Why Choose Us for Web Hosting?
A different perspective: we’ve been where you are!
We realize that there are many choices available when deciding where to host your web site. And we know that you are hopping all over the net trying to figure out who’s real and who’s working out of their garage. It can be overwhelming. And then you found us.
Okay, so, what makes us different? The biggest thing… we’ve been right where you are, sitting in front of a monitor, with an AOL connection; trying to pick a hosting company out the 1.7 million choices you get when you put in web hosting. For us that was many years ago. Gone are the dial-up accounts, the Pentium 100s, and even quite a few of those 1.7 million listings we got while we were trying to pick. We did this enough times it qualifies us as experts of what not to do. Our hosting services were born out of these experiences. What it comes down to is this: We didn’t like the service and products we got elsewhere.So, we decided to do it ourselves, picking all the things we wanted and liked about other hosting companies and basically couldn’t find without a compromise of some sort. No support, no email, no FrontPage, long hold times, on and on the list goes.
So if you can take a few minutes, I can save you a bunch of time trying to figure this all out. I want to explain how we got here and why your search is over. And maybe even answer the ‘why are we so cheap, what’s the catch’ questions…I know I hear it every day. Honestly, there is no catch. We just got sick of getting taken by other hosting companies.
In 1997, we decided to start a web design company. Well, we signed up with a company called Simplenet who a bunch of our friends were using, and put up our very first website: our own. We paid them $24 per month at first, which escalated to $39 by the time we left. At the time, Simplenet offered unlimited web space, but not much more. No email, no cgi, no stats. Nothing. But we had a lot of space. Oh, we had to use their domain, acreativetouch.simplenet.com. In those days, we were just starting out and didn’t have the $70 Network Solutions wanted to charge to register actwd.com plus the extra $100 Simplenet wanted to charge us just to set it up. But, with a few clicks of a mouse, we were open for business. On a side note, that site was shut down in January 2001. Why? Well, frankly because the new proprietor wanted us to pay them more money and get our own domain. I’m still a little sore about that because we had some good search engine rankings on that site and that’s why we kept it all these years later…but that’s getting a little ahead of my story.
One day our CFO asked me how many hits our site was getting. After all, we had been open for just under a month, we were sure thousands of people were looking for what we had to offer. So, I went and looked around on Simplenet’s site. I couldn’t find statistics anywhere. So I called. Well, I sat on hold for about 10 minutes only to find out they didn’t give you anything more than a head count. No info of where these people had found us or if our advertising was working. Nothing but a paltry head count of 50. I think at the time we were so excited that 50 live people had found our site we didn’t even notice that we weren’t getting any type of useful information.
Well, we got our first couple of customers (who I may add are still here with us), and they wanted stats. So I started hunting around the internet and found that it could be done with a cgi script. I didn’t know much about what they were but hey, I’m a quick study. Well, after about 22 hours of trying to make this thing work, I called Simplenet, did the sit on hold now for 30 minutes only to find out that they didn’t let you run cgi scripts. So I hit the web to find another hosting company for actwd.com, which we finally had registered. In fact, pretty much any time I called Simplenet I was put on hold only to find out that they didn’t offer what I was looking for or that they didn’t offer useful support other than our username and password. I called way early on about FrontPage. Silly me, of course, they don’t support that. I had to call Microsoft.
Well there were millions of hosting companies, big ones, small ones and after days of searching and reading about each one, we decided on a company in Missouri. What drew us to them was their control panel. The web space was a decent size, 350 megs, plus we got lots and lots of extras, stats, shopping carts, auto responders PHP, MYSQL, 100 email boxes. All for $17.95 per month…we thought it was Christmas. Sigh, if we only knew. We moved ACTWD.com first to see how it was before we moved our 7 others. Well we were there for about 2 weeks and bam, our site disappeared. Poof! Gone! I remember that Saturday so clearly. I sat on hold for 4 hours only to have someone hang up the phone. Then sat on hold for 2 hours for someone to tell me that they tried a new kind of server and it didn’t work out so well and they didn’t know how long it was going to be until they restored service. Well a week later, ACTWD.com made its reemergence.
It really didn’t get any better around there. You couldn’t call them for support. If you called them without a trouble ticket number they couldn’t answer you. If you made a trouble ticket, don’t expect for anyone to answer back in under a week. They seem to have a lot of customers now. And I notice our customer # is low. It seems to me that they had the same issues when they were tiny. In case you haven’t guessed, I hate being put on hold and I hate voice mail and automated switchboards, thus why as president, I can say with conviction we won’t ever have them. But we liked their control panel and all the extras we got and even the price. But there was no support and no reliability.
Anyway, in case you were wondering, we didn’t move our other customers there. We chose AWC. We got everyone settled into their new homes without incident. I don’t really have anything bad to say about AWC except they sold out. Yup, the IPO wave came and the owners of AWC sold out to a larger company. Thankfully, someone told us long before the management change and we got out of dodge before it got bad. And, from what I heard, it got really bad. We had a man in June of 2000 call us and tell us his site was down since February. After the initial question of why did you wait so long to call, we had his site back up for him in less than a day. Thankfully we got out of there. And ironically we have gotten quite a few old AWCers over the years. In some way its like a family reunion of sorts.
Back to my story, we looked around and looked around and even tried to go back to Simplenet, only to find out that they too had sold to new proprietor and thus why they cancelled my website after having it for 3+years. Plus things around there were way different than when we left. We had 40 customers when we left AWC and were off to get our own servers. We found out that the new proprietor closed off the pipes on the machines so connections were slow and wanted a small fortune for bandwidth. Oh, and did I mention that I had to sit on hold for an hour only to leave a message for some guy that didn’t call me back for three weeks.
I think it was right then and there that we decided that we could offer a superior hosting product to anyone on the market, with all the features that I needed for our design customers and offer it at a reasonable price. We must have succeeded because we don’t take any new design customers any more. I had a $19 price in my head for what we needed for each customer so I wasn’t going to charge $39. I wanted email, a control panel, auto responders, FrontPage extensions, cgi access, and, most of all, a Stat program that told me how you all were finding us. Mostly, all the neat gadgets we had from the Missouri bunch. Plus, a better pricing scheme and, most of all, no hassle technical support. Plus we have added things along the way: webmail, web-based design tools, shopping carts, search engines, and a discount on domain registration based on the fact that we register so many. Basically, we’ve added tools as you’ve asked for them.
But, most of all, we wanted to offer support,especially, to those who didn’t know any better. We had our fair share of mistakes because we didn’t know any better. We paid too much money for no service and no support. Plus, we had to sit on hold to get that. Well, it sucks, plain and simple. I know they say buyer beware, but frankly, 90% of the net population doesn’t know of what to beware. They gravitate to the larger hosting companies of the world who have long hold times, not a lot of support, and charge high prices for swiss cheese hosting plans. You get space, you don’t get email. You get email, you don’t get a shopping cart. They give web hosting companies in general a bad name. If I know the answer to a question, I’ll answer it. We aren’t going to tell you to call Microsoft. Oh, and in case you were wondering; it is now $35 per phone call to call them. Yup, you pay $90 for the product and hope you don’t need to call for help. Although, my customers know if we know the answer, we’ll tell you. You know, I think if I had to guess, 60% of the questions we get are really third party questions: Microsoft, Adobe, AOL, CGI scripts, ISP questions. We try to help as much as we can.
You may wonder why we get this. Well, I have one customer who calls us every time her DSL line stops. One day I asked her why she did this since we have no control over her DSL provider. I think her answer sums up what we are about. “I don’t have to sit on hold when I call you,” she said to me. “And you answer me,” she added. That’s what it comes down to. We listen, we answer, and we try to provide the best total hosting product available.
As I look back over the years, remember how I said we still had customers #1 and #2…well here’s another fact. We sign up several hundred people per month. And when I look at who’s cancelled, we have less than 2% cancellation rate and usually its accompanied with a letter that says you guys have been great but for some reason or another they were closing their site down. I don’t know how many other hosting companies get complementary letters from people who are closing their accounts. Judging by the new sales calls around here about ‘my hosting company is out of business’, ‘ I can’t get through on the phone’, ‘they won’t help me’, ‘my site is always down’, there can’t be too many.
Okay, so now that you know our whole story and why we are not like other hosting companies out there, why don’t you take a look at what our customers have to say about us . Some have real horror stories about their old hosting company and some just wanted to say keep up the good work. I also prepared a printable form with questions for you all to ask any hosting company before you sign up with them. It may help save you some grief. Click here for that list.
You know, recently we took a survey of our customers and we got a huge response. However, one thing that we noticed was that the people that had hosted with other companies before us just raved about how much better we were. Out of 20% of our customers who responded only 3 actual people had something negative to say about us. That tells me that we are doing the best job that we can, and with a 99.9% customer satisfaction rate, we must be doing it right.
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