Follow Up To Yesterday's Post

I really had no agenda with yesterday’s post other than to let all of you know that I am well aware of the reliability issues but don’t have any plans to address them at this time.

But when I walked out of our weekly team meeting yesterday afternoon I had three unanswered phone calls to my cell phone from the same number in Utah. I returned the call and got Bluehost, the web hosting company for AVC.

I have not talked to Bluehost yet, but I will.

It seems that they are more eager to fix this issue than I am.

It would be even more awesome if they could just fix it instead of calling me. But I understand that I may need to do something on my end.

So I will talk to them and maybe these reliability issues will get fixed after all.

Stay tuned.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LE

    You need to tape the phone call and sound cloud it

  2. JimHirshfield

    I’m on the edge of my seat. The suspense is killing me.

    1. jason wright

      probably the company’s lawyer threatening to sue. ha ha.

  3. jason wright

    so does Bluehost use an app to monitor its brand reputation acoss the webosphere?three calls seems a touch desperate. should have come on here and been transparent. i don’t like it when a higher profile person gets better service than everyone else. a good reason to leave any company imho.

  4. awaldstein

    Doesn’t surprise me at all.If they email me when I tweet an issue, they should send a fruit basket and a technician to your house.Two unarguable truths:-Customer service is your product-All customers are not equal. You are more unequal than most Fred.

    1. Brandon G. Donnelly

      i suspected the same.they don’t want this kind of bad press.

    2. Richard Ginsberg

      On a commodity business, yes, “customer service is your product”. Look at Zappos, they weren’t the first shoe retailer brick and mortar or online. They took customer service to another level.

      1. awaldstein

        Not just commodity but luxory as well. Can’t think of one business from Amazon to Mack Wheldon to Apple where this is not key.Only exceptions are monopolies like Time Warner in NYC but even there the level has increased significantly.The more you realize customer acquisition is everything the more cust service to keep your customers becomes key.

        1. PhilipSugar

          I think you mean customer retention.When people first start growing all they care about is acquisition. I remember talking to Comcast about this when they were just rolling out high speed internet. A person there literally told me, I don’t get measured on retention just acquisition. (I was discussing their strategy of providing new customers a much better deal than old ones)When the growth rate slows and competition heats up (and it seems that is always the case) Then retention kicks in because the leak in the bottom of the bucket doesn’t get replaced as quickly because the hose at the top of the bucket is filling it much slower.

      2. PhilipSugar

        I think it’s much more important if what you are buying is not a true commodity. I would argue that Zappos is not a commodity business.I would argue that in a true commodity business: gasoline is close, price is all that matters, but then you can change the game like Wawa and price the true commodity business at a loss and then make it up on a non commodity business like coffee and food.

        1. LE

          Isn’t it amazing at how good the service is at Wawa vs. another gas station? It is probably a combination of their hiring practices as well as what people see as the advantage of working at a well known (in our area) corporation vs. the local owner operator or small chain of stations. At Wawa there is that perceived upward mobility to rise to another position potentially within the company. In my state they pump the gas for you. An entirely different experience than any competition that I have ever used. That said I don’t think they don’t make money at it and that it’s primarily a loss leader.

    3. PhilipSugar

      Customer service is not “sexy”. If you look at many companies they are the lowest paid least appreciated people. Usually there isn’t even a good career track for them (meaning if you want to move up you need to move out) and the head does not usually sit on the executive committee.Why?? People consider it an expense. Where as bringing in new customers is considered revenue. Maximize revenue minimize expense. Except that as you know and I agree this is wrong.

      1. LE

        Except that as you know and I agree this is wrong.Wrong for the customer but not, as practice has shown, wrong for the corporation. Comcast is a good case of that.

        1. PhilipSugar

          They are and have been changing.

          1. LE

            Agree. With all of the negatives they were forced to fix it. I am sure it also impacted their hiring and even investments and other business interactions.I’ve told the story of back in early 2000’s when I got them to come out on New Years day with a crew to dig and restore my service (bad cable) by simply saying I was going to call the secretary [1] of Brian Roberts who graduated same class from college. After telling that to the customer service person she called the district supervisor (at my suggestion) who called me from his cell phone. I was happier at pulling it off than getting the service restored. I didn’t know Brian of course and actually never said that I did.[1] That was the key by the way that made it believable to them. Most people don’t understand this nuance.

      2. awaldstein

        True–I’ve been guilty of this at times when I ran this group. Held them to high standards, didn’t compensate appropriately.

  5. pointsnfigures

    Tell them to fix mine too.

    1. Jess Bachman

      You gotta talk to Jimmy Three Times down in the Bluehost call center.

  6. Thees Peereboom

    Isn’t this sheer magic? Just write about it and the problem automagically disappears!

  7. Michael Weiksner

    I use bluehost too. I have occasionally experienced the same issue. By raising and now helping them troubleshoot, perhaps they will be able to fix the issue for all of their customers.Fingers crossed and many thanks!

  8. aminTorres

    Ironically, I just got this, then after a few refreshes, it came back up.

  9. panterosa,

    Wouldn’t it be nice if companies just did what you pay them for every month? Especially without having to have a call with them?

    1. Anne Libby

      I’d rather have a call than no response — or worse, refusal to get on the phone, in favor of a volley of email messages where it becomes clear that the vendor rep isn’t actually reading your emails. (I had one of these the other week, epic. PS, they’re no longer my vendor.)

      1. panterosa,

        It’s so inefficient. Don’t go there with anyone on their Verizon issues either or you will drink your wine cellar over it.

        1. Anne Libby

          If only there was a Verizon alternative that was actually better…

    2. CJ

      Just shows that there is still room for disruption in friction.

  10. Rob Underwood

    I have been on Bluehost for about a year since a friend, who to protect his anonymity I’ll refer to here only as “Cred Bilson”, suggested them as a hosting platform. I use them to host the web sites for two WP sites for CS education things I do – and, as well as my own company’s site,’ve been relatively happy with them but I have noticed there is something deeply weird and inconsistent in how BH parses and processes its .htacesss files. It seems like there is some default for how it handles the www and no host option that is different that how are handled “non-standard” hosts (e.g., “www1”).E.g., How BH processes RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^$ vs RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^$ is not consistent — in the former case BH goes one folder deeper by default than the latter, and as such you have to write different rules altogether.I have to wonder if that’s not at least part of the Cloudflare connection problem.

  11. Alex Murphy

    Pro Tip, if you want Fred to call you back, call him three times in a row quickly.

  12. sigmaalgebra

    So, Son, what are the main lessons to be learned here?When dealing with a vendor in computing:(1) Don’t get angry. Don’t call their customer service. Instead just, gently, with humor, embarrass them in front of some of the elite of the Internet in the whole English speaking world?(2) If in front of their CEO you kick them in the back side, then they will get the message all the way up between their ears?(3) If their management grabs them by their short hair, then you will have their undivided attention, and their hearts and minds will be sure to follow?(4) Be so laid back about what they are providing that they and the whole English speaking world will know that you are not a desperate customer regarding their service as a must have? E.g., they have to work twice as hard as they have been and won’t get to raise their price?(5) If you do it right, then you won’t have to call them. Instead, they will call you and, indeed, even get your phone number and call you more than once, all within 24 hours?Ah, good, you are wide awake this morning, Son. Good you were paying attention.

  13. Lawrence Brass

    It would be interesting to know how they knew about Fred’s post and if his profile has something to do with the prompt reaction. Scaling customer support is hard.Fairness in this story is important as Bluehost is not the only actor here, its them, Cloudflare and Disqus involved in the performance of an AVC page load. Disqus is particularly heavy but I don’t think their traffic goes through Cloudflare which reports one of the failures. I have seen cases where you remove ‘analytics’ and everything flows again.Thumbs up for Bluehost taking action promptly.

  14. Kurt Stangl

    I hope someone sees the light and uses this learning experience to improve their service 🙂

  15. David A. Frankel

    I think it is hilarious that you got 2 blog posts (and likely 3 with everyone now wanting to hear the follow up), with comments no less, out of it.

    1. Jess Bachman

      Not everyone…

    2. fredwilson


      1. David A. Frankel

        LOL summer is officially over.

  16. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Nice to see the amazing leverage of a negotiator who can even deny a need for a deal Batna – Best Alternative To Negotatied Agreement = LeverageSuppose you are thirsty, walk into the souk, not even threatening to walk out and all the time denying any wish to buy an expensive rug – but accept a lovely cup of cold minted water ( just to be polite), but hint ice cubes would be nice – Classic misdirection. :)Well played !

    1. William Mougayar

      Sounds like you’ve done that before 🙂

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        No – I walk in – gasp – beg for help and am given a nice glass of water.So my leverage is that I have no shame – (at least not when thirsty).Joking aside – an interesting thing about unconditional hospitality is that it is pretty much universal (and especially strong is some middle-east cultures), and it is generally mutually rewarding, disarming ect.The best thing about negotiation is figuring out win-win or small-loss / big-win opportunities – And they both effect both players.I think it a very rare (non-violent) relationship that is so one-dimensional, that there is not scope for changing the rules for the better.I wonder if startup incubators teach negotiation in any formal way – many could gain from it – and many VCs have a lot of experience at the table.

        1. LE

          Years ago I sold about $120k of machinery that I owned to a company in Beirut Lebanon. The deal was done and the price was negotiated and the buyers were flying in to inspect the equipment. I met them at the airport. When we got to the inspection part it was exactly as presented. One machine was new (the biggest part of the deal) and only had, say, 300 hours on the meter or something like that. The buyers (man and his son who I assume were Islamic because they had prayer beads and looked the part to me) stood there and offered me $50k for the equipment not even giving a particular reason or even trying. I just looked at them with a straight face (didn’t laugh or anything) with a stare that said “Sure. you flew in here to bargain. If you want go fly back and find other equipment fine with me” (‘no in other words’). They ended up buying it of course (for the agreed price) and even gave me some bottle of expensive really hard local liquor they brought with them to celebrate. I actually had no other buyers at the time so it was quite a gamble and I guess the fact that I had to drive them back to the airport limited their options (or hotel don’t remember). Normally in that situation I might even throw a bone to someone actually figuring that it can prevent someone from their folly if they keep their pride and don’t take their chances.I’ve noticed in negotiating what I call “auto responses”. [1] You can typically tell when someone has already decided in their mind to buy at the asking price by how they phrase their next offer. Kind of stands out to me anyway.[1] “Can you do any better” is one of those and there are many others.

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            @LE – cool – also the liquor means that’s cool – yup its a game – well played – no offense – we can do more business.Is that your last word ?Why don’t we sit and talk ?Lets not be too hasty ?Did we finalise all the details ?Does it come with (up-sale alert) ?But I need authorisation to … ? = Throw me a bone

        2. William Mougayar

          Yup, actually one VC firm I work with specifically offered a top notch negotiation seminar to their portfolio companies. I attended it & it was very useful.

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Not for me to say – but that sounds like grounds for a shout out – well done team!

        3. Twain Twain

          My brilliant manager at UBS signed off on three important courses for me in one year:* Securities training so I could pass my FSA exams;* Corporate Finance taught by the then Dean of INSEAD where we did some case studies of the biggest M&A transactions and how negotiations work out and affect balance sheets; and* Negotiation Skills taught by one of the top negotiation trainers in Asia Pacific.So I was very lucky I gained that knowhow in my mid-20s.

  17. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    @fredwilson:disqus – How do you respond to pitchers that say – “hey we don’t even want your money, but would love you to give feedback on our service” ?Suppose it never happens NOT !

  18. William Mougayar

    I’m willing to bet that they’ll suggest you move to a higher level of service because of some limitations with the current one, and that it might be memory size related. (aside from other potential Cloudflare related issues).

    1. fredwilson

      that is exactly what they are suggesting

      1. William Mougayar

        Ha! (been there)

      2. LE

        It’s really classic bait and switch. They advertise wordpress hosting for $3.45 per month. Sell page doesn’t even detail what that includes (usage wise). Even if it did it would probably say “unlimited” but exclude certain usage in the fine print (which is the way this is worked around).…The next page is equally dishonest (and as expected, says “unlimited”):…This is a classic case of when I say “you can only be as honest as your competition”. The reason for that is the average consumer is stupid and easily tricked and doesn’t want to spend the time (understandable) to think about the value they are really getting (and sometimes it’s not even possible). Further they are greedy as well and can’t resist a bargain. So by being honest and saying “here is honestly what you will get” they will loose business to someone saying “unlimited” that hides the true service offering (which is buried in fine print and you can’t easily get it prior to actually going through signup).

        1. creative group

          LE:Would you expect a VC to submit an offer to a start-up that wasn’t favorable to the VC and investors? Then why would anyone expect a for profit business not to add value to its business. If people invest in a business they applaud the move. If they are not invested in the business but use the service (normal complaints towards cellphone and cable companies) they demonize the business model. Strange how that works and normally from people who have the financial means to pay for the increase. Plain madness.

        2. PhilipSugar

          We agree completely. I think that’s a tough business. Also its always tough when you are trying to price things based on usage.People don’t want to pay for usage. But then you have the noisy neighbor policy.I also know of one hosting company that said you get a dedicated server.What they really meant was you had a dedicated virtual server.

      3. LE

        Here are the actual paragraphs that detail what “unlimited mean”. The question is would you invest in a business that has this model? Note that this is what everyone does in the business at that scale.What “Unlimited” DOES NOT meanBluehost employs complex mechanisms to protect its Subscribers and systems from abuse. Bluehost’s offering of “unlimited” services is not intended to allow the actions of a single or few Subscribers to unfairly or adversely impact the experience of other Subscribers. Bluehost’s service is a shared hosting service, which means that multiple Subscriber web sites are hosted from the same server and share server resources. Bluehost’s service is designed to meet the typical needs of small business and home business website Subscribers in the United States. It is NOT intended to support the sustained demand of large enterprises, internationally based businesses, or non-typical applications better suited to a dedicated server. Bluehost will makeevery commercially reasonable effort to provide additional resources to Subscribers who are using their website(s) consistent with these Terms, including moving Subscribers to newer and bigger shared servers as necessary. However, in order to ensure a consistent and qualityexperience for all Subscribers, Bluehost does place automated safeguards to protect against any one site growing too quickly and adversely impacting the system until Bluehost can evaluate said sitesresource needs.Unlimited File Transfer Bluehost does not set arbitrary limits on the amount of visitor traffic a website can receive or on the amount of content a Subscriber can upload to his/her/its websitein a given month, nor does Bluehost charge additional fees based on increased useof bandwidth, as long as the Subscriber’s use of the Services complies with these Terms. Inmost cases, a Subscriber’s web site will be able to support as much traffic as the Subscriber can legitimately acquire. However, Bluehost reserves the right to limit processor time, bandwidth,processes, or memory in cases where it is necessary toprevent negatively impacting other Subscribers.

      4. rick gregory

        of course it is. They’re not fixing anything, just telling you to buy more from them. They may have a point (it’s not reasonable to pay, say, $5/month for hosting and expect unlimited resources) but it’s not a fix, really.

      5. Twain Twain

        If you switch, will they then advertise the premium service as “Fred did it and so should you”?Because they know you have more influence and reach with your blog than most.

        1. LE


          1. Twain Twain

            Techco’s sometimes approach the “influencers” to advertise their products, right?

          2. LE

            As I understand the events, they sold Fred an inferior product that they now want him to replace at a higher cost (per his reply to William).What they could have done was quietly fix the problem without requiring more money.Of course it’s entirely possible that they have no way to increase things for him w/o requiring him to migrate to another server which is not difficult but not non-trivial either (I’ve done this and it does take time). They could have offered to migrate it for him (to other equipment) but if he talked about it they might feel there was a precedent to do it for others as well. And they can’t say “listen we will do this for you but shhh don’t say anything”.And of course they aren’t going to advertise that they got Fred to pay more under these circumstances (because it started with a complaint).

          3. Twain Twain

            A-ha. … but the spin could have been “It’s worth it. Pay a bit more to guarantee your readers’ continuous enjoyment!”Of course, I get what you’re saying. They’re trying to upsell to Fred when, basically, they should have provided spot-on service and fixed issues WITHOUT us having to pay more.

          4. PhilipSugar

            I’m with you on this beef. See my comment to Mike Nolan.

          5. Twain Twain

            Right and the fact Fred was nonchalant (“I am not particularly compelled to fix this issue”) yet he SHOWED that it’s an issue his readers care about, prompted Bluehost to pick up on the opportunity of converting Fred and upselling to him.He didn’t say he’d consider changing hosts. This would have caused Bluehost to offer some “We’ll lower the costs” bundle to retain him as a customer.And now they have the possibility of being able to say, “Fred Wilson upgraded and so should you, to keep your readers happy.”@kwiqly:disqus @wmoug:disqus @le_on_avc:disqus — And so the negotiations begin …

      6. JamesHRH

        From everyone else’s opinion of these cats, you should beak about it every Monday and do nothing until they solve the issue without you.Weasels. No, wait – knuckleheads.Sheesh.

    2. aminTorres

      been in da business too long 😉

    3. LE

      This is par for the computer industry really ie “it’s not us it’s you that is the problem”.Honestly nothing super special about AVC running wordpress that should be an issue it’s a static site. Visits a day aren’t a problem with a static site. Worldpress is a hog but then again Bluehost talks specifically about how they are good at wordpress so…Interesting though that Cloudflare in front doesn’t help in this situation with their caching.

  19. mikenolan99

    At one point I purchased the hosting business of a programmer that worked for me. Basically a PC running in his basement. He charged $30 a month to host websites he made in college. We moved them to one of our older web servers, and pretty much forgot about it. Maybe 20 accounts… just waiting for them to fade away. Wasn’t my main business.I got an angry call from one of the companies sometime later – claiming that a brief outage the night before had cost him “Thousands of Dollars” in missed sales.I apologized, reminded him that he had uptime of greater than 365 consecutive days, well above 99.x% – then gently asked… if he was really generating upwards of $500,000 a month in online revenue, why the hell he was paying only $360 a year for hosting?

    1. William Mougayar

      Then what happened- did he fade away?

      1. mikenolan99

        Never did hear back – but when I sold my company a couple of years later, I had to find another buyer for the 10 or so accounts that were leftover – so at a bar one night I sold them to a friend who ran a real hosting site. The deal? A gin and tonic…

        1. William Mougayar

          Nothing better than alcohol to cure a headache 🙂

        2. PhilipSugar

          Was the person’s name Mike C?

    2. PhilipSugar

      That is the issue here.People want to pay for a Hugo not maintain it and get the reliability of a Boeing Jet with top maintenance.Hey Fred says he doesn’t care, and that’s right.If the Hugo doesn’t work, but you only use it to get to work when it rains because you walk and you don’t want to leave something nice on the street???Great.You don’t want to go down over the Pacific with a load of passengers??? Different price.

  20. creative group

    Fred:Of course Bluehost called you. The megaphone you have is loud. Even whenyou use it via innuendo’s, inferences, etcYawn, blah, blah, blah.

    1. LE

      According to what he said below they are trying to upsell him. So I am sure that they would have done the same for anyone who they managed to flag through social media. It wouldn’t surprise me if they employ a method or a company to simply monitor all social media postings and respond accordingly.I tweeted at a car manufacturer with a complaint and got contacted within a day by someone from social media wanting to know if they could help. I said I wasn’t going to explain the problem to them and waste my time that they should have the district manager call me and he did.

  21. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Those who where in New York City during the 1970-80’s remember the pitchman that yelled “These prices are insane” has died at age 68. Eddie “Crazy Eddie” Antar died of undisclosed causes Saturday confirmed Monday by the Bloomfield Cooper Jewish Chapels in Ocean Township, N.J.If you wanted the best electronics you went to Crazy Eddie’s. Dan Aykrod parodied Crazy Eddie on Saturday Night Live.Crazy Eddie’s went public and Eddie was convicted for insider trading ran to Israel and was extradited back to the US and served a seven year prison term. The rise and fall.

  22. rick gregory

    They’ll just fix it for you. Which, while nice, doesn’t address the issues for others experiencing the same thing but without the social profile you have.

  23. jon blondyn


  24. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:OFF TOPIC:Visited a tribute to those lost on 9/11 and the sacrifices made in heroic efforts to save those in danger.Still is astonishing the number of employees lost from one company.(Cantor Fitzgerald from the 9/11 senseless attacks) Cantor Fitzgerald holds an annual employee charity.…There were also (2) eleven (11) year olds and (2) three year old children lost.

  25. Chimpwithcans

    Finally!!! A new series to replace MBA Mondays? 😉

  26. Kerim Baran

    A month ago, we launched a new single page website for a new JV we are forming using Bluehost and WordPress. The images kept disappearing every few days, time after time. Despite 3 x (30 min+) calls with my web developer and bluehost tech support, we never solved the issue. No more bluehost. GoDaddy has our business now!

  27. Thomas

    I would not interpret much more into it than what Fred shared with us. Sometimes things are as simply as that. People have different priorities in life which they accept for themselves and you should too.