I'm torn on DH right now. I see all these complaints in here and on dreamhoststatus, and half of me wants to tell them to quit whining and just have a little patience.
But the other half of me is a little irritated because I'm having problems myself, and lately their communication has left alot to be desired.
You're right, it is embarassing to have people tell you your site is down. I'm lucky enough that my sites are mostly for personal web projects, but I can't imagine the frustration certain people must feel when their businesses are affected by such things.
To answer your question: No, DH isn't always like this. I'm hoping that these recent troubles are just a bit of a rough period... as all hosting companies experience I'm sure. But really, a little more communication would save them alot of unhappy customers.
Personally, I want to wait it out. But SSH has been beyond horribly slow for me for the past week or so, and as of yesterday I've been shopping around for another host. I love DH, with their funny newsletters and great deals, unlimited dbs, and usually pretty good problem resolving, among other things... but I've got work that I need to do. And I haven't been able to for a week. The amount of control they offer is awesome, but it's only worth anything if our sites are working properly.
Anyway, I hope your issues are resolved soon enough. DH has been a pretty good experience for me and I wouldn't want somebody else to assume they're a shitty company, because they're not... but as far as myself, I'm feeling that it's about time to give up some of the nicer features for some good old fashioned reliability with somebody else.
But I'm sure i'll wait it out a few more days at least. Come on DH, restore my faith please!