Strong opinions, weakly held

Bad customer service

I hate to criticize TextDrive since we hardly know each other, but given that I’m giving them money to host my content, I feel like I can speak freely. The server that I’m assigned to has issues. From what I’ve read in the past, TextDrive’s servers were built from spare parts by the notoriously incompetent theplanet.com. Sometimes the servers crash due to hardware issues.

Anyway, these things happen, especially when you’re in the startup phase, so I’m not particularly irritated. What does irritate me is responses like this from the people responsible for fixing the problem. Obviously feeling a bit defensive about the downtime being characterized as a “long-term outage,” a staffer responds:

Long-term outages? Ask anyone that was hosted at cee-kay what long-term outages are. They went down and disappeared. Gone. Done. No “here’s your backup, sorry about this” – they just turned eveything off one day.

In my opinion, this is poor customer service. Yes it sucks to have customers breathing down your neck, but trying to deflect the criticism by pointing out how bad things could be just isn’t professional. My first reaction upon reading that was to remind myself to back everything up regularly in case I get the same treatment from TextDrive. I doubt that’s what he intended.


  1. make sure to read the rest of that post.

    “I realize it’s frustrating for every one of you, but we’re even more frustrated with the situation and have a definite action plan. Thanks for your patience as we implement it.”

  2. I’m also a txd customer, and while I do love them, the responses I’ve gotten from them have been, well, a little suboptimal.

    I’m pretty well committed to staying with them as a webhost. But weblog-style transparency when dealing with customers shouldn’t really extended to tickets with ‘ugh. back up now’ as a response.

    Some of them aren’t really open to criticism of their tech support either.

    Oh well, growing pains.

  3. The post you link to seems to have disappeared.

  4. The link seems to be up. I’ve had some sites on TextDrive for the past few months. I bought into their VC2 plan where you paid $400 for a lifetime account. I have three reactions:

    1) I’m not hosting anything serious, so I’m not really complaining, but their uptime leaves much to be desired. Outages of several minutes at least once a day, it seems like. That would not (by a long shot) be an acceptable amount of downtime for the shared Windows web servers I manage at my job, and our customers (University faculty and staff) don’t pay us directly and we don’t brag about high availability.

    2) I understand that the admins are frustrated, but the users, who are paying money for the service, are even more frustrated, and have even less control. If TextDrive is still relying on pieced together hardware provided by their ISP, then they have misrepresented themselves as far as I’m concerned. The TextDrive people made the decision to go with shoddy hardware, they should bear the brunt of the complaints and not try to pass it off on their provider. Fair or not, passing the buck is bad, bad customer service.

    2a) Can I say again I’m shocked they are using hardware they didn’t acquire themselves? I understand if you are starting a company from scratch, but TextDrive has a lot of customers by now and they’ve talked a lot about moving up to bigger and better hardware. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Seriously, a sweet Dell server can be had for $5000-6000. There’s no excuse for skimping on hardware.

    3) TextDrive’s support people have always struck me as having a bad attitude. The boards are filled with admins bitterly complaining about stupid users in just about as many words. I’m a sysadmin myself. Users can be really frustrating and come up with some dumb things to do, and I understand the need to vent. But it’s wildly inappropriate to do so in the support forum. Intentionally or not, they are trying to enforce good behavior via public shaming. Again, that’s bad customer service.

    Seriously, the del.icio.us guys have better connections to their hardware and have done a better job of telling their users what they have and where it’s at. I’m really disappointed with this aspect of TextDrive.

  5. uhhh,


    You’re right, apparently they are using refurb hardware.

    I feel a little duped as well. Oh well, here’s hoping that the new hardware is much better (since I too am with them for ‘life’)

  6. I think this post + comment thread should be forwarded on to Dean & Jason. Why?

    Because they should be more aware of the lasting impressions that their support/IT people make every day on their forums. Flippant responses are not be the best way to instill confidence. In this case, this particular comment carries more weight because it came from Ryan, who is the CTO (!) of all people. Plus, I had no idea that they were running cobbled-together (note: refurbed?) hardware until today when one.textdrive.com crapped out and I started digging for answers.

    Plus, I’m a VC200 member, and as such, I have a vested interest in making sure that they do their damn jobs. Hosting for life is only good if it lasts. Hosting lasts when the hardware and software works and there are people to buy the service. The last thing I need is for people to kick their hosting to the curb because gilford.textdrive.com has spent most of its waking life in a state of FUCKED.

    Finally, I’d like to note that Rafe is on TxD partly because I pitched it to him as a nice cheap alternative to Pair Networks, so the last thing I want is for him to run away, shaking his head, back to Pair (who I used before TxD, and whose uptime was damn near the legendary five-nines). TxD can be that good; I have faith that inevitably they will do the right thing. But in the meantime, they need to watch what they say to their users, because the Internet is never forgiving (and tends to not forget, either). And besides, without users, TxD would go the exact same way as the aforementioned cee-kay.

    One bright spot: these pictures over here


    indicate that those brand-spanking-new Dell servers they’ve been promising are no longer a figment of anyone’s imagination. This is good.

  7. I think the comment your speaking about is taken way out of context… as a fellow TdX’er and gilford user as well do feel your pain… however the comment was in reference to their list service just disappeared. Why? Well the company responsiable for hosting it wasn’t paying their bills to their service providers until one day they shut them down and sold everything… thats the vanishing act Ryan was speaking of.

    TxD has great response time in solving problems… and they tend to be nice about it… unlike my former provider… lets just say “all contracts” doesn’t mean 100% of them but 33.333% of them.

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