Amex Good, Hostgator Bad

I love my American Express card. I have the platinum one thanks to Todd, which has a lot of cool benefits like being able to go into airport lounges and such.

However, they always seem to freeze my account when I travel. Last year, when I went to Tokyo, Todd and I ate at a baller Kobe beef restaurant in Kobe. We went to pay and both of our Amexes got declined. Ouch.

We called from a payphone across from the restaurant and they finally fixed it.

Last month the same thing happened in Panama. I tried to call and fix it, explaining that this always happens, and they finally squared it away. In between my international calls dropping, I shot off a quick e-mail to their support.

My credit card was declined for $30 at a supermarket here in Panama City. I specifically called a week ago to note on my account that I’m traveling internationally and do not want my card to be “frozen” for any reason at all.

I have spent hours trying to resolve this issue, and it has been extremely frustrating since it is difficult to make calls from here.

Tynan

Here’s their reply:

Dear Tynan:

Thank you for contacting us via e-mail.

Please accept my sincere apology for the service that you recently received. I understand that in this matter, we did not provide a level of service that was acceptable to you. We strive to provide the best customer service, and I have forwarded your concerns about this matter to the appropriate managers.

As a more tangible expression of our concern over this issue, we have issued credit in the amount of $150.00 to your account. I hope this assures you that we value you as a customer and appreciate your business.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

We appreciate your Membership since 2002 and look forward to serving you in the future.

Sincerely,

/K. Campbell
Email Servicing Team
American Express Interactive Services

Wow! Talk about above and beyond. I didn’t request any sort of credit, but they gave me one anyway. A couple years ago I bought a $2000 laptop with my Amex, and then left it out in the rain a week later. They refunded the money with minimal hassle.

In other words – I love American Express and will do everything in my power to promote them.

Meanwhile…

Six months ago I decided to move from shared hosting to a dedicated server. I don’t get loads of traffic, but on the rare occasions I get dugg or something like that, I need the capability. Plus I’m a geek so I was basically just looking for an excuse to get a dedicated server.

I’m embarassed to admit it, but I didn’t do enough research and I went with Hostgator.com. They had great reviews and I didn’t realize that cheap dedicated servers existed, so I paid $219 a month for a server. I was happy with that.

For six months everything was great. No problems with service, very good customer support on technical issues, etc. Todd and I split the server, and after six months we decided it was too expensive to justify. Still, I had no qualms with Hostgator’s service and would have recommended it to others, especially their shared service which was a decent deal.

I worked out an awesome deal with the people at Server a Day and got a good (but not as fast as Hostgator) server for $25/mo with no setup fee.t’s been fantastic since I got it and I’d highly recommend those guys to anyone looking for some good hosting.

Every month Hostgator bills me on the 15th. On February 13th I sent a support ticket telling them to not renew my account. They had an automated cancellation form, but it immediately wipes your server and I still planned on moving stuff the next day.

On the 21st they sent me an e-mail telling me to use the cancellation form and to e-mail for a refund of that month. I then noticed they charged me on the 15th.

I used the form and e-mailed asking for a refund.

They replied and said that they would not issue a refund.

Our e-mail vollies went back and forth, with them refusing to escalate my issue and refusing to issue a refund. Here are the final two e-mails, mine sent after a particularly dismissive e-mail:

Hello Pauline,

First of all, understand that I will NOT be paying for that month. This
isn’t an argument, it is a fact.

There are only two possible ways to proceed.

1. Hostgator will refund the money since I requested the cancellation
BEFORE the date. I will continue to recommend Hostgator to my friends
who need hosting.

2. I will have American Express issue a chargeback. I will then report
Hostgator to various consumer watchdog organizations including the BBB.

I have made my situation perfectly clear. It is obvious that a refund is
due to me. If you do not issue this refund after getting this e-mail, I
will make sure that Brent Oxley gets copies of our correspondence and
understands how this issue was handled.

No matter what you do, escalate this to your supervisor as I have
previously requested and you have failed to do.

Tynan

As per our terms of service we do not offer refunds on dedicated servers. We also do not take credit card disputes lightly as these are extremely detrimental to the companies involved. Should you attempt to issue a chargeback we will contact American Express with proof of our terms of service as well as your order. We can also insure that this will affect your credit going forward. We would like to work with you regarding this, however we are unable to issue a refund at this time.

Thank you,

William G.
HostGator.com

Keep in mind that I’d paid $1300+ to Hostgator over the previous months and had told them BEFORE my billing date that I didn’t want to be charged again. They never acknowledged any of this and mostly sent me stock replies to my e-mails. Also, disputing charges does NOT affect your credit – they lied presumably to scare me.

That’s not how you treat a customer.

So, as promised I sent an e-mail to Amex. Within 12 hours they wrote me back saying that they’d credited my account, returned the charge to Hostgator, and that their investigations department considered the matter closed.

That’s how you treat a customer.

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