05 Feb Apologies to My Web Host and Its Eastern European Tech Team

The last time I had a problem with my web host, my blog had disappeared. Completely disappeared. That’s 160+ entires that cover my weekly blogging for the last four years. Was I freaking out? Yes, I was freaking out. When I called tech support, I found myself talking to somebody in Eastern Europe. Sarajevo, I imagined. Eastern European tech support is more or less competent. I mean, they get the job done most of the time if the problem isn’t a big one. But this was a big problem and I didn’t have much confidence in this too long-distance help, especially when the tech I was talking to asked me three times for the name of my domain: he couldn’t quite spell it. As I was in no mood to fool around, I said: “I’ll give you one more chance to get it right.” Then he got it.

By law, you are allowed to speak to American tech help on American soil if you request to do so. Just say, “I want to speak to somebody in America,” and they will have to transfer you. No kidding.

But let me say this: I could never learn Croatian or Polish or Russian as well as Eastern European tech support have learned English. No way. Still, when I’m freaking out about my vanished website, I’m not happy about having to talk to somebody who isn’t a native speaker of English. I fear that something really important is NOT going to get through the translation. By the way, this was the third time that my website had disappeared. I was convinced that my web host had fallen on hard times and had resorted to cheap off-shore labor. Such is the diminished quality of life we Americans must suffer etc. etc.

I raised hell with my Eastern European tech help, blaming my web host for incompetence and reminding them that I have seven websites on the web host’s servers. Seven. And, no, I would not buy the file back-up service they tried to sell me because my files are missing. “Don’t you DARE,” I said. “Just find my files!”

They did find my files and, as a courtesy, restored them for free. And I got my blog back. I felt vindicated. I felt like one tough cookie. We Americans know how to get what we want, don’t we? I sent a long email to tech support (that is, the Americans who run the company), asking my web host to take my concerns seriously. I said I didn’t want to talk to Eastern European tech team any more.

Just last night, my blog disappeared again. But this time, the disappearance gave me pause because I had been working on my site — I had been the last one to touch the thing and I saw that the last file I transferred was there but everything else was gone. Then it dawned on me that, oh my god, the file transfer program I had been using was the culprit. Yes, my Filezilla FTP program has a way of erasing my entire site. Maybe yours too. I’m not sure what goes wrong but I think the program stalls and then, if you click some more to get it to respond, it misunderstands the commands and then a request comes up: “Delete current file?” Which the program may read as “Delete current files?” And then because I always move too fast and never read the fine print, I click YES. And then, boom!, everything is gone, even though the program (because it’s slow and buggy) doesn’t show that everything is gone.

So it’s not my web host, it’s me. I’m the problem. I’ve been the problem all along because the problem started just after I started using this file transfer program. So I’ve been sending angry emails to my web host, perhaps causing some tech manager grief, and demanding satisfaction from the Eastern European tech team and all along they weren’t to blame! I feel badly about this. Incidents like this make me realize that sometimes the incompetence we fear is, at bottom, our own.

When I called tech support this time, an American answered. I guess my web host had indeed listened to my emails after all! This made me feel worse because, really, i was expecting the Eastern European tech team again and I was planning on being very nice to them. I was very nice to Phillip, my American tech support. I explained that my blog had “disappeared” and that this wasn’t the first time it had happened. Notice that I didn’t blame them this time . . . but I didn’t blame myself either. You must pay — $75 — to have your mistakenly erased files restored. In fact, Phillip told me this.

I said, “Phillip, can you find my files?”
He said, “You have to pay for that.”
I said, “Just humor me and see if you can find them.”
It took a while but he found them.
Then he said, “You can sign up for the $12.95 per year back-up plan and restore the files yourself.”
I said, “Let’s do it.”

He signed me up. I restored my files. And that’s why you’re reading this blog right now from a much humbler man — with apologies to my web host and its ever-patient Eastern European tech team.