Do SwitchMedia engage in dodgy business practices?

In a comment on my previous mail about how not to complain, SilentBob pointed me to a thread on Boards.ie.

In this thread it says that an English company called SwitchMedia threatened Boards.ie with legal action:

Their first interaction with us was to threaten Boards.ie with legal action. Before we could even respond we got a legal letter demanding not only the removal of the offending content but also the removal of the entire thread.

This appears to have happened after someone posted that SwitchMedia are very expensive (SwitchMedia are an English hosting company who have recently opened an Irish operation). SwitchMedia’s response to that was to issue a legal letter demanding that the thread in question be removed, it seems.

Boards.ie is one of the largest Irish websites and has an enormous community of loyal posters and readers. Threatening Boards.ie with legal action as a first resort is not the wisest course of action if one is trying to grow a brand and build a business in Ireland. I hadn’t heard of SwitchMedia before this and my impression of them now is far from positive.

Furthermore, it is also claimed that SwitchMedia mines the records of the Companies Registration Office for details of new businesses. Seemingly SwitchMedia uses this information to target potential clients using direct marketing techniques. If this is the case then SwitchMedia are engaging in quite dubious business practices.

Would you trust someone who engages in these kinds of business practices to host your site?

[Disclosure – I do a little hosting myself. I host around 11 sites (including three or four of my own) mostly for friends and very few of the sites I host have received any bill for the service!]

UPDATED TO ADD:
Someone sent me a copy of a SwitchMedia invoice (below). €129 plus VAT per annum for an Irish domain name? Seems a tad expensive to me!
SwitchMedia's invoice

40 thoughts on “Do SwitchMedia engage in dodgy business practices?”

  1. Never one to shy-away from a bit of controversy, are you? 🙂 Well I’m glad you’re not, cos now I know who the fuss is all about.

    These are the actions of a company who just don’t “get” how the web works these days. And they’re a hosting company!? Do these heavy-handed tactics help them in any way?

    I have to say I admire Michele and Steven (from Blacknight and Hosting365 respectively) for engaging the public in open debates about their services on boards.ie and elsewhere.

  2. Tom – I was trying not to mention them by name 🙂

    Eoghan – Neither myself nor Mr McCarron have anything to hide and if someone doesn’t like our pricing or services etc., we are more than happy to deal with them without recourse to legal action. The only time I can envisage taking legal action would be if someone were to personally attack me or one of my staff and even then it would have to be pretty severe..

  3. I certainly can’t say that I approve of the way they target potential clients. Fair play to ya Tom, never afraid to wave a red flag to a bull 😀

  4. I was waiting to see which one of you were going to mention SwitchMedia, given that Michele was staying away from it I held back. Wasn’t at all pleased with the fact that I got the letter pack from them when we had even started trading. Literally moved into the office the first week having received everything from the CRO and then SM delivered a lovely mail to us highlighting how they would design our site, register the domain etc. They even offered us the .net version of our domain (which we had already registered), along with a variation on the .ie. If they had of course taken the time to visit the .net or the main .com version they would have seen we were quite happy!

    Not only that but their prices were rubbish and they’re hosting plan was abismal.

    Only the day after, not having performed any advertising of our address we had received a CV application from another unknown which I thought was gas…. might have it framed somewhere.

    Its not too hard to go through the CRO (or at least it wasn’t) website and pick out a PDF of recently registered businesses and companies but I’m well against their practice of using such information for unsolicitated mail.

  5. The original poster said that switchmedia were charging €155 inc vat for the renewal of a .ie domain name with a (free) basic hosting package. However on their main page they advertise .ie domain names for €29. (€32 inc vat)

    As soon as the Switchmedia reply came he removed such comments, but still, without contacting boards.ie or the customer in question, they resorted to legal action. It would have been a whole lot better for business is they explained exacly why they charge so much for whatever package it was, and possibly offer the customer a free .ie and .com domain as he had asked for.

    Unfortunately they made a very bad decision on how to respond and this will no doubt add to the name they they have aparantly earned for themselves already… (see http://www.jackiedanicki.com/?p=603 & http://radio.weblogs.com/0137893/2004/12/31.html#a212)

  6. Ken – I think that’s €129 plus VAT (equal to €151.57).

    Still €129 is an impressive charge for a .ie domain registration (especially as they advertise it as being €29 on their site).

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  8. In fairness there’s been a smear campaign against Switchmedia on boards.ie for some time now and this was not the first thread containing defamatory statements against the company. Many of which were, regardless of spin, completely false. It’s also worth noting that the ‘Hosting’ forum on boards.ie was closed down as a result of petty, unprofessional squabbling amongst Irish hosts and this attack on Switchmedia seems fairly indicative of the behaviour of Irish hosting companies who seem to be afraid of a little competition. If you think Switchmedia are too expensive – don’t use them. If you think that there’s a sinister ploy behind their cheap .ie domains, register yours with another company.

    In my opinion, Switchmedia were perfectly within their rights to threaten legal action after several defamatory claims were made against their company.

  9. “behaviour of Irish hosting companies who seem to be afraid of a little competition”

    I would point out that most of these “attacks” on Switchmedia were made by their customers – not Irish hosting companies

  10. Actually there’s a history there. Blacknight, amongst others, slated Switchmedia in the past on boards.ie, making false allegations against the company. I made a posting highlighting this earlier. It was a diplomatic and civilised post but was never vetted. Seems to me there are sinister vested interests involved here. Can’t say I’m too surprised.

    Once again, Michele, why would you accuse Switchmedia of not having a dedicated IP (http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2054929992&referrerid=59211&highlight=switchmedia) when
    the case is, in fact, that you do not have your own IP?

    Blacknight:
    http://www.ripe.net/fcgi-bin/whois?form_type=simple&full_query_string=&searchtext=217.114.173.116&submit.x=13

    Switchmedia:
    http://www.ripe.net/fcgi-bin/whois?form_type=simple&full_query_string=&searchtext=89.207.168.0&do_search=Search

    Call me a conspiracy theorist but to me this appears to be a smear campaign.

    I can only assume that Mr. Raferty will leave this post unvetted also. I have saved a copy of this and the previous just incase.

  11. Ken,

    In the first place, my surname is spelt R a f t e r y not R a f e r t y! By the way, what is your surname?

    I’m not sure what you mean by vetted. I don’t edit any comments on this blog unless specifically asked to do so by the comment poster. Even then it has to be for a very good reason and even then I do so reluctantly. As soon as a comment is published on this blog, it is emailed out to anyone who subscribes to the post so if I edit it subsequently, it is obvious to everyone.

    Most comments on this blog are published immediately (i.e. they are unmoderated) Your last post was auto-moderated because it contained links. Had it not contained those it would have auto-posted without my intervention.

    Save as many copies of your comments as you wish.

  12. Ken

    Read what I wrote and while you’re at it check the IP that this site is hosted on. (http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=51356692&postcount=9)

    The fact that our main site is still sitting on a DEG IP is historical, but it will be moving to our own netblock at some point over the next couple of weeks.

    We’re full members of RIPE (http://www.ripe.net/membership/indices/data/ie.blacknight.html) and INEX (http://www.inex.ie)

    whereas SwitchMedia isn’t (http://www.ripe.net/membership/indices/data/uk.switchmedia.html)

    If you had understood my post, which you obviously didn’t, you would see that I was referring to them using PA space while claiming to have their own DC.

    It’s hardly a “smear campaign” to draw people’s attention to the inconsistencies and finer print in their offerings, which is what I was referring to when I highlighted the inconsistencies in their terms and conditions etc.,

    Michele

  13. Sorry Tom, I’ll plonk you in the old filofax to ensure I get your surname right in future. Sent a post through earlier, wasn’t vetted, simple as. Let’s just assume it got lost in the ether, shall we?

    Michele, there have been several attacks on Switchmedia on boards.ie in recent weeks since they started offering .ie domains cheaper than the rest of the competition. Coincidence? I think not. But at least it’s some comfort to know that you’ve got the consumers’ best interests at heart, eh?

    Are you seriously trying to convince people that you, as the MD of a hosting company, think it’s appropriate to run around whoring your company on web forums the country over and slating and ‘pointing out inconsistencies of’ competing companies? Jesus. That’s very professional indeed. No wonder the hosting forum on boards was closed down. If you can’t run a successful company without resorting to tactics that include begging for business on web forums and slating other companies… well, good luck to you. Personally, I wouldn’t touch your company with a 10 foot hosting pole because your professional integrity is a joke.

  14. Hi I work in Tech Support at Switch Media, we do have a Data Centre at our Liverpool premises. The membership at RIPE is only non full as new fibres to multi home the network are still being installed.

    Must say tho Blacknight you do seem to do a lot of smearing. Get on with your business and stop trying to get publicity for yourself and your company by getty petty on forums.

  15. Sent a post through earlier, wasn’t vetted, simple as. Let’s just assume it got lost in the ether, shall we?

    Ken, if by post, you mean comment and if by vetted you mean published your sentence reads:

    Sent a post comment through earlier, wasn’t vetted published, simple as. Let’s just assume it got lost in the ether, shall we?

    Let’s not assume it got lost in the ether. I publish all comments on this site (except spam and comments containing certain profanities – those are auto-deleted without my even seeing them).

    Assuming your comment didn’t contain those profanities, please re-post (if it did, re-post without the profanities).

  16. Haha. Wow! Surname spelling and now pedantic terminology corrections. What next? Spelling mistakes? I can see why this place is so popular.

    I sent through a post earlier. There were no profanities at all. It wasn’t published. If it wasn’t lost in the ether, then you didn’t publish it. I’ve made my point since so I don’t feel any need to re-post (re-comment? What should I say here?)

    I’ll leave you to it, Tom. Obviously there’s no room for error on this almighty blog and I’m a little intimidated to be quite honest.

  17. Ken,

    I am not trying to be pedantic, I was trying to clarify what you were accusing me of – now I know, not publishing a comment.

    Ken, I have never, ever refused to publish a comment – no matter how negative about me. I have never deleted a comment.

    The only comments I do not publish are spam comments.

    You can see for yourself, your comments are not moderated, they autopublish. If I wanted to edit or delete any comment after it has published, it would be obvious.

    This is far from being an “almighty blog” but I’m not too pushed about your leaving. I might be a bit more sympathetic if you weren’t lobbing accusations around while insisting on being anonymous.

  18. “If you can’t run a successful company without resorting to tactics that include begging for business on web forums and slating other companies… well, good luck to you. Personally, I wouldn’t touch your company with a 10 foot hosting pole because your professional integrity is a joke.”

    Wow, such harshness Ken. I wonder in a past life were you somehow screwed over? Been following this for a while, and as a regular boards user I have never seen Michele “beg” for business. Anytime he has posted it has either been sound advice on hosting, etc or to usually to correct some erroneous point.

    As for slating other companies – well if pointing out their foibles to people who would not know any better (i.e. me) well then personally I applaud him for doing so, and preventing people for potentially making a mistake with their hosting/domain requirements.

    And before the accusations of being Michele’s bitch come flying through – I have accounts with both him and other Irish hosting companies.

  19. Cheers Bob. I do apologise; you’re actually right. It’s really professional to publicly slate your competition.

  20. It’s really professional to publicly slate your competition.

    Well as the bard would say

    Give me the occular proof.

  21. Check the previous links I posted from boards.ie. I’m not going to repeat myself.

    Wow a single thread. Stunning evidence of this “smear campaign” – considering

    a) Switchmedia made a single reply
    b) Michele made several posts – which upon reading them, are not very company criticial. In fact some of them advise people to read the fine print carefully. How dare he warn people to do that – such a complete and utter disregard for customers. Lets publicly flog him for that one.
    c) In fact switchmedia in their single post, invite constructive criticisms – so if Michele posts a criticism, which shock, horror and gasp are constructive/general inquiries – why do you slate him for it?

  22. 3 threads. Look them up. I’m not wasting my time digging out information from boards.ie for you. It’s all there if you’d care to look.

  23. Ken
    So querying their pricing is now considered “slating”?

    And what about section 10.1 of their terms of service, which seems to give them the right to levy a fee on any transfers out…?

    If their services are as good as they say they are, then they should have no reason to be concerned.

    Michele

  24. The other 3 you can find yourself. Like I said, I’m not here to show you how to use the search engine on boards.ie.

    And obviously neither can you. There have been a total of 3 threads on boards.ie about switchmedia – one was deleted (because of the legal threat).

    The one you so lovingly put up – is boards.ie response to the legal threat. And the other is the only one returned when you search for switchmedia on boards.ie

    So unless my math is wrong that makes 2 (formerly 3)

    Next time, dont be so sarky 🙂

  25. I have also been sent unsolicited offers from this crowd after registering with CRO – they are mining away and wasting paper.

  26. I found your website on Google. I registered a new company at the beginning of August and the first letter I received was from WitchMedia. I stupidly engaged them to register a domain for me. Within two days the emails started, telling me I was ‘over my allocated space’ in the email section. I looked and found a trilling list of emails offering Viagara and Anna Kournikova pictures. One asking for work stood in my mind. After a day of two of trying unsuccessfully to delete them, I asked the Witchy guy to do it and he agreed. Every single day for a week I received an email threatening to up my service because I was over the limit. The same emails sat there, so I called again. I have made seven phone calls, they have called trying to sell me Letterheads at £450 (Cost locally=£200) and to up my space. I resisted. One call they made to me, in the background I could hear a Liverpuddlian describing a female as a sla.. I suppose they meant me. Who knows.
    I have written telling them the company has not traded, I dont want the website and if they take one penny out of my bank account I will sue the flaming pants off them. What a way to do business??

  27. I registered my domain name(biottha.com) and business hosting package in March 2006 with Switchmedia and it was renew in in february 2007 but in May this Year we started having problem receiving or sending mail and every time I phone Switchmedia all i get from Switchmedia representative is that the problem is at my end, we did everything possible with our server we could not find the problem. To my surprise i got a phone call from switchmedia in June 2007 that they were unable to obtain registration for the domain name i have been using for over a year because somebody else has registered it in USA.How could this be possible i need help.

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