It's the ongoing trend of "quantity" over "quality".
Cheap, unreliable (and unresponsive) web hosts are a dime a dozen.
Dreamhost needs to pay attention and not follow that herd, if they wish to preserve their reputation as a standout low-cost host.
The temptation is strong, I'm sure, to simply play the numbers in the short-term game. But longterm, if the quality of service doesn't improve they will become just another wayward example of "You get what you pay for..." Fine perhaps for hobbyists, but not for anyone who would like their business taken seriously.
If that is their business model, then I believe their clients deserve to know what to realistically expect. Those that don't care about about quality (and timely!) communication, will enter in fairly warned and with the correct expectations... and probably not unhappy as a result.
But those customers led to believe uptime, service and support would continue reliably, but are experiencing something starkly different, are likely to be very unhappy.
When your word is perceived as no longer any good, you have more serious problems than a temporary outage here or there. I hope the folks at DreamHost are considering this as they allocate their resources, recognizing the parts of their business that are most critical to the longterm sustainability of their customer base.
I'm in a holding pattern in terms of referring new folks to DreamHost... at least until I see things improve significantly. When I refer people to DreamHost, it is my reputation, not just DreamHost's that is on the line. My confidence in DreamHost has been shaken by serial outages, and ongoing email issues, as well as slow or inconsistent access to my admin panel.
As I said in an earlier post... I'd rather they quadruple their reliability and responsiveness, than do the same for storage space or bandwidth. But to date that does not seem to be the direction they have taken.
Fingers crossed that they are working on this.