(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – In the realm of customer service, it would be easy to believe that the advent of the internet would put right some of the more annoying, deleterious problems that are so endemic in the field. Cut-and-paste responses, a lack of understanding, and straight refusals to reply; we all know the tedium that accompanies any foray to a customer service channel, but shouldn’t net-savvy companies, with their armies of social networking officers, sites and technicians, be able to shirk some of these nasties?
Looking at the Freeparking fiasco that took place last week, apparently not. The company, a web hosting company that is used by around 200,000 customers worldwide, was hit on the 25th of May by outages that accompanied a period of server migration. The result? Hordes of angry customers, all vying for some shred of information, explanation or recompense from the company. The response? Nothing.
According to a customer quoted by The Register, they had “been without…since the 25th May and every helpdesk request…[was] ignored”, and alongside this, huge numbers of customers trying to use social media profiles also tried to get in contact with the company, again receiving no response.
The strange thing about the annoyance is that server migration isn’t difficult to do incorrectly. A large Atlantic casino recently changed servers and was able to continue all services during the process. This is mirrored by sites such as http://cad.SpinPalace.com, who, whilst providing games to millions, have similarly undergone server transfers, again with no issues. The fact of the matter is that if a company wants to make a smooth transition, all they need do is duplicate the servers, run them in sync with one another, test the new server, and turn off the old server’s applications as they migrate fully to the new. Rather easy, wouldn’t you say?
Not for Freeparking, it seemed. Despite posting a statement that said that all request tickets would be eventually responded to, and vague words concerning “doing our best” and “we really value your business”, customers weren’t happy, with all manner of businesses, events and the like unable to operate the net-based parts of their businesses during the downtime.
Tempers were so flared that days after resuming operations, the site shut down completely after being hit by a DDoS attack that utterly crippled the site. One wonders if Freeparking’s earlier catastrophe was responsible for this second, rather more negative, customer response, one that certainly got put to the front of the ticket queue!