Where Future Hosting imitates circus clowns

So as most of you know, after the tcp.com shutdown, I moved my hosting to VPSes. My main one is at vpslink who have been quite reliable. I’ve only had one extended outage when the server crapped out on them but otherwise it’s been fine with my VPS typically running undisturbed for months at a time.

I also have a small VPS at Future Hosting for backup mail and DNS. It hasn’t been terribly reliable. They seem to regularly have to reboot the VPS and usually don’t give any explanation. It usually gets rebooted about twice a month. They also had a server failure once, but recovered fairly quickly. Still, it’s not bad for what it is intended for, and it’s cheap so I can’t complain too much.

So a few days ago I get an email from them saying that they’ve had too many reliability problems with the service provider in the Dallas datacenter and that they’ve selected a new service provider there and would need to migrate everyone to the new provider’s servers. They offered several options and told us to pick one and open a migration ticket in the support system. As an incentive they offered a bonus of additional RAM to those who migrate first.

So, it looks like things might improve. If the problems I had were mostly due to their previous service provider then I’d be happy to move, so I immediately open a ticket to migrate. A while later I get a reply that the new server is ready and listed the new IP addresses. I immediately try to access the new VPS but can’t even ping the new addresses. I update the ticket asking what’s up.

Later I go into the control panel to check something else and notice that the server status is ‘stopped’. I press the reboot button and a few seconds later the VPS is starting up and then everything is normal. I guess I was foolish to think that the server being ‘ready’ and the ‘migration’ complete would mean that they would have actually started it for me. My mistake.

So then I’m going through the multitude of emails generated during the migration and notice something funny. Apparently during the migration they added two new IP addresses to the account for the new server. These are supposed to be replacements for the original addresses, but somehow the accounting system said “hey look, extra IP addresses; those cost $1.25 per month!” So I get a couple of invoices generated billing me for extra IP addresses.

I submit a ticket about the accounting error. Accounting goes at it and first tries removing the old addresses from the account, but that only results in a partial credit since the extra IP addresses had already been in place for a couple of days. So the mistake is now down to a few pennies and they could have just issued a credit or something to keep things simple. But no, it’s time to pull out the sledgehammer.

The next solution was essentially to change my plan type to the same plan and so reset everything back to normal. Just two problems with this. My plan type is now more expensive than when I signed up, and they also include an optional backup option by default. All told, this makes the plan cost just over double what I had before. So we’ve gone from a $2.50/month mistake to a few cents mistake to a $10/month mistake.

Now I’m waiting to see what else they can manage to screw up.

(Future Hosting already has their own backups in case a server fails, but this backs up only the latest state, and is only available in case of failure, not user error. The backup option is one that allows the user to do their own server-based backups and restores. I already do remote rsync snapshot backups on my own so I don’t need yet another backup option. Also it looks like though they added the bonus free RAM to my account, /proc/user_beancounters on the VPS says I don’t have any limits on anything. I’m afraid to point that out in case they come up with another solution that makes things worse than to begin with.)

UPDATE(2008-04-24): The billing problems have all been resolved.

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