Blacknight customer service gets worse

Irish hosting company Blacknight Solutions appears to be having its share of problems today.

First they lose all my podcasts, and then my blog goes off air, to be replaced by a series of error messages.

I disabled a plugin via ftp and managed to get the blog showing again but it is still showing the following error message in the backend:
Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in
/home/tomand00/domains/tomrafteryit.net/public_html/wp-content/plugins/subscribe-to-comments.php on line 676

And I can’t email Blacknight from my tomrafteryit.net email, ‘cos it is hosted with them. I have emailed them from Gmail now to try to get answers to questions I sent in to their support account earlier today and to try to find out what just happened to break the blog.

UPDATE:
I have just received an email from Blacknight MD Michele Neylon. This was in response to my asking him three questions in an earlier email:

  • when were you going to tell me?
  • does Ralph in ENN know yet?
  • I assume you have a backup so what plans and timelines do you have in place for getting the podcasts back up and running on another machine?

Michele’s response:

Tom

We do not have any backups, as you may remember you were looking for a temporary solution when you realised that your podcasts were proving popular.

We provided you, at no cost, with unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth on one of the servers we had in Amsterdam.

Michele completely ignores the first two questions and then obviously mis-represents the situation in his response. I never looked for a temporary solution.

Can you honestly see me approaching Michele saying “Michele, I have a couple of podcasts I’m doing. Put them somewhere temporary. Then take them offline at your discretion. Sure what do I care?”

Rather Michele approached me with the offer of this hosting space because I was putting too much traffic through his servers in Dublin. He said he had terabytes of bandwidth in Amsterdam.

Well Michele, if this is your definition of customer service – blame the customer and then tell them – “you are on your own kiddo – good luck with that!” I don’t see you hanging on to too many customers for too long.

27 thoughts on “Blacknight customer service gets worse”

  1. I suggest that you both strip down to a pair of leapard-print thongs, oil up and fight it out mud-wrestling stylee…
    Please post the footage on YouTube..

    E.

  2. Ive recently moved some of my hosting to black knight’s services and I have to say that I’m more than happy with everything that I’ve received from them so far. Any queries that I’ve sent in have been answered promptly and in a professional manor. Much more than I was receiving from my previous host based in the states 🙂

  3. Tom, where did Michele blame the customer?

    “We provided you, at no cost, with unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth on one of the servers we had in Amsterdam.”

    How many other hosts would go out of their way to go beyond the hosting packages restraints?

  4. Cormac – Michele’s claim that I was

    looking for a temporary solution when you realised that your podcasts were proving popular

    is not alone untrue, it also implies that I was happy to settle for a temporary (and implicitly non-professionally hosted) home for my podcasts. In other words it is my fault for not seeking a more robust solution.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. And throwing the blame back on the customer in this fashion is unconscionable.

  5. Really Keith?

    Is that Blacknight’s official position?

    In any case, I pay Blacknight over €600 per annum for hosting – that is not free by any definition I am familiar with.

    And since you bring this up again Keith, how about answering some of these questions:
    When did the server go offline?
    When were Blacknight planning on telling me their customer?
    How many other Blacknight customers were affected by the loss of this server?
    Do you think that Michele’s response is an example of good customer service or do you think a response along the lines of:

    My God Tom, we are dreadfully embarrassed about this. Our supplier left us down. What can we do to make it up to you?

    would have been more appropriate?

  6. Tom

    Unlike Keith I can speak in an official capacity.

    I have been avoiding responding to you for the last couple of days.

    While I will admit that our handling of the “podcast situation” could have been better it was an honest mistake.

    Your statement above, however, with regard to the hosting you pay for is grossly misleading.

    You have a reseller hosting plan with us. This comes with an allocation of disk space, bandwidth etc., on our servers in Dublin.

    It has never had any relationship to any arrangements, formal or informal, that may have been made with regard to your podcasts. As you were happy to quote in your original post:

    We provided you, at no cost, with unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth on one of the servers we had in Amsterdam

    This clearly has no relationship with your reseller hosting account.

    We were more than happy to support your podcasting endeavours and had got involved with both IT@Cork and ENN at your request.

    It is obvious to all parties that any good relationship that may have existed between us is no more. As you will be making alternate arrangements with regard to your hosting I have asked our head of sales to liase with you in order to ease the transition to your new hosting provider.

    Regards

    Michele

  7. No Tom, that’s my official position. Whatever I post anywhere, it’s always in my personal capacity, and not that of any company or organisation I’m affiliated with.

  8. One more thing. The podcast hosting was completely gratis, was it not? I don’t know about you, but when I get something for free, I don’t expect all the stuff I’d have got if I was paying for it, hence TANSTAAFL.

    As Michele said, the situation could have been dealt with better, but here’s my question: why weren’t you keeping backups yourself? I backup everything and would never rely on anybody else or any other organisation to keep my stuff backed up, especially the service is free.

  9. Uh, Keith no offense but one thing is expecting all the stuff you’d get with a paid service – another is expecting to get what you have been offered, be it for for free or not.

    This is a comment on your views on free lunches by the way, not a comment on the larger issue – I think that’s between Tom and Blacknight, speaking of which…

    You’re posting in a personal capacity but on a post to do with the company you work for… so really, from the outside, you are representative of that company regardless of your own perception…

    Just think that’s worth bearing in mind.

  10. I tom I have a great deal of respect for what you do and have done for Irish blogging and podcasting. I do however feel that you have taken your hosting situation out of context slightly.

    I have in the past worked as a network engineer for one of Ireland’s top datacenter this company has facilities over 24 countries in Europe. During this time, I have had dealings with a wide variety hosting service providers. In my estimation, blacknight provided you a level of service about and beyond the point that you as a customer should ever expect.

    Blacknight went out of there way to give your practically unlimited resources to support your site and podcats. In all honesty coming from this background myself, I can guarantee you that they took a financial hit to help you out. Sure you spent 600 euro a year on a reseller package, but I can guarantee that is nothing compared to the cost that you could have had to pay if you provided this service yourself.

    I am disappointed that backnight did make such a mistake. Howerver, mistakes do happen. Behind the vail of any company there are still normal people like you and I. Have you ever made a mistake that you regret? I know I have.

    All this being said you where also in error. As a responsible customer you must have known that keeping a backup of your content would have been a smart Idea. Did it never strike you that one day something like this might happen? A server might fail or even worse a catastrophic event might fall upon gods green earth? One bitten, twice shy as my mother always said.

    I have the up most respect for blacknight and their staff. They have never let me down through think and thin. Just remember what they did provide you with before you go bad mouthing an honest hard-working team and company.

  11. I don’t know about you, but when I get something for free, I don’t expect all the stuff I’d have got if I was paying for it

    Neither do I Keith. But, as Frank said, I do expect what I was promised, reliable hosting and terabytes of bandwidth. I was never told there was any possibility that the service could be withdrawn without notice.

    here’s my question: why weren’t you keeping backups yourself?

    What makes you think I wasn’t keeping backups myself? How do you think I got the podcasts back up again so quickly? From my backups of all the mp3’s. Of course I kept backups.

    Now how about answering my questions.

  12. I’m glad to see that you did have backup’s Tom. If I was paying a premium of on what I was promised, then I totally agree that I would expect something from people. I’m surprised that they accommodated you in the first place. I could name a long list of other Irish companies that wouldn’t have.

  13. I tom I have a great deal of respect for what you do and have done for Irish blogging and podcasting.

    Thanks Jason

    Sure you spent 600 euro a year on a reseller package, but I can guarantee that is nothing compared to the cost that you could have had to pay if you provided this service yourself

    Sorry Jason, but that’s just not true. I’m getting professional podcast hosting from Libsyn for $5 a month now.

    They have never let me down through think and thin.

    Long may it stay that way.

    Jason, I have often said good things about Blacknight – far more often than badmouthing them. I have brought new customers to them and recommended them to others as well as the customers I hosted myself.

    However, their customer service leaves a lot to be desired.

    I had over a year’s worth of podcasts hosted with them. The server went offline and what did they do to inform me? Nothing.

    I still don’t know when the server went offline but as far as I know it was several weeks ago. I didn’t realise because, due to family circumstances, I was offline most of the time the last few weeks.

    When I emailed support to ask what the issue with the server was, the reply I got from Michele was:

    The company we were using in Amsterdam went bankrupt!

    That’s it. No more. There was no apology. There was no, “I realise this inconveniences you”. There was no effort to offer any alternative solution.

    When I asked for more information, I was told it was my fault in the first place for looking for a temporary solution (untrue).

    If you feel this is satisfactory customer service, then I was wrong to put up this post but I think this was handled in an unbelievably appalling manner.

  14. Michele, you said

    You have a reseller hosting plan with us. This comes with an allocation of disk space, bandwidth etc., on our servers in Dublin.

    It has never had any relationship to any arrangements, formal or informal, that may have been made with regard to your podcasts

    Rubbish. All my podcasts were hosted in my reseller account until you asked me to move them to the server in Amsterdam where you had more disk and bandwidth.

    We were more than happy to support your podcasting endeavours and had got involved with both IT@Cork and ENN at your request.

    That involvement was in the form of sponsorship – for which you received plenty of good PR. In fact through your sponsorship of the it@cork pre-conference podcasts, you received more PR than any of the other sponsors.

    As you will be making alternate arrangements with regard to your hosting I have asked our head of sales to liase with you in order to ease the transition to your new hosting provider

    I will? The way it was presented to me by your head of sales Blacknight no longer wants my business and I am to move all my sites off your servers.

    Did George misrepresent your position?

  15. Hi Tom thanks for your reply.

    Jason, I have often said good things about Blacknight – far more often than badmouthing them.

    To be fair, you haven’t held blacknight in the highest regards just have a look at. http://www.tomrafteryit.net/index.php?tag=blacknight

    I’m getting professional podcast hosting from Libsyn for $5 a month now.

    I would hardly call the basic package a “professional service�. From what I can see they also have no policy on backing up your files. Libsyn do however have a professional service over at http://libsynpro.com/. Maybe it would be good to have a look at this.

    I do agree, its bad form on them not informing you that a server hosted by a third-party (who went bankrupt over the Christmas period) went down. I’m sure you where fairly irate while talking to sales and support when this happened. Would I be correct?

    All I’m saying is, maybe you jumped the gun a bit. It has happened before. I admit that I have done the same myself. All this could have been avoided dont you think?

  16. I’m sure you where fairly irate while talking to sales and support when this happened. Would I be correct?

    No, I don’t think you would. Judge for yourself. The original email I sent to support said:

    Guys,

    I’m getting a domain unreachable error on the domain
    podcasts.tomrafteryit.net – anyone know what the problem might be?

    The reply I received from Michele was:

    Tom

    The company we were using in Amsterdam went bankrupt!

    The reply i sent then was, I think reasonably polite (not irate):

    Okaaay,

    a couple of questions occur to me.

    when were you going to tell me?
    does Ralph in ENN know yet?
    I assume you have a backup so what plans and timelines do you have in
    place for getting the podcasts back up and running on another machine?

    The rest you know.

  17. Ok, well I’ve given you my opinion on this. I will let you take what you will from it.

    Looking at this form an outside perspective I can’t really see who is to blame. It seems to me like a series of misfortunate events. Again I don’t think it happened at a great time for anyone involved.

    I guess ill leave it at that. Thanks, Jason.

  18. Having provided numerous people, groups and non-profit organisations with free hosting for the very same reason BK provided you with free space and bandwith for your podcasts, I am well aware of how infuriating it can be to have those people threat you in the arrogant, demanding manner in which you emailed Michele.

    And then to have that same user hang you out to dry for failing to provide a professional level of service on something you gave them for free, that would be a good reason for me to terminate that arrangement.

    Ofcourse there is the complication factor that you also have a business relationship with them, and pay them for other hosting services. But it seems that you are the one unable to separate the two, not BK.

    Your acting like a child and abusing your “fame” to damage a company that may have responded in a more diplomatic manner to your behaviour, but their only real mistake seems to be doing you a favor.

    Personally, I would be glad to host with a company prepared to go the extra mile without expecting anything in return.

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