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A few years ago - nearly two as I write this - I signed up with a company called "HostPro" for what was then called a "Freedom" account. The Freedom account provided 500 MB disk space, root access, 40 virtual hosts, and more on a FreeBSD "box" that I could essentially consider a dedicated - though small - server.

I'd previously hosted Cocoa Dev Central on Dreamhost, but was frustrated by their email-only support and the general collosity (if that's not a word, consider it one now) of their lame back-end "control panel." That and updates often took 15 minutes to one hour to take effect ended that relationship quickly.

Gabe had been working with HostPro, and so I switched. Easiest, best thing I ever did. The pricing was right, he assisted me with some of the basics and peculiarities, and off I went. HostPro sales people were knowledgeable, their tech guys more so, and the price and service was at a sweet spot for me. I was happy.

Then Interland merged with HostPro, yet Interland maintained the name and their sales people and service technicians. Bummer. Gabe and I routinely joke about the lack of quality to be found in the Interland tech ranks - oftentimes we know more about the system than they tend to, and the number of activities which are "unsupported" has grown every month.

Regardless, Gabe and I pressed on, adding more vhosts, upgrading copies of Perl, PHP, MySQL, etc. We enabled services, added users, tweaked config files, and performed system maintenance. We're proud of our little servers, and the knowledge we've gained in using them. We are still happy with the $150 (or $127 depending on term length) we pay per month for them.

Unfortunately, we were running out of space. 500 MB goes quickly. Just as we were hitting 80 or 90% capacity, hallelujah! Interland releases what they call the "VPS" solution - the Virtual Private Server. 2 GB disk space, 50 vhosts, 50 GB transfers, and a few other perks over the Freedom plan, and less money: $110 to $130 per month. Hallelujah!

Or so we thought. Turns out Interland rolled out the new plans, discontinuing the Freedom plans, with no upgrade plan. Gabe and I were effectively "stuck" on our Freedom accounts, the name of which became irrepressibly ironic.

Gabe and I began to place phone calls and send emails. At the very least, we figured, Interland should begin charging us less. After all, we were paying more for our Freedom accounts than brand new customers - customers who hadn't been with Interland/HostPro for years - were paying for better servers! Sayeth Interland to us: "fuck you for your loyalty."

We continued to send emails, inquiring about the possibility of an upgrade. After all, it was mostly just more disk space and a bunch of other things they control - bandwidth, vhost allotment, etc. Their answer, as best we could decipher it: "Any upgrade is at least six months away. Oh, and you'll continue to pay your $127-$150/month too."

That wasn't good enough for us. We continued to call. We continued to email.

They offered another solution: "move yourself." They'd give us some overlap time on both a new VPS server and our old Freedom server. We'd move our files, our users, our passwords, our sites, our CVS repositories, our installed and upgraded and purchased software - we'd move it all, and then they'd shut off the old server when finished. Great, except, we have businesses to run, and that'd take two full days out of our schedule. Besides, as we hesitated to point out to them, "if you're telling us to move our stuff ourselves, we may as well move our stuff ourselves… to another host altogether."

But slowly, our continued pressure started to crack the cement wall of ignorance and completely absent customer support. Tiffani Bova, Vice President, Channel Sales & Marketing and General Manager, Shared Hosting, sent me an email, CCing Cindy Appel, Director of Product Marketing, which said:

I am sorry for all this confusion. I am having my Director of Product Marketing who handles both the Freedom and VPS product get back with you on this situation. We are working very hard to make sure that customers such as yourself are taken care of during this transition of products. Please let me know if there is anything else we can do to help.

We appreciate your business.

In other words, "I wanted to acknowledge that I got your email, but I really don't care, so I'm going to pass it off to this other person whom I won't even name (though the CC might give it away)." I replied nearly two weeks later, having seen no further action, saying:

I've heard nothing from you. It's been since March 19 as you can see. If you appreciate my business, please attempt to keep it.

Short, poignant. It worked, because I sent the email this most recent Sunday evening, and Monday morning my cell phone rang. Cindy Appel, Tiffani's CC, assured me that they would make a special case for me, upgrading my server in the very new future, and shifting me to the more inexpensive rate plan immediately. Great.

My sales person, Ron Oliver, called to confirm a few minutes later. Then a technician called to tell me that he could set up a second server so that I may move the files over. I again stressed that if I had to do all of that work, I may as well look around for an entirely new host to which I can move my files. He said "ah, I see what you mean." Five minutes later he called back to tell me that Phil Tang (whom I nicknamed Pootie Tang) would be handling my transition.

Phil emailed me on Monday to let me know that my account would be migrated, that the DNS would be updated, and that, at most, my server(s) would be down for about 30 minutes. We agreed to do this at 10am on the next day, Tuesday.

The upgrade went without a hitch. My files, my users, my passwords were moved to the new IP address on a new, bigger, better server. The old server was turned back on, and I continued to get mail from it until all DNS caches had been flushed. Today I told Pootie Tang to shut off my old server, and that I'd contact him by his quitting time of 5pm if I noticed any issues. I did not contact Pootie Tang.

So all is well that ends well, but I must ask: if it took Pootie Tang 30 minutes to move my server, creating in the end a very happy (but confused at why it took so much to get this to happen) customer, why are they not doing this for everyone? Why will Gabe have to use my case as an example of why they should upgrade his server, giving him "special treatment" as well?

How do I plan to use the new space? In various ways. One of those ways will be to host "" running some forum software. The purpose: to provide a place for other Interland VPS/Freedom customers to assist each other, console each other, and of course, to bitch about Interland. 🙂

6 Responses to "Splinterland"

  1. Alright, I posted in the test thread. Sorry about that.

    Interland really, really, really screwed over a lot of former HostPro customers. My company decided to pack up and run our own servers because we'd been so mistreated. I did notice that things go much smoother when you complain a bit, though.

    I used to have a VServers account, before HostPro bought them out. Their tech people lied straight through their teeth to me on the phone, and I ended up losing $800 of one of my clients' money because I'd been given false information. Their sales people were highly unsympathetic.

  2. The part I think that is sad is that this isn't unusual in any way. I've spent the entire week dealing with my own company's behavior that isn't far from this. Just plain old "oh, you mean we should tell customers we're doing something" BS, that's patently obvious to anyone with a shred of a clue. So, I get the blowback, and someone else plays stupid.

  3. I published a little ditty on Interland a few days ago, and now we've set up the domain: It's going to house a forum...

  4. This may be the only entry I post today due to, well, I'll get into it later. Update: Here's a retelling of what's happened. It...

  5. I am using Interland and I of course hate them. I am actually writing you to find out of you documented your methods when upgrading the PHP on your VPS account?

    I get a funky imap quota error everytime i try to "make".

    At any rate I hope ther is a better solution than VPS out there!

  6. interland is the most pathetic excuse for an ISP. If you want to get rid of your headaches nightmares and endless phone calls to those idiots go to I had switched from interland and i am much happier. Now at least I get real service, and no billing errors.

    They take your money but they do not deliver service!

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