As a form of disclaimer before I fly into this post, I have to admit that I worked for 24 Help, a supplier of offsite, white-label customer support to brands such as Sony Erricsson, Xbox UK, Norton and 1&1. I worked, specifically, on the 1and 1 contract and even visited their head UK office in Slough to liaise with “2nd level support”. However, this post is regarding their offerings and service – not them as an employer (which they were in an indirect way).
I have dealt with 1and several times in a professional capacity with regards to web development and hosting. Whilst their packages and services are competitive, they rely heavily on their advertising in every tech magazine you can think of with expensive 2-6 page spreads about how they are “Europes #1 Web Host”. Little do they tell you, they are also Europes #1 Hated Webhost.
Hate, for me, is a very strong word. It is a word reserved for sheer contempt towards someone or something. It usually boils over into unbridled anger and – in some cases – violence. However, having experienced 1st line technical support as a customer, I can see why they are hated. In fairness to them, a lot of their complaints arise through people misunderstanding their service – the usual “non-savvy” customers. However, there are many people I have spoken to who hate them for a variety of reasons:
This is the single most complained reason regarding 1and1 when I have spoken to people. It comes down to one thing: the lack of it.
Most responses are at 1&1 are spoon fed from a guidebook of palm offs and there is little to no attempt to actually resolve the issue at hand. Whenever I have spoken to customer service operatives via the telephone they are often ill-trained, non-technical and unable to deal with the simple queries a web hosting provider should get including such gleaming responses as “What is an FTP?”, “DNS takes 7 days to resolve” and “We don’t support PHP on our dedicated servers”. (I shit you not at these responses).
In fact, the lack of customer service has annoyed Gary Taylor of 3ac.co.uk to start a campaign called 1&1 Are A Disgrace. I highly recommend you read it as it’s jaw-droppingly amazing at how incredulous 1&1 customer support is via email, telephone and twitter.
Working at a digital marketing agency, I often deal with a large variety of providers, CMS’ and custom builds. 1&1’s “E-Shop” system is so bad that our SEO team have simply advised against dealing with potential clients who are using this system thus losing 1&1 money in the process.
The reasons behind this include:
I mean, seriously, if you were to advertise yourself as Europe’s biggest web host – wouldn’t you at least fix these simple problems within your CMS.
Their servers are based in Germany in their very own a state-of-the-art datacenter. It’s nice, it’s impressive, but it’s also in Germany! They don’t tell you this unless you ask for it (or do a hosting lookup).
From an SEO perspective this can create a multitude of problems (not so much as they once did thanks to geo-targeting through webmaster tools). It’s enough to make Baby Jesus cry, and no-one wants that.
They do have a problem with complaints flooding the web. Simple queries such as 1and1 complaints produce over 40,800 results with the following 1st page listings:
You would think they would fare better with a query such as 1and1 recommendations with 717,000 results, but the 1st page listings tell a different story:
There cover may be blown due to several negative responses are now ranking for brand name searches:
If you are still looking to host a website with 1and1, feel free – just don’t come crying to me and the thousands of other people who already hate them.