After much thought as to whether or not I should write this, I’ve decided it might be best for someone out there.
As a web designer I have hosted sites for five years now, and my very first host was Utiware which I found through a Google search at the time.
First, you would need to understand the general problems with Nigerian web hosting companies before you go on to read this so you don’t get all biased. But by way of educating the public, and anyone in need of a hosting solution, I would be writing a review of Utiware, the web hosting company based on my experience with them so far.
Utiware Web Hosting – The Good
First thing I liked about Utiware was the admin panel, at the time I was not really concerned about the issue of total control so cPanel did not mean jack to me. I believe it runs on one of those windows based servers. It was, and is, simple to understand and navigate for basic core functions.
A rather generic (since every web host seems to use the same type) control panel serves as a client area with the support for admin related tasks like access to name servers, support ticket submission and payment related issues.
The best part for me though, at least now that I think of it, is the security measure Utiware has put in place to secure its servers. Although this is one of the primary causes of the issues I have faced with them for years. But for a beginner all those years back, trying out the world of online success, it was probably a good playing ground since it had these big tough looking guys there to protect me, the firewalls :).
Pricing of the hosting plans is quite reasonable, OK, if you ask me. But my problem here, and a general problem with Nigerian web hosts, is that add-on services, like SSL certificates, site scanners and regular backup are not displayed along side the other regular products. Which I find very frustrating. When I finally wanted to get one I had to send several mails. Prices turned out OK too. Never bought it though.
Remember all those tough guys by the play ground I talked about? Well they never let me leave the playground for a while. All my wordpress plugins and API services never got through those terrible looking firewalls. Now try to imagine my plight. I’m a “new” wannabe web designer, using wordpress for the first time, and testing out all these plugins to see what works and what doesn’t. And each time I test something new, these giant firewalls say “never”. And so i had to send a support request for every new plugin I tried. As you might guess, it didn’t take long for the guy behind the desk to send me a hate mail. Lol, not practically though. But this was the gist of the mail, paraphrased,
Over the past few weeks we have got several mails from you requesting for firewall exceptions for different wordpress plugins. We would like to note here that we have not received such a large amount of requests from any other client. And we noted that your site was loading really slowly, the slowest on our servers. Please try to fix this.
I felt bad, the big tough guys were now prison walls. I wasn’t free to explore the outside wall anymore, and worst off, I was just called fat! I disliked that customer care rep, and if I had seen him face to face I would have told him how inconsiderate he was to an undergraduate trying to get the hang of a fun software. The guy burst my bubble bad.
I still get those issues till now, and in the most recent episode, a social login plugin I installed kept giving me errors. Looked like certain settings needed to run the API were not being met by my host. I communicated the problem to Utiware. And as usual I was told the settings were OK and that the plugin was the problem. I might have believed this, but the same issues had been posted in the support forums of that plugin, and everyone who reported the problem fixed always referred to the web host, so really, what should I think. The plugin support team even went as far as investigating the problem from my site itself with an admin pass, and confirmed their suspicion. But Utiware is almost never at fault. So I lost.
In my opinion, Utiware is a great company, but those behind the curtain are not helping it out at all. In this age, customer service is an indispensable arm of value adding service. But for some reason, Utiware doesn’t care. One thing I have come to understand in the past year, since I took interest in the idea of customer service and how companies, some of the worlds largest, have built their success around it is “The customer is King”, put in another way “The customer is always right”, even when he is wrong. And in a situation where he is, you have to make him progressively see that, and then look for the best way to help him out. I value being treated right, but Utiware is the wrong company to expect such values from.
Funniest part of all, you have to see this, I was recently asked by a client to change his host (Utiware) because he had experienced server down times, which I had too, Utiware said there was no such thing, like I was lying or stupid or both, seriously! Anyways, I asked for my transfer secret or EPP code so I could get my client on another host. And I get this mail,
We are sorry to hear that you want to transfer your domain away from Utiware. Can you please tell us why you want to move your web hosting service away from Utiware?
At Utiware, we strive to meet our customers’ needs by providing reliable Web Hosting and prompt technical support. We hope we served you well while you were here.
Thank you very much for choosing Utiware Web Hosting.
Utiware Web Hosting
And this was my reply,
I’m a bit surprised to hear that. Over the years, my interactions with your customer service reps haven’t conveyed that I’m a valued customer. So either this is an automated response or you just care about loosing the money.
Personally, I like utiware, have used you guys since my 200 level I think. Recommended you to everyone who cared to ask. But unfortunately your human side is lacking, if I have a problem with technical things, you should, really should understand that its an issue for my clients. So when you start to sound like, its my fault and I don’t know what I’m doing and you’re not to blame for anything. That’s messed up. Chews the fun out of all your nice interface and cool security measures.
Anyways, my client requested that I change the domain. Seems like he’s been having technical difficulties, maybe they are “fixable” but I couldn’t really argue much, can’t stick my neck out all the way for you guys.
He experienced server down times, which I also noticed on some of my other domains. Including database connection issues. The “xxxx.net” domain showed that for some time before it came back up yesterday. Maybe I’m on the wrong memory block of some huge server. It’ll be surprising that I’m the only one experiencing this.
My only advise, be more human, the whole world is moving in that direction. Talk to the guys at bluehost.com and see how they respond. Friendly bunch.
I hope this helps. I would like to start transferring the domain today or tomorrow. Thanks.
PLEASE, LOOK AT THIS RESPONSE
Okay please what is the domain you are requesting the epp code for ?
Thank you very much for choosing Utiware Web Hosting.
Utiware Web Hosting
I almost ran mad I swear. The guy did not try to apologize, or even thank me for referring them, and this guy, trying to hold back words now, just told me a moment ago that he was sorry I had to transfer. Seriously!!!
In the end I can’t be more angry with them than I can be with PHCN. Its like terrible service is hooked up into the average Nigerian company’s blood stream. Sad. I really hope they can get their customer service right, its supposed to be a basic management function. It should be.
In closing I would say, although a good company, not placing enough value on the customer would bring down any business. Hope you guys get better.
PS: I still use them :). Not much of a choice for now.
PPS: I’ve ditched them completely. I helped a friend register with one of their plans in 2013 though, all the same problems still come back to haunt me…issues by association I guess, crappy company.