Knowledgeable Support?

wordpress

#1

I get the feeling that DreamHost employs a large number of front-line support people, but relatively few that really understand what’s going on.

If I send in an easy-to-fix problem, it gets taken care of within an hour or two. A problem that requires understanding either gets ignored, or I get a response that makes no sense.

Perfect example - I sent in a ticket about 30 hours ago, needed to enable FrontPage extensions on a domain to support a (cranky) client running an older version that doesn’t do FTP.

I write in the ticket (#1766930) saying the extensions aren’t loaded. Site is on a frontpage-enabled server, permissions are finally correct, but extensions aren’t being loaded, so I am now unable to update the content in any way.

I get a quick response that doesn’t address the problem, then ignored for another 28 hours or so.

What does it take to get noticed by knowledgeable DH support? I know it’s wrong, but I’m tempted to submit all my tickets as the highest priority just to get some response!

Do people notice that the ‘callback’ feature helps any?


#2

I’m getting so very frustrated with support right now. My WP site has been down for the last couple days. Right after my SQL DNS got messed up by DH. Since then I’m timing out trying to load any non-admin page that is visible from the outside world. The claim is that it is something I’m doing, but it is a low traffic site and worked before this DNS snafu. I’ve gone through the logs and it is definitely not anything that I’m doing, but I can’t get any acknowledgement from support at all. I can’t get anyone there to even consider anything else. It is like they are just copying and pasting one unhelpful answer after another. I took a look at the SQL status and it is pretty freaking obvious that there is something going on with my server, but now I’m not even getting a response from support as I move into day 4 of downtime.

This kind of customer service lameness is how I ended up on dreamhost in the first place and if it doesn’t improve and FAST, it will be why I leave.


#3

My impression (and I’ve been hosting sites at Dreamhost since 1998) is that Dreamhost support is like almost any other support operation in that there are always some support technicians that are more knowledgeable than others. :wink:

Sure the “easy” problems will get fixed more quickly than those that are “more difficult”, and when you have on of the “difficult” problems, it is frustrating to have it take multiple attempts to get your problem fixed.

I’ve found one of the secrets to getting things resolved in a timely manner, with as little “back-and-forth” as possible is to clearly state the problem. You sentence above, as an example, is confusing to me (and I used to host many FP (argughh!) sites on Dreamhost) because “loaded” is an ambiguous term the way you are using it. You say the “site is on a front-page enabled server” (which to me means the FP extensions are physically present on the server, and the server is properly configured for them), so I have no idea what you mean when you say the extensions are not being “loaded”.

I find it is helpful to simply describe the symptoms rather than to presume you know what the problem is (even if you do know) - you use of the term “loaded” might be causing the technician, who might be only passingly familiar with FrontPage (cause it is rarely used anymore on Dreamhost) to just check to see that the extensions are “loaded” on the server - he finds the are, and figured your problem is solved, or is with you. If the problem is that you cannot connect and publish with FrontPage to your Dreamhost space, that is what I would say.

I suspect it is also true that, since DH is a Debian linux based hosting service, every one on the support desk may not be familiar with the nuances of FrontPage; possible asking specifically that your ticket be escalated to the attention of one of the FrontPage “gurus” might help.

Fortunately, since you have already received a reply (even if it wasn’t sufficiently helpful) you can respond via email to their email and not loose continuity on you issue (as opposed to having to generate a new ticket). Of course, you could try the callback feature; it seems that would necessitate DH finding a FrontPage savvy tech to return your call.

Hopefully, they will be able to get you sorted soon; they have been, on the whole, very knowledgeable and helpful when I have needed support.

–rlparker


#4

I’m sure it’s frustrating to be unable to get to the bottom of the problem after four days; I empathize with you!

One thought comes to mind reading your post: are you absolutely sure that the recent upgrade to PHP 5.2.1 could not be involved with your WordPress site? The time frame you describe is suspiciously close to the period of time when that upgrade was rolled out across various servers, and I have no doubt that it “broke” some stuff - particularly WordPress installations (given the variety of plug-ins commonly in use on many WordPress sites).

To me, that might be worth a bit of investigation. Not to presume (particularly given your resume and technical education) , but many here are likely to be able to help you with a malfunctioning WordPress, as it is widely used and there are some true WordPress “wizards” about in the forum; you might consider sharing your error details, as someone here may well have a useful insight.

As for the possibility of MySQL DNS still being involved, I assume you have checked and are able to log into your MySQL host successfully. If you can do that, then MySQL or it’s DNS setting, is not likely to be involved with your problem (though your configuration file may need to be tweaked if there was any change in your hostname).

I have also found that being able to log into admin or WordPress, but not being able to load any non-admin pages might be the indication that you need to rebuild permalinks - which often has to be done after a WordPress upgrade, or if the .htaccess file is changed in any way.

Finally, if you have received no response after 24 hours to any support ticket, I strongly advise you to submit another - tickets can get lost from a queue (though they shouldn’t) and you should get a reply to every ticket you submit. I hope you are able to get it resolved soon, and if there is any thing I, or others on the forum, can do to help debug the WordPress issue, I encourage you to start at thread in the forum with more detail so that we can try to help.

–rlparker


#5

I finally got the wp working, but it meant creating a whole new WP installation from scratch. I pointed it to the same DB, so it looks like I was wrong about the DB part, and I’m guessing that you might have hit the nail right on the head. Might have been nice if support had been as useful.

Thanks for response. I actually have a degree in CS and have worked in the industry for 15 years, but I spend my day writing C++, not PHP. Your answer was at the perfect level.


#6

You are more than welcome, and I’m glad you were able to get back “up and running” with your WordPress installation. I also appreciate your response to my post; you are most gracious, as I only mentioned a few things that came to mind as potentially related to your problem. :wink:

At any rate, hopefully everything will remain stable now, and you can start to enjoy the feature set / value DH provides.

–rlparker


#7

My support ticket contained a lot more information, just tried to put a short summary here as an example. As it happens, I gave an easily testable URL that will work when the FP extensions are running on the site (the FP admin that should be available).

I have finally gotten a response from support, I’ll copy it below along with my translation:


"I’ve restarted and reconfigured the instance your frontpage extentions are on. "

[Translation: Rebooting works for a PC, maybe it will work for a misconfigured apache config as well]

“I don’t have a copy of FP to test with, but this should resolve it.”

[Translation: Even though you told me how to test if it works, I’ll assume the it’s fixed]

“If the problems persist, let me know.”

[My shift is over soon, by then it will be someone else’s problem].


Coming up on 72 hours, can’t update my site, client screaming in my ear. While I agree that some support people will always be more knowledgeable than others, I’ve gotten a response similar to above way too many times. I wonder if I could adapt an Eliza script to restart a process and email the customer back, and replace 80% of the support personnel with it.


#8

Actually, those responses all seemed pretty reasonable to me, particularly given the DH hosting environment; I wouldn’t expect a tech support workstation of a Debian Linux based webhost to have a runnable copy of FrontPage laying around to “test” with.

Yeah, that can’t be a lot of fun. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t a real good idea to stick a client that insists on using FrontPage, and is prone to screaming in people’s ears, on a predominantly *nix hosting box with his Front Page site. If I had done so, I wouldn’t have waited for “way too many times” of un-Front-Page savvy/friendly answers to have rectified that situation. :wink:

Who knows? I’d think a reasonably proficient programmer could have a lot of fun with such a project, if they had the time to invest in such an undertaking; I think I’ probably choose, instead, to move that FrontPage site to a MS shop and be done with it.

–rlparker


#9

As usual, the situation is slightly more complicated than described on the forum - needs to be linux hosting for other reasons, just a small portion of it has to be updated via frontpage’s proprietary protocol.

DreamHost says they support mod_frontpage, so I stayed with them. Not looking for any funky setup or special support, I just want the *$#$(# extensions enabled on the site.

DreamHost’s response seems to always end with “…that should fix it…” but they’re never willing to click the link I send them to verify it’s fixed. 3 rounds of communication, each time ends the same way.

Come Monday, if this hasn’t been fixed (4 days trying), I’m taking all my traffic to a different host (~30 sites by now). DreamHost is just too frustrating…


#10

I read through your support history an agree that the tech’s did not handle it properly. I have assigned your case to a lead to clean up the mess and to hand out lashings. In general, but especially when something comes up repeatedly like this, the tech needs to verify that things are working before responding.


#11

Thanks, I’ll be glad just to have it up!!!


#12

Go Ted!

Wholly - Use promo code WhollyMindless for full 97$ credit. Let me know if you want something else!