ServerPronto Hosting Review
I own and run many large sites, including a site on ASP development, another site that helps webmasters learn coding techniques, and BellaOnline.com, which receives over 20 million pageviews a month. Because of the large traffic on my sites, I have many dedicated servers which I keep in numerous hosting facilities to allow for back-up in times of outage.
One of these servers was begun with the ServerPronto.com hosting system, owned by InfoLink.com, in November 2004. Here is my review of my dealings with ServerPronto. I always had the system auto-pay monthly to my credit card. As you can see, hosting with ServerPronto went relatively smoothly in the beginning - and went into a sharp nosedive in 2007.
11/5/2004 - Attempting to be helpful, I identified several typos I found on the ServerPronto website and alerted the staff.
11/29/2004 - I asked ServerPronto to set up reverse DNS for me. They did promptly.
12/5/2004 - my ServerPronto monthly bill is $123.64.
2/14/2005 - Another person in ServerPronto's network was a spammer, and ORDB blocked the entire network - including my site. When I complained to ServerPronto that my email could no longer send out properly, they told me I should relay through their servers. They would not talk to the ORDB team at all. Their relay idea was an invalid solution, as many companies block relayers as being probable spammers. Eventually ORDB removed the block.
2/28/2005 - My site went down. ServerPronto rebooted it.
3/7/2005 - My ServerPronto bill is now $123.91. This cost slides up slowly over time, without any warning. Note that this is not based on usage - I am still well within their bandwidth requirements.
3/9/2005 - I complained to ServerPronto about a site outage. The ServerPronto router caused the outage, which they said they would credit me for. My next bill was for $123.67. No credit was shown on the invoice. Note that I complained at 2:36pm - and did not hear any response until 5:04pm.
A full year elapsed with smooth performance.
3/11/2006 - From 3/11 to 3/14 I had HUGE problems with the server being very slow and crashing. It had to be rebooted several times. At one point, on March 10 at 7:57pm, I put in an urgent query about the issue - and put updates in after 2 hours, and then after 7 hours. I only heard back from them at 9:26am the next morning. In another case, I put in an urgent call for help and it was 1 1/2 hrs before ServerPronto responded.
During these days, I asked ServerPronto to add a second hard drive to help alleviate the server's processing issues. It took them 10 months to actually do this.
3/21/2006 - My server went down, and I asked ServerPronto to reboot it.
4/4/2006 - My server went down, and I asked ServerPronto to reboot it.
4/5/2006 - ServerPronto charged me twice - two payments of $123.91. I didn't notice it - lesson to me to always verify charges on your credit card. The error was not fixed until 9 months later.
4/5/2006 - ServerPronto sent me an email that my auto-billing credit card was about to expire and that they needed an update. I did the update. This update worked fine until February 2007, when ServerPronto spontaneously began not processing the card.
6/26/2006 - My server went down, and I asked ServerPronto to reboot it. My other servers in other hosting facilities are actively watched by the technicians there. Apparently ServerPronto does not do this by default. I asked them if they could perform the service. They said they would for an extra $20/month. I asked them to please do this - but they never did.
7/18/2006 - A person who had subscribed to one of my newsletters suddenly reported that newsletter as a spam message to ServerPronto. Because of this single message, despite my almost 2 years of history with them as a reliable customer, ServerPronto then wrote me to threaten me with being shut down. They decided I was a spammer. I had to explain to ServerPronto that my newsletters were all sign-up only, and that I had the date, time and IP address of that person's signing up.
9/8/2006 - I wrote in to ServerPronto asking for a status on my second hard drive, to help reduce the load on the server's main hard drive. ServerPronto said they were looking into it. They did not address this until over 4 months later.
10/5/2006 - ServerPronto bill is now $124.15.
10/17/2006 - I complained to ServerPronto at 12:21pm about the server itself behaving poorly. It wasn't until 7:14pm that I got a response - I was told that it must be something on my ISP's end, as their network was fine.
12/5/2006 - ServerPronto bill is now $125.83. Why is it increasing? Their terms of service state "Subscriber is aware that the Company may prospectively change the specified rates and charges from time to time." It is one thing to change rates - it is another thing to do so without any notice or warning.
1/6/2007 - ServerPronto bill auto bills smoothly at the $125.83.
1/14/2007 - ServerPronto *finally* installed a second hard drive I'd been asking for for months. They also realized they'd double charged me back in LAST April (for $123.91). They said they would give me credit for that mistake on their part.
2/5/2007 - The ServerPronto monthly bill came in for $127.63, at 12:23am. My bills auto-pay so this shouldn't have been a problem. They had been auto paying for over 2 years. ALSO I supposedly had a credit as just mentioned. Somehow they not only ignored my credit but also did not auto pay. This is with a credit card that is used smoothly for all my business bills and has quite a large available credit limit. I got a past due balance warning only a few hours later, at 4:20am.
2/6/2007 - I received a suspension warning from ServerPronto at 4:20am. I put in a support ticket and on 2/7/2007 was told to call my credit card in (again) to their phone #. Their online system won't let you update the credit card. I tried to call in. Literally NOBODY answered - no answering machine, nothing. I had to call back in again the next day to finally reach a human, and give them my card number .
2/11/2007 - I received a "final notice" that I was going to be suspended - despite having called in with my credit card to them!
2/13/2007 - I got an outstanding balance note, for InvNum: 74419, claiming I had paid $0.00. I emailed ServerPronto asking what was going on.
2/15/2007 - Thank God I was online this morning, because at 6:41am they took the server down without any other notes or warning. I immediately wrote them. They wrote back saying in essence "sorry, too bad." I tried to call in to customer service - and NOBODY ANSWERED THE PHONES!! I left messages. After a series of email messages and messages, they sorted it out. I got a message from ServerPronto saying (spelling errors theirs):
"your account has been adjusted
we appologize for the delay and tahnk you for your patience "
Note that looking at the account entry, the ServerPronto put the following note on this invoice (again, spelling errors theirs):
"this invoice was supposed to be canceled by a credit on her account
the credit did not take place, he server was suspended, she got pissed
this might fix the problem"
At this point I alerted ServerPronto that I was moving my site elsewhere as I could not rely on them going forward. Since it was mid-month, I figured I would still have to pay for the subsequent month, that undoubtedly they would claim I had to give them 30 days notice. So I resigned myself to paying for this account from mid-February all the way through early April, when the subsequent billing cycle would begin.
NOTE: Here is the exact terms for cancellation as listed in their online terms of service:
"7. Account Cancellation: Requests for canceling accounts may be made in writing with at least 30 days notice but not more than 60 days prior written notice and sent to
2400 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
You must have all account information to cancel."
Note it says nothing about providing a FAX version or a credit card.
3/5/2007 - Remember, I am still set up to auto-pay each month. On 3/5/2007 I get my ServerPronto invoice alert, that I have a $3.72 credit (From what??) and that my bill is for $124.13. That means my monthly bill is now $127.85. Just like clockwork, four hours later I get my past due balance warning. In fact, I get 2 copies of the message.
3/6/2007 - The ServerPronto suspension warning comes in. I am completely baffled. They had hand received my credit card last month, *and* I had hand-entered it into their system, as an auto pay. Everything had been working fine until now. What was ServerPronto doing wrong?
3/12/2007 - I get a final warning from ServerPronto. Frustrated, I log into their interface and re-enter everything AGAIN. It processes.
3/12/2007 - my credit card report verifies that they received their payment on 3/12/2007. It is now for $124.13.
My new Netriplex server - the new hosting firm I moved my websites to - was fully set up and ready on March 12, 2007. So as of March 12, 2007, I was actively moving all my files off of the ServerPronto server and onto the Netriplex one. That operation was completed in a few days.
So as of mid March, I was no longer using the ServerPronto system at all. Netriplex can verify this information. ServerPronto took their "last payment" on 3/12/2007, which covers the period from 3/12/2007 to 4/12/2007. So even in terms of "server usage", this period was my cancellation period, which I fully paid for.
I emailed ServerPronto of this transition. I wrote them a physical letter of this transition. Netriplex knew of this transition. The BellaOnline editors all knew of this transition. It was a well documented fact that the transition was occurring and this was the time frame. There is no question in any corner what the dates were, and when the payment was made. The sole issue ServerPronto has brought up is that they did not get a FAX notification until later than this date - but their own terms of service state that a written letter, not a FAX, is the required format. That letter was sent, and was confirmed via email.
4/5/2007 - I get another invoice, followed 4 hours later by a past due balance. At this point we have hit the cancellation date - so why is ServerPronto still invoicing me?
4/6/2007 - A suspension warning arrives in the email from ServerPronto. I start my usual round of emailing to sort this out.
4/10/2007 - I finally get a response from someone in ServerPronto technical support, telling me to fax in paperwork to confirm my cancellation.
4/10/2007 - I print out and FAX their cancellation form in to them immediately. Note that their form claims they *require* a credit card number from you in order to cancel. I do not believe it is legal in any state in the US to require a credit card number in order to cancel from a contract. I checked my order form where I signed up for service in November 2004. It did not state either that they needed a FAX to cancel service nor that they would require a credit card in order to do so. Their terms of service, as previously stated, simply indicate a letter is required.
4/11/2007 - I get a cancellation warning. They are now warning me that I've canceled. Or that they might cancel me, which is what I've been asking them to do for almost 2 months now.
4/26/2007 - At 1:26am ServerPronto sent me an invoice for an *additional* $300 for non-payment. According to their Terms of Service, "Service will be interrupted on accounts that reach 10 days past due. Service interrupted for nonpayment is subject to a $200 reconnect charge. Accounts not paid by due date are subject to a $7.95 late fee." Nowhere do they list a $300 non-payment fee.
4/26/2007 - I immediately called in to the ServerPronto number and left a message with an answering service, asking to talk to a human being about this ongoing situation. They said they would pass that right to the office staff.
4/26/2007 - just to ensure that my message was reaching someone, I also re-opened the cancellation reminder ticket that I opened back on 4/10/2007 and added this text to it:
I alerted ServerPronto more than 30 days ago that I could not tolerate the lack of response and multi-hour delay before server issues were addressed. I stated that this account was to be canceled as soon as possible. I have sent in email messages. I have left voice messages. When you told me - over 30 days later - that you now wanted a fax sent in to confirm, I sent in your fax form.
I will start calling every hour on the hour starting open of business today until I reach a human being at ServerPronto to address this issue. If I do not reach a human sometime today, I will be providing a full copy of all documentation of the issues over the past years to my legal team and turning the issue over to them.
Here are just a few of the issues. First, I do not believe it is legal to require a credit card number in order to cancel a contract. Next, if a cancellation request is received, it is not legal to wait 30 days and then instruct that something else must be done for it to be accepted, in another 30 days. Next, my account was previously shut down without cause. In fact, the billing mistake was due to you double-billing me almost a year previously. Next, I was told I would receive credit for a router outage which I never received. Numerous other issues have been documented by me over the years. I have compiled the full suite of material as regards contract breaches on the part of ServerPronto.
It is the purpose of BellaOnline - the site I run with 20 million pageviews a month - to address consumer injustice. It is ironic that a key issue our site may be now covering over the next coming months will involve a hosting company we ourselves were using. I am attempting to forestall that situation.
Further research into your live, published terms of service has shown that both your recent $300 "late" charge as well as your FAX version requirement of the cancellation letter are clearly against your own terms of service.
4/26/07 9:20am - I called in to the main number. The number is for InfoLink. Once the voice menu starts up, you're told to press a button to reach ServerPronto. Then the next menu tells you to press a button for sales. When I did, the phone rang a number of times, and then someone picked up the phone and said he was with Infolink. He had a heavy accent which made it difficult to understand what he was saying. I said I was calling to talk about my cancellation. First he began by saying I needed to send in the FAX to cancel. I explained that I'd already done that, sent in a letter, sent in email. He said he knew nothing about that, and that I would have to call back in a half hour and talk to someone at extension 1499.
4/26/07 10:24am - I gave ServerPronto time to call me. They did not. I waited a full hour to ensure they would be settled in the office and have time to review my ticket before I called. When I did place the call, Carlos answered. I explained who I was and that I had begun canceling back in February. He apparently had not read his messages nor seen the open ticket - he asked if I had a ticket open. I gave him the ticket number - WQR-16522. I explained that I'd sent a letter. He said they did not receive it. I said, if that was the case, why did ServerPronto not respond to the numerous email messages I'd sent, and let me know the letter had not arrived. Carlos said all ServerPronto emails don't go anywhere, that none are ever answered. I pointed out that the ServerPronto site homepage says right on it to contact email@example.com for sales questions. The ServerPronto terms of service state to use email as the primary means of contact. Carlos said that despite all of this documentation, ServerPronto ignores all email messages and only uses the online support ticket system.
Carlos finally said that ServerPronto would cancel my account as of today, April 26 2007. I asked about the pending charges - there is $128.11 from April 5th, plus the $320.40 ($300 plus tax) "SP Nonpayment Penalty". I pointed out that this $300 charge is not found *anywhere* in the ServerPronto Terms of Service. Carlos replied that ServerPronto had created that charge about two months ago and hadn't added it into the Terms of Service yet. Note that they had never informed me of this new charge, either. I wonder if they informed any other current customer.
Carlos said that he would review all of the documentation regarding my account and call me back later today with a status as to the charges. Note that Carlos did NOT call me as he had promised to.
When we hung up, I called my credit card company and asked them to rescind the monthly autopay permission I had granted to ServerPronto. They told me there was no way to do that. Once a company had access to your credit card, they could in essence put any bill they wanted onto it, for the rest of the credit card's life. The credit card company only lets the consumer remove the charge *after* the fact. This means a company could literally run out your limit without warning and you have to be aware it has happened in order to go in and remove the charge. In the case of ServerPronto, it is doubly troublesome because their contract claims you can never deny a credit card charge, and also that they will never refund you any money. I had the credit card company notate my file with my request so if a charge did come through there was a paper trail.
4/26/07 3:18pm - SP1498 posted an entry on my ServerPronto ticket. "All we need is the date on which the fax was sent and we will confirm that it was received. If you have any unsolved issues, please let us know the ticket history and we will review and try to solve them. Thank you Serverpronto "
My response, posted on 26 Apr 2007 03:40 PM
Recipient Number: 1-305-324-1919
Start time: 4/10/2007 6:33:58 PM
End Time: 4/10/2007 6:38:42 PM
Size: 561 kb
I added a follow-up note, posted on 26 Apr 2007 03:41 PM
Unsolved issues are moot at this point. The sites are already hosted somewhere else. I don't expect to retrieve lost credit for the router outage. I simply want this account shut down.
Their Response, posted on 26 Apr 2007 05:22 PM
we did receive the fax on 04/10/2007
we havent received any other notice to cancel. we checked.
the scheduled date for service termination is 05/10/2007
As of 4/26/07, InfoLink has a Bad Rating with the Better Business Bureau for not responding to issues and customer complaints. The BBB has received numerous complaints about InfoLink, which is ServerPronto's parent company.
4/27/07 2:34pm - My post to them.
Apparently your online people do not talk with your phone support people. I will therefore conduct all future correspondence in written form - either in this tracking system or by certified letter - to ensure you do not confuse things further.
The person I spoke with yesterday, Carlos, at 10:24am EST, said that my account was canceled at least as of that date (4/26/07) and that he would look into other correspondence. So to begin with, there is no way my account will be terminated as of 5/10/2007.
Second, as I discussed with Carlos, my sole obligation according to your terms of service is to send you a letter stating my intention to cancel, between 30 and 60 days of my intended cancellation date. There is NO obligation to send a FAX. I then sent a series of email messages - again which is what your terms of service instructs me to do - to verify that the cancellation was in process.
Carlos stated clearly that ServerPronto ignores email messages that come in. In your terms of service you state in section 11:
"If you can email, we encourage you to email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. If you are able to get online and have other questions, the answers may be on our home page at http://www.ServerPronto.com - we encourage you to check there first. Lastly, the Help files in the program you are using may have the answer to your question so please do investigate these resources before calling tech support."
You clearly state that you want people to email you with issues. It is your responsibility to abide by your terms of service. It is not mine to assume your terms of service are incorrect and that I should invent other ways to contact you.
If you have lost or misplaced the initial letter I sent to you, that is also not my responsibility. You do not state in your terms of service that this letter must be sent in any specific manner. You do not state that a FAX must accompany it. You simply state that a letter must be mailed. Not only did I perform that task, but I made the effort to follow up. It is your company's terms of service I followed. If you do not want cancellations to proceed in this manner, it is your responsibility to change your terms of service to give different instructions to your customers.
I have sent copies of this correspondence as well as your terms of service both to the Better Business Bureau as well as to the government organizations of Miami-Dade for review. It is not legal for a company to publicly list a terms of service - and then to refuse to honor them when they are followed to the letter (and beyond).
I got a series of messages saying in essence that they were looking into things, before this post was made by SP1499
Posted on 02 May 2007 11:30 AM
we have double checked all our records. nothing came in under your name. your scheduled date for cancellation is 05/10/2007
thank you for your patience
we appologize for any missunderstanding [sic]
Posted on 02 May 2007 02:39 PM
To be clear for the records:
Are you stating that your mail server did not receive any email queries or statements from me before April 10, 2007 discussing the letter I had mailed to you, following the instructions in your terms of service? These email messages confirmed that I had sent you a letter, and were confirming my impending cancellation.
Your terms of service state that communication be done via email, via the addresses I used. I sent you both a letter *and* several email messages, both exactly following your Terms of Service. You are stating that "nothing came in" by which I take it to mean you cannot find the letter I mailed to you. Are you also stating for the record that your mail server somehow never got any single email message I sent?
SP1499 Posted on 02 May 2007 03:04 PM
if we would of received notice of your cancellation earlier we would of handled it appropriately.
the only record we have of your cancellation is on april 10.
your scheduled date of cancellation is 05/10/2007
thank you for your patience
a reply will reopen this ticket
Posted on 02 May 2007 03:19 PM
That was a vague answer, but I take it to mean that your company is not reading any messages sent to it via the email addresses stated on your terms of service. It appears this is true for all customers, and not simply for email that I alone was sending to those email addresses @ServerPronto.com.
This therefore is a terms of service issue that is affecting every customer of ServerPronto - and therefore any customer who attempts to cancel their contract with you.
Please let me know if I misunderstood what you stated.
Thu 5/10/2007 4:07 PM -
I got daily posts saying in essence "we're working on it". Finally on the 10th I get this post:
"services have been cancelled. we reversed the nonpayment penalty, however, invoice 80689 remains open.
please make payment of this at your earliest convinience"
So at least they are now certifying that the account is canceled. However, they are still doing it based on their own deliberately delayed date. They deliberately kept saying "we are working on it" right up until the date *they* had chosen as the cancellation date.
After I sent this all to the Better Business Bureau, I received email from the owners of ServerPronto very apologetic and promising the whole issue would be handled and that I was all set. I should have known better than to believe that was really true.
November 17, 2009 7:35 PM - I get an email from ServerPronto:
Dear Elizabeth Shea, It has come to our attention that your inactive account with ServerPronto has been in a past-due status for an extended period of time. If your balance remains unpaid after December 1, 2009, you will be charged for late fees and finance charges. Should we be unable to get approval with the credit card on file, your personal account information will be automatically transmitted to the credit reporting services, Equifax and Experian. For this reason, we recommend contacting us to ensure your account is paid in full as soon as possible. If you feel our information is inaccurate, please also contact us so that we may update your account status We can be reached at 877-293-2095 (US Customers) or +1-305-324-1616 (International Customers). And, by e-mail at email@example.com Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, The ServerPronto Team www.serverpronto.com ServerPronto (an Infolink Company) www.serverpronto.com
I write them back immediately and explain this whole situation. Again.
They don't respond, but then in a few weeks I get ANOTHER message -
11 Dec 2009 08:43 PM -
Your account shows 2 unpaid invoices (80689 U$128.11, & a Non-Payment penalty 82667 U$320.40), and that's the reason why you received this email from us. Please let us know how would you like to proceed to clear this invoices and close this inactive account. We can remove the non-payment penalty, but the other 2 invoices need to be paid as soon as possible. Thank you SP
I responded to that message, but I didn't realize that my message BOUNCED. I only realized it when they wrote me the exact same message on 17 Dec 2009 07:03 AM. THIS time when I responded, I saw the bounce-back immediately! Here is the bounce-back -
--------------- This Message was undeliverable due to the following reason: Each of the following recipients was rejected by a remote mail server. The reasons given by the server are included to help you determine why each recipient was rejected. Recipient: Reason: 5.1.1 User unknown -------------
They're not even writing me FROM A VALID EMAIL ADDRESS!! So there's no way to respond to them! I had to dig into their support system to figure out how to "update their ticket". I sent them ANOTHER copy of this BBB complaint from start to end and explained that they had sworn they were closing this issue out two years ago.
I am also writing the BBB to reopen the case.
December 17, 2009 - 11:22pm EST.
Someone from ServerPronto called me up at **11:22pm EST** with a collection call. I do not believe this is legal. A male voice stated that he was from ServerPronto and that he wanted me to pay them the money owed.
I asked if he had read the history file that I have posted on the ticket. It appeared he had not, but he wanted the money.
I explained - again - that I have already been promised by ServerPronto administration that this charge was going to be voided because I did cancel and was no longer using their service for the period in question. That promise was made two years ago.
This is an invalid charge. I had already canceled my account before this time period. I had long since moved to another hosting company.
I am going to check with my local police department to determine if it is legal for a collection call to occur after 11pm EST on a weekday. I am also going to forward this information to the Better Business Bureau.
I would like to know the name of the person who made this call, for my records.
January 12, 2010 - 3:47pm EST
I heard back from the BBB, they are recommending I open a new case with them. They forwarded to me the "final resolution" from the previous case - it was that ServerPronto had written them and promised to work with me on solving the issue.
The original response from company sent to you 7/07/08 was signed by:
These allegations are untrue and unwarranted. Our services do not require contracts. We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service. We stipulate our cancellation procedure on Terms of Service which we require be read and agreed to prior to signing up for service. Terms were not followed and subsequently, service cancellation was either delayed or unfulfilled. We clearly state this in detail on form itself. Customer is fully informed of necessary final payment and 30 day lead time to cancel. We provide top notch Tech Support 24/7 to assist with all needs and mission critical applications. Customer is aware of this and had all available tools to communicate with us regarding their service. We are always open to communicating with customers and resolving any pending issues. I will personally be happy to deal with these matters. Please contact: Octavio Diaz--877-293-2095 ext. 1423
Now of course much of what Octavio says here is false, if you read the other things ServerPronto has said. Or maybe it's that Octavio believes what he said and it's the other people who were perhaps misinformed. It's hard to tell when one company gives you conflicting information, which person in that company is right and which one was wrong. In any case, Octavio is the one who called me back in 2008.
I tried to call him just now. The phone number is out of service. The ONLY number on the ServerPronto site is their sales number - 877-24-pronto. Let's give that a try. This would be 1-877-247-7668. It says "your call cannot be completed as dialed"!! I used their online chat system to talk with someone. They recommended I try calling directly at 1-305-324-1616. I did so. The automated menu had various buttons for all their "sub-companies" - infolink, etc. I chose the ServerPronto number. I then chose the button for customer support. No luck - they gave me an automated message saying I had to do all customer support items online and then disconnected me. I had to call back in.
Try #2. This time I dialed extension 1423 when I got into the system. It rang, and went back to the main menu. OK, so I now pressed 3 for ServerPronto. I pressed 1 for Sales, as that seemed the only human option left. A woman answered with a very heavy accent, not identifying herself, just saying "hello". I asked who she was, and she said Sandra. I had her look up the invoice. She put me on hold and checked with someone else about the issue. She then came back and said everything had been taken care of, and that the issue was now closed. I asked her to verify, that the account was now completely settled and I was all set, and told her I had never received any contact about this. She confirmed that yes, the account was closed and I was all set.
I admit I am very suspicious that things ARE settled. I will see if I get any new messages or any credit report damage from this point forward.
I will keep this page updated with any further actions from ServerPronto. I cannot recommend strongly enough that people NOT get involved with this company.
July 12, 2010
A six month update. No email or phone calls from ServerPronto since January.
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