Friday, October 21, 2011

Why I ditched Bluehost and went to Dreamhost

I've been slightly miffed at Bluehost ever since I started with them.  I was having some kind of casual day when I signed up and I gave them my real phone number.  And they CALLED it-- why?  Just to verify that it was the right one!  That was so irritating.  What does my hosting need my real phone number for?  It was just more of this verification (read denial of privacy) that's so fashionable these days.

And what if it hadn't been my real number?  It usually isn't.  And what if it wasn't?  Would the money they got off my Visa card not be green any more and I'm gonna have to do without the privilege of being their customer?

Earlier this year I even renewed my hosting with them for another three years, more out of laziness than anything else.

I got a free domain with the Bluehost hosting.  I wasn't doing anything with it, it was just floating along above my other domains.  At some point I noticed they had changed the Whois records on it from the sketchy yet true information I had put, to something about Bluehost privacy service.

I figured maybe they were taking a page from Dreamhost's book.  Dreamhost adds privacy to domains at no charge, and says, "Why should we charge customers for something that doesn't cost us anything?"

Although I can't say I was thrilled that Bluehost applied it without asking me.  That's my domain, not theirs!  They don't have the right to changed the registration info without my approval.  What if I hadn't wanted privacy?

Then I get this delightful email from Bluehost:  "DOMAIN PRIVACY HAS EXPIRED"  It was seven in the evening, I was in a hurry, and I only glanced quickly down the email, to: "This information will then be viewable to the public in the WHOIS database and may put your personal privacy at risk. The following is your private information which is currently masked," and they had my name, address and phone number AS IT APPEARS ON MY BILL.  Which was a LOT more information than I had previously had in the WHOIS database!

I replied to it:

Thanks a BUNCH you buttheads. You changed what I had up there before, took it upon YOURSELF to privatize it without even asking me and now you put my PHYSICAL HOME ADDRESS on the INTERNET all this without my permission. I officially hate you and I'll be cancelling as soon as I can transfer all my stuff off. For pity's sake you could have at least WARNED ME!!!!!!!! That the "free privacy" you put on there without asking me was going to expire! You SUCK!

Yes, a little stronger than usual from me  :-)

I was already busy and had to run, but that stayed on my mind, as just another annoying item added to my to-do list when I really don't need any more items added.

Oh yes, of course I read the fine print more slowly the next day. They were only threatening to turn privacy off in the next 14 days if I didn't ante up for another years' worth of this "service", and it did say "your domain name will return to showing the information you previously entered," rather than the billing address they put at the top of the email.

So, is that my fault for skimming my email too fast?   I think not.  Someone in marketing sent it that way on purpose.  It was designed to make people pay the $15 rather than fuss with another item on their to-do list, and phooey on THAT.

Being ticked off about a small matter that is within my power to change is a great motivator. I was over at Dreamhost instantly. I already have some domains there, attracted by the free privacy and the overall coolth. Dreamhost is laid back. They tolerate privacy freaks, even cater to them. Their TOS say they'll wait for an actual court order before they delete your stuff, not just some scary-looking letter from a lawyer. Last April 1st they sent a newsletter around saying they were outsourcing their tech support to India. I was alarmed about that for a few minutes too, though nothing to the above extent-- April Fools!

Dreamhost is $10 a month, an unfortunate $3 more a month than I was paying with Bluehost. I emailed Dreamhost asking when they were going to do the fantastic one-year hosting sale again (and explained my problem by name) and was told that the sale is on most major holidays-- and right now! That's right, he gave me the huge discount, just to be nice. With the discount applied, I'm set up for the next three years at the same price Bluehost would have been for three years. Starting year four it'll be more expensive, but if TEOTWAWKI hasn't happened by then, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Anyway, despite being a cheapskate I'm often willing to pay to support something or someone admirable, and Dreamhost deserves to live long and prosper.

But now I had to switch all my domains to new hosting and on dialup that's no small or laughing matter!  I've been connected all night just letting it all crank away.  It's all done by now and I take a moment to tell you about it :-)

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