Friday, February 27, 2009

Really Bad Customer Support -

I use a hosting service called SiteSell. I really love the things they do well. They help you learn how to do business online, provide great tutorials, very good analyst tools, etc.

But when it comes to customer service they are as bad as I have ever experienced.

This morning I had the following problem. I logged in to make a small change to my home page. Changing my running count of sign ups from 1 number to the current number. The "Build It" page froze up and would not process the change. Unfortunately it did enough to delete my existing home page. So at the moment - and for the past 4 hours - folks that use our service and go to the home page to log in to their account get an error message saying the page can not be displayed.

This is bad. We make millions of dollars from this page.

Now everybody will have a problem from time to time. There is nothing that can be done about that. My thinking is I never expect anything to be problem free, I just want to work with folks who can address problems quickly and efficiently as they occur.

SiteSell does not give you a phone number you can call. They do point you to a third party service. I called them for $20 and they offered to give me advice about relationships, sex, drugs, general internet or Microsoft problems. Those are not really my problems. Not really a good experience.

Next I emailed sitesell support. They promise to get back to me within 4 to 6 hours or over night within 12 hours. Of course this is a Friday.

I will loose an amount of money that to me is significant, but worst, my customers see our service as being poor.

We have over 100,000 users from four continents. We are fielding a constant stream of support calls on our very public 800 support number. We actually believe our users - who pay us less a year than SiteSell's and Ken Evoy's users pay him - should be able to call us, email us, fax us, Twitter us, etc. We are real people thankful to have a good relationship with real people.

Ken Evoy is the founder of SiteSell and I doubt he would be happy receiving the service I am receiving from his company.

When you are thinking about your customer service, please think about this.


Colin Dunbar said...


I've been with SiteSell (Site Build It!) for just over 5 years, and I can HONESTLY say I've never bad service from Support.

You mention the response time from Support - I've actually had Support contact me over a week-end, and stay with me until the glitch was sorted out. It's very true, as you say, there will be hiccups with software.

Also, if you're not satisfied with the service you get from Support, there is an e-mail address at the end of the mail you get from Support, that you can use to contact Ken Evoy directly.

I really hope you get the hiccup sorted out, as I'm confident you will.

Best regards.

Colin Dunbar

Duke Williams said...


First, I love what SiteSell does well.

Second, this is not my first time around with them on this issue. This is a systemic issue that they have made as a conscious choice. I even get it. They would have non technical calls from everyone on Earth. I would suggest they charge for that. But they have decided to outsource support for the most part. For those of us that are truly professional techically - at least I assume my staff with Masters and PhD's in computer science are competent - we need another route for more core system issues. This problem could only have been an issue on the hosting end. I know that. I also understand most people who would claim that would be wrong.

Thanks for your comments.

Duke Williams

cerwig said...

Hi Duke,

Christian Erwig-Straughan here.

I am the head of the support team at SiteSell and I would like to shed a little more light on what you wrote above.

Firstly, you are right. You were experiencing a problem that was our fault entirely. It had nothing to do with anything you did. It was a programming error that caused your home page to disappear temporarily.

You wrote that for the past 4 hours as of your writing you were experiencing this issue and conclude that SiteSell Customer Support is as bad as you have ever experienced.

Duke, I wholeheartedly agree with you that you should not have experienced that tech issue. In my ideal world, there would be no problem. My power would never fail, my Internet would never have connection problems, my mobile phone would always have a strong signal. In reality, I have experienced problems with all of the above. Some of them at the most inopportune times.

Your issue was a result of a unique set of circumstances that affected you and one other of our many thousands of customers. Nonetheless, we did recognize of course that your issue was serious. I personally got on the phone with the head of our development team who called our senior system administrator and together they quickly resolved your issue. By the end of Friday, all was well.

It is true that we do not offer live phone support. As a long time user of our services with 4 active sites, you obviously recognize the enormous complexity of SBI!. It is simply not feasible to support all the myriad of different questions that could arise live in the phone.

And, to use again the analogy of other service issues...

If my cable TV goes down, I may be able to call someone up right away and speak to a customer service representative. But a tech issue is a tech issue. It will require someone other than a customer service representative to actually resolve it. The cable guy comes out the next day if you're lucky...

You seem to be quite concerned about the time it takes support to reply to e-mails. In fact, you received the first reply from support within 90 minutes of opening your support ticket.

Duke, you write...

"Ken Evoy is the founder of SiteSell and I doubt he would be happy receiving the service I am receiving from his company."

I agree. Ken would not be happy if there was a problem with his site. However, you probably also know that Ken as the founder and former CEO of SiteSell stands 100% behind the support team and holds them personally accountable. Every message sent by the support team contains a special e-mail address that you can use to write to Ken directly if you have any problem with (or praise for) the customer support team.

Addressing your later comment, we certainly don't outsource customer support. That would be impossible. Can you imagine any outsourcer being able to support SBI! with all its functions and possibilities? Our support team is made up of very dedicated people who are selected from many applicants and undergo rigorous training.

I think you will be hard-pressed to find another company of the size of SiteSell where the founder still cares directly for the company's customers in the way that Ken Evoy does.

Again, I do understand your frustration that you experienced a problem with our services. I can only apologize and tell you that it should not have happened. As for whether what you received was the worst customer service you've ever experienced, I have given you my perspective.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

Hi Duke!

Wow! You make millions of dollars from one page. Holy smokes! I am proud of you for doing such a great job with your SBI! website(s). I know for myself, SBI is pretty miraculous.

I just came across your post and can only imagine how frustrated you must be. I'm sure you posted this here because you didn't feel heard and needed to blow off steam.

I want to help because this situation really needs to be fixed. First, did you follow Ken's instructions and tell him about it? Think about it. He probably won't know about or read this post and he can't fix anything he doesn't know about.

You said, "I called them for $20 and they offered to give me advice about relationships, sex, drugs, general internet or Microsoft problems." Are you sure you had the right phone number? That doesn't sound right at all. Could you have misdialed? Sometimes I do that. I'll accidentally dial 1-800 rather than 1-888 or something like that.

In addition to the email address there is an entire forum at SBI just for Kudos and Complaints about tech support. Sometimes I've wondered why Ken would have such a forum if he didn't care what goes on. I think he makes things transparent like he does in order to be accountable and to have yet another avenue to discover what needs to be fixed. If he wasn't interested in making things right, he'd hide complaints, not make them visible.

I just scanned that forum and didn't see a post from you. Did I miss it?

Once, I myself had an issue with a brand new module that was acting up for me. I got quite frustrated, but decided I really needed to tell Ken because I love SBI and what was happening was just not right. Turns out, Ken jumped all over the issue and even gave me my very own progamming team who worked closely with me to detect and solve the problem. Later, I discovered that the situation was happening to me because the module was working so well, that my site was expanding faster than they ever dreamed. The solution support came up with was brilliant, too. Those SBI programmers are not dull people, let me tell you.

I know Ken and his crew are working hard on some new releases for us. From what I've heard, they are going to be incredible. Maybe all that ambition inadvertently caused a glitch somewhere. So please use the email and the forum. That way Ken can take care of you.

Now I can't speak for Ken, but I know what he's stated in the past. The following excerpt is from the sticky at the top of the forum I mentioned. Ken explicitly states his view of Sitesell support (he wants to be the best) and what to do if there is a problem.

He writes:

"The "support buck" stops at the desk of the CEO (i.e., me)."

". . . we're not perfect. Remember...

"SBI! is not ONE product. It is now up to 60+modules/sub-modules... and growing. Think for a moment of any other piece of software. Now think of SBI!.

"Is there anything harder in this world to support? Nope. It's a beast."

It's obvious you're frustrated and understandably so. When businesses expand, unfortunately things can happen, which I'm sure you know from your own business. SBI is all about building a successful online business, and if you're making $1,000,000's from one page, it is apparently doing what it promises for the most part.

SBI is a success focused and customer-driven company. Why wouldn't Ken be interested in remedying this matter?

Please give him the opportunity to make it right by reporting it. You deserve to be helped properly.

Fellow SBIer

Megan Groves said...

So do we have a phone number for Sitesell's customer support? I am also Googling to find one... Thanks for your help,