TPW Server IssuesLime -- Sunday, March 23, 2003 -- 05:54:35 AM
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For those of you who have been reading about our ongoing troubles, you know that I wrote a long letter to them today, but predicted that they'd probably ignore me until they suspended the account again. And by golly, that's just what they did. It is simply not possible that we were using that many resources, and I think they have put too many users on our server. My guess is that they are hoping to inconvenience us into upgrading to half of a server. I'm not opposed to doing that in principle, but I want some evidence that we have actually violated our TOS in some way. They have yet to provide me any response. I'll be calling them on Monday.
My guess is that my furious email will result in service being reinstated with a "warning". Naturally, they began this nonsense on Friday to maximize inconvenience. Lime and I are investigating alternatives, including upgrades. Sorry about this. I'll keep you posted. Once we come back up, please subscribe to Server Issues in MetaForum, which is where I'll post any additional information.
I wrote this yesterday evening, and clearly, I was wrong. They have not responded in any way.
Hey, are any of the TPW lawyers around right now? I don't think any of you work in this space, but I'd like an opinion or two. (For those of you who aren't even around this weekend, I apologize for the email).
HostRocket will not even allow us administrative access to our site, including all of our data. Their position right now is that we can't have access to our account at all unless we pay them more money. While they say that we are taking up too many resources, they will offer no evidence that we actually are doing so.
In short, they are saying "Give us more money or we will hold your account hostage." Their position is that they don't have to document why.
I have not said that I won't increase the service (although at this point, I doubt we will).
I realize that anything is possible in the internet world, but my outrage aside, I want to make sure that there isn't some legal sales issue that they are skating near. Otherwise, if I understand this, any web service provider can legally suspend an account, extort more money from the customer who needs their data, and not have to provide any reason for doing so.
In the real world, this would be equivalent to paying for a safe deposit box and not being allowed access to the box until you paid for a bigger box. Or renting an apartment and being locked out until you agreed to pay a higher rent.
They are taking it for granted that I will accept their pretext. However, if they can refuse to document their reason, then they don't need to have any reason, and when money's tight they can just tell their customers to ante up.
It may in fact be legal. But I thought I'd ask around to make sure.
In response to this, several people asked me about the contract. I had already checked--we don't have a contract that I can find. There is no terms of service on their site, and we only got an email from them. Our account says we have the economy plan, and that's all. I'll find the page that describes that.
I'll post some of the emails I have.
Messages from Hostrocket:
There is no documentation of what "mysql queries" meant. I have asked them several times, and no answer.
Then they unsuspended us--then resuspended us. This is when I became skeptical, and asked why. There was no way we could have been using that many resources; we had only been up for a short time. The response:
Then we were unsuspended, by a different tech:
I was worried, and have been asking consistently for metrics demonstrating that we were eating up more resources.
I asked again for information documenting that we were using substantially more resources, and got:
I told them to either give us evidence we were using substantially more resources or at least not suspend us again until Monday, when we could resolve this. Response:
I wrote several more times yesterday, asking for more information. No answer. Then we were suspended. The last I heard from them:
Do not EVEN get me started on this.
They were not answering the phones on Friday because "of heavy support volume". From what I understand, they were hacked by something called "Unix Security Guards"--thanks to the TPW member who brought this to my attention.
No. Hostrocket suspended our account. Here are the possibilities:
- We have been using far more resources since Friday, either due to far more users or some out of control process.
- We are using the same amount of resources, they have added far more users to the server.
- We are using the same amount of resources and they've decided that it's time to get more money.
But they were hacked into by the Unix Security Guards, and two of their servers are down. The attack began on either Thursday or Friday. That suggests that they could have moved everyone to a smaller amount of servers, and are just shutting us down because they can.
- They won't even give us admin access to the account. This means we can't get our data.
- I have read from disgruntled ex-customers that hostrocket will wipe out all your data if you tell them you're leaving before you have your account. This could just be shills for other services, but that spooks me.
- It is entirely possible that we need a semi-dedicated server. I am not averse to upgrading, but I am very uncomfortable by the idea that they can just suspend our account and ask for more money.
I suspect they will ignore this, just as they have ignored all of the others. Here is what will probably happen:
- They will ignore all queries and unsuspend us
- They will not document their metrics.
- They will suspend us when they need to again.
Here's what I'm worried will happen:
- They will ignore all queries.
- They won't unsuspend us.
- They will cancel our account.
- They will delete our data.
Hahaha. And Graham.
Actually, I believe that Brendan is the owner or something.
I have reported them to the Better Business Bureau for deceptive sales practices and contract disputes. I doubt it will make a difference, but the base problem--that they want more money without saying why--seems questionable enough that I decided it was worth the time.
And where is everyone, anyway?
I'm here. Had just slipped into withdrawal when I got the email. <g>
I'm here, but I'm researching and emailing a certain lawyer that handles this kind of thing. I've run up against this myself.
A legal nasty gram usually makes bastards like this much more communicative and quick to move.
Many people have asked me about contracts. I can't find any contractual agreement at all, other than the service plan.
As many of you know, I save all information religiously. They never sent us a contract. There must have been a TOS when I signed up, but they don't include it.
The TOS are in the HostRocket FAQ. Although I don't understand every word, I don't see anything in there that permits suspension under the conditions that the support emails have described, but they might say it's "abuse", which is mentioned in the first paragraph.
Agreement Between HostRocket.Com And All Customers
Activities Subject to Immediate Deactivation. Any Hosting Account that is used for Illegal, Abusive or Unethical Activity may be immediately deactivated by us without warning to you. Any misuse or overuse of the server will result in immediate deactiveation of an account. Illegal, Abusive or Unethical Activities include, but are not limited to inclusion of or linking to, pornography, mp3's, obscenity, nudity, violations of privacy, hacking, irc related scripts and programs, non approved server scripts, eggdrops, computer virus, gambling, or promotion of gambling, and any harassing or harmful materials or uses, as determined by us. You agree to indemnify and hold us harmless from any claim resulting from your publications or use of Illegal, Abusive or Unethical materials. Although we will make reasonable efforts to alert you to such activities and allow you an opportunity to cure them within a 12-hour period after discovery, we are not required to give notice before deactivating your use of our services if, in our discretion, your use is or results in Illegal, Abusive or Unethical activities. If a Hosting Account is disabled, the regular monthly fees still apply. Each individual hosting account is allowed 1 main domain name with all additional parked domain names pointing to the main site of the main domain, unless otherwise specified. HR Web Services reserves the right to Cancel/Deactivate any account at any time for any reason. There will be no tolerance of any abuse of any of our support methods, which will result in immediate suspension.
Public Nature of Internet. Please understand that all information submitted on the Hosting Account shall be considered publicly accessible. Important and private information should be protected/backed up by you. For example, we are not liable for protection or privacy of electronic mail or other information transferred through the Internet or any other network provider that you may use.
Unsolicited Electronic Mail. You are expressly prohibited from sending unsolicited bulk mail messages ("junk mail" or "spam"). This includes, but is not limited to, bulk-mailing of commercial advertising, information announcements, and political tracts. Such material may only be sent to those who have specifically requested it. Malicious or threatening email is also prohibited. We reserve the right to immediately deactivate your use of our service if we discover such activity. Further, you agree to indemnify and hold us harmless from any claim resulting from your use or distribution of electronic mail services through the service provided through this Agreement. Anyone using our services for spamming will be immediatly subject to a $250 cleanup/network abuse fee.
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Minimum server specifications are not guaranteed on all machines, however upon request any account will be moved to a server matching our current minimum server specifications.
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7.14.2002 - Last Modified
Thanks. I'll review.