Liquid Web repeatedly fails to uphold contractual service obligations over past eight months and adequately reimburse us for service failures.
This is regarding a hosting and support policy for *****************
Over the past eight months, Liquid Web fails to uphold their service commitments to us, resulting in three occasions where our company's website and email server have been out of service for up to a month at a time. Each time, Liquid Web was unaware of the problem until we notified them, amidst us having a 24/7/365 server monitoring service agreement.
From July 16th through August 15th, 2012, our email and / or web servers were frequently down. We contacted Liquid Web's support hotline and chat system upon noticing the problem but they didn't respond for nearly a day. Liquid Web said the problems were related to the hard drive and internal network loads. Our email wasn't fully operational for about one month. Liquid Web ignored our request to replace the hard drive.
From January 20th through January 24th 2013, our email and / or web servers were down. Liquid Web was unaware of these problems until we notified them, although they pretended to be until we proved them wrong; at which point they apologized. Approximately one day passed before Liquid Web responded to this support request. The problem was a catastrophic hard drive failure. We also requested Liquid Web run a virus scan on our server because we are receiving viruses every time we download our email. Liquid Web never did so we continue receiving viruses from the server every day.
For most of February 18th 2013, our email and web server were down. Liquid Web didn't respond to our support request for a few hours. Liquid Web was unaware of these problems until we notified them.
Liquid Web has a policy of crediting customer's experiencing downtime, but the company ignored two of our three requests for credit. They also haven't offered us anything for their failure to honor the monitoring and support response portions of our agreement.
We're at an impasse with the company's support staff. All details regarding every problem are readily available to them, yet they claim a lack of understanding of the issues, haven't credited our account for two of the three outages and refuse our repeated requests to speak with a manager outside the support department. We've repeatedly explained to the company that we would be in touch with the Better Business Bureau if they continue refusing to honor our service agreement and requests, which is why we have filed this report.
The core reason we entered into our specific service agreement with Liquid Web is to ensure the server is effectively monitored and protected. Our company provides sophisticated technical services to out-of-state Fortune 500 companies, thus our website and email are a critical to operations. Liquid Web's failures directly impacted our ability to do business during outages, their ineffective technical support has perpetuated problems and I'm spending valuable time and resources educating the vendor we pay to be the expert.
We requested an eleven month service credit from Liquid Web to resolve our problems as we believe this is the minimum fair consideration for all the trouble we've experienced in result of their service failures, substandard support and failure to uphold the monitoring services portion of our agreement. To date they have only provided us a credit for one month, which per their policy only credits us for downtime during one of the three interruptions; providing no consideration whatsoever for two other occasions of downtime, repeat monitoring failures, late response times, late hardware replacement times and the nearly 100 hours of labor we've spent educating this vendor on matters we pay them to be experts on.
We and Liquid Web have written correspondence evidencing every claim listed above.
The company states a policy of refunding service charges by the amount of ten times the period a customer's service is interrupted. To date we have received a credit for three days out of the thirty-four we've had problems. Furthermore, we have invested nearly 100 hour's labor dealing with their problems and have received no compensation for their failure to monitor and respond to problems per our agreement.
We are willing to settle for a credit of eleven months' service, effective immediately, if they respond affirmatively within 30 days of this filing and uphold the terms of our hosting and service agreement throughout that period.
Claims- Customer claims that we did not honor our Service Level Agreement (as outlined here: http:/****************************************** ), as well as provide our monitoring service, for which they are promised as fully managed client.
Response- After a thorough investigation of this customer's service (including all Support Tickets, Communications and archived monitoring logs), we have concluded that our offered resolution of one month credit and free upgrade to a ***** backup hard drive exceeds what is offered in our *** guarantee based on the amount of downtime this user incurred due to Hardware replacement. We can prove this via archived monitoring logs as well as support tickets generated with the customer in response to them.
July 16th and August 15th 2012
-The customer, repeatedly had issues accessing email account.
-It was professionally diagnosed that the stated issue of email "disappearing" was due to a misconfigured email client that he configured, or a computer that was configured with POP3, and email was moved off the server to that device. When checking with another device, the email appears to be missing. This happens quite often and it is not an issue with our services. This was suggested to the customer, however they did not respond confirming or denying that this was the manner in which they were trying to locate the email, so we could not rule this out and move forward with suggestions related to this diagnosis.
-Customer states that there were suggestions to replace the hard drive at this point. I have reviewed the ticket and it the customer did suggest this, among an extensive array of additional suggestions that ignored possible causes for the issue that we were inquiring about that we would need to eliminate prior to a full hardware replacement without hard evidence or it proving necessary (i.e., at this point, the suggestion would be akin to delivering a stalled car to a mechanic and asking for the engine to be replaced with a new one prior to investigating other more likely causes as well as any potential issues that could destroy a new engine if one was installed). At this time, our technician saw no signs that would necessitate burdening the customer with additional downtime that could result from hardware replacement, as the service was online and functioning with just a slightly higher than normal load (it's worth noting that with cases of IO wait such as the one causing this issue, a suspect hard drive is rarely the primary culprit, so scheduling a replacement at this point would have been highly unconventional and possibly even viewed as irresponsible by the technician's superiors as it may have incurred substantial unnecessary downtime for them).
August 7th, 2012
-Tech offers to help provide customer with backup of website & is rebuffed:
Tech- "If you'd like to snag a backup of your website, you can generate one from
within cpanel and download it from there, or we can help you by moving any and
all data you'd like to a directory where you can grab it over ***."
Customer response: "I have no idea what this means, I'm a layman when it comes to web / email servers; which is why I'm paying for fully managed service. Please do what
you need to fix my recurrent email problems asap. If you can't please let
me know asap."
Tech then repeatedly asked the customer for more information on how his email client is configured, with no response from customer.
January 20th - Feb. 18th, 2013
-Ticket was opened by monitoring letting the customer know that the server was having issues and was ******ed. Customer set their account email to the email account that was hosted on the server that was experiencing issues, so even though we emailed them, they did not get a notification. This was resolved by creating a new ticket using a gmail account for the customer so that we could provide them with updates as recovery continued. Not receiving monitoring notices to a working email account due to customers chosen contact preferences is likely why the customer alleged that his service wasn't being monitored per his fully-managed agreement.
-**** ******, the server continued experiencing issues, at which point, a technician on the Monitoring team began performing a file-system check. For the first time with this server, it revealed that partitions were read-only. Attempts to resolve this were unresponsive so a senior systems restore tech began attempting to clone the hard drive.
-This led to the decision to proceed to hardware replacement upon actual evidence of hard drive failure. Customer was informed of and consented to the hard drive replacement. Due to recovering the user's lost data and cloning the hard drive, this replacement took just less than 2 days. A majority of this is due to the fact that **** of emails (small files) take a very long time to recover. The customer was repeatedly warned in tickets of the danger of this and asked to clean the excess email out and store it somewhere that it would not affect his load. This process also would have been aided if customer had a backup drive for files or had taken our various technicians' advice and either backed up their ****** account to another location (such as a work computer) or accepted our offer to help backing it up via ***. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee time frames on the data recovery process, which is why we are resolute in encouraging clients to backup data as well as why we cannot include cloning hard drives in the downtime credited per the Hardware Replacement portion of our Service Level Agreement.
"This guarantee does not include the time it requires to perform additional software related maintenance, including rebuilding web accounts from backups, cloning hard drives, reloading the operating system, reloading and configuring applications, or rebuilding **** ******."
In spite of this being clearly stated in the Service Level Agreement that the customer erroneously references in the complaint (as well as the overwhelming evidence that the customer refused to acknowledge suggestions from technicians that could have prevented this or, at the very least, prepared for a much quicker drive replacement/recovery), we still took the substantial inconvenience this caused the customer into account when crediting the user a full month of service (and providing the new backup hard drive at no charge).
February 17th, 2013
Between 1-2am PST, the customer engaged in contact with a technician claiming they were unable able to access email as well as their website, off and on. Our monitoring services didn't alert this because the server on which this was hosted and all related services were running per our monitoring logs. To help back this up we provided the customer with logs directly monitoring the server, showing that data was being sent and received by the server. Our monitoring service did start to show the server having services going critical around 11:22am PST. This resulted in a period in which a number of methods were attempted to get the server back online, which were finally successful at 1:31PM PST. We've spoken with the head of our Monitoring team about this shortcoming and they addressed the issue with a full investigation. This resulted in downtime of roughly 2 hours 9 minutes. With this stemming from issues on our end that resulted in the client having to notify us about the server being down at that time, we credited them for 10x the amount of registered downtime.
There are no further instances in our logs of extended downtime at the server level. We are unable to guarantee service and application ****, therefore if the server itself is online and network connectivity is present (those being the only aspects of keeping a website online that are under the control of a *******), the server is considered as "online". Additionally, we went above our typical support to help the customer troubleshoot email client issues on their end.
We issued the customer credits that more than covers our *** (offering a full month of service and a free backup drive, which exceeds the total amount of registered downtime incurred on our end x10, even including the time of data recovery, which is stated specifically not to be covered in our ***) as evidenced above.
We possess records indicating that we communicated the customer's issues to support supervisors, system restore managers as well as our support director, who oversees the support supervisors, in an attempt to resolve all issues. There have been multiple in-depth, executive reviews of this account that have turned up no signs of neglect or poor support. It is our hope that the customer, upon reviewing this information, can identify that our offer greatly exceeds what is expected for the downtime incurred due to elements within
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Liquid Web claims they have honored their Dedicated Server License Agreement however this is not true.
To date the company has offered merely 1.5 months of service credits back to the account, however we experienced frequent server (web and or email) downtime for two months in July - August 2012, four days in January 2013 and almost a full day in February 2013. According to the Liquid Web Dedicated Server License Agreement, we should receive eleven months of credit based on the amount of downtime we have had.
Note that Liquid Web claims we reported email trouble on July 15th and August 16th of 2012. That is fabricated. We were consistently experiencing email server outages and web server outages (due to constant *******) throughout the entire time period between July 15th and August 16th 2012.
Liquid Web again fabricates an understanding of the email part of the problem in the Summer of 2012, however note in their statement they say it was either an improperly configured client or improperly configured computer or something to do with a specific type of email server setup... so they actually really don't know what happened but are trying to sound like they do.
Beyond such, we contacted Liquid Web support directly prior to setting up our email to ensure we handled the setup on our end exactly as they directed. Considering our email clients are still setup as they directed and have been running most of the time we have been with Liquid Web, that alone is proof our setup isn't the problem with the email SERVER going down.
Liquid Web's Dedicated Server License Agreement also states that they will respond to phone support calls within 59 seconds, live-chat requests within 59 seconds and Help Desk emails within 30 minutes. In two out of three of the periods in which our web and / or email server was down, Liquid Web failed to respond within these timeframes on our repeated attempts to obtain support via these means; sometimes taking as long a day. Beyond our records to this effect, Liquid Web has even admitted to these facts in our past support correspondence. We believe we are do some consideration for this breach that is above and beyond their failure to credit us for downtime per our agreement.
Liquid Web again acknowledges we requested they replace our server's hard drive. We made that request in response to a support person actually telling us we had bad sectors on the disk. Not only is it absurd for Liquid Web in the same breath to rationalize their failure to replace the hardware per our agreement; which eventually killed our server - but again we have an instance of them failing to provide any consideration for the temporary loss of online business operations and data their mismanagement placed us in.
Liquid Web recognized the bad disk sectors months prior to the actual hard drive failure during support tickets in which we responded with the request to replace that they did not honor. This fact alone proves the issues we not related to poorly configured email clients.
Liquid Web seems to think offering us a free backup drive is a solution to the problem when in fact it's simply an attempt to forego offering us any resolution that would cost them, let alone satisfy the performance of their obligations under the service agreement. We never asked for a backup hard drive and we backup all our server data at another location. All we did was point out to them that their competitors backup user data when we learned they do not.
We requested at least 10 times to be connected with a management level executive at Liquid Web that is outside the support department we find so problematic. That request has been repeatedly denied to this date.
We are not satisfied whatsoever with Liquid Web's multiple breaches of the service level agreement and even insulted that they are dragging this matter on. We hope the Better Business Bureau will be able to mediate effective resolution as we are using their services to attempt avoiding publishing these facts on review sites and a potential breach of contract lawsuit.
Final Business Response
The customer claims that we have not honored our Service Level Agreement, however our initial response broke down all communications and downtime covered by this agreement. This information was generated through an exhaustive executive level investigation into this case and is supported by monitoring logs and customer tickets that we have accessed to prove the time frames in which downtime incurred outside of service and application concerns as well as response time that exceeded our SLA. The customer not only turned down our offer, which generously exceeds the overall SLA-eligible credit revealed by our documentation of all events, but also ignored our response (in the same manner in which it was ignored in the tickets used to resolve these cases initially) outlining downtime we can take responsibility for and that which exceeds the control of a webhost.
Due to the customer's refusal to acknowledge the difference between downtime we can control that is covered by our SLA (as well as the specific terms of this ***) and that which exceeds a webhost's ability to control, he continues make grossly excessive counter demands for a level of credit that goes eccentrically beyond the level of coverage we (let alone, any web hosting company) can offer in the event of issues such as those the customer encountered. In addition to the misunderstandings addressed above, the customer continues to claim that they have been denied the the request to speak to a management level executive. Our support tickets can attest to the fact that they were connected to ******* ******, the only executive with direct access to the case at the time (as well as the Executive in control of our entire support infrastructure + all customer refunds/credits) upon the first such request.
Our investigation into hard data such as server logs, ****** statistics and time stamps within our ticketing system backs up the overall amount of downtime we have accounted for in our offer of compensation to the customer. This offer was made in deep sympathy to the difficulties this customer encountered as well as taking full account of the items in which we were at fault. Customer claims which accuse fabrication are literally made impossible by the fact that all of the data accumulated for our investigation comes from independently generated sources, incapable of exaggeration or gross inaccuracy. The customer's response in the tickets as well as in the demands outlined in this case ignore, misstate and improperly identify our *** repeatedly, as well as information logged by our machines. Furthermore, our offer is based on hard data accumulated via a thorough internal investigation whereas the terms the customer counters with identify subjective time frames as well as many factors not referenced in the documentation his claims are based on.
As a company with a strong service record, we are eager to settle this case, however the customer's response echoes an unfortunate continuing pattern of ignored details and misunderstanding. We are proud to continue to offer compensation that exceeds our *** and any/all factual records that evidence breach of it.