How visitors can trust on your hosting business?

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
I have a question for providers: why are you not doing the things @DomainBop and I suggest? It may be a deliberate business decision - for example if your target market is geeks who want somewhere to test stuff, or backup servers, or for hobby stuff.

A lot of good providers do not do not provide much information. I just had a look at the Ramnode, BuyVM and Secure Dragon sites - I think there is a consensus here that they are all good?. None comes anywhere near the level of disclosure we suggest. They seem to have no problem acquiring clients, so we should we conclude that their strategy (i.e. selling to people like me rather than people like my clients) is a good one and DomainBop and I are either wrong, or advocating just one of many possible strategies?
All providers should listen to the input on this thread.  No matter what stage / age they are.  Clearly missing a bunch of stuff and lacking proper disclosure and image, your brand will suffer.


What @graeme in particular did you find with Ramnode, BuyVM and Secure Dragon did not meet @DomainBop 's disclosure level?  Honest question there and perhaps each provider can learn and realize what is 'deficient' from a buyer who is not in these communities and stumbles into their site solely.
 
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graeme

Active Member
I picked those three companies because, far as I know, they are good. Here is what I can see missing:

Ramnode: no information about who runs it or how big a team they have. The legal name of the entity is correctly given, but not where it is registered not any registration number (most jurisdictions have them). The only contact address I could find was a PO Box number


BuyVM: TOS is in the name of Frantech, but there is no indication of what legal entity I am dealing with. No address, but whois gives a PO Box number in Canada, which is the only indication of what country they are based in. There are photos and a little info about Francisco and Aldryic on the about page, but gives the impression of a two man business, which is not consistent with the claim of 24/7 support.  No contact address at all on the site, but there is what looks like real address in the whois.


SecureDragon: no address on the site, whois gives a PO Box number. Only two "founding members"  are mentioned by name, so, again, it is not clear whether or not the small team IS the two of them.

None of them disclose financials. Bytemark actually links to their accounts on the companies house (the registrar of companies for England and Wales) which means you can see exactly what the filed. This may not be possible in other places, but posting a summary of your accounts and disclosing ownership is.


I also think BuyVM's humorous tema pages are a mistake. That sort of humours works well on other pages (I love the operating systems page) but I think it is out of place on the "about us" page and will lose you some customers.
 

VyprNetworks

New Member
I prefer to be a valued customer so I'll go with small. Smaller companies usually equal better support and down to earth staff who understand the day to day struggled of not only other companies but they're customers. Bigger companies usually make less efforts to satisfy every customer simple because they have the money to ignore one out of 5 customers if they wanted to.
 

graeme

Active Member
There are plenty of small companies whose service is terrible and big companies whose customer service is good. How much customer services does an unmanaged VPS need? As long as it keeps working, very little.

The differences from a customers point of view are that 1) you can find out whether a big company's services are good or not as plenty of other people use them and 2) you can be confident that they are not suddenly going to shut down, possibly taking your data with them, certainly interrupting your servicse.


Also, consider what happens if someone like me recommends a business uses a small company or a large one. Imagine a little conversation:

Customer/employer: "The server has been down all day. I am losing money"
Developer/IT: "Sorry, it is Amazon's fault, the whole AWS data centre is down"
Customer/employer: "Oh, can we do anything?"

Alternatively:

"The server has been down all day. I am losing money"
"It is [small provider]'s fault"
"You should not have recommended them"

Which is the safe option from my point of view?

In face I do not recommend AWS and the like, but I do stick to reasonable sized outfits with enough staff to keep things running normally even if a few key people get sick. That said, some of my customers were either already locked in to a big supplier or just prefer them.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
I picked those three companies because, far as I know, they are good. Here is what I can see missing:

Ramnode: no information about who runs it or how big a team they have. The legal name of the entity is correctly given, but not where it is registered not any registration number (most jurisdictions have them). The only contact address I could find was a PO Box number


BuyVM: TOS is in the name of Frantech, but there is no indication of what legal entity I am dealing with. No address, but whois gives a PO Box number in Canada, which is the only indication of what country they are based in. There are photos and a little info about Francisco and Aldryic on the about page, but gives the impression of a two man business, which is not consistent with the claim of 24/7 support.  No contact address at all on the site, but there is what looks like real address in the whois.


SecureDragon: no address on the site, whois gives a PO Box number. Only two "founding members"  are mentioned by name, so, again, it is not clear whether or not the small team IS the two of them.

None of them disclose financials. Bytemark actually links to their accounts on the companies house (the registrar of companies for England and Wales) which means you can see exactly what the filed. This may not be possible in other places, but posting a summary of your accounts and disclosing ownership is.


I also think BuyVM's humorous tema pages are a mistake. That sort of humours works well on other pages (I love the operating systems page) but I think it is out of place on the "about us" page and will lose you some customers.
Thanks for taking the time to look, research and construct this.  Useful indeed.


1. Registration details of company - I think this is a powerful must have.  In the US you can sole operate as unincorporated entity, however, due to liability / risk such isn't advised.  UK for instance seems to require such details to be public on sales site.  I really like what I see in regard to this in the UK.  The data should be there if a company is indeed incorporated.


2. TOS and dual company / unit names.  Confusing indeed.  This will happen where guys isolate risk in brands and ideally different incorporations. Literally need a visual graphic for normal people to understand the relationship.


3. Photos = 2 guys Business = more guys.  Indeed another gotcha there.  It's fairly common for ownership / management to be on a site, but not the whole company. In other fields they do this so recruiters don't go hiring workers away.  Also has privacy implications per se. But yes, conveys smaller than are as-is.


4. Financials - even though UK requires / collects such, said data isn't indicative of much if anything.  If I believed data on the companies house reporting, I'd believe most companies have no business, owe not much in liabilities and appear to be not very busy shelf companies.


The financial indicator from reporting such places too much trust in a system that is heavily gamed long ago.


5. Humorous team page - I am not fond of guys with party shots mixed with business.  I advise owners/managers to roll their fun up in personal accounts online and remove name relationship too.  No matter how well intentioned, any attempt at humor will find someone turned off.  It's a guess about the net impact which direction from such a page.  But, I will say, in this instance that that page and photos have got many people talking about such.  In these communities, that's a good thing, usually.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Also, consider what happens if someone like me recommends a business uses a small company or a large one. Imagine a little conversation:
 
No question about it. There is a prevailing and dated statement that went something like 'No one was ever fired for recommending [IBM]'.


Society is massive group think and comfort pursuits.  This applies to the most mundane cheap purchases even.


I buy from companies that are active in communities first and foremost.  Companies who appear to understand the tech to some degree and are attempting to work daily. 


I avoid faceless monoliths aka super big companies.  


I avoid the 2 guys in a pea pod trying to get money easy instead of working.  


I won't buy from a company where I can't see recently a senior person out there somewhere contributing to tech, or writing about experiences in that company, or contributing on forums.
 

kunnu

Active Member
Verified Provider
To many good suggestion,  going to copy all replies and read it in Kindle since reading on PC will be hurt eyes.
 
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tmzVPS-Daniel

Active Member
Verified Provider
Usually when i purchase any type of service, the first thing I check is the activity of it's employees on forums, blogs etc. This tells me that they care and are working every day to achieve their goals. 


- Daniel :)
 

kunnu

Active Member
Verified Provider
LLC + Premium domain + Custom website design + SSL + Excellent support + Live chat + Public WHOIS + Address and Phone number published on website + Competitive offers + Tutorials + Activity on top hosting forums
Wow, Only 2 lines but I learn a lot from this two lines that I need to improve Customer support, Live Chat, Address/Phone number and tutorials.


Activity on top hosting forum is done by most of hosting company who is old and understand that they need to be active in forums.


More suggestion from various members will be very helpful so please give more advice.
 

drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Wow, Only 2 lines but I learn a lot from this two lines that I need to improve Customer support, Live Chat, Address/Phone number and tutorials.
Customer support is industry wide horror zone.


Live chat is indeed a good thing, but needs to be staffed and by someone who actually knows the inside of the business.  I am fond of hopping on live chat to ping providers.  Have had my share of laughable experiences with outsourced warm body controlling the chat.  Not so good and too often incorrect information or that dreaded 'everything is escalation' to management.
 

kunnu

Active Member
Verified Provider
Customer support is industry wide horror zone.


Live chat is indeed a good thing, but needs to be staffed and by someone who actually knows the inside of the business.  I am fond of hopping on live chat to ping providers.  Have had my share of laughable experiences with outsourced warm body controlling the chat.  Not so good and too often incorrect information or that dreaded 'everything is escalation' to management.
I think "escalation" problem can be solved If you are one man company and handle everything by yourself and you have a good knowledge about server.


Some type of customer only hungry for a response like "We're working on your issue". It will satisfy them that someone is working on their problem and they will be happy If ticket resolved within few hours like 3 to 4 hours.
 

TurnkeyInternet

Active Member
Verified Provider
Reputation and consistency (being around, with that reputation) are what help most when picking a stable long term partner to work with (hosting company, datacenter, colo provider, etc).  Big vs Small isn't so simple to quantify - big could mean 'soon to sell out to EIG or similar', and 'small' can mean 'gone overnight due to 1 man operation', but a long standing consistent reputation is the best thing to look for.
 
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ViridWeb

New Member
I think a provider who are in business in more than a year and with good communication skills and most important thing is the good service can attract new clients.
 

graeme

Active Member
@drmike why are you so sceptical about financials? There are legal consequences if they are materially inaccurate and I would expect them to be a reasonable indicator.


Maybe a lot of companies you have looked at do not have much business, or are shell companies etc?


I used to know guy who was a liar, and later a conman. He lied his way on to the Sunday Times rich list, got himself a black Amex card, a very expensive car, and spent lots of money on credit even though all he owned was a computer shop in a small town. He eventually fled the UK leaving a mountain of debt behind and claimed it was engineered my MI5. Judging by his FB page he is now delusional. In spite of all that, the accounts section of his website looked exactly like what you would expect from a smallish retail business - and this was before companies house made it easy to check accounts on the web.
 
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fm7

Active Member
Lydia Leong (*) ‏@cloudpundit



Seen Google price very, very aggressively in multiple competitive situations.

...



Note, though, that we're not seeing a lot of cloud deals won on price. In most situations, customers care about long-term market leadership.
 


(*) VP Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, covering cloud computing, content delivery networks, hosting, and more.
 
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KuJoe

Well-Known Member
Verified Provider
SecureDragon: no address on the site, whois gives a PO Box number. Only two "founding members"  are mentioned by name, so, again, it is not clear whether or not the small team IS the two of them.
We have the PO Box address on our site, that's the only address we really have. My dad and I don't want to post our home addresses online because we piss off a lot of people being in the VPS business. It's only the 2 of us, there was 3 of us at one point but that didn't work out. We've never advertised that our team was more than the 2 of us.
 

Hosterbox

New Member
Verified Provider
Short answer: Hosting is a lemon market


Long: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons


Excerpt


The paper by Akerlof describes how the interaction between quality heterogeneity and asymmetric information can lead to the disappearance of a market where guarantees are indefinite. In this model, as quality is undistinguishable beforehand by the buyer (due to the asymmetry of information), incentives exist for the seller to pass off low-quality goods as higher-quality ones. The buyer, however, takes this incentive into consideration, and takes the quality of the goods to be uncertain. Only the average quality of the goods will be considered, which in turn will have the side effect that goods that are above average in terms of quality will be driven out of the market. This mechanism is repeated until a no-trade equilibrium is reached.


...


Akerlof's paper uses the market for used cars as an example of the problem of quality uncertainty. A used car is one in which ownership is transferred from one person to another, after a period of use by its first owner and its inevitable wear and tear. There are good used cars ("cherries") and defective used cars ("lemons"), normally as a consequence of several not-always-traceable variables, such as the owner's driving style, quality and frequency of maintenance, and accident history. Because many important mechanical parts and other elements are hidden from view and not easily accessible for inspection, the buyer of a car does not know beforehand whether it is a cherry or a lemon. So the buyer's best guess for a given car is that the car is of average quality; accordingly, he/she will be willing to pay for it only the price of a car of known average quality. This means that the owner of a carefully maintained, never-abused, good used car will be unable to get a high enough price to make selling that car worthwhile.


Therefore, owners of good cars will not place their cars on the used car market. The withdrawal of good cars reduces the average quality of cars on the market, causing buyers to revise downward their expectations for any given car. This, in turn, motivates the owners of moderately good cars not to sell, and so on. The result is that a market in which there is asymmetric information with respect to quality shows characteristics similar to those described by Gresham's Law: the bad drives out the good.
Wow. Really interesting wiki!
 
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drmike

100% Tier-1 Gogent
Gresham's Law in essence were coins of valuable metal that people literally removed or skimmed off the coinage some of the precious metal.  Making the coin weigh less and be worth less, not worthless like fiat money (that made from nothing of value).  


Skimmed coins caused distrust and for people to hold and horde full coins.  Same effect has taken place since 1970 with citizens holding silver coinage issued as money in general circulation due to silver no longer being mixed into US coins.

incentives exist for the seller to pass off low-quality goods as higher-quality ones
This is every industry, not exclusive to hosting.  Intangibles are a little more prone to this as no weights and measures and in the case of shared resources it's terrible to even measure a baseline to say if you are getting what you should (and subject to change at any time and for the worse).


No-trade theorem is what I think you meant.  That involves rational people :) None of those here or in hosting :)


I think the industry, much of it is operating on a self destruction toilet bowl swirl effect where many are the turd competing to actually be flushed before the cycle runs out.   Commodity good traders are why and what fuels the swirl.   I've said it MANY TIMES when you have nothing real to compete on (you are trading commodities), you run to competing on ever lower prices.  It is that simple.
 
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fm7

Active Member
I don't think hosting is a commodity


1. The production of a commodity conforms to standards


2. Commodity doesn't imply low quality nor low price


Respectfully, I insist that Hosting is a lemon market :(

What is wrong with you people. (Yes, that was rhetorical).  One looks at the VPS industry, and it's small wonder that people regard VPS providers as a joke; something just to utilize when you just have a couple bucks laying around.  Companies filled with kids that couldn't write their own code if their lives depended on it - dependant on shoddy, repeatedly compromised systems like Solus to do the work they have no clue how to perform on their own.


Providers that continuously make asses of themselves publicly - basking in the attention of hate-filled drama threads, doing anything they can to make a sale; then having the audacity to cram clients onto overloaded, bargin-bin hardware and scream at them if they dare post any kind of public complaint.  Children that frequently 'employ' people that they have never met, and are oft school kids themselves, to be their directors and administrators.  Operators that can't even be bothered to vet their own orders and have to rely on unverified public input to make their decisions for them - if they even bother to do that.  Some of you clownshoes will accept any order that comes in if it means another payment.  It's absolutely embarrassing.  I don't even like to tell people that I work for a VPS company any more.  "Oh, you're one of 'those'." "No, no, we're actually a real establishment." "Sure, that's what they all say."
 
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