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The Difference Between REI and HostGator: A Customer Service Review

REI, the biggest retailer of outdoor gear, does a lot of things well but probably none is as brilliant as its return policy. You can return anything, at any time, regardless of how much you’ve used it for a refund or replacement — no questions, no argument, nothing but a friendly smile.

A few days ago to launch this site I started a new hosting account at HostGator and was disconcerted to find that the site was slowwww. After bugging the coder to tell me what he’d done wrong, he convinced me to call Host Gator. It turned out they were having issues with the server. That’s fine. What wasn’t fine was that the customer service folks refused to give an ETA of when the issue would be resolved or agree to send an email notifying me when it was solved — I’d have to keep checking their support forum. They also wouldn’t issue any credit on the phone; instead telling me I’d have to send an email to some customer service box.

Then the site completely went down. I called back. Same story. Wouldn’t tell me when I’d have the site back, no email notification when back up, no compensation over the phone.

I wouldn’t have even thought to write this had the phone rep agreed to ping me when the server was fixed and given me some token discount so I felt like I won a small battle. Host Gator team, was it worth alienating a new customer not to change your policy of notifications and phone downtime compensation?

Btw, for a great uptime monitoring tool, check out: Pingdom.com.