Sunday, January 18, 2009

Domain hosting: try 1and1

My aforementioned friend Steve, who should himself be blogging, had suggested that I try 1and1.com for hosting my domain.  That was a couple of years ago.  I finally switched from Yahoo to 1and1.  So far, so good.

I had been using Yahoo for my e-mail and calendar for years and was satisfied.  Because of that it was really easy to just let Yahoo provide my domain service.  Everything was connected.  However, I have been flirting with the idea of switching to gmail as my primary e-mail and calendar service provider.  The potential deciding factor was the possibility, so far unfulfilled, of syncing directly between my Palm Treo 700P (and future devices) and e-mail and calendar on the web without having to use a PC for communication much less the need to have an extraneous sync to Outlook on a PC.

Direct sync to google seemed closer to reality than to Yahoo.  The T-Mobile G1 smart phone from google supposedly does it but I would believe if I actually did it myself, which will not happen until Verizon Wireless gets a google phone, maybe a G2.  So far goosync from Toffa International Limited, a UK company, has not done the job.

In anticipation of a sync to google I switched to 1and1 to host my personal domain.  So far, so good.  It makes both my domain and primary e-mail ID completely independent of the service provider for either function.  Yahoo charges $35 a year, 1and1 charges $9.  Yahoo redirected my domain to a geocities.com URL.  1and1 keeps URL in the browser as the domain.

Yahoo had provided Microsoft Frontpage extensions for free, then started to charge.   I used Frontpage to build my web site in geocities.  However, when Yahoo began charging to update I then had to improvise to make changes.  This was tedious.  1and1 provides a free web based tool (Starter WebsiteBuilder) to create a rudimentary home page and I think up to four sub pages.  Beyond that you must pay $10 per month for WebsiteBuilder Plus.  I am going with the freebie, which is OK at best.  I mostly have links to the virtually unlimited number of pages that I can create using google docs.

Note: 1and1 WebsiteBuilder does not currently work with google's browser, Chrome.

3 comments:

Brother Rolf said...

Choosing a good web site provider and registrar is critical for a successful internet business.
I have come to the conclusion that I made the dreadful error of choosing a company because it had a 5 page ad in a popular computer magazine. I believe I have put my trust in a straw man. In my opinion 1and1, with CEO Oliver Mauss, is a horrible company and many customers have voiced a host of complaints on various blogs.
It should be a warning that when their phone is answered by a recording that tells you if you have gotten a notice from NCO, a collection agency, to press a certain number. If they are a reputable business, why do they have to send so many accounts to a collection agency?
Patrick Frey (Patterico) of the Los Angeles District Attorneys Office alleges his domain was high jacked and put up for auction on SEDO. SEDO is an associate company of 1and1.
Patterico: “I believe I’m facing massive incompetence, thievery, or very possibly a deliberate combination of the two. It feels like evil intent — but not for political reasons. It feels like cyber extortion — people going after the almighty dollar. Commenters have pointed out corporate ties between 1&1, which can’t seem to process my timely renewal, and Sedo/Domcollect, which stood to profit from 1&1’s failure. Usually, corporate incompetence does not earn the corporation money — but 1&1 and its related companies have found a way to make money off of their own slipshod procedures.”
Patterico was able to regain his domain.
Also Investigative journalist, Kelli Jack, has written 30 articles about this company and has a suit pending against them. Kelli alleges that 1and1 stole her domain name and sold it. Kelli states: "1and1 should be shut down." As of today Kelli is working with the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
I have filed complaints with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission, Eastern Pennsylvania Better Business Bureau, ICANN, and others. I recommend everyone else having a problem consider doing the same.

The Washington DC, Pennsylvania Better Business Bureau has them listed as "Unsatisfactory" Read comments on the BBB why. Read some customer comments on Red Flag.
Warth Publishing Inc

Steve said...

Based on the above comment, I Googled complaints against 1&1. No big surprise, a large number of complaints, mentioned over and over, are posts by Warth Publishing (the previous comment poster) and Kelli Jack, described as a journalist. The same rant from each of them appears at a whole bunch of sites. There are other complaints, to be sure, mostly about billing and domain transfer. I followed up on some of them and actually found that many of the complaints appeared to have been resolved, although the original complaint site doesn't indicate that, so things may look worse than they are. But that’s the nature of complaint sites, I guess.

All in all, there are a bunch of unhappy people, but I think you'd find the same at Verizon or any other large company. The BBB stats show ~300 complaints over the past year. If they only had 100k accounts or domain names registered, that come to .3% If you assume that only 1/2 % of complainers use the BBB (so 300 complaints = 60,000 unhappy people), and you use 1&1’s claim of 7+ million customers, you come up with a complaint ratio of .8%.

Not all that bad, and most (95%) of the complaints on the BBB site seem to have been closed as “resolved.” Not great, but not a disaster. Of course, if your site is down or your domain name is not available, it is a disaster, but...

I would hazard a guess that many of the referrals to collection agencies are due to a very automated process. The account goes bad (for whatever reason) and it automatically goes to collection. Automation allows them to have low prices. But if you have 7 million accounts to renew every year, or every 6 months as some people seem to be billed, then you can’t possibly review them by hand. Of course, the other side of the coin is that very few humans are available to resolve problems.

I've been using them for domain registration (no web services) for at least 5 years, maybe 7-8, and have had zero problems. But it’s a very small survey to be sure. For the record, I have no association of any kind with 1&1 or any other internet registrar, other than using 1&1 as described above.

For what it’s worth, I also Googled the words “Patrick Frey (Patterico) of the Los Angeles District Attorneys [sic] Office.” I can find only a blog, which Frey runs under the name of Patterico, which appears to be mainly a rant against the Los Angeles Times. He appears to have had an issue with 1&1, but words “of the Los Angeles District Attorneys [sic] Office” (which may or may not be true) appended to his name appear to be the typical puffery used to make a complaint sound more important or official. I can’t find anything indicating that the LA County District Attorney is involved in any way with a suit or other action. I also don’t see anything, even in what he posted, that indicated more than bad procedures and poor customer service on 1&1’s part, despite his use of words like “dishonest extortionists and/or thieves” and “evil intent” and “cyberextortion.”

Some comparisons for you to ponder: GoDaddy 36 month complaint history = 387 complaints, 386 resolved, rated A+; 1&1 36 month complaint history = 659 complaints, 608 resolved, rated F; Register.com 36 month complaint history = 69 complaints, 63 resolved, rated “unsatisfactory.” Draw your own conclusions.

My two cents.

Brother Rolf said...

Check out NamePros.com for the result of their survey of 1and1 customers