Poor Customer Service


#1

Hello Everyone,
I have been with DreamHost for about 6 months now, and I am so unsatisfied with their

service that I could cry. Their service is horribly horribly slow because they load their

servers up with more users than they should to make an extra profit.

When you contact them about how slow your site is they do one of two things.

  1. They just ignore you and send out an automated email saying they are aware your server

is slow and things will get better over time.

Or

  1. They actually take the time to write you back about how they are sorry your server is

slow and things will get better over time.

My support history page is now 8 pages long, and sadly it’s 8 pages of the exact same

stuff. My site is SLOW! SLOW SLOW SLOW!!! Sometimes it takes as long as 45 seconds to load

a simple page located on my server. It’s unacceptable.

Now if I were paying say $1/month (which is what I would say the service I am receiving is

worth at this point) I would expect the poor customer service and poor quality of the

service in general, but that is not the case!

Like others I have read about on here, I had a friend who did their hosting with DreamHost

and had been having a posative experience. I checked out the service, seemed to have

competative features and rates. The service was GREAT the first month, but it was all

downhill from there.

My website’s traffic went from 28,000+ hits a month down to 14,000 due to outrageous load times. My customers are very unsatisfied, and I am very unsatisfied. On the dreamhost website, when you submit a support request, there is a field at the bottom of the form where you fill out the urgency of the situation. I think this is there for looks only. I have filled the form multiple times and have yet to hear back from them a solution.

So here we are present day, I am very very frusterated with the company. I don’t feel like I am being unfair or asking for any special handouts, I just want the service that I pay good money for to work properly. I guess I am writing this article to vent a little bit, and hopefully catch somebody’s attention over at dreamhost so that I can have this problem resolved. A happy and satisfied customer will only expand upon their business, an unsatisfied customer however will write articles such as this one right here.

If anyone else has had a similar experience with DreamHost, please post it in this forum.

Currently unsatisfied customer,
Tim Martin


#2

Have you asked to be moved to a different server? Often this is a permanent fix to slow loading sites.

  • Greg
  • DreamHost Technical Support

#3

I have been asking to be moved to a new server for 4 months now. I have begged them to move me to a new server, as I am sure this would help the situation out a lot. It’s getting someone to do it for me that is the problem.


#4

That was quite a little rant! Your experience (developed in 6 months with DreamHost) is very different than mine (developed in almost 10 years with DreamHost). :wink:

DreamHost has never “ignored” one of my support requests, has always been very helpful and professional, and has often gone the “extra mile” to help me solve my problems.

Okay, your site is “slow slow slow” What have you done, as a webmaster, to remedy that situation? What site is this you are talking about? If you posted the url we could see for ourselves how bad it is (and may actually get some clues as to why it is that way).

You make a lot of assumptions in your post which you have no way to verify or prove, and that just makes you look angry, or ignorant, or both.

I suppose that is valid to whatever degree it makes you feel better, but probably won’t go a long way toward remedying your problem(s). There are always those that think “yelling in a hotel lobby” is a legitimate way to get attention, but some will just perceive that as anti-social behavior. :wink:

It sounds to me that you might not have made the best choice in a “low-tier” shared hosting account for a site with “28,000+ hits a month”; is it possible you might have been a lot better served with a more robust hosting environment?

If so, that’s easy enough to fix … there are a lot of host around at whatever price-point and level of service your site demands and/or your wallet can stand.

At any rate, it’s pretty obvious from your chosen forum and the tone of your post that you are less interested in getting any “help” than you are about getting DreamHost’s attention … and you may, or may not, have good luck with that.

Should you ever decide you would rather investigate how to make your site work faster in the DreamHost environment, or actually improve your experience here, you can try opening a thread with that goal in mind and providing a little more empirical data, and information, and a lot less “angst”, and I’ll be happy to help you any way I can. :wink:

–rlparker


#5

Is that 28,000 pageviews or visitors? I’m assuming pageviews to be conservative.

That’s 1000 pageviews a day or one every 0.69 seconds. If you have a dynamic website that isn’t highly optimized, this is bound to be trouble. Folks get suspended on Hstmnst*r all the time for excessive CPU usage by their Wordpress blogs at that traffic level when they’re not careful about plugins. At that level of traffic, Wordpress can slow down a dedicated server.

What are you running? Is it purely a static site or is it dynamic? Are you the problem? If you’ve only been at DH for 6 months and have a great site like you describe, you were probably somewhere else before. Why did you move? How was your experience at your previous web host?

BTW, I don’t think DH loads up their servers with more users than they should, I think DH’s big problem is that they put up with incompetent webmasters for too long. (Not that any of us fall into that category)

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#6

rlparker,
The reason my site is slow is because the server I am on is slow. It is no secret, DreamHost themselves send me emails all the time that state my server is under a heavy load. My site ran fine for a year with my previous hosting company, but due to limitations with bandwidth I made the swap to DreamHost.


#7

Yeah, I believe you intimated as much in your first post. WIth all the information you have provided about your site and it’s problems, I’m not about to believe that you have any idea why your site, or your server, is slow … but I know that you think you do.

I don’t doubt that at all … what I’m curious about is how much of that “heavy load” might be because of your site. :wink:

Everything costs something, that’s for sure. None of that has anything at all to do with whether or not your site is contributing to the slowness you are now experiencing on a DreamHost shared server.

Without you being willing to reveal the site in question, it’s all a pretty pointless discussion. Since you are so willing to complain that DreamHost has “done you wrong”, you should at least be willing to reveal what site you are talking about. Without you doing that, there is no way for anyone to determine who is responsible for what when it comes to your speed/responsiveness issues.

Not that it makes any difference at all in the long run: You believe that it’s DreamHost’s fault, and you are not happy with the response you have gotten from DreamHost, so I don’t understand why you have not just moved your site to a host you feel will do a better job.

I’m just hoping that, if DreamHost moves you to a different server, it’s not the server my sites are on, because it doesn’t seem to me that you know what you are doing (how meaningful is a “hit” anyway?) and it may well be your site that is causing the loading problem. :wink:

At any rate, simply repeating “My site is slow because my server is slow” doesn’t add anything at all to the discussion, or provide any additional information that might shed some light on how to help alleviate your frustration, so I’ll just wish you, “Good Luck!” and let it go at that.

–rlparker


#8

Is your site address secret?

You’d fare much better posting a detailed description, including links, scripts+plugins involved in General Troubleshooting.

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#9

My websites address is not a secret, I just didn’t want to send meaningless traffic to the site. But here you go: http://www.furrespace.com


#10

You have a very nice, dynamic website. Have you ever used Firebug and YSlow? I think they’re great tools that really do help make optimizing websites much easier. More importantly, I think they highlight the need to optimize sites based on their making developers aware of their resource utilization.

My strategy on shared web hosting is to try to make sure that my websites perform decently even on moderately loaded servers. I consider it part of:

  1. Making sure that my sites are robust under server load higher than they were optimized for.
  2. Minimizing the impact my sites have on the other sites on the server.

Just a thought.

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#11

DZOIC Handshakes demands quite a lot … I’m surprised it runs acceptably well on any shared host. :wink:

Some applications, especially if heavily visited, are just not particularly well suited for a uber-lowcost shared webhost. Do you have any idea what type of infrastructure “the big guys” social-networking sites employ?

That’s not to say that it wouldn’t run better on a less heavily loaded server; what kinds of loads are you routinely seeing on your server?

Have you considered whether or not something like DreamHost PS might better meet your needs (where you can guarantee exclusive use of particular levels of resources are reserved for your site)?

–rlparker


#12

I got pretty good results everywhere i went in your site. 3-6 seconds typically. There was one page that is really in need of reconsidering though. It violates some things and what not. I suspect you know what section that is, but I am not going to say it publicly because I don’t want to cause undue trouble. There is an acronym for the org that looks into this stuff though. It’s also the name of the actress who played the cranky bartender on Cheers.


#13

My results were similar, though it was more like 5-9 seconds (which I didn’t think was all that bad considering the software being run).

Yeah, I noticed that too (which I suspect is why the OP was reticent to post the url in the first place) :wink:

–rlparker


#14

I was loading pages in about 2-3 seconds with the only noticeable pause being offsite calls. Myspace for furries huh? Definitely a marketable concept and one that will doubtlessly generate income. As mentioned already some of the content will get you in hot water. I doubt you really need that particular aspect to retain the project’s viability.

Top stuff all 'round. Not my cup of tea personally but verrry nice indeed.

I’d vote for it in Site of the Month if ever submitted.


#15

The load time seems to be more about your code and content than anything else. Things are going wrong from the very first line of HTML being served (wrong DTD). The traffic you mentioned must be page views since you don’t really have many active participants yet, most of those hits are probably from people in the game clicking links to your sites in other players’ profiles.

You can blame it on the server all you want, and it is technically true that your site may load faster on another server, but with proper code you can have the exact same appearance and function and drastically reduce load times. I think the real problem is that you don’t have certain key foundational knowledge and were never taught important design principles. I see thousands of people who spend 5 minutes ‘learning’ HTML, then jump right into PHP and using tools like DreamWeaver without really understanding what they’re doing.

For the type of site you have, you need to separate your view into three different aspects: code, content, and design. Your design is beautiful and that alone is definitely something to be proud of. It shows a strong connection to the content, and that gives me the impression that you’re doing most or all of the work yourself. That’s where I think you’re getting into trouble. You might do well to find someone in your um… community? pack? herd? who is skilled at writing clean and valid code.

My own ignorance and wishful thinking tell me that you probably have your market cornered, at least I hope there isn’t really a lot of competition. If that’s the case then your site will likely have no choice but to grow. I promise you that when you start getting active members from all over the net (rather than what you get now from just the game) there isn’t a server in the world that is going to make bad code look good fast enough to keep people happy.

Trust me, find someone with /real/ experience coding (and fur, of course) and let them see your PHP source. Someone who has been doing it long enough to remember the ancient days when good code was practically mandatory if you wanted any visitors.

When a site has ‘proper’ code, the only difference between dialup and broadband is how long images/videos/sounds take to load… the code and database interaction should always be finished before the pictures are done loading. You better do that now before you start needing to maintain thousands of simultaneous connections and hire a DBA full time just to keep the kennel clean.


#16

As I think rlparker mentioned, the OP is using
the DZOIC Handshakes social networking web application and hasn’t handcoded the site.

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#17

[quote]As I think rlparker mentioned, the OP is using
the DZOIC Handshakes social networking web application and hasn’t handcoded the site.[/quote]
True as that is, it doesn’t make the code any better, and I think tyop’s observations are “spot on”! :wink:

He went into considerably more detail than I was interested in describing, but a lot of what he says was tacitly implied by my initial comments about the site’s suitability for any shared server - he makes the point even stronger by pointing out that the site will still suffer from lack of proper coding even if hosted on a powerful dedicated box (the symptoms will just take longer to surface).

–rlparker


#18

Heh. I actually thought tyop’s post largely missed the point.

I’ll apologize up front for what actually turned into a bit of a long post, and a bit of a rant in places. Despite what it’s about to sound like, I actually agree with a lot of the stuff tyop had to say. The overriding point of this post is that it’s dangerous to get locked into “standards” tunnel vision without taking the chance to think critically about what decisions that road requires taking why we’re making these decisions.

It takes just as much time to spit out a grossly non-standard site as it does to generate beautifully valid code. Actually, valid code tends to have more overhead, not less.

This depends, somewhat. If the goal is to reduce load time, you actually don’t want to do this at all.

The MVC design pattern exists primarily to solve the problem of writing maintainable code. It allows you to easily swap out your data store, your application logic, and your user interface independently of each other, and to guarantee that a change to one will never break the others. But the isolation isn’t free; it comes at a cost of speed and memory because you need to do a lot of data passing to make it work.

Computers are powerful enough these days and have enough memory that the decision to make the trade-off should normally be obvious, but you have to make it nevertheless. There may be situations where another design patten is vastly preferable.

As I load his site now, the thing that takes a long time to load are the images. He has a very graphics intensive site, after all. Improving code quality is likely to do precisely nothing to address this issue.

Well, no matter how the code is written, the images won’t be loaded before the HTML that calls for them gets sent to the user, and the HTML won’t be sent to the user until the database queries needed to generate that code are executed. Invalid code may be annoying, but it can’t break the basic workflow necessary to render a page.

I think what you’re really saying is that as programmers we should design all of our database queries to happen before we start generating any HTML. But what if our database work is non-trivial and the feeling of responsiveness to the user is important? In that case, we should probably spit out some HTML up front so that they can see the site do something.

The ancient days of the 1990s, when nobody had even heard of the W3C, and when Geocities and Angelfire wrote the most grotesquely invalid pages ever? Or maybe of the 1980s, when we didn’t know what graphics were, and the only “semantics” we ever needed was

? Possibly the 1970s, where we were just thrilled that we could send web pages back and forth at each other at all?

As far as the evolution of the web goes, semantic and design principles are relatively new. Semantics didn’t really become a big deal until after 2000. Design patterns didn’t mean too much until people started writing web applications rather than merely web pages.

*

Regardless, I have no idea about the internals of DZOIC, and am not about to presume to based on the DOCTYPE that it happens to spit out (which the w3 validator actually accepts as ok). I doubt the thread starter is really interested in reprogramming this commercial software package anyway.


#19

Well, I think you both make good points, while looking at the issue from different perspectives. To me, the relevant point of all this discussion is that I don’t see this as a “DreamHost customer service issue” at all.

It is very easy with this type of a discussion to get pretty involved with the whole discussion of standards, semantics, and design strategy … which is great, but maybe not of much interest to the original poster. He just wants his site to run “faster”, and I’m not sure he is likely to get that on a shared server using his chosen software. :wink:

I agree with you completely on that, but I don’t really have any viable or reasonably easy “fix” for what he is seeing with his site’s performance.

I just think his expectations are unrealistic, given the nature (in its entirety) of his site … and I don’t think it is fair to lay all the blame for the resultant user experience on DreamHost’s customer service, infrastructure, or platform. :wink:

–rlparker


#20

I think DH is a bit slow too.
Perhaps DH needs more database servers. It’s too easy for anyone to one-click install some heavy web application.