Design Updates and Why You Shouldn’t Host With Ipower

First The Good

There have been a number of major, but subtle changes made to the site over the past month.  My hope is that while subtle, that these changes will drastically increase your viewing and navigating experience while on the site.

The most obvious of these changes is site performance based.  I’ve spent the last few weeks transferring all of my hosted websites off of my previous host – Ipowerweb – a company I was with for over 7 years and had, unfortunately recommended for years.   This also has to do with the bad – which I’ll get into in greater detail in a moment. The end result of this move, however, is a ten fold increase in website speed and performance.

Why Ipowerweb Sucks as a Webhost

The image above is a screen capture of the website performance statistics offered by Google Webmasters.  Note the point mid January where performance changed dramatically and stabilized.  The graph displays with the following blurb, “On average, pages in your site take 1.0 seconds to load (updated on Jan 27, 2010). This is faster than 89% of sites. These estimates are of low accuracy (less than 100 data points). The chart below shows how your site’s average page load time has changed over the last few months. For your reference, it also shows the 20th percentile value across all sites, separating slow and fast load times.”

If you’ve been a long time visitor, you’ll note that up until two weeks ago 8-15 second load times and periodic timeouts were somewhat regular.  I specifically targeted a new web host that guaranteed a higher level of performance for their mySQL servers – the part that was killing blog performance on Ipower.  That webhost is Dreamhost.  As I write this all of my sites and content has been transferred and running smoothly.  If you experienced any brief downtime over the last month, I apologize.  The construction/transfer period should be over!

A huge thank you goes out to Glenn Jimerson  at Vista Web Media for all of his help and time transferring the site over.

Second – More good!

In addition to a new webhost you may have also noticed a number of layout changes as well as the addition of entire new page to the website. Earlier this week I added the “Travel Videos” page which you’ll find linked to above.  This page replaces the old “Photography” page which took you to a page, then forcing you to click a link which re-directed you to my main photo gallery on Alex-Berger.net. Don’t worry though! The “Photography” link has been re-located to the right hand side via an image front and center which you’ve no doubt noticed.  The image links directly with my flickr gallery – which is where I upload select shots (compared to my self hosted gallery which has ALL of my travel photos).  This also brings me to one of the other added benefits of the new webhost. My old photo gallery is now…well usable. It, like all mySQL database driven portions of the site was painfully slow in the past.  No longer.

I have also re-designed my RSS button to be both more visually stimulating and to provide a cleaner sidebar.  Search has been re-arranged, and several of the other sidebar elements have been slightly tweaked.

In the page/nav bar at the top of the site – you’ll noticed that About is no longer an option.  It hasn’t gone anywhere, I’ve simply moved it from 2nd on the list to 4th and renamed it “Alex Berger” which I feel is more relevant.  I’ve done a similar thing to “Audio” which is now “Podcasts”.

Lastly, more on  the Travel Videos page:  You’ll notice that the page is little more than a list of youtube videos.  I recently realized that I have over 180 uploaded videos on youtube.   Of those, fewer than 20 are polished travel videos. In an effort to make it easier for viewers to find my polished, final products – without removing the various individual travel clips and other (must see) material I have uploaded – I’ll continue to add my travel compilation highlight videos to the “travel videos” to improve access to the content.

Third – The Bad and an Apology

I mentioned above that I’d been with Ipowerweb for years (Since 2002).  For the first couple years, they offered great services at a great price.  Performance was good, tech support was responsive and the solution was incredibly powerful for the money.  Needless to say, they built up a lot of good will with me. So much so, that when I registered a second hosting account a few years ago – I opted to set it up with them.  I’d also maintained an affiliate account with them for years and referred friends, family, etc. who were interested in a decent hosting solution – boy was I wrong.

I’d run into a few major headaches when they changed control panel platforms, or got bought out by new corporate parents – but by and large after a brief headache every 6 months or so they’d fix things and assure me that everything was not only good as new, but that they’d be rolling out new features and services to help.

3-4 years ago things really took a nose dive. The company was purchased and transferred to a new platform which resulted in major downtime, and while told it would improve performance – did the complete opposite.  You can read some of the exchange from 2008 here. At the time I was lied to, blamed for the poor site performance [common theme] and eventually assured that the company was going through great lengths to fix the problem.

In January of this year I had another bout of performance issues.  Some of you may recall how debilitating they were. Eventually I was contacted by Ernie Lopez who in addition to having a management role in Ipower was “Manager – Quality Assurance, Engineering” for Endurance International Group who as I understand it, own Ipower and a large network of other hosting providers.  I had a series of conversations with Ernie about my frustrations, before eventually agreeing to be put in a beta test program.  According to Ernie, endurance had purchased Ipower in 08′ resulting in the huge fiasco mentioned above, and was hard at work improving network structure, performance, etc. he flagged my account with Premium support, added Akamai and Gomez to the account, and put me in contact with David Brazzell at Ipower.

Thinking that the issues would be completely resolved and expecting a strong improvement in performance, not to mention impressed by the top tier people who were helping me with what was being couched as an a-typical issue, I continued to recommend Ipower as an affiliate.  Boy was I wrong. After an initial burst of attention and help – communication died off with everyone except the premium support contact who i’d been put in touch with. Even that was canceled by late October of last year.  After an initial test on the Akamai software – the stats David passed on to me showed that instead of improving performance it had added more than a second to load times.  Which were still floating around 10 seconds.  10 seconds is a lot of load time for a site.  In fact, it has probably cost me tens of thousands of views over the years.  Each time I’d complain to Ipower I got the same bullshit.  It’s your site, it’s you, etc.  – here’s an example:

“You’re very welcome. I understand that this type of issue can be frustrating, especially due to the difficulty in being able to accurately replicate your issue over a different network.

I did run some further testing on your site today, and tried running load time tests on your site after disabling the loading of all 3rd party images, java code, and youtube references using firefox plugins, and comparing them to load times of the site in it’s entirety without any stripped content.

I loaded the site ten times with each configuration, then removed the highest and lowest result, to get the following average load times:

  • stripping java, 3rd party images, youtube: 2.76 average load time
  • no stripping: 4.52

Given this information, and as you mention, the dynamic nature of your site, the load times that I experience seem within expectations. “

The above was a final response in an extended exchange – after I complained about severe periods of major slow down.  Slowdown that impacted all of my sites equally, was obviously a mySQL database overload issue, and which also was directly visible when looking at the performance of their myPHPAdmin cpanel. Hell, when working on transferring my databases to Dreamhost, the buddy helping me ran into the same timeout and agonizing speed issues – just trying to navigate their phpMyAdmin site and generate a backup was nearly impossible. Honestly, what kinda of shit company is doing such a piss poor job providing database servers that even their backend sucks – then has the balls to turn around and tell the customer that it’s their fault and that the piss-poor database performance is “normal”?  Also, keep in mind the google webmaster tools data. On Ipower = 10 second average load time.  Same EXACT setup/site on Dreamhost = ~1 second average load time.  That goes beyond fishy, straight into the realm of dishonest.

Long story short – I’ll never recommend Ipower again. Worse, I find myself now in a position where I am deeply embarrassed to have ever so much as recommended them.  So, to those of you who are current using Ipower on my recommendation.  I am deeply sorry and I owe you an apology.

To anyone considering using Ipower webhosting? Don’t. They’re cheats, liars and crooks. Just glanced at their profile on Yelp – not that I needed further confirmation – but it looks like I’m not alone in my estimation of the company.

Thank you all for reading this blog and sticking with me through thick and thin, fast and slow!

IPowerweb – Buyer Be Ware

**The saga continues. DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY. As of January 2009, I am no longer using Ipower. The company is downright crooked. View the latest update here.

Due to heavy traffic, customer’s calls and chats will sometimes be put on hold for longer than usual and sometimes disconnected automatically. – Ipowerweb

In the first half of 2002 I signed up with the then somewhat small discount domain provider Ipowerweb on my guild hosting account for The Legion of Light. This past year (June) I set up a second account with them for mixed use with www.alex-berger.net, www.cdescry.com, www.citadel-of-light.com and www.alexberger.org. Despite small off and on issues things were decent until approximately the end of December/start of January. That’s when I started experiencing massive slowdown and what’s turned into a 3 month ordeal began. As a matter of record i’m posting the exchanges I’ve had by e-mail with Ipower, some of which detail my phone/chat conversations. I’ll start with my oldest exchanges with the latest at the end of this post. You’ll note the evolution of my understanding of the problem despite the lack of honest feedback/input from Ipower support. The sad thing is – this excludes several equally embarrassing chat exchanges on their online web help and several phone calls. All of which basically mirrored the e-mail exchanges shown below.

*For UPDATEs and the latest developments please see the end of this post*

SENT: 1/24/2008 (1 Month into the issue)

PREFACE: This e-mail is being sent because after trying to submit it via the cpanel I received:

“Contact Us:

I’m sorry, but there has been a problem submitting your inquiry to IPOWER Support.

Please try submitting your request again. If you continue to have trouble with this form, you can always contact us directly by email, chat with a live agent , or call us at 888-511-4678.

Sorry for the inconvenience!”

What the hell is going on with you guys? 2+ hour waits for live chat, service disruptions, slow server performance and dead pages left and right even in the help system.

The ticket as typed:————————————-

Note: Had 2 previous tickets open. The Bandwidth one was resolved, and in the same phone call the second was addressed. For some reason the URL for the 2nd ticket is not working and taking me to a 500 error page. Same with the update and close ticket commands.

Regarding the issue – despite having a great conversation with a capable/helpfull tech he was unable to locate an issue/familiar with anything.

It has however persisted (random page outings)

I continue to randomly receive:
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, support@ipower-inc.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
=—————-

Randomly. It happens with all of my pages. Though it especially seems prevalent across PHP platformed elements (WordPress, phpBB, CopperMine etc.)

The last one occured at 11:47 Arizona time if that’s of any use.

=—————————–

This e-mail is the one affiliated with the account, as is my name – Edward Berger.
Thank you,

Alex Berger

SENT: 2/3/08

Account domain: www.cdescry.com

Despite a brief period immediately after my previous ticket was resolved during which I was assured the issue would not re-appear massive slowness upon any attempt to access any portion of the site using PHP (I believe this is the area i’ve narrowed it down to as pure html domains work fine) has returned. It’s the worst on the blog – www.citadel-of-light.com but is also present on the forums and Coppermine Gallery. The issue is not consistent (from day/hour – day/hour) and usually does not result in a complete timeout, just extreme slowness while loading pages. This has been going on for nearly a month now in one form or another and is unacceptable. PLEASE resolve it immediately. Having to wait hours on hold, or days for a response is ridiculous. Also, the issue is not limited to me. Everyone attempting to access the site is experiencing it.

*Also – I had to re-submit this by e-mail after your web form off of the cpanel gave me server generated error message.


Alex Berger

A response took 2 days.

RECEIVED: 2/5/08

Hello Alex,

Thank you for contacting Support.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. I was unable to duplicate the issue and in order to further investigate on your issue please get back to us with the following information:
1. The steps to duplicate the issue.
2. The screen shot of the error message.
3. The answer of the Security Question. Security Question.

Please reply to this e-mail with the requested information, so that we can assist you further.

Sincerely,

Herbert West
Customer Support

My Reply SENT: 2/5/08

Security Question: ****

Performance got significantly better last night around 10:00PM PST. However, it is still slow and the issue has been off and on.

Please actually read my initial message below. As I noted in it, the issue is server performance. IE Pages loading so slowly that they almost time out (Believe in the instances where they do it’s a 500 error). Since the issue is extreme slowness not actual timeouts (in most instances) it is not possible to screenshot the incident.

The issue is not duplicate able per say. Rather, it depends on how badly the Ipower servers are preforming. If you get lucky and ipowers system is working it will boot quickly (rare). In most instances though all .php based websites will suffer the issue simultaneously. Also, i know for a fact it’s not my machine or Internet connection as I’ve confirmed the issue with multiple users simultaneously.

I’ve even narrowed it down to all .php based elements of the site (WordPress Blog, phpBB Forums, Coppermine Gallery) on the server. Normal .html pages have not been effected. As a cross check I have also experimented with the limited plugins installed on the WordPress blog – no effect.

I suspect that the issue is tied to Ipower overloading their php servers as part of the transfers. If that’s not the case, then it’s most likely tied to the software being used to distribute php queries across your new platform.

This isn’t directed at you specifically but to be blunt, this or other similar issues have been nonstop for the last month and the level of customer support i’ve experience has been pure garbage. I’m sick and tired of sitting on hold, help forms that don’t work/won’t submit, 2 hour waits for CHAT support, ridiculous lines and responses that ignore the issue/information i’m providing. I’ve been with the company since 01′ on my second account and am starting to severely regret opening my second with you guys. I’m paying for a service and it’s about time that service was actually delivered. 700,000 subscribers may be all well and good but it’s about time the company remembered that it’s about a lot more than just signing people up and collecting checks. If things go on like they have been much longer i’ll be filing a complaint with local consumer protection groups.

Regards,

Edward A. Berger

Note it took another 2 days for a response.

Received: 2/8/08

Hello Edward,

Thank you for following up with us.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Due to heavy traffic, customer’s calls and chats will sometimes be put on hold for longer than usual and sometimes disconnected automatically. We are really sorry and would like to apologize for that. Please try calling us once again at 1-888-511-4678 or chatting us http://ipowerweb.com/livechat.html or e-mail us.

I checked your phpBB Forums at: http://alex-berger.net/Forum and WordPress at: http://citadel-of-light.com both are working fine without any issue from our end. In order to investigate further on your issue, please provide us the screenshot of the error message and the exact URL of the page where you are experiencing the issue, so that we can check it on our end and escalate the issue to our engineers.

Please reply to this e-mail with the requested information, so that we can assist you further.

Sincerely,

Stuart Thomas
Customer Support

Sent immediately after.

SENT: 2/8/08

First – in regards to the issue. As I have now stated repeatedly. The issue is extreme slowness. I’ll take a screenshot of it, when you tell me just how exactly you expect me to take a picture of website performance that does not result in an error message.

In the 2+ days I’ve been waiting for a response and the week since I initially sent my first e-mail I’ve been keeping a close eye on the issue. Not only is it PHP based, but the lag seems to be tied fairly consistently to normal hours of operation (6AM-10:00 PST) which again fits with my suspicion that the issue is caused by overloaded database servers, not any technical/coding problem with the site. A theory in part confirmed by your e-mail – I imagine the site was working perfectly at 4:00AM in the morning. As I told your colleague in my last e-mail it’s tied to ALL php based elements of the site. Blog, Forums, Photo Gallery. I’m not going to waste another hour of my time making a list of 100+ URLs because you guys arn’t listening to what i’m telling you.

Second – Explain to me just when this period of “longer than usual” waits will come to an end. So far it’s been over a month and they seem to just be getting worse. I’m paying for a service, key words are PAYING & SERVICE. I’ve been doing plenty of paying, but still waiting for the service, hell i’m still waiting for you guys to actually READ my entire e-mail. What kind of company admits that their tech support is so horrible and backlogged that they are automatically disconnecting customers? Then has the Gaul to encourage me to call in. Why? So I can spend another 2 hours in webchat, only to be disconnected and have to start over?

Perhaps the two are tied together? Your tech support is apparently overloaded – as are your servers. That strikes me as a pretty convincing case of cause and effect!

Stop jerking my chain and fix the issue.

-Edward

The following is from one of the chat records I have a record of.

OCCURRED: 03/18/08 and lasted 1 hour 5 minutes with wait.

info: We appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
info: You are now chatting with ‘Ariel Danson’
Ariel Danson: Hi Alex. I apologize for the wait time. My name is Ariel, how are you today?
Alex: Whew, howdy =)
Alex: I’m doing well, yourself?
Ariel Danson: I’m great, thank you. How can I help you today?
Alex: Well it’s no doubt tied to the weight time. For the last 3 months i’ve been going back and forth with Ipower over performance issues.
Alex: Please try and access www.citadel-of-light.com and take note of how long it takes to load.
Alex: I’ve been told that the issue has been resolved multiple times
Alex: but basically the problem seems to be ipowers php servers are overloaded
Alex: resulting in acceptable performance for basic html pages
Ariel Danson: To protect your account from unauthorized changes, can you please verify for me the answer to the Security Question:
Ariel Danson: What city were you born in?
Alex: but insane slowness (depending on your load) for things like forums, wordpress blogs, coppermine gallerys etc.
Alex: ******
Ariel Danson: Thank you for the authentication.
Ariel Danson: Due to heavy traffic, customer’s chats will sometimes be put on hold for longer than usual. We are really sorry and would like to apologize for that.
Alex: btw the citadel-of-light.com domain i requested you open DNSed directly to the account
Alex: In regards to that, please be aware that I will be saving a log of this conversation for my records.
Ariel Danson: I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.
Ariel Danson: To obtain the chat transcript, you need to click on the ‘Close’ button at the end of the chat conversation. Then you will get a pop-up window asking you to obtain the chat Transcript. You have to check on the radio button next to ‘yes’, enter your e-mail address at the space provided below and click on ‘Send’. The chat transcript will be delivered to your mailbox.
Ariel Danson: Could you please hold for 2 to 3 minutes, while I check this for you?
Alex: Thanks
Alex: By all means
Ariel Danson: Thank you for holding.
Ariel Danson: I’m sorry, in order to assist you, I am going to have to ask a member of our team who specializes in this issue to take care of this for you.
Ariel Danson: Could you please provide me your e-mail address so that we can contact you as soon as the issue is resolved?
Alex: ***********@gmail.com is my e-mail
Alex: however
Ariel Danson: You can see the reference number by going to the Support Console by going through the link:
Alex: All of the previous tickets i’ve opened on the issue, in addition to taking 2 days between response have not solved the issue.
Ariel Danson: http://www.ipower.com/support/index.bml
Ariel Danson: I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.
Ariel Danson: Could you please let us know if you have contacted us earlier via e-mail with regards to the same issue?
Alex: I have, multiple times.
Ariel Danson: Could you please provide me your e-mail address from which he has sent?
Alex: The issue is still outstanding and i’ll be contacting the consumerist and other outlets if it’s not resolved once and for all.
Alex: The e-mail provided
Alex: and via the cpnael for the cdescry.com domain
Ariel Danson: Okay.
Ariel Danson: We will look into your issue.
Ariel Danson: One of our specialists will contact you as soon as possible.
Alex: I’ve been with Ipower on this account and a second since 2001
Alex: These last 3 months have been intolerable.
Alex: Fast track it, escalate it, whatever it takes – if it takes 2 days again to even get a basic response
Alex: I’m going to give up and have to get the company’s attention through public outlets.
Ariel Danson: I can understand your frustrations.
Ariel Danson: I have given high priority to your ticket.
Alex: I know i’m not the only one with these issues, hell the Biz Journal here in Phx ran a piece recently on it.
Alex: Thank you, I appreciate your help.
Ariel Danson: We will resolve your issue as soon as possible.
Ariel Danson: Thank you for chatting with us. Please feel free to contact us at any time. We are available 24×7.
info: Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.

I actually received a prompt response this time.

RECEIVED: 3/18/08

Hello Alex,

I am writing to you regarding to the ticket # 4777872.

I have checked the website at http://citadel-of-light.com/ and it is coming up fine without any issue. Could you please check it from your end?

If you have any further questions, you can e-mail us seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Sincerely,

Sonja Anderson
Technical Specialist

SENT: 3/18/08

Thank you for the prompt response. A nice change of pace.

The site started behaving about halfway into my chat conversation with the tech I was talking to. For whatever reason this has happened just about every time I’ve contacted you guys about the issue.

During the 40 or so minutes i was waiting in the web cue, the blog component of the site consistently took between 1-3 minutes to load. Both in the wordpress control panel and the site proper. This is the same issue I’ve been having off and on since January.

I have cross confirmed that the issue exists with multiple people, in multiple locations, on multiple machines simultaneously on several occasions. I have also checked my site to make sure it was not something in one of the databases I’m running causing the hiccup.

The issue does NOT effect the site as a whole. It is limited to database driven elements of the page. eg: The WordPress blog, Coppermine Gallery, and phpNuke BB. These are all effected simultaneously. I’m 99% sure the issue is overloaded database servers on ipower‘s end. I realize that your new platform should be distributing the load to improve their speed – but it’s not happening. Either the redistribution is not occurring correctly, or you’ve overloaded the servers. Standard html elements of the site operate smoothly.

Please note that the main domain is www.cdescry.comwww.citadel-of-light.com is a godaddy.com domain which is DNSed to the Blog element of the site.

The slowdown occurs regularly. It has resulted in bad PR. Annoyance and major traffic loss.

Because browser timeout is only occurring in extreme cases, the servers seem to still be sending data but just at a very slow rate.

This entire experience has been ridiculous. It’s been 3 months now. I’ve had to spend in the neighborhood of 15 hours on hold and the issue is still not resolved after multiple tickets and multiple assurances that the problem was fixed. I’ve been with you guys since 2001 on my second thelegionoflight.net domain and stuck with the company recently only because of the long relationship and because of your geographical proximity – I’m in Scottsdale. The lack of professionalism I’ve experienced over the last 3 months in several of my interactions with tech support and blatant misdirection has left me VERY close to transferring hosts, writing a complaint to the consumerist, AZ Biz Journal, and AZ BBB. In addition to periodic down time which I’m willing to attribute to the server move (though I believe this account has been on the new platform since November) the slowness, and performance issues have fallen woefully short of the 99.9% up time guaranteed. Beyond constant apologies no effort has been made to actually correct the issue or make amends for the downtime and cost. Not to mention the $ opportunity cost the time spent on hold has cost me – the equiv. of literally 100s of dollars.

I appreciate your attention to the issue and time. My phone number is ***.***.**** and I will be available if a local AZ tech needs to contact me directly for additional information.

Regards,

Alex Berger

RECEIVED: 3/19/08

Hello Alex,

I am writing to you regarding to the ticket # 4777872.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. I have checked the website at http://citadel-of-light.com and it is coming up fine without any issue. Could you please check it from your end? If the issue persists, please get back to us with the recent tracert result of the website so that we can investigate further on the issue.

If you have any further questions, you can e-mail us seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Sincerely,

Sonja Anderson
Technical Specialist

Sonja – Seriously? Since you failed to bother taking the time to read my origional response before offering a near duplicate response to:

“Hello Alex,

[REMOVED- DUPLICATED ABOVE]

Sincerely,
Sonja Anderson
Technical Specialist”

Here it is again – PLEASE take the time to actually review it before responding this time.

“Thank you for the prompt response. A nice change of pace.

The site started behaving about halfway into my chat conversation with the tech I was talking to. For whatever reason this has happened just about every time I’ve contacted you guys about the issue.

During the 40 or so minutes i was waiting in the web cue, the blog component of the site consistently took between 1-3 minutes to load. Both in the wordpress control panel and the site proper. This is the same issue I’ve been having off and on since January.

I have cross confirmed that the issue exists with multiple people, in multiple locations, on multiple machines simultaneously on several occasions. I have also checked my site to make sure it was not something in one of the databases I’m running causing the hiccup.

The issue does NOT effect the site as a whole. It is limited to database driven elements of the page. eg: The WordPress blog, Coppermine Gallery, and phpNuke BB. These are all effected simultaneously. I’m 99% sure the issue is overloaded database servers on ipower‘s end. I realize that your new platform should be distributing the load to improve their speed – but it’s not happening. Either the redistribution is not occurring correctly, or you’ve overloaded the servers. Standard html elements of the site operate smoothly.

Please note that the main domain is www.cdescry.comwww.citadel-of-light.com is a godaddy.com domain which is DNSed to the Blog element of the site.

The slowdown occurs regularly. It has resulted in bad PR. Annoyance and major traffic loss.

Because browser timeout is only occurring in extreme cases, the servers seem to still be sending data but just at a very slow rate.

This entire experience has been ridiculous. It’s been 3 months now. I’ve had to spend in the neighborhood of 15 hours on hold and the issue is still not resolved after multiple tickets and multiple assurances that the problem was fixed. I’ve been with you guys since 2001 on my second thelegionoflight.net domain and stuck with the company recently only because of the long relationship and because of your geographical proximity – I’m in Scottsdale. The lack of professionalism I’ve experienced over the last 3 months in several of my interactions with tech support and blatant misdirection has left me VERY close to transferring hosts, writing a complaint to the consumerist, AZ Biz Journal, and AZ BBB. In addition to periodic down time which I’m willing to attribute to the server move (though I believe this account has been on the new platform since November) the slowness, and performance issues have fallen woefully short of the 99.9% up time guaranteed. Beyond constant apologies no effort has been made to actually correct the issue or make amends for the downtime and cost. Not to mention the $ opportunity cost the time spent on hold has cost me – the equiv. of literally 100s of dollars.

I appreciate your attention to the issue and time. My phone number is ***.***.**** and I will be available if a local AZ tech needs to contact me directly for additional information.”

Thank you.

RECIEVED: 3/20/08

Hello Alex,

I am writing to you regarding to the ticket # 4777872.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. I have checked the website at http://citadel-of-light.com/ intermittently a couple of times using different networks, the websites loads fine. Could you please check it once again from your end? At times, when the load on the server is high, website loads slowly. If the issue persists further, please take the tracert of the website when it loads slowly and provide us with the same so that we can work on the issue.

If you have any further questions, you can e-mail us seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Sincerely,

Sonja Anderson
Technical Specialist

The attachment contained the requested tracerts.

SENT: 3/20/08

The issue is occuring currently. I have attached a Word Document W/ SS enclosed of two TRs run about a minute apart from eachother at Approx 1:10 AZ Time.

RECIEVED: 3/21/08

Hello Alex,

I am writing to you regarding to the ticket #4777872.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. I have checked the URL http://citadel-of-light.com , the website loads fine without any issue. Could you please check it from your end? If the issue persists further, please take the tracert of the website when it loads slowly and provide us with the same so that we can work on the issue.

If you have any further questions, you can e-mail us seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Sincerely,

Sonja Anderson
Technical Specialist

I re-sent the attachment with several additional tracerts.

SENT: 3/21/08

What the hell is wrong with you people. Somehow I doubt that sending me the same copy pasted message 5 times and ignoring the attached tracert in my response is going to resolve the issue.

I’ve done several since and ATTACHED THEM in the ATTACHED WORD DOCUMENT.

In typical form.

RECIEVED: 3/21/08

Hello Alex,

I am writing to you regarding to the ticket # 4777872.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. I have resolved the issue with your website. Now the website at http://citadel-of-light.com loads fine. Could you please check it once again from your end?

If you have any further questions, you can e-mail us seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Sincerely,

Sonja Anderson
Technical Specialist

SENT: 3/21/08

Thank you for working one resolving it. As of 5:00 AZ the initial load of the page still took 20+ seconds to load, down from the 2 minutes. Upon trying to open an actual page link within the blog the loadtime was significantly longer at approximate 1 minute.

Looks like the issue is still persistent. My tracert is also still registering 90+ ms response times from the last 4 jumps w/ 1-8 ms times for the first 10 jumps from my end.

I still think the reason the issue is so difficult to track down is that the html elements are loading fine, but that it’s the database server which is overloaded/not behaving properly. Is there some sort of huge php db hog or cruncher located on the same server? There are times when everything is actually working when the blog/pages load in 1-5 seconds like they should be.

It looks like the issue finally got escalated.

RECEIVED: 3/22/08

Hello Alex,

I am writing in regards to ticket #4777872 and the problems with your site loading slowly. We are aware of MySQL speed issues on our systems right now, we are working on resolving this by adding an additional 5 MySQL servers to our systems. This will alleviate the bottleneck and increase performance on all sites on our platform. We hope to have these machines operational by the end of the week. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us back either by replying to this email or calling us at: 1.888-511-4678.

Thanks,
Aaron B
Technical Specialist

SENT: 3/22/08

Aaron, thank you for finally providing me with an honest response and solution. I’ve been going back and forth with support for the last 3 months over this issue. In addition to the additional servers, from a customer service standpoint what is being done to make this right? I’ve been with ipower since 2001 on my thelegionoflight.net domain name, and May on the cdescry.com account and have to be honest with you. After the last 3 months, the types of responses I’ve gotten and the B.S. I’ve been fed i don’t just feel frustrated, I feel abused and taken advantage of.

I’d already made up my mind that if the next e-mail I recieved from you guys was another clone and more bull that my next e-mail would contain all of my previous correspondences with the company and be to Thomas Gorny, Tracy Conrad, the AZ BBB, and the Consumerist.

Because of your response I’m going to hold off on sending the e-mail and moving in that direction until the new mySQL servers are installed. To be honest with you, you guys don’t have much credibility left in my book – but I’m going to give you this one last chance. PLEASE make this situation right and don’t disappoint me.

Regards,
Alex Berger

It’s now 4/1/08 and this is NOT an April Fools joke. While the addition of the 5 SQL servers seems to have temporarily improved performance, the site is still experiencing nasty slowdowns [As I write this post it’s at a near standstill]. The ticket was closed and my last e-mail never received a response.

THIS is the type of customer support Ipower seemingly feels is acceptable. This post has been submitted to several consumer based websites in the hope that if nothing else, others know what they are getting into with Ipower.

To those of you who read the site and have had to battle through slow load times and timeouts – thank you for your continued loyalty. I apologize and hope that sometime in the near future this issue will actually be resolved once and for all.

UPDATE 4/2/08

This afternoon I noticed the following message when I logged into my Control Panel:

MySQL Maintenance Scheduled for Tonight
As part of our ongoing efforts to improve MySQL performance, we will be adding new hardware and re-allocating the load on our MySQL servers between 12:00am and 5:00am EDT on Thursday, April 3, 2008. During this five-hour maintenance window, there may be periods of time when your database is temporarily inaccessible, making the database-driven pieces of your Web site temporarily unavailable to your visitors. (You should be able to connect to your database(s) as normal for most of this maintenance window, but you may experience intermittent connectivity issues between midnight and 5:00am EDT.)We have scheduled this maintenance for a time when traffic to most customers’ sites is typically at its lowest. Still, we apologize for any inconvenience, and we expect that the work we’re doing will help improve your site’s performance.
– 04/02/08 at 14:52 ET

Right now SQL performance is still VERY slow (it’s 12:05PM PST and I just waited over a minute for the site to load). At least they seem to be actually doing something about the problem finally. These upgrades may be the changes they told me to expect last week. I’ll keep you updated.

UPDATE 4/4/08

So far the changes have been effective in speeding up load times and finally delivering the service I’m paying for. There has not, however, been any attempt by Ipower to compensate/credit/make amends for the downtime/lies/service issues.

UPDATE 4/7/08

Well after a day or two in paradise the crapfest is back. Since last night at 6 when I tested the site things have been moving at a snails pace. Worse, they’ve been so slow that I’m actually timing out now, instead of just having it sit and crank away for ages. Maybe, just maybe 5 SQL servers isn’t quite enough to lighten the load of 1,000,000 website accounts. Or maybe the issue is something else, but it’s definitely tied to an under performing or overloaded database server network.

UPDATE 4/8/08

Add 3 hours to the list of time blown. After database based elements of the site had been down for 30 some odd minutes I started the call process dialing into tech support. I made my call around 6:45 and spent the first 30 some odd minutes on hold before having a brief conversation with a Tier 1 Tech who escalated me to a Tier 2 fairly quickly. After waiting an additional 3 minutes – I was forced to hang up at the 1 hour mark because of a social commitment I had.

I called back in around 10:30 and went through the same process. 20 some odd minutes for the first escalation, 40+ for the second to a Tier 2 tech, then a long conversation with him about the site, the issue, etc. before being escalated to the floor manager and opening up a detailed ticket Danny/Danni. It turns out that Ipower is randomly continuing to upgrade database servers, and doing server maintenance and that mine had been scheduled for last night which was part of what apparently knocked it out. According to Danny the repair should have been done by the time I got on the phone with her – around 12:20 and from teh sound/look of it, the issue that took me out, while triggered by the repair was not due directly to repair based downtime.

I’d like to point out at this point in time that I was never contacted, warned, or given any sort of heads up that the maintenance was being carried out and that it might/could/would knock my site offline for 6+ hours.

To Danny’s credit though she was able to credit my account for 2 months of free hosting. The first attempt by ANY Ipower associate in the last 3 months to offset the downtime and make things right. I recieved the following confirmation e-mail at 1:40AM this morning:

Hello,

This e-mail is being sent in response to your e-mail regarding database issues (on ticket # 491****).

We could see that you were facing database issue from long time; hence for the downtime caused I have added 2 months credit on your account. You can utilize those credits for the future hosting renewal or purchase of any product.

Please feel free to reply to this message if we can assist you any further.

Sincerely,

David Allen
Billing Specialist

I assume he was either tired or foreign?