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On Our One Year Anniversary With A Dedicated Server


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After having stuck my neck out by recommending TCH over other sites when moving from another well-known hosting service a year ago, I've learned a lot: compared to other fully managed dedicated hosting services, TCH is the near the bottom in cost, and somewhere near the middle in service. This is not a criticism, just an honest appraisal. As the saying goes: "you get what you pay for."

 

What we like:

* Cost.

* A very simple process for getting up and running quickly.

* Easy to use GUIs for routine administrative tasks.

* Pre-emptive actions that we're probably not even aware of that keep things running smoothly.

* Patience with us during the learning period. This is mutual.

* Forums and Knowledge Base

* Very few outages.

 

What we don't like:

* Slow level 2 response. We don't "cry wolf" or flag managers just to get attention and seldom categorize problems as urgent, but 24 hours on high priority problems is too long.

* Significant changes without notice and without subsequent acknowledgement. I've been around a long time (>25years in the field), and I KNOW when something significant was changed. Just acknowledge it when it happens, I'll respect you more.

* No explanation of things that have gone wrong (FTP not working) or broken (DNS down) so we can take possible pre-emptive action ourselves or modify our procedures in the future.

* Seemingly few people capable of handling very serious problems. I can count the top-level support staff on the fingers of one hand.

 

What can be done to improve service:

* E-mail notifications BEFORE making significant changes, or at least give us the option of being warned if we want. This includes software and hardware upgrades, reboots, planned downtime, etc. For example, recompiling PHP invariably breaks our site - why not warn us in advance, you have our contact information?

* Understand that some of us have exhausted all possible causes and solutions before turning to you. Don't force us to spend days creating test cases to prove that we're right and you're wrong.

* Don't change root password without letting us know, especially if we've just changed it ourselves. When we need root password, we need it NOW, not the next day after your billing department has approved release. Again, you have the contact information.

* Offer a higher-level service package (yes - at higher cost) where we have direct contact with a support team. Working some problems through junior-level screeners takes way too long. If you promise to make top-level help available, we'll promise not to waste their time.

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Hi Dorsey,

 

Thanks for the honest feedback, I appreciate you giving us your time and thoughts.

 

Some of these we were already looking at, others I will look into a little more, so that we can improve.

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Dorsey,

 

We have never actually spoken to each other, so I just want you to know that in my reply I may come across as harsh, just please understand the passion I have for my business. I want you to be the happiest client on the planet, but I also want you to know how hard we are all working behind the scenes. Take a moment to read this over and call me at my office with any questions you may have.

 

I have taken the past hour to go over your tickets and such and for the most part (90% of the time in my view) my staff hits the nail on the head every time. Let me just say firstly, thank you for your business and the feedback your providing to us. I know we need to work on that other 10% and we are doing just that. Please take a look around the forums and you will see that we have.

 

1. Acquired our own Data Center Space.

2. Invested over $200,000 USD in upgrades and purchasing of new hardware.

3. Upgraded our transit to include XO, Level 3 and Cogent. With over 3GB in available transit.

4. Acquired from ARIN and are migrating into our very own IP space. This means much better control over our IP block.

 

The list goes on and on. The past three months have been incredible here at TCH. I promise you Dorsey, things are just going to keep getting better.

 

I want to break down each of your comments with a reply of my own.

 

What we like:

* Cost.

* A very simple process for getting up and running quickly.

* Easy to use GUIs for routine administrative tasks.

* Pre-emptive actions that we're probably not even aware of that keep things running smoothly.

* Patience with us during the learning period. This is mutual.

* Forums and Knowledge Base

* Very few outages.

 

I am glad we do well on all the above. In the upcoming days, you will even notice even more improvements to the way we are handling things.

 

 

What we don't like:

* Slow level 2 response. We don't "cry wolf" or flag managers just to get attention and seldom categorize problems as urgent, but 24 hours on high priority problems is too long.

* Significant changes without notice and without subsequent acknowledgement. I've been around a long time (>25years in the field), and I KNOW when something significant was changed. Just acknowledge it when it happens, I'll respect you more.

* No explanation of things that have gone wrong (FTP not working) or broken (DNS down) so we can take possible pre-emptive action ourselves or modify our procedures in the future.

* Seemingly few people capable of handling very serious problems. I can count the top-level support staff on the fingers of one hand.

 

Number 1 - I am fully aware of the issues with slower level 2 response times. We have always enjoyed good level 2 response times, however over the past two months our response times in level 2 are not acceptable. I have hired two additional level 2 administrators. They will be staring within two weeks and will be fully up to speed by the end of April. This should solve the slower than normal response times from level 2. On the flip side most level 2 tickets are still being solved within 12 hours. Our level 1 tickets are still resolved in most cases in under 20 minutes.

 

Number 2 - I would like to make something very clear on this matter. We make NO changes to your box unless you ticket us to make such a change. The only thing we every do is update security related items on your server. We never had and never will upgrade your server without advanced notice. Ever!

What I think your having issues with is cPanel. cPanel is the control panel that is running on your box. cPanel updates itself every night. If cPanel upgrades certain packages and or software packages, this is 100% not within our control. This is a feature built into cPanel. Automatic Updates are something that keeps your server up2date. Now, we can shut this feature off for you. Just open a ticket and we shall shut off the automatic updates.

 

 

Number 3 - This is being discussed by the team. Update you when we have had a chance to talk about it.

 

Number 4 - TotalChoice is a small company. We are not a large corporation. I can also count the team members. Well I can name them one by one. I would much prefer a small number of dedicated staff members than a large group of staff that could give a rats behind about their job or the company they work for. My office phone number, email address, cell phone number and such is all pasted in my forum signature. I am available 24/7 to you and any other TCH client.

 

In summation, things are not perfect here at TCH. I know that, and I am always working on making things better and better.

 

I look forward to your comments.

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Dorsey, just some comments on some of your items...

 

After having stuck my neck out by recommending TCH over other sites when moving from another well-known hosting service a year ago, I've learned a lot: compared to other fully managed dedicated hosting services, TCH is the near the bottom in cost, and somewhere near the middle in service. This is not a criticism, just an honest appraisal. As the saying goes: "you get what you pay for."

Sorry, you are 100% wrong here. TCH is no where near the cheapest and IMO, you can't find another host out there offering the one-on-one attention ALL of the TCH staff provide. Granted you can't avoid typical run of the mill support issues, but it's the fact that the staff are readily available to get resolutions started. This is GOLD to any customer.

 

What we don't like:

* Slow level 2 response. We don't "cry wolf" or flag managers just to get attention and seldom categorize problems as urgent, but 24 hours on high priority problems is too long.

* Significant changes without notice and without subsequent acknowledgement. I've been around a long time (>25years in the field), and I KNOW when something significant was changed. Just acknowledge it when it happens, I'll respect you more.

* No explanation of things that have gone wrong (FTP not working) or broken (DNS down) so we can take possible pre-emptive action ourselves or modify our procedures in the future.

* Seemingly few people capable of handling very serious problems. I can count the top-level support staff on the fingers of one hand.

I'm going to assume you have a managed server? So with that, would you rather they fix security holes ASAP (which in turn protects the rest of their network and customers), or get your permission and wait on you to fix insecure/non compliant scripts? Personally, I vote option one since I'm possibly the other guy with boxes on the same network. I think it's ridiculous to criticize any admin for being PROACTIVE and protecting customers. TCH seems to be doing what they were payed to do here even if they are plugging security holes before they tell you. And what better way to get the answers you seek on the problems than to have a handful of support staff that you can PERSONALLY speak with? Yep, I'll take a few smart dudes over 50 slugs anyday.

 

What can be done to improve service:

* E-mail notifications BEFORE making significant changes, or at least give us the option of being warned if we want. This includes software and hardware upgrades, reboots, planned downtime, etc. For example, recompiling PHP invariably breaks our site - why not warn us in advance, you have our contact information?

* Understand that some of us have exhausted all possible causes and solutions before turning to you. Don't force us to spend days creating test cases to prove that we're right and you're wrong.

* Don't change root password without letting us know, especially if we've just changed it ourselves. When we need root password, we need it NOW, not the next day after your billing department has approved release. Again, you have the contact information.

* Offer a higher-level service package (yes - at higher cost) where we have direct contact with a support team. Working some problems through junior-level screeners takes way too long. If you promise to make top-level help available, we'll promise not to waste their time.

Simple (and this isn't meant to be condescending), if you need more control over the admin side of the house, DO IT YOURSELF. TCH is managing your boxes, not employing your own personal admins. Go ahead and take your '>25 years' and do your own admin work and simply leverage TCH against things you can't do.

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Dorsey, just some comments on some of your items...

Sorry, you are 100% wrong here. TCH is no where near the cheapest and IMO, you can't find another host out there offering the one-on-one attention ALL of the TCH staff provide. Granted you can't avoid typical run of the mill support issues, but it's the fact that the staff are readily available to get resolutions started. This is GOLD to any customer.

I'm going to assume you have a managed server? So with that, would you rather they fix security holes ASAP (which in turn protects the rest of their network and customers), or get your permission and wait on you to fix insecure/non compliant scripts? Personally, I vote option one since I'm possibly the other guy with boxes on the same network. I think it's ridiculous to criticize any admin for being PROACTIVE and protecting customers. TCH seems to be doing what they were payed to do here even if they are plugging security holes before they tell you. And what better way to get the answers you seek on the problems than to have a handful of support staff that you can PERSONALLY speak with? Yep, I'll take a few smart dudes over 50 slugs anyday.

Simple (and this isn't meant to be condescending), if you need more control over the admin side of the house, DO IT YOURSELF. TCH is managing your boxes, not employing your own personal admins. Go ahead and take your '>25 years' and do your own admin work and simply leverage TCH against things you can't do.

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It's clear that we (you and I) have different views of your performance. Rather than challenge your points, let me say that I find your comments both offensive and condescending, undeserving of a reply. I am the customer after all, and an attitude of "do it yourself" tells me all I need to know about your organization. How embarrassing for you - I hope your response was not posted for others to see, especially potential customers.

 

I took the time to reach out to you with honest observations about our experience, asked for a closer working relationship with TCH, even offering to pay extra for extra work, and gave you a chance to keep us as a customer - what more could a vendor want? What I got for my trouble was a very defensive reply that answered nothing. I was hoping that you'd take this as an indication of a problem that needs attention, not a nuisance that needs elimination.

 

Your angry, vitriolic, diatribe was not exactly the reply of a businessman truly interested in customer service, wouldn't you agree?

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Hi Dorsey,

 

You quoted text that was made by someone else who is hosted with us - and not from anyone giving a formal TotalChoice Hosting response..... Can I just check if you are referring to comments by a member of staff / Bill ?

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Dorsey,

 

My reply was forthright, concise and very professional. Perhaps you could let me know what I said that was so offensive? You did not quote my remarks but that of another poster! How that makes me angry is beyond me?

I remain professional and always am available to dicuss any issues.

 

At this point however, I am walking away confused.

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It's clear that we (you and I) have different views of your performance. Rather than challenge your points, let me say that I find your comments both offensive and condescending, undeserving of a reply. I am the customer after all, and an attitude of "do it yourself" tells me all I need to know about your organization. How embarrassing for you - I hope your response was not posted for others to see, especially potential customers.

 

I took the time to reach out to you with honest observations about our experience, asked for a closer working relationship with TCH, even offering to pay extra for extra work, and gave you a chance to keep us as a customer - what more could a vendor want? What I got for my trouble was a very defensive reply that answered nothing. I was hoping that you'd take this as an indication of a problem that needs attention, not a nuisance that needs elimination.

 

Your angry, vitriolic, diatribe was not exactly the reply of a businessman truly interested in customer service, wouldn't you agree?

 

Dude your nuts. Bill (head guru) didnt make any of them remarks. Some other client did. Man you flew out to left field like a Mark McGuire pop out!

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It's clear that we (you and I) have different views of your performance. Rather than challenge your points, let me say that I find your comments both offensive and condescending, undeserving of a reply. I am the customer after all, and an attitude of "do it yourself" tells me all I need to know about your organization. How embarrassing for you - I hope your response was not posted for others to see, especially potential customers.

 

I took the time to reach out to you with honest observations about our experience, asked for a closer working relationship with TCH, even offering to pay extra for extra work, and gave you a chance to keep us as a customer - what more could a vendor want? What I got for my trouble was a very defensive reply that answered nothing. I was hoping that you'd take this as an indication of a problem that needs attention, not a nuisance that needs elimination.

 

Your angry, vitriolic, diatribe was not exactly the reply of a businessman truly interested in customer service, wouldn't you agree?

Yes, I agree 100% as I'm a customer myself, not TCH staff - apparently the "TCH" prefixes in the staffs user names don't give it away.

 

I commented in hopes to provide you another perspective (this is a discussion forum right?). Sorry you didn't see it that way.

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It's clear that we (you and I) have different views of your performance. Rather than challenge your points, let me say that I find your comments both offensive and condescending, undeserving of a reply. I am the customer after all, and an attitude of "do it yourself" tells me all I need to know about your organization. How embarrassing for you - I hope your response was not posted for others to see, especially potential customers.

 

I took the time to reach out to you with honest observations about our experience, asked for a closer working relationship with TCH, even offering to pay extra for extra work, and gave you a chance to keep us as a customer - what more could a vendor want? What I got for my trouble was a very defensive reply that answered nothing. I was hoping that you'd take this as an indication of a problem that needs attention, not a nuisance that needs elimination.

 

Your angry, vitriolic, diatribe was not exactly the reply of a businessman truly interested in customer service, wouldn't you agree?

 

Hi Dorsey,

 

I'd like to add my 2 cents here: I just read this entire thread and believe that the comment you took offense to was made by "JRKy", (another client like you and myself), not by Bill or any other TCH staff. My perception of the communication between you and Bill was it was respectful on both sides. I hope that the interactions between you and TCH staff remains so. That's the important thing here: that you keep your business with a company you like...and TCH gets to keep a good customer like yourself.

 

Stefan

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