Friday, 13 February 2009

IX Web Hosting - The Great Terms of Service Switcheroo/Con - Warnings about a Humpty-Dumpty Speak Hosting Provider



My friends, be ever vigilant with your web site hosts as they could cut you off when they feel like it and change their Terms and Conditions at the flip of a switch. Whenever you see your hosting provider "revamp" their plans, look out because "Unlimited" means the exact opposite - you will get less than you got before.

I have always been wary when something "Unlimited" is promised and I typically turn around and walk in the other direction. This loaded term, "Unlimited" has become one of the most heavily abused terms used in the IT and Telecommunications Industries. The following article snippet puts it very well:

"As many webmasters who have been burnt can attest, "unlimited" in web hosting lingo usually does not really mean "unlimited" when it applies to disk space and bandwidth. While the rest of a web host's feature list is usually written in English, this word is best understood as being written in the language of Humpty Dumpty."

The article goes on (obviously the author has been burnt in the same way I have):

"Deconstructing the Meaning of "Unlimited" in Humpty-Dumpty-Speak

In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty redefined the meaning of the word "glory" to mean "a nice knock-down argument". When Alice, to whom he was speaking, protested that that was not the correct meaning of the word, Humpty Dumpty replied:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

In the same way, when web hosts use the word "unlimited" to say that you get "unlimited disk space" or "unlimited bandwidth" (or its equivalent "unlimited data transfer"), the word "unlimited" usually gets redefined to some other meaning, at the web host's discretion. The exact meaning varies from host to host, in the spirit of Humpty Dumpty, but it invariably means the opposite of the "unlimited" found in the English language."

(Thanks to http://www.thesitewizard.com/webhosting/unlimited-space-bandwidth.shtml)

So in the same Humpty-Dumpty manner, after I renewed my hosting account after 2 years with the same provider, I automatically had the "Unlimted Plan" thrust upon me and my world has come crashing down (well maybe that was a little dramatic...just my website did...)

Now I've been a loyal customer have been moderately content with my hosting provider for my site http://www.ddkonline.com for the last 3 or so years. However, I think the global credit crisis of 2008/2009 has turned them loopy in a nasty way. 4 days ago my site was brought down without warning and I was send a stream of 6 emails and tickets saying that I had 'violated their terms of service' (repeatedly referred to as ToS).

I was angry about this (and it was a bit of a shock as well) as I had only used 50GB/300GB ie around 1/6th of my signed up allocation. I thought they must have the wrong guy - but I became increasingly frustrated when I replied to the message - and recieved the exact same text copy and pasted to me each time from different people (or at least the robot on the other side had a different alias each time). This is the slightly hostile message I kept on receiving:

Your initial inquiry:
We are notifying you that your account has been found to violate our “Fair-Use” Resource Assignment portion of our Terms of Service, due to the amount of disk usage that is being taken.

We ask that you either reduce disk usage or look for dedicated hosting for this site.

We have a shared hosting environment that we must maintain at a certain level of performance. This performance is monitored and balanced by us, however there are times when accounts can cause the server’s load to increase degrading the performance for all other customers on this server.

To protect your account from further action you must agree to our request for compliance. Please respond to this message stating your intent to do so. You may either log into your control panel with us, and access this ticket via the 24/7 help desk, or provide this ticket number to our Live Chat or phone representatives. Failure to respond to this message within 72 hours will result in the suspension of the affected domain with us until such a time as this matter is resolved.

Please do not reply to this email as it is sent to you automatically and your answer will not be received. Instead, please respond to us by updating the ticket. Alternatively, you can reach us by 24/7 Live Chat at
http://www.ixwebhosting.com/index.php/pages.LiveChat
or by telephone at 1-800-385-0450 (international +1-614-534-1961).

Thank you!

Helpdesk System
IX Web Hosting
https://www.ixwebhosting.com

I spoke to 24 hour "support" and they apologised and then spat the same clause back at me - even when I asked how much I needed to reduce my disk usage by. No one knew what the "unlimited limit" was (was it 10GB? 20GB?) - so I was somehow meant to perform a feat of mindreading prowess not seen since David Copperfield pulled Claudia Schiffer! No Thank you very much, IX Web Hosting. I signed up when the plan was stated as 150GB in clear text. However, It appears that they did the "old Switcheroo" on my account, updated my plan to "unlimited" and slapped them witha new Humpty-Dumpty Terms of Service.

Digging a little deeper, this appears to be a common loophole in the contracts of budget hosting providers - they can change the terms at ANY TIME - and then cut you off without warning. Regardless of whether they have violated the 99.9% uptime clause themselves by being down for more than 4 days.

Needless to say, I have told them to cancel my account, refund the 2 years I have prepaid and I will now move to a more worthy provider. Let your feet do the walking, I say. My 3 word review on IX Web Hosting: "Don't Use them."

Here is my cancellation email to them:

"Hi Alex,

I would like to close my account and get my outstanding balance refunded as it does not provide what was originally promised when I signed up with IXWebHosting.

It originally had ***150Gb*** available (I currently only have 50GB used), and control panel now says I have 300Gb available. This reading is misleading if you believe I have violated your ToS.

My site has also been down for the last 4 days which doesn't match with your terms of service either. This has also interfered with my blog site which was also down for the period. This inconvenience is forcing me to move to another provider - I need to be sure that the host is reliable and delivers what is advertised - which IX Web Hosting has not.

Can you please close my IXWebHosting account and refund me the balance (I paid up to the end of 2010 because I was content until this debacle occurred).

Thank you.
David Klein (a disappointed customer)"

[Update 1 - 13 Feb 2009]
Apparently there are alot of people who were hit by a massive hack-fest on IXWeb Servers - http://ixwebhostwarning.wordpress.com/ and the IX Web Hosting support response hasn't been too good. They also don't deliver on their promises of regular backups too - their support people lie about it and have been caught out. So I'm not the only one having issues with their service.

[Update 2 - 13 Feb 2009]
This site also gives a good rundown of all the pitfalls of cheap providers that hide behind "acceptable terms of use" cop-out clauses which means they promise more than they deliver
http://ultracheaphosts.com/. On the other hand, this site guide you in the right direction when looking for a new host - http://whreviews.com/. HostGator looked like a good option until I received this response from them (basically they have a 50GB limit):

Hello,

Thank you for considering hostgator as your new webhost provider! When is comes to disk space we do provide unlimited disk space for you. However we do have a limit on Inodes(files) which will be about 50,000. This is because we take backup's ever Sunday and do to the amount of customer we have we must keep this in place so that we can ensure we can get all of our customers backed up without a problem. If you have any other questions or concerns please do not hesitate to reply back and ask!

Thank You!
Hostgator Sales
Luke B-P

I am now considering the GoDaddy.com Windows Deluxe Plan with 150GB space available. No way am I touching the unlimited plans :o)

Has anyone else had a bad experience like this with IX Web Hosting or any other web site hosting provider? Drop me a comment.

11 comments:

bluehost web hosting said...

Nice post. This post is different from what I read on most blog. And it have so many valuable things to learn. Thank you for your sharing.

Never IX said...

Sorry to hear you too were 'Stabbed in the Back" like so many others by ix web hosting.
Maybe you should take matters up with IX's Marketing Manager Jeremy Fox, because he claims, and I quote..

" IX defines the hosting term “unlimited” as providing the customer with more bandwidth, diskspace, email accounts, etc. then you will need in this lifetime or next. And if by some rare chance you come close to exceeding your allotted space -which you won’t because it is impossible- IX will make sure to provide you with more of whatever you need.

-Jeremy Fox, IX Web Hosting"

haha.. I luv the "impossible" bit.

Let the truth be known!!
http://ixwebhostwarning.wordpress.com

Jennifer said...

Hi,

I would recommend "HostGator" for your web hosting because it's very cheap and reliable. Their support service is awesome. This company offers site building tools, application vault, web mail, antivirus, Php, MysQL ,e-commerce and hosts unlimited websites in one plan. Don't go for free web hosting.They are not reliable. Check it out here (read the User Reviews):
http://Top50WebHosting.org

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mozoella said...

this is serious, i thought it was just like every other rumor about IX hosting but i think its getting worse. There has being so much complains about hackers through this service. I just think people should be careful and vigilant about the services they choose...thanks for this post... really informative
VPS Hosting

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Jimmy said...

I'm trying to get a refund because my site has been only get 93-94% uptime, but they want to get me with fees and only refund a fraction of my paid amount.

IXWebHosting screw you over.

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