1 issued a credit and the bank reversed their entry. 1 and 1 locked my account and now require me to sign a false statement that the charges were authorized in order to get the account restored.
    1 and 1 is the worst company that I have ever dealt with, without a doubt.
  • DO NOT USE! It's the worst hosting company!
    They have terrible software and customer service! They made it so difficult to cancel the packages! They kept kicking me back and forth between two departments more than 5 times just to cancel one package; each department kept kicking me back to the other department and said the other department was the right department. I had to keep calling several departments many times without getting things fixed. They kept telling me that my package would be unlocked within 1 hour. No! 8 hours passed, my package was still locked; they still kept saying it would be unlocked in 1 hour. I could never talk to a manager!
    Their customer service is based overseas; they are polite but very poorly trained! I had to keep calling in and repeating myself for 30 minutes for one simple question without getting things right!
  • Horrible company. Worst service ever!!!! I wouldn't waste my time writing bad about any company BUT! this one is so horrible that it's worth 1-2 minutes to spend to let the other people know. NEVER go with them because you will waste your time, money and your business will not prosper with them. I had to cancel my domains with them 5 (five times) also I had to call and ask them to do one simple thing on my account for 7 (seven) times. Very bad service and unsatisfactory results Hope I won't have to call them again.
    P.S> why don't they have ) out of 5 option. They would fit to my mind!
  • 1and1 is THE WORST DECISION I TOOK IN MY INTERNET LIFE! I bought three VPS virtual private servers to host my customers websites and during 6 months each server crashes at least 4 times and I had to re-image and re install everything, the backup didn't work either, this people doesn't even know how to configure Windows VPS, they don't have a clue what is IIS, if you don't want to lose your customers don't use this company ever, support is the worst.
  • My customer has had this domain hosting account for six days. Now granted my customer lost the login information, so this is mostly about their support.
    At 11:10pm I called their support team to get the login and password information. I was gave them my customers account information and was able to get the customer ID. Went to their customer portal and requested a password reset link. So far so good.
    At 11:30 pm I had not received the password reset link so I called their support team and was advised that it could take up to six hours for the reset link to come via email. Well I kind of lost it and I explained that I have work that I need to do (mainly udate some DNS server records) because I have a customer waiting to bring their new Exchange server online. He told me to call back in 1 hour if I had not received the password email link.
    At 12:27 am I called back and I explained that I had not yet received the password email link. I was put on hold straight away and as I waited I knew this was going to be big problem. She came back on the line and told me that they were having trouble sending email to Too be honest I lost it. I explained to her that the first support should have known this one hour ago and they just wasted one hour of my time. I then asked was their backup solution and she stated that the password reset link could be sent to another email address. OK I am cool with that because just about everyone has a free email account service somewhere.
    OK This is where I 1000% lost it. She said she would direct me to a website where I can download the email address change request. OK I am still cool and then I asked how long this would take and she stated it would take 5 business days. Folks I think I had a mini stroke right then and I mean I let her have it. I asked her if she understood how stupid this was and she could only tell me its for security reasons and their policy.
    I was completely mad as heck now and I asked her what I need to do to cancel this account and she stated I would have to call a number and I asked if they were open at this time and of course the answer was no.
    I have been working in I.T. for 12 years and I have never, ever done business with a company that is this sad and if there is a business God, he should put them out of their misery. There is no excuse for the lack of experience on their support desk and I just figured out what it is. Its not a lack of expereince, its a lack of not caring.
    Stay away from this place by any means. The cheap price only gets you poor service and support. Also, I would love to see some replies from the people that work their in these types of forums.

This goes on and on. I left the following verdict which will appear pending approval:

I had over 40 domains with them. They would not cancel domains even after repeated attempts and requests. Eventually I was upgraded without my permission to a higher priced plan and could not cancel the upgrade. I tried cancelling my account but was unable to do so. They blocked my domains and I could not transfer them out. They ignored my letters, emails and faxes.
At one point, I tried to install a Python module for my site. I got weird error messages so I emailed support providing all the necessary information. They called me and wasted 2h on the phone with them explaining and re-reading my email to them. In the end, their resolution was that it's not possible to install modules unless I upgrade to a VPS, which I was not going to do.
Customer support is polite but useless. Billing is insane. Their prices are low, but it's a trap to get you to register domains with them which then they use as leverage to force you to pay more for hosting facilities that you don't use.

Simon Jones provides a very detailed log of his own experiences with this racketeering “business”:

It's a sorry state of affairs when a call to a customer service call centre feels like as rewarding and fruitful as a bare knuckle bar fight. But it's a situation that many of us are all to familiar with. So called 'off shore' call centre's and phone drones who tell us that "management are not customer facing" are pretty much part of the standard armour that companies use to keep the average Joe from speaking with anyone capable of providing us with some real, heaven forbid, customer service!

At WebHostingTestimonials, several former customers vent their anger as well:
  • STAY AWAY: 1and1 is horrible. They are scammers and the customer service is terrible. Stay away!!!!!!! (Brian Stanton, 2008-12-15)
  • This company sucks. The business practices are so corrupt. They automatically renew your domain without your permission (claiming they can do this because of the small print in the terms and conditions). Then when you do try to cancel they make you fill out five email steps before they will cancel you. However, if you cancel after they automatically renew you they will not reverse this. They even go as far as being complete assholes on the phone. They clearly do not want your business the ethical way. They are thieves and if anyone wishes to make a case against them please report them to the better business bureau. I did. If they get enough people reporting them maybe their legality won't be enough for them to hide behind. (Kathryn Murphy, 2008-12-08)
  • I have to agree with the above post. I have had 1and1 exchange hosting for over a year. There have been at least 3 multi-day no access failures. The failure last month caused 2 days of emails to be LOST. I get a lot of email and that was bad. Hardware problem? Since that was "fixed", my exchange account has gone back and forth as being text only and not HTML. They moved my Exchange hosting to a "temporary server" where it has remained for 4 months now. Still have not fixed that and still have not fixed my emails all being text only. There tech support does suck and it's blame the customer by the sys-admin's.
    Tim Reyburn - President, Ticoscen, Inc. (2008-11-22)
  • 1and1 is not worth using, even for the low prices. We've used many other hosting services over the years, and 1and1 is one of the worst. They spend a lot of money on advertising and sales, but don't know how to provide a quality service to customers. I think their investors, who are spending millions, must be getting very worried at this point. They will either go bust, or change their name soon. (Kam Sarge, 2008-11-15)
  • Technical support is a failure. They invested every thing in their server and marketing campaigns. They succeeded on that. But technical support is so bad. They speaks such bad English and they keep repeating the same crap all the time, no matter what's wrong with your service. They simply act like asses you kick when you're pissed of as customer... This is so bad... Poor them ! My blame goes directly to the executives who took this decision many years ago to send outsourced in Asia this so important function - technical support. Servers are located in the US! And their admins simply don't take calls, they don't want to be bothered by customers like us seeking for real answers! Over the past 4 years, we had problems here and there and our main source of unsatisfactory comes from their poor, incompetent technical support. Also, we've learned on our own this week that they don't have any redundancy or fail over solution in place. They lost everything on our webshell. So be careful! Keep backups all the time like we did - thank god ! (Andy Art, 2008-10-25)
  • 1and1 Will Burn You. We had our domain name registered with 1and1. We transferred our domain over to APLUS.NET. 1and1 SPITEFULLY turned our next year's fee over to a collection agency to harass us and put a bad mark on our good credit history. Do NOT trust this dishonest business. Try APLUS.NET for domain name registration, never had a problem with them (James, 2008-10-09)
  • DowntimeKing! Horrible Hosting. Downtime King. My business package goes down every other week, I already have these guy's phone number on speed dial because I have to call so often regarding down time. Absolutely horrible customer service and its unacceptable. (Jason, 2008-09-23)
  • Just say NO to. This is the worst. I am so disappointed. The basic stuff that I expect is terrible. I've delayed putting my website up because I am afraid of how it will erode brand equity. I consistnetly cannot open e-mails and attachments. I am booted out the system on a regular basis. 1 and 1 is a rip off. I have wasted my money and I'm locked into a year contract. (James Matthis, 2008-09-16)

There’s 203 reviews on that site rating customer service 1.93/10, server uptime 4.31/10 and 2.23/10 overall.

Otherwise, the company seems to be doing well, they’re hiring big in Romania:
  • Dupa ce in 2010 multinationala germana furnizoare de servicii IT 1&1 a angajat in Romania peste 100 de oameni pe diferite pozitii – de la programatori entry-level la manageri, urmareste sa mai angajeze 50 de oameni anul acesta, ambitia companiei fiind ca firma “sa devina cunoscuta in Bucuresti si in Romania ca unul dintre angajatorii de top”.
  • 1&1 este cea mai mare companie pe plan global furnizoare de servicii de web hosting, cu afaceri de 1,9 miliarde euro in 2010, in crestere de la 1,7 miliarde. “Atat pe plan international cat si in Romania, compania este stabila din punct de vedere financiar. Lucrand pe baza de abonamente nu am fost afectati de criza economica si vom inregistra crestere si in 2011”, spune pentru Wolfgang Gunne, general manager al 1&1 Internet Development SRL, filiala locala a companiei germane.
  • Compania nu are niciun client pe piata locala, cei peste 200 de angajati deservind clienti internationali. “Nu este relevant ce venituri am generat strict in tara, intrucat echipa noastra lucreaza pentru infrastructura celor 70.000 de servere detinute de 1&1 pe plan international, pentru a mentine la nivel ridicat accesul la peste 30 de milioane de conturi de e-mail pentru clientii internationali ai companiei. Sunt servicii care nu se vad dar de importanta vitala”, explica Gunne. (Alex Goaga for, 2011-03-31)
  • 1&1 Internet Development are 280 de angajati in prezent si cauta specialisti pentru departamentele de dezvoltare software, asigurarea calitatii, managementul proiectelor, experienta utilizatorului si dezvoltare de produs.
  • „Pozitiile din cadrul 1&1 Internet Development nu se adreseaza numai seniorilor, ci avem posturi disponibile chiar si pentru entry-level. Vrem ca viitorii nostri colegi sa fie persoane cu orientare catre inovatie, deschidere spre invatare si adaptare rapida la un mediu dinamic”, a declarat Wolfgang Gunne, director general al 1&1 Internet Development.
  • 1&1 Internet Development a fost infiintata in anul 2004 in Romania. In centrul de cercetare si dezvoltare din Bucuresti, compania ofera servicii de gazduire web, programe suport pentru departamente ca financiar, vanzari, respectiv aplicatii care se adreseaza strict uzului intern.
  • 1&1 Internet Development este filiala locala a 1&1 Internet AG, companie fondata in 1988 si subsidiara a United Internet. 1&1 are peste 10,5 milioane de clienti in toata lumea si 18 milioane de domenii gazduite. (Cristina Negraru for wsr, 2012-03-29)

WebhostingTalk forum has several threads dedicated to 1&1 and the difficulty of moving domains out.

Sources / More info: 1&1, 1&, wht: 1, 2, 3, 4 | CCC

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