CI Host, an evil-doer of the hosting world

If you Google “CI Host sucks” you get about 340,000 hits. Even with the quotes (exact string search) you get 70 hits. This post joins that group.

I’ve been a co-location customer with CI Host since January 2002, and used their shared hosting for some time before then. Their shared hosting really sucked… so I’m not sure why I thought their co-lo service would be any better, but to my defense I must note that at the time there were no local co-lo alternatives in the same price-range. Granted, with one’s own, remotely managed server there has been no need to deal with CI Host’s non-existent customer service, at least to the same degree as with shared hosting. But co-locating introduced its own issues, such as periodic loss of A/C while the server power is still available (this has happened three times in last six years) where the server almost cooks before they either got A/C back online, or I found out as my server’s environmental sensors started sending high temp alerts and I was able to turn off the server before hard drives started failing.

Being now aware of all these problems as well as to save money I started recently a project to consolidate servers into a different, much better data center.  I had some credit left on my CI Host account, and it was enough to keep the service up through the 20th of October, this month, or so I thought. In late September I contacted CI Host billing and told them I was planning to cancel the service in early October. “No problem,” they said, “we’ll erase your credit card info to prevent automatic billing on October 8. Just submit your cancellation notice with instructions so that the service won’t be terminated when the billing doesn’t go through.” So I sent in my cancellation on September 23, and faxed in the signature form (mind you, the fax number they provided on the cancellation confirmation email was “no longer in service”, so I had to find their current, functional fax number first).

Today — on October 8 — I received an invoice from their billing department, with the difference between the total amount for the month and the remaining credit due immediately.  Surprised, I called them, and was told that “CI Host does not pro-rate credit for part of a month,” and that “your invoice is due now,” (or we’ll terminate the service and won’t relinguish the server when you come to pick it up) no exceptions.

Arrgh!!  What is this?!  There was also “nobody else to talk to” than “Sheila” with whom I spoke. No supervisor – she was the supervisor. The fact that I’d been a customer for almost seven years, had referred several customers to them (which I now regret), had stated that I don’t need the remainng credit (about $20) refunded after I’ve removed the server, and that I had been told otherwise couple of weeks ago (when I still would’ve had the time to remove the server before the end of September and the beginning of a new billing cycle) made no difference.

I nearly removed the server from the center last Saturday after their network (and cleverly also the customer service phones which probably operate over VoIP) had been down for three hours. I wish I had, because then I could’ve simply refused to pay. Now I had no choice since my server was being held hostage, and I had not demanded it on the paper that the remaining credit would indeed have been good through October 20th without an extra payment.

Now, some $36 I had to pay is not a huge sum of money, but the way they treated a long-term customer was plain wrong. Considering the number of unsatisfied customers and some major gaffes over the last decade or so, it’s miraculous that they’re still in business. My guess (and hope) is that they won’t last much longer, they don’t deserve it. I will never refer another person to them, and am sure to tell the story to as many people as possible. Was it worth the $36 for them?

P.S.
If you need top-notch co-lo service, look into VIRTBIZ (starting at about $10/mo more than CI Host per month), or Colo4Dallas. Both have excellent level of service. For managed hosting try out Rackspace. Using a sucky hosting company like CI Host is simply not worth the grief!

5 thoughts on “CI Host, an evil-doer of the hosting world”

  1. I cannot even start to say how this post made me feel. I had some flashes when I was a customer of them back in 2000.

    I cannot not complain about their support, but the company sucks really. They had a reseller account with them, and paid like 150$ a month for all the websites running. They wiped some accounts totally 2 times in 2 almost 1 and half year i was their client. No backups nothing, a total lie, i losed completely 2 websites back then. On another occasion another site was completely hacked and wiped out. The service was the worst in history, you had like weekly downtimes. I wasnt to demanding back them because i was a newbie and did not knew anything better but today i would sue them right away for all what they did to me. 40% of my reseller accounts where a total lie, they never existed, you could claim as much as you wanted. That sheila women is the same from that years, she is in the collecting departament, a very rude person. They keep charging me 6 months for a disconnected service. They rob me more then 580$ of my credit card because i finally cancelled the credit card. This people are a shame. Their CEO is a real scumback, they sued some people because of bad reviews back them, people had complete websites like cihostsucks.com and similar. Now of course with the magic of google they cannot stop people anymore from hiding their terrible service. Im sure they also lie about their colo offer and network.

  2. After four years of being a CoLo customer of CI Host, I received a $3600 bill for a monthly bandwidth overage. I don’t run any high traffic sites and had never exceeded any bandwidth cap in the past, so I requested evidence of their claim of this excessive bandwidth usage. After numerous requests and almost 2 months later I finally received a “log report”. It wasn’t much of a log just switch port summary with a few sets of numbers and no unit identification or explanation. When my bill became 60 days past due they disconnect my service (TWICE) even though I was still disputing the charge and it had taken them over six weeks to get me any log at all. The organization I work for just wanted proof that the charges were legit and not an error or fabrication. Finally I just paid the bill to avoid being completely shut down. Not too long after this I received another monthly bandwidth overage bill. Determined to get to the bottom of this issue, I was finally able to get some detailed logs from CIHost and started to analyze them, but was never able to determine how they came up with the overage amount they claimed. Their initial investigation came to the conclusion that their traffic logs and overage charges were accurate. I began looking at traffic reports from my servers and came to the conclusion that there was no way their numbers were correct. I also began to realize that they didn’t really know how their numbers were calculated either. I continued to press for explanations, conversion formulas, and how they got the usage numbers. Finally, they began to look at the switch and traffic logging system and once they figured out how it worked they realized that it was configured incorrectly. (I was actually only using about 4% of their initial claim!) They promptly refunded the $3600 and canceled the other charges. Unfortunately I can’t get back the over 50 hours wasted dealing with CI Host over this issue.

    The biggest sources of frustration in dealing with CI Host were the slow response to my requests and their lack of competence. I was finally able to get things done once I communicated directly with their managers via email. Their employees can’t do anything without management approval and they’re frequently in meetings or unavailable.

    Here are my observations of CI Host after being a customer for a number of years: 1) CI Host’s services are well priced and you get a lot for your money. In comparison to other Datacenters, you do get more than you pay for. 2) CI Host is not a top tier datacenter. Their facilities, infrastructure, and technical support are low to mid-level, which will get you by most of the time. 3) You’re not paying top dollar, so you should expect occasional outages and issues. Over the years we had a number of power outages, high temperature issues, etc. 4) Many of their employees are overworked and underpaid. Thus, some of their people are not the most qualified or competent. As with any organization some are helpful and others not. 5) They only have staff available to answer customer support related phone calls from 8 to 5, Central time.

    I DO NOT RECOMMEND CI HOST. Pay a little more and you’ll get better service and support.

  3. Ditto…

    Same thing happening to me on my dedicated server. I have been a CIHOST customer since 2005. I have had ups and downs with them over the years, but due to the economic climate I had to canceled the account this year. I canceled as requested to do so online. Only to receive a bill 2 months later. Luckily the billing credit card was canceled before hand.

    Also, I purchased 2 hard drives and had them installed in to my dedicated server; as of right now they are holding them hostage for a sum of over $2,500. (the cost of the dedicated server package)

    Now I have a collection agency bugging me to pay a bill that is not valid.

    I have wrote off the HDD as a loss. And I have turned over the collection problems to the lawyers. I bet a letter from my lawyer will shut them up. But who knows.

    Peace
    JP

    :-/

  4. CI Host’s building was demolished this past week. Karma finally caught up with them! 😉

    Btw, I continue to be quite satisfied with VirtBiz. My servers were at COLO4 for a few years after I evacuated from CI Host, then moved to VirtBiz as a savings measure in 2011. Sure, the place is not as sleek as COLO4, but service has been good and they do their best to serve their customers well.

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