Broadband Speeds

So much for “Digital Britain” and advertised speeds of “up to 20Mb”.

I live in London, so not exactly rural or out of the way, and my telephone line is a BT line. BT suggest – via their website – that I can get up to 2Mb download speeds but nothing greater than that. And of course the actual truth, as confirmed to me today by my present broadband providers, O2, is that:

“We’ve estimated that your maximum download speed is 0.5 meg. This is based on information BT gave us about your BT line. The reason why you can’t get better speed is because of the distance between your home and your local exchange which is about 5930 meters.

So, there’s nothing that we can do in this instance. At the best you can realistically hope for speed up to 1Mb download speed. Therefore, we’re unable to provide you with better speed.”

Great, eh?

1&1 Internet – Lying and Billing for Services Not Provided

I received an invoice the other day for the renewal of three of the many domains I registered with 1&1 a while back.

The trouble is, they’ve also billed me for renewing a domain name that they haven’t actually renewed and aren’t likely to renew: I transferred morrisclients.com away a while ago to a different hosting company and this year decided not to renew it. If you do a WHOIS lookup, you’ll see that the domain name is controlled by DreamHost and expired on 11 October 2009.

So despite these facts, 1&1 are billing me for the domain renewal and refuse to accept they’ve done wrong by doing so. In a conversation with Eshan Azim in 1&1’s billing department, he repeatedly told me that they had indeed renewed the domain name. He lied. I asked him whether the call had been recorded and he told me it had, so they can show that I at least am not lying.

So no, 1&1 aren’t issuing a credit note for these services they’re not providing and indeed have no intention of doing so.

I am now in the process of transferring away all of the hundreds of domains I host with them now and closing down my hosting accounts. This will cost them hundreds of pounds a year.

Good call 1&1!

Another Domain Name Renewal Scam

I’ve recently received some e-mails sent to the Admin. contact for some of our .com domain names from “Domain Renewal” (reminder@domainrenewalonline.com) stating that:

“It is time to renew your domain name  {domainname.com}

Your domain name {domainnname.com} will expire within 90 days.

You may renew your domain automatically with Domain Renewal. Click on the link in this e-mail to renew the domain for another year. You should renew your domain as soon as possible in order for it to continue to be registered in your name.

Click here if you wish to renew your domain
 ——–>http://www.domainrenewalonline.com/for.php?d=domainrenewalonline.com

As soon as we have received your payment, you will receive a confirmation that your domain  has been renewed…”

It’s not until further down the e-mail that you read – if you get that far through the last, large paragraph – that “you may also request your Internet Service Provider to renew the domain for you” which is the first point at which you might twig they are unconnected to your ISP or actual domain registrar.

If you do venture onto their web site, it’s been cleverly designed to feature logos from major technology firms like Oracle, Cisco Systems, IBM and Microsoft for no apparent reason (other than to presumably make you think you’re dealing with a reputable firm in the Internet sector).

Prices? Well how does $59.95 for one year grab you?

Soho Consulting

A while ago, I was told about a domain name registrar called Soho Consulting doing some good deals on domain names, so as I was in the market for some more domain names for various projects, I registered a few with them. Over the years, I’ve signed up with some other cheaper and more flexible ISPs and I’m now doing things with those domain names, so every so often I transfer one or two of the domains to another ISP.

With some re-registration dates looming, I thought it a good idea to transfer two .com and one .net domain names from Soho to DreamHost.

Now, the process for transferring a .com domain name to DreamHost is as follows:

  1. Unlock the domain name with the present ISP;
  2. Change the namservers from the present ISP’s to DreamHost‘s;
  3. Obtain the authorisation/release/EPP code from the present ISP; and
  4. Initiate the transfer through the DreamHost control panel.

Very straightforward.

With a number of ISPs we’ve used before, you can either do items 1-3 through the ISP’s control panel or you can e-mail them and they will do that for you.

So when I checked in the Soho control panel, I found that the three domain names I wanted to transfer did not have the release codes accessible to me – some other ones they themselves had registered through eNom did have that information.

I contacted Soho through their control panel:

Fri May 18 2007 08:10PM by [me]

How do I get the release codes for the following domain names, please:

[Domain 1]
[Domain 2]
[Domain 3]

On Saturday evening, I was sent this message: 

Sat May 19 2007 06:59PM by support@sohosupport.info

The codes have been sent to the registered e-mail address [now defunct e-mail address]

Somewhat miffed, I replied: 

Sun May 20 2007 09:22AM by [me]

And what was the point of that?

The “registered e-mail address” was changed a while back and I have added the correct address to those domain names today as nothing whatsoever was filled in for them before.

Please resend the release codes to the actual “registered e-mail address” which is [me].

What I wasn’t expecting was this sarcastic response: 

Sun May 20 2007 10:15AM by support@sohosupport.info

Hi

Wish we could, but those emails are sent from OpenSRS, and always go to the admin contact for each individual domain. They are following ICANN rules, as will the registry you’re moving the domains to. But if you would like to contact ICANN directly they may their rules for you.

icann@icann.org

Kind regards

Jonathan

Soho Consulting

Maybe he didn’t like working weekends? So, still needing the domain release codes, I replied:

Sun May 20 2007 11:26AM by [me]

Hi Jonathan,

Sarcastic replies are all very well and good, but how is it that every other ISP we use can provide the information from the ISP to me directly or through the control panel?

I have now added a working e-mail address as the admin contact (this information being apparently omitted in your contol panel before) – do you think you would be able to provide me with his information now?

By Monday, there had been no movement or other contact, so I contacted them again: 

Mon May 21 2007 10:35AM by [me]

Hi,

I am still waiting to get these release codes from you. Could you please provide them forthwith?

I have spent the last 10 minutes on hold in your telephone system so I can only assume there’s no-one taking calls today…

Richard Morris

A few minutes later, this response was added to my support ticket: 

Mon May 21 2007 10:42AM by support@sohosupport.info

Yes I agree I didn’t see the need to be sarcastic either, but perhaps you were having a bad day or something. Sorry, but we cannot give out authorisation codes on the telephone.

I have passed your profile on to the OpenSRS customer interface. The four remaining domain names you have registered through them can be managed from:

https://manage.opensrs.net/

Username: [deleted]
Password: [deleted]

Support form:

http://resellers.tucows.com/contact_service

Kind regards

Jonathan

Soho Consulting

This crossed with mine: 

Mon May 21 2007 10:44AM by [me]

I gave up with telephone support after 20 minutes with no-one answering…

Note that at this stage, my simple request for release codes for three domain names has changed to him giving me a log-in for four domain names…

 In the meantime, I was noticing weird goings-on in the Soho contol panel:

Mon May 21 2007 10:56AM by [me]

Well the domain name [Domain 1] seems to have disappeared from your system so I cannot unlock the domain name to make changes.

Could you please do this for me and let me know when it is done?

Many thanks.

I had now received the OpenSRS log-in details and was trying to obtain release codes in both control panels, but the OpenSRS log-in I had been sent was a restricted one:

Mon May 21 2007 10:58AM by [me]

Actually, that’s the same with all those domain names now. Could you please sort this out?

“- Domain Locking –

When locking is enabled for a domain, any requests to transfer the domain to another registrar or hosting company will automatically fail. This can be used to prevent fraudulent transfers of the domain, while locking is enabled.

Should you ever want to transfer the domain, or modify nameservers based on the domain, domain locking must first be disabled, before the relevant action is performed.

Note that only the owner for a domain can enable/disable locking. The sub-user for the domain, if any, will not be able to perform this action.

Locking currently Enabled

NOTE: Locking cannot be enabled/disabled from this interface. Please contact your domain supplier for assistance.

So at this stage I was still unable to unlock the three domain names and obtain the release codes, essential prerequisites for the domain transfers. Imagine my utter disbelief when I received this:

Mon May 21 2007 11:07AM by support@sohosupport.info

I have sent you the log in for managing the remaining domain names directly with opensrs. UK domain names do not have locking but I will pass them back to Nominet for you, so you can manage them with Nominet.

Kind regards

Jonathan

Soho Consulting

What this means is that for six other .co.uk domain names I had registered through Soho Consulting, they had decided to detag the domain names!

When that happens, those domain names effectively stop working as no nameservers hold any details as to where to go for web requests or e-mail delivery.

In addition, the ISP cannot regain control and you cannot simply initiate a transfer to another ISP from that receipient ISP either. You have to go to Nominet and fill in a form providing a copy of ID such as a passport, etc. and details of the new ISP. Oh and there’s the small matter of a charge per domain name of £11.75 that you have to pay up front…

So I replied:

Mon May 21 2007 11:24AM by [me]

Why would you do that? Where, exactly, have I requested that?

All the domain names have disappeared from your domain manager so I have no ability to do anything with them.

Nothing in reponse, other than Soho closing the open support ticket!

Mon May 21 2007 11:36AM by [me]

Why have you closed this ticket when it is very much still open?

I started off on Friday with 14 domain names in your control panel. I asked for release codes for 3 of them.

As of now, I have no access to any of the domain names.

Please rectify this immediately.

In the meantime, I had filled in the forms and paid the fee to Nominet for the TAG transfer to 1&1: 

Mon May 21 2007 11:47AM by [me]

In regard to the .co.uk domain names, how are you going to pay for the fee that Nominet wants to retag the domain names?

These costs – caused directly and solely by Soho Consulting – were ignored by them:

Mon May 21 2007 12:57PM by support@sohosupport.info

You can manage you Enom domains here:

http://access.enom.com

Put in a domain name and the password (same for all) of [deleted]

[Domain 4]
[Domain 5]
[Domain 6]
[Domain 7]
[Domain 8]

and

Mon May 21 2007 01:00PM by support@sohosupport.info

You may want to make any changes before you initiate a transfer as once the process has started, under Icann rules, no changes can be made to the domain name until the process is complete (or fails).

But yet again, Soho Consulting showed their incompetence by providing a log-in with insufficient rights: 

Mon May 21 2007 04:29PM by [me]

Still waiting for you to send me those release codes. The enom log-in you sent me does not provide that information.

Please do not close this support ticket until the matter is resolved.

I also need to have your proposals for paying the Nominet fees I have now been charged for re-tagging the .co.uk domain names after Jonathan unilaterally decided to de-tag them.

No replies so I rang their Technical Support [sic] number (yet again) and finally managed to get someone there to slowly obtain the release codes and unlock the domain names for the rest of the domain names. The glacial way he realised that yes, I did know what I was talking about and no, the log-in details they had provided did not have sufficient administrative rights was something you had to experience to believe!

Eventually, at 5.51pm, the last release code came through and I was able to remove the domain names from the ‘control’ of that utter shower.

So from asking for release codes for three domain names on the Friday, I had had to transfer fourteen domain names including paying a separate fee to Nominet for the .co.uk ones, all because of Soho Consulting’s incompetence.

Oh and still no word from them as to how they intend paying me back the Nominet fee. It looks like a trip to the Small Claims Court is going to have to be made…

And as a final footnote, for some reason I cannot access the www.soho-uk.com Soho Consulting web site and support area from this PC. I wonder if it’s because it’s on a fixed IP address (and hence easily blockable…) and because it’s the IP address logging the support requests? Surely they wouldn’t be that petty, small-minded and childish?

1&1: What a Shower!

So having received no communication whatsoever in the intervening period about the claim by 1&1 that we are over-quota by some 4.1 billion files, I rang 1&1 again this morning at 8.15am and spent the next hour trying to find out what – if anything – they had done about their broken control panel and fixing it so that we could amend our web site again and continue generating income from it. I finally managed to get a supervisor to agree to update me on an hourly basis.

At 10.20am, she sent me this e-mail:

“Thank you for contacting us.

As referred to a second level support the quota and files that you are seeing below are the ones we are seeing on the control panel.Please doublecheck the quota and your files.You need to make an ftp connection and check the size of the files that you have uploaded.Below are the quota/files that were seen on your control panel:

Storage Space
3,900,788.00 MB of 4,000.00 MB used
Available storage space -3,896,788.00 MB

Number of Files
4,096,815,118 of 262,144 used
Available files -4,096,552,974

Please refer to the link below on how to doublecheck your quota:

http://faq.oneandone.co.uk/web_applications/webspace/4.html

Please refer to the instructions below on how to make an ftp connection:

Before attempting to establish a connection with your webspace, please make sure you have your FTP hostname, username and password. These details can be found in the ‘Web Space/Access’ section of the ‘Package Features’ menu in your “1&1 Control Panel” at http://admin.1and1.co.uk.

1. Load your WISE-FTP program, under the ‘File’ menu button click on ‘Connect To…’, this will open up a new window (as shown below), click on the ‘New site’ button to proceed.

2. The following window will ask for all the required details when trying to access your webspace (only details which are necessary for you to fill in have been shown below).

* Profile name: (Enter the name you want this connection to have, for this sample we have left it as that of the domain name we are uploading to, i.e. 1and1faq.co.uk)

* Host name: (This is is the address you will connect and publish to, simply enter your domain name (without the www. prefix)

* Username: Enter your FTP username for your package (obtained from ‘Accounts’ within the configuration menu)

* Password: Enter the password for your FTP access (obtained from ‘Accounts’ within the configuration menu)

* Initial Directory: /.

* Passive: (if operating behind a firewall please ensure that this box is ticked)

Once the above fields have been correctly filled in, simply click on ‘Connect’ and you will be connected to your webspace.You may also use other ftp programs.

One of the workaround here is to delete some unnecessary files for you to resume your uploads.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


Sincerely,
Cherie Aponesto
Technical Support
1&1 Internet”

[emphasis added]

Bless! Apparently incapable of independent thought and great example of “garbage in, garbage out”. I had – obviously – checked my quota through the control panel last night to have spotted the ridiculous figures, durr!

So I replied:

“Hi Cherie,

Are you really that incompetent? Or are you simply trying to annoy me by saying utterly stupid things?

The problem is with your control panel, as I pointed out to you and your colleagues 12 hours ago and again this morning.

Or are you seriously claiming that we are currently storing 4.1 ***billion*** files on your servers?

4.1 billion files making up 3.7 ***terabytes*** of storage, according to you.

Try thinking about that for just one moment: that’s 4.1 thousand million files and 3.8 thousand gigabytes of storage you are saying we have uploaded. Funny how none of the traffic logs are reflecting those massive figures…

When you have stopped making stupid suggestions like “One of the workaround here is to delete some unnecessary files for you to resume your uploads” perhaps you could find someone who knows what they are talking about to resolve this issue with your control panel once and for all and stop messing us around.

Yours sincerely”

A little while later, I rang back and after another 30 minutes on the telephone, he told me they were going to download the files from our server to another location and then tell me what the storage stats. are for those files. He said that he would e-mail me back in 30-60 minutes.

 75 minutes later, I rang back. They were still downloading the files, apparently.

Half an hour later, I received another e-mail from Cherie:

“We do apologize for any inconvenience however we already checked your webspace and there are alot of files in it.The reason why I was actually asking you to visit your webspace was to determine the size of the files that was uploaded to your webspace.As of the moment we are trying to replicate the issue by downloading all the files and until now it still downloading .We will give you an update once its finished.”

My reply?

“Hi Cherie,

Funnily enough, whilst waiting for your company to download and check the files, I ftp’d into the server and determined there were 10,647 files there.

Could you please tell me where the other 4,096,804,871 files are?

And similarly, how is my formal complaint doing? I’ve had neither a response nor an acknowledgement.

I await your reply with bated breath…”

You couldn’t make it up, could you?

This is, after all, a fairly straightforward web site with the main section with e-commerce facility, a discussion forum and then a photo gallery, the latter three elements meaning a fair few PHP files, but nothing of great significance in size terms.

4 Billion Files Over Quota

Apparently…

One of the sites I manage is hosted with 1&1. I needed to do an update today and found that when trying to publish the changed page to the server, I got an error message:

“Exceeded storage allocation.”

That sounded a bit fishy, so I checked in the 1&1 control panel and got this:

4 Billion Over

Hmm. 4 billion files over our allocation? I don’t think so! So I rang them up.

“Yes,” the tech. support guy told me, “you’re over your file allocation.”

“I see,” I replied, “you’re telling me I have presently uploaded 4,096,815,118 files to the server?”

“Ah. I see your point.”

After a number of long pauses on hold, he promised to escalate the issue…

DreamHost Status Blog

One sure way to annoy your customers is to have a support blog and then prevent your customers from commenting there by presenting them with this message every time they try:

“Sorry, but your comment has been flagged by the spam filter running on this blog: this might be an error, in which case all apologies. Your comment will be presented to the blog admin who will be able to restore it immediately.
You may want to contact the blog admin via e-mail to notify him.”

Now, once or twice, you could forgive them for: mistakes happen. But this is every single time and is still happening after I’ve already complained about it directly to them.