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Dreamhost Review - DO NOT BE SCAMMED BY DREAMHOST!

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Quick Note: I have received enough requests for what i believe to be a good alternative to Dreamhost, so i am now offering this endorsement. Hostgator (currently only 3.96 per month!!!!) has been awesome for me for a few years now and i even setup family member’s websites on their hosting packages. This post is still meant to be a word of caution against Dreamhost, but if you want something better you can use my affiliate link for Hostgator, here, or just go to hostgator.com and signup without my affiliate link.

Other Dreamhost reviews are lying to you.  They are simply internet marketers who want the commission from selling you to a hosting company.  But my experiences with dreamhost should make you think twice about going with their service.  I am not looking to sell you on another service.  I want no compensation in any other way than helping others avoid this horrid company.

I started out just like you.  I searched for reviews, coupons, negative reviews and more.  I researched until I was blue in the face.  The conclusion I came to?  I figured the horrible reviews were a rarity, or just disgruntled users looking to get even.  Am I disgruntled?  Oh hell ya, but look at the evidence I am about to give and decide for yourself whether I am justified.  And then decide for yourself whether or not you want to risk similar scenarios.

I have to take a step back and start with signing up.  After finding a promo code from one of the hundreds of Dreamhost affiliates, I signed up.  This should have been easy but Dreamhost has opted to use Google Checkout.  This means that Dreamhost uses a third part (Google) to handle service purchases.  Seems like it might be a good idea, but it isn’t.  Google checkout has had hundreds of would be Dreamhost customers screaming with frustration and asking for an immediate refund.  Don’t take my word for it, take a look at this google search and visit a few of the results for articles about how Google Checkout causes problems:

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=google+checkout+problems&aq=f&aqi=g1&oq=&fp=d6985f0b1643625b

The problem I encountered with the Google Checkout was that the account got stalled.  My card showed that payment had been taken, Google Checkout showed I had made payment, but Dreamhost showed that they had NOT received payment.  After a lot of digging I found this was a common problem.  The biggest irritant with Dreamhost is shared with Google and is precisely what made me angry at the start.  Google has no live support.  No contact number.  No live chat support.  And guess what, neither does Dreamhost.  As I waited five days for some sign that the payment would go through, I only got angrier as none arrived.

I emailed both Google support and Dreamhost support each and everyday.  But I got no response.  Until the fifth day when I literally had to threaten legal action and demand a refund or immediate account activation.  After the previous days’ emails went unanswered, the threat of legal action got a response in no less than 20 minutes.  Paying attention?  My previous emails were IGNORED.  If they were able to respond to an email that was only 20 minutes old, then they had time to see my other emails.  Yet they still have not been answered to this day (over a year later).

The result of my threat was an immediate activation.  As angry as I was, I figured it was probably Google’s fault and opted to believe Dreamhost still had something going for it.  That and I figured it would be too hard to get a refund from either of them and felt like I had no choice at that point.

Now, to be honest, I had no further problems until recently.  I repeat, for 14 months I had no issues.  Downtime was minimal and response time was swift.  But this false sense of security is exactly what I urge you to look past and continue reading to see what happened to me yesterday.

At 3:10 pm I received the following email:

——————————

——————————————
- After reading this response, please consider visiting
- the URL below to comment on its quality. Thanks!
-
- <url removed>
————————————————————————

Hello,

I am sorry but we have had to disable your account due to a violation of
our terms of service (http://dreamhost.com/tos.html), specifically
Material Products, Section 8:

Customer agrees to not engage in activities pertaining to Black Hat SEO,
Spamdexing, and so-called “Scraper sites.” These can all have a severely
detrimental effect on server performance and are not permitted. Pursuant
to this policy, the poorly-written WordPress plugin “All in One SEO Pack”
is expressly prohibited on DreamHost shared hosting servers and may only
be installed on DreamHost Private Servers (VPS).

You still have access to your data for the next 14 days as well as the
panel to transfer any domain registrations you have here (after the 14
days the account will be fully disabled). Please do not sign up for our
services in the future.
Happy DreamHost Disablement Team!

Thanks!
John R


DreamHost Support Team  +  <url removed>
Earn over $97 for each referral: <url removed>
To continue this support case, just reply to this email.
Open a new case at: <url removed>

When I signed up for Dreamhost, ‘Section 8′ did not exist.  Well, not in the way it appears now.  Draw your eyes to the “All in One SEO Pack”.  This is newly added to the TOS.  Yes I use this plugin for WordPress.  Why?  Because it is NOT blackhat.  Oh I know what you’re thinking, but it’s hosted on wordpress.org (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/) which is a widely accepted blackhat site!  Yeah, you’re right, wordpress.org is a blackhat site.  Honestly?  What the fuck are they thinking?
Well, I wanted to know exactly that and responded with the following, note that I was more than a little angry as any day of downtime can cost me a good amount of money.
4:12 pm
A)  i never received any written warning about this in the past and if it was included in the TOS when i signed up, i did not see it.  mistakes happen.

B)  the all-in-one-seo plugin is NOT blackhat, nor is it a scraper.  clearly you do not know what the plugin is used for.  it is meant to override specific pages’ title and meta tags to be more optimized for keywords.  again, how is that blackhat?!?!?!?!

C)  if the plugin is resource intensive, then i will remove it.  problem solved.  there is no need to terminate my account without even communicating with me!  horribly unprofessional.

D)  if you cancel my service without any warning, i will demand a prorated refund of the service i have already paid for.  and yes, i will pursue small claims if need be.  honestly, i have had no problems with your hosting until now, and am completely offended and blindsided by how this was handled!

i look forward to an immediate reversal of the termination (and plugin disabled), or a refund of the services i have already paid for!

I felt this was a fair response.  Here I received a response nearly immediately (the time of response is very important here):
4:57pm
——————————

——————————————
- After reading this response, please consider visiting
- the URL below to comment on its quality. Thanks!
-
- <url removed>
————————————————————————

Hello,

On Tue, 15 Sep 2009, you wrote:

> A)  i never received any written warning about this in the past and if it
> was included in the TOS when i signed up, i did not see it.  mistakes
> happen.
>
> B)  the all-in-one-seo plugin is NOT blackhat, nor is it a scraper.  clearly
> you do not know what the plugin is used for.  it is meant to override
> specific pages’ title and meta tags to be more optimized for keywords.
> again, how is that blackhat?!?!?!?!
>
> C)  if the plugin is resource intensive, then i will remove it.  problem
> solved.  there is no need to terminate my account without even communicating
> with me!  horribly unprofessional.

We found more than just that plugin or I would have simply disabled it
and issued a warning to you (due to the detrimental effect your processes
were having on the server we could not simply leave everything up
either). I am sorry you are unhappy with the actions of our Abuse team
but their decision is final.

> D)  if you cancel my service without any warning, i will demand a prorated
> refund of the service i have already paid for.  and yes, i will pursue small
> claims if need be.  honestly, i have had no problems with your hosting until
> now, and am completely offended and blindsided by how this was handled!
>
> i look forward to an immediate reversal of the termination (and plugin
> disabled), or a refund of the services i have already paid for!

I cannot issue a refund until the account is closed and the pro-rated
closing balance is determined so let me know when you have retrieved your
data and are ready for my to process that for you (otherwise I’ll just do
it at the end of the 14 day period).

Thanks!
John R


DreamHost Support Team  +
<url removed>
Earn over $97 for each referral:
<url removed>
To continue this support case, just reply to this email.
Open a new case at:
<url removed>

This response rocked me.  Something else?  “Not possible”, I think to myself.  I do everything I can to be on the up and up.  I keep my sites white hat because I want my revenue streams to last as long as possible.  I am not after short term gains, which black hat techniques ultimately boil down to being.  So worried that something similar might crop up at a new host, I ask for clarification and begin to comply by backing up my sites.  Here are my responses, that have yet to be answered.  Remember I said to note the response time.  What took 40 minutes before, has gone to almost 24 hours now.

5:13am

More than the plugin?! Wtf else??  I am genuinely concerned and need to know what else could have been this bad!  I keep all my sites above board and white hat on all my hosts!  What else was a problem?! I don’t want to see this on any other hosts

10:14am

still no explanation of what ‘else’ was wrong?

also, i am trying to transfer the registration of <money site>, but no mail was forwarded to me.  this needs to expedited if prorating is going to take place.

1:25pm

shifting the DNS to my new host in an effort to verify the last domain results in connection interruption.  you want the account gone, fine.  i do too.  stop disconnecting me, accept the registration transfer and let’s be f-ing done!

you don’t have another explanation for terminating the account, fine.  let me go my f-ing way!  i paid for the domain, transfer it out now!  this continuing to go on is needless, juvenile, and i WILL contact a lawyer (plenty in the family) for small claims for lost income, prorated payment refund, and any other damages that may have been incurred.

stop playing around and let’s get this over with!

What am I getting upset about?  The first domain I ever built was registered THROUGH Dreamhost.  I was able to backup every site, and the only remaining thread keeping them from paying me back, is to accept the domain transfer.  Supposedly they forward email to an email account you associate with the hosting service.  I have yet to receive an email, or acknowledgement of the three messages above.

Also note that the third message is in response to what I believe to be intentional and unnecessary.  I would log in, immediately to go the DNS information of the host that was registered through Dreamhost, and change the addresses.  Clicking apply/submit would result in an immediate disconnection from the server and inability to pull up ANY Dreamhost page (including the cPanel) for 5 minutes.  After a literal 6 attempts to change DNS information and literal 6 five minute bannings, I sent the third message.  Further note that after the third message went through, in about 20 minutes the DNS information was changed FOR ME and I no longer got banned.

I will not disclose how much that site pulls in, but I will say that it hurts not having that money come in.  So, upset that my first domain ever is now down for almost 24 hours, and not seeing them acknowledging the transfer in the near future, if ever, I am about to accept that they will literally hijack the domain out from under me.  Over a year’s worth of work went into that domain and it was ranking really well.

In a last ditch effort, I have opened yet another ticket with Dreamhost, and here is what it says:

2:30pm

my account has been marked for termination for unexplained reasons. however, you currently have the registration for one domain. i am trying to transfer it to godaddy, but it sent the email to <domain>@proxy.dreamhost.com

nothing has been forwarded to me. accept the transfer immediately so that i can be refunded the prorated amount of service i have already paid for.

call me if you have to, but i expect this to be remedied immediately or i will pursue small claims and file with the BBB. i am tired of the BS the techs have thrown at me: “there is another reason” with no further explanation.

No response as of yet.  Here is the real kick in the nuts about this problem.  I’m not the only one.  Looking around the dreamhost forums I found a few complaints of this, and they received no response.  So I went another route and did a little research.  What did I find?  Have a read for yourself:

Very similar issue (dreamhost stole domains and outright admitted they would not turn them over):

http://www.upstartblogger.com/share-your-dreamhost-sucks-stories

The response on this post is one of the Google checkout issues that is similar to my own:

http://www.thetechnewsblog.com/2008/08/20/dreamhost-hosting-problems/

An example of the inaptitude of the support staff:

http://www.teknobites.com/2007/12/06/why-you-should-not-use-dreamhost/

A complaint about how Dreamhost went about handling an issue without even notifying the customer (they killed his site without notification or permission):

http://gerard.wordpress.com/2006/01/07/dreamhost-hosting-sucks-big-time/

More Dreamhost nightmare stories:

http://elliottback.com/wp/dreamhost-sucks-at-hosting/

What does all this mean?  It means that if you search for issues like the ones listed above, you will find they are not in short supply.  Many users have experienced these issues and been left out to dry.  Don’t be one of them.

I write this post not to gain money by flogging another hosting service, hell I used to promote Dreamhost (button to your upper right).  I now cannot believe how I am being treated.  I urge you to do further diligence and think twice about buying into Dreamhost’s service.  You will be sorry if you do.

DAY 2

This morning I awoke to a couple of interesting emails.  Note the time on them.

7:36pm (yesterday)

Hello,

We’ve received a request to transfer the domain registration for
<domain> from DreamHost to another domain registrar.

You now have four calendar days to visit:

<cpanel>

and approve or deny the transfer. If you do nothing, after four
days the transfer will be auto-denied as a precautionary measure
against domain-jacking.

Thank you!
The Happy DreamHost Domain Registration Transfer Team

Looks like threat of legal action is really getting them to get off their asses make changes.  I find this change in domain transfer to be ironic because of the email I received this morning:

1:38 am  (seriously?!)

——————————

——————————————
- After reading this response, please consider visiting
- the URL below to comment on its quality. Thanks!
-
- <url>
————————————————————————

Hello <name>,

I am sorry you feel this way.  However domain transfers are never done
immediately!  All domain transfers take 7-10 days to complete.  Also if
the confirmation email was sent to the whois privacy address, then you
did not do the required steps for a domain transfer.  I am sorry, but if
the transfer is not done correctly, the transfer will not go through.

Now you can close your hosting plan now while you are still working on
the transfer.  When the hosting plan is closed, you can still manage your
domain registrations!  Please login to your panel, then go to Billing >
Manage Accounts.  You can close your account there.  This will only close
the hosting plan.

Please follow the instructions listed below for a domain transfer away
from Dreamhost.

1.  Login to your Webpanel, then go to Domains > Registration.  Click on
“modify”, then remove the whois privacy and update your contact
email address for the domain.

2.  Update the domain nameservers to the new host.

3.  Go to Domains > Reg. Transfer.  You can find the auth code there.

4.  Contact the new registrar and initiate the transfer.

5.  You will receive a confirmation email, follow the instructions within
the email.

Thanks!
Jay H


DreamHost Support Team  +  <URL>
Earn over $97 for each referral: <URL>
To continue this support case, just reply to this email.
Open a new case at: <URL>

Notice two things off the bat.  One, this was sent at one f-ing 38 in the morning.  Yet I have never received a response outside of normal business hours.  Second, they used my name.  No where in the previous mails did they use my name.  I take this as a sign they are now paying attention to the situation.  More so than they had been.

Now let’s actually read the damn letter and notice that they are assuming I messed up the transfer.  Funny, considering the transfer went through about 6 hours prior.  Also notice that the tech claims it takes 7-10 days to transfer.  This is an outright lie.  Domain transfer take as long as the parties involved take to perform their actions.  Meaning, I initiate a trasfer, then wait on the other entity to approve the transfer, then my registrar takes over.  So in this case, GoDaddy initiates (me), I am supposed to respond on the other end, then GoDaddy takes over (me).  I am supposed to move each step.  Does an email from GoDaddy take 7-10 days?  No.  The quoted time it takes is the MAXIMUM before default actions are taken (GoDaddy flat takes the domain, Dreamhost flat denies).  In this case, someone took my warnings of legal action to heart and forwarded me the email they were holding.  Done deal.  The supposed 7-10 days took approximately 30 hours.  Yet another example of the prowess of Dreamhost’s support staff.

You are probably asking, “but does that mean you have the domain now?”  As a matter of fact, it does.  I am happy to report that the domain is now pointing to my new host, and sitting happily at my registrar!  What remains is to get the promised prorated refund from Dreamhost.  It looks like I am a step ahead of many of the nightmare stories out there.  I actually got my domain(s) back.  In any case, Dreamhost is far from the best blog host.

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