MediaTemple Is Down Again

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“I love MediaTemple.com! I hate MediaTemple. MediaTemple is the best! MediaTemple sucks. MediaTemple rocks! MediaTemple is a joke. Ahh… Sweet, Sweet MediaTemple!”

That’s basically my experience with MediaTemple. When MediaTemple works, it works beautifully; my sites fly, huge databases are no match for MediaTemple, and no matter how much traffic I get, I can (generally) count on Hosting-Reviews-Exposed being up and running.

But then something goes wrong and then I can’t stand &#$@!@ MediaTemple!!

Let me explain…

For over 3 years, I hosted Hosting-Reviews-Exposed.com with GoDaddy. But that was when this site was a single page, and Youtube was doing the bulk of the heavy lifting due to the video.

Then something happened…

I got picked up on Google’s front page.

Early last month, things slowed down to a crawl. Admittedly, I knew that day would come and I can’t complain. . Anybody who pays $3.95 for hosting and then suddenly starts getting thousands of hits per day, running an MySQL-dependent CMS (WordPress) is a fool. You simply can’t expect the same level of speed and any empathy from a hosting provider when you become too successful and you refuse to accept that it’s time to get more powerful, “big boy” hosting.

Eventually you’re going to need stronger hosting. Which is why I decided to go with MediaTemple.com.

Just look at MediaTemple’s site! Slick huh?! And the “Grid” technology. WOW! Before cloud hosting became a familiar word to most of us, MediaTemple was offering it in the form of “(gs) Grid” and labeled it “Hundreds of Servers for the Price of One”. From MediaTemple’s site:

“(gs) is a cluster-based, modern hosting service powered by hundreds of servers working in tandem to power your websites, applications and email with unrivaled power, burstability and reliability…”

Pretty cool! And frankly, it’s awesome… when it works….

Today was one of those days when it did not — and I went from “Media Temple is awesome!” to “&#$@!@ MediaTemple!!”

Thankfully, this site (Hosting-Reviews-Exposed.com) was not affected, but one of my other sites running on MediaTemple’s  (gs) service went down for 4 hours. UGH!

Calling MediaTemple!

Immediately, I picked up the phone and called MediaTemple. In the past, a human has always answered within the first few rings and I have *never* had to wait on hold, but this time there was a busy signal.

I called back again in a few minutes later and their phone system must have been rebooted because this time I received an automated message to stay on the line… and that I was the 9th person in line. Ok. Well, at least I could get hold of somebody, right?

WRONG.

I waited… and waited… and waited… and waited… and waited… for 2 hours. While I was waiting, I opened a ticket, explained my problem briefly. This is the message I got from their Ticket System when I hit “submit”:

MediaTemple Down

MediaTemple’s Support Ticket Response. Could It Get Any Worse?

Does MediaTemple’s Support Suck?

No. Don’t get me wrong. MediaTemple’s technicians are some of the most talented and brightest technicians I have ever had the pleasure of communicating with. The problem is, MediaTemple’s support department seems sorrily understaffed. Frankly, I don’t know how many people they employ, but when you have to wait 20 hours for a response, when nobody answers the phone, when you have to wait on hold for 2 hours, when you’re virtually the only mainstream hosting company that doesn’t offer chat support… then you are understaffed. Period. When you are understaffed, it doesn’t matter how intelligent your employees are — and when you’re understaffed it’s unfair to those bright people who have to communicate with angry, disgruntled customers.

This is what I don’t understand: When you (MediaTemple) are one of the original innovators of Grid/Cloud/Custered hosting technology, why-oh-why would you throw it all away and create such ill-will amongst your clients with slow support. Come on! Your clients’ sites are down. They can’t reach you on the phone. When they submit a ticket, they’re told they have to wait 20 hours (!!!!!!) for a response.

Now for some 10+ years I was an executive at 3 major hosting companies, supporting thousands of clients by phone, chat and email. Our customer service philosophy was simple: 1) Clients must get a response via chat within 30 seconds. 2) Clients must get a response (human) via email within 15 minutes. 3) Clients must never be on hold for more than 10 minutes. If a technician failed to meet these expectations repeatedly, they were summarily fired.

Does MediaTemple’s Management Suck? Well…

Good management plans for the unexpected — and it’s not unexpected that, if you’re in the hosting business, servers will go down or offline or get hacked or crashed or whatever. It’s going to happen sometime. Plan for it and make sure your clients can reach a real person, even if it’s to bitch about something very legitimate your company needs to do (like a security patch or upgrade that must be done.)

Look, I know you can’t have an army of technicians on duty 24×7 and yes, I know that sometimes you need to do emergency system maintenance and you’re going to have a lot of angry clients to deal with, BUT…

How hard is it to have a back-up support team in place? An outsourced team? How hard is it outsource your email support at a critical time, to ensure your clients know what’s going on?? It’s not hard at all. How do I know? Because we had such a plan in place for emergencies. All it took was a phone call and we had an unlimited number of outsourced technicians ready to answer emails to ensure our clients received a 15 minute response time when the &#@T went down. And to be completely honest, outsourcing our email/ticket support was a BARGAIN compared to our outlay for our own, in-house support.

Now look, I’m all for US-based support. I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m all for hiring locally — again because it’s the right thing to do, but you need a backup plan… and you need to have technicians (outsourced or otherwise) available to take up the slack when things go bad… like they did at MediaTemple this evening. If things go really bad, then you’re out of business and your locally-hired employees are out of a job. Not outsourcing in times of need is irresponsible!!

Wake Up MediaTemple!

Look, this is not the first time I have submitted a ticket with MediaTemple and had to wait hours — and in one instance a week went by without a response (the said the ticket was mis-directed to the wrong department, but anyway, let me continue….). This also is not the first time I had to wait more than an hour  on the phone (and by the way, when someone did answer, they hung up… I even heard their chatter in the background right before the “click”… so in actuality, I never was able to reach a real person and I didn’t feel like waiting another 2 hours on hold on. Who would??

Do you want to know what’s really bad??

The last time my MediaTemple sites went offline, it was due to planned maintenance. MediaTemple’s management KNEW IN ADVANCE that clients would be affected… and yet at that time, also, their phone system was offline (overloaded I imagine by angry clients) and their support response time was chronically slow; at that time, the guaranteed ticket response time was 20+ hours. Yet did MediaTemple’s management do what was necessary (ie outsource) to protect their reputation and ensure the satisfaction of their clients?

Will I Remain With Media Temple?

When I sold my previous hosting companies, it was liberating to not have to manage a server farm and a department of technicians. Likewise, I thought it would be equally liberating to let somebody else’s employees take care of things, watch the server, answer *my* support requests.

Well, obviously MediaTemple doesn’t run their company like I ran mine…. and now for the first time in over two years, I’m actually thinking I should get back into the hosting business.

Will I remain with MediaTemple? I just don’t know… Can I recommend them? Again, I don’t know…

|<———— THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE END OF MY POST ————>|

MediaTemple Update!!!

Well it seems like the MediaTemple gods have it in for me tonight. Just when I was about to wrap up my post and I clicked PUBLISH, I got this screen:

MediaTemple Down Again

Just when I thought I could forget my MediaTemple Problems….

The MediaTemple Saga Continues…

Alright…. so. What happened? I gave MediaTemple a call. Amazing, I got an immediate answer and the technician was very helpful. He fixed the problem right away. But what was the problem?? Well to understand that, you need to read this email that I wrote to MediaTemple.com after my 2 hour telephone ordeal. It’s from Nat, a support supervisor, who “does not claim omniscience” (obviously). Click to enlarge:

MediaTemple Downtime

My dialog with “Nat the Non-Omniscient”

The MediaTemple Plot Thickens…

So with all of my MediaTemple (gs) sites offline, I gave MediaTemple a call again. Got straight to an operator this time. No waiting. This guy was good. He read the ticket post from Nat and I thought I could detect a little chuckle. Maybe it was my imagination. After 10 minutes he said, “Check your sites now, sir.” And they were backonline? Yes, they were!

Why Was My MediaTemple (gs) Server Down??

It turns out that Nat, as he claims, really is not omniscient…. nor does Nat check his own work. He put an extra .htaccess file in my site directory. And it screwed up not just one site, but all of my sites running on my MediaTemple (gs) server.

How Do I Feel About MediaTemple Now?

Well before I said, “I don’t know…” and I thought I would end it there. Then I hit “Publish” and got that nasty (Nat-y?) error and I thought, that’s it. That’s the last straw….  Then when I read Nat’s response, I was even more infuriated. To me, having seen all forms of BS in this industry, I could not believe Nat’s denial — nor could I believe his insinuation that I wasn’t on hold for 2 hours. His claim? 18 minutes was the average. I was mad (in fact I still am mad at “Supervisor Nat the Non-Omniscient”. He could have done better….)

Luckily, one of his own people saved the day. Read this ticket. Click to enlarge:

MediaTemple Downtime

My Savior (No, It’s Not Nat)

Short, Polite Not Condensending… and FAST.

Did you read that ticket above? Short. Polite. No fancy words, “tone” nor an anal tendency for adverbs. It was a responsible, perfect reply — and it saved his supervisor’s (Nat) ass.

That’s the reason why I’m giving MediaTemple one more chance… again. That last perfect, polite, fast response above. That’s why I’m still with MediaTemple. It goes to show that MediaTemple has some good people and those people aren’t just smart, they’re also courteous. (Hello, Nat?! Getting a clue yet, buddy??)

One Last Word About MediaTemple

I really wasn’t sure if I should say this. I wanted a nice ending, but something was bugging me.

Nat really pissed me off (can you tell??) It wasn’t so much him personally… nor his insinuation that I’m lying about my 2 hour “on hold” time… or his absurd comment about being “not Omniscient”. No F&*#Xing duh, Nat. If you were Omniscient, I wouldn’t have to tell you that my sites were down…

Sigh.

No. It was none of those things.

It was Nat’s absurd comment about “we will never outsource”. What a dangerous, viral, ignorant, myopic view. MILLIONS of companies outsource their support. Some do it very well (and you never know it). Some do it poorly (and you always know it). Yet “Nat the Non-Omniscient” has concluded that outsourcing is bad, bad, bad. He erroneously assumes that it’s better and more acceptable for clients to have to wait on the phone and go to the ticket system and receive a pop up window that say “20 Hour Estimated Response Time” than it is to outsource, save some money and ensure that your clients get fast timely support when they need it.

Obviously, to Nat, it’s more acceptable to apologize to the client about a long response time than it is to find an immediate solution. Simply saying you’re hiring people doesn’t mean that’s an acceptable reason why MediaTemple clients have to wait on the phone for 2 hours. 18 minutes is your “average” telephone response time?? OMG. That immediately implies you’re understaffed and it should not be the client’s responsibility to have to suffer your staffing problems — especially when Nat is thumbing his nose at outsourcing (which would provide MediaTemple with an immediate supply of talent which could supplement their local force — on demand — and make for happier clients at MediaTemple.

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