The saying you get what you pay for rings true. Recently while working with a really nice client (just one lady running her own unique business) I came across Bluehost.
She had a hosting account with Bluehost, the “Platinum Pak” when a hosting company deliberately misspells the word pack like a teenage girl texting her friends, it does ring some alarm bells. But having had nothing but a great experience with their rival Hostgator (I used them for years before my needs went beyond it) I reserved my judgement until I tried to get support.
It was 10pm here in Brisbane, Australia and so I used Bluehost’s online chat feature to speak with their support staff. A guy by the name of Blade (seriously, they hired a guy called Blade?) after waiting 30 minutes behind 14 other people answers my chat window. He asks for the main domain and last 4 characters of the Cpanel password, then he tells me to wait a few minutes while he tries to find the problem. Wait, what?
I haven’t even explained what the problem is yet and Blade is trying to fix it. Either Blade is a clairvoyant who has seen the future and knows what I am already asking or he’s multitasking between multiple windows and getting confused, not a good start.
Without any further words from Blade, I start describing the problem. I explain to him in a clear and concise manner that a WordPress install for the client is responding really slowly even though the site isn’t that large in terms of page sizes.
The server appeared to be throttling connections and resources and I wanted to know why a 1mb page was taking 40 seconds to load on a cable Internet connection that usually can download a torrent at 2.2mb/s (fast by Australian standards).
Not only was the front-end slow, but the entire site irrespective of whether or not you’re on the front facing part of the admin panel was slow. After explaining that I did a traceroute as well as installed W3 Total Cache and Wp E-commerce, Blade disconnected the chat without saying a word to me. No kind of support was offered at all.
What kind of company hangs up on someone asking for help and being nothing but nice and concise during the whole process? Oh, Bluehost does, that’s who. I should of taken the subtle, indirect advice I got from my friend’s coworker from YEAH! Local but I only picked up on it after the fact, I dislike how often this happens to me.
So I reconnect, I’m waiting behind 19 people now… 50 minutes later after watching my place in the queue go down and sometimes even go up by 2 or 3, I am connected to, “Duke Nickolas” seriously, where do they find these people? it’s 10.50pm and I have work in the morning, so eyes are exhausted from looking at the screen so I begin to explain the problem again.
I give a pretty length explanation to Duke Nickolas, as time passes he doesn’t respond. I ask if he’s there and still no response, after 10 minutes of waiting I close the window and reopen the chat a third time, I am now number 20 in a queue again. It’s 11:01pm and my patience is really growing thin.
Third time lucky, a guy with a normal name Aaron answers the chat pretty quickly. Finally someone who doesn’t hang up on me listens to what I have to say, he then asks me to wait a minute while he runs tests on the server. He is at first unsure what is going on, he does a few more tests and realises their server is spawning too many instances of the PHP process and every time a process runs it seems to be taking a while for it to end, thus causing the server to slow down and wait.
Unfortunately Aaron couldn’t help me and so I advised my client to move over to Mediatemple (I used to use Mediatemple before moving to Linode). Instantly setup and to this day no problems with slowdowns or issues with running a simple WordPress website and store.
The moral of the story here is: don’t host with Bluehost because their support is shit and their hosting is obviously oversold and horrible.