Shame on them.

I didn’t sleep much last night.
I kept waking my husband up to tell him I couldn’t believe that Maddie was gone. I felt a sadness I’ve not felt before. When I woke up this morning, I felt a sense of helplessness. A friend had just suffered an unimaginable tragedy and there was nothing I could do to heal her heart.
I logged onto her blog this morning and saw that it was down. Having this incredible desire to do something useful, I contacted Bluehost to find out if there was anything they could do to help.
I put in a help ticket on behalf of thesphorsaremultiplying.
Here is the email exchange:
From me: I see the account has been suspended. Probably due to a surge in traffic. Is there something you can do to bring the site back? The owner of the site’s baby girl died yesterday. She was only 17 months old. That’s why she’s getting so much traffic, people want to help. Can someone help with this?
From Brandon:
Before I can give out account info I need you to validate the account with password or the last four of the credit card on file.
Thank you,
From me:
Brandon. I don’t have that information. I was just wondering if there was anything anyone there can do to help get her site back up. It’s a long shot, I know, but people want to go to her site to get information on how to donate to her March of Dimes page in honor of the baby that just died.
From Brandon:
I do apologize but with out account password or last four of the credit card on file I am prohibited with giving out info of why the suspension has occurred or how to rectify.
By the time I got the last reply, her site was back up for a few minutes, so I responded with the following:
For the record, I didn’t want to know why it was suspended, I just wondered if there was anything you could do to get her site back up. Thanks for your help.
And that was the end of the conversation.
I know that others tried to contact to ask for help.
From @temptingmama
When I spoke to @bluehost about @mamaspohr I said “they ‘re not email spammers & their daughter just died.” They said that’s the rules.
“That’s the rules.”
I get it. They’re a business. They have rules. GET IT.
But, what THEY don’t seem to get is that their customers are REAL PEOPLE. And in this case, real people who just lost their daughter. Real people who are making funeral arrangements for their daughter. They really couldn’t have overlooked the rules in this case? Even for only for a couple of days while the site was moved elsewhere?
I’m outraged at their lack of humanity.
A comment from Deb that says so beautifully what I failed to say.
I’m concerned that they not only did not help, but also sounds like they
did not acknowledge the human issue under the tech question when talking to
both of you. All customer service front line folks should know how to say
(when a red flag of media, high-profile, or special need like this goes
up): let me find someone who can work with you on this special situation.
Talk about alienating influencers.
I hope that the higher-ups at Bluehost are appalled and feel moved to make
a substantial donation to March of Dimes in acknowledgement of their poor
handling of this.

39 thoughts on “Shame on them.

  1. Deb from NY

    I just tired to get on her site and I cannot 🙁 I am so upset for her. That baby was beautiful.

  2. James E.

    I’m a new father (still sort of, she’s 14 months) and the thought of something happening to her, just the THOUGHT of it, is unbearable. I cannot imagine what the family is going through. I hope the site issues get rectified (from your Twitter feed it looks like they might).

  3. Corey

    I can’t even imagine what they are going through. The thought of losing a child is just unbearable.
    What a good friend you are to at least TRY and fix her site. FYI…I can get to the main blog page right now, but none of her links on the top of the page are working. However, most importantly, the March of Dimes link is there. Just thought I’d let you know.

  4. Candace

    I am so glad you are smearing their name on here. What a bunch of jerks. I totally agree.. I know how it is working with “rules” but even at a high security workplace, we do break them for special instances. Makes me want to puke right now just thinking about it. I am so deeply saddened for Maddie and her family 🙁 There are no words for how heavy my heart is.

  5. kirida

    You are a great friend to step up in this way. This is an opportunity for Bluehost to show that they are a decent, caring company that can help one of its customers in a difficult time. It’s customer service. This makes me so mad, I cannot type.

  6. Deb on the Rocks

    I’m concerned that they not only did not help, but also sounds like they did not acknowledge the human issue under the tech question when talking to both of you. All customer service front line folks should know how to say (when a red flag of media, high-profile, or special need like this goes up): let me find someone who can work with you on this special situation.
    Talk about alienating influencers.
    I hope that the higher-ups at Bluehost are appalled and feel moved to make a substantial donation to March of Dimes in acknowledgement of their poor handling of this.

  7. Rachael

    I know that companies have rules for a reason. But I can’t help be pissed every time that a company DOESN’T realize that rules are guidelines, and they are not going to be appropriate for every single situation. I can’t stand it. I can’t believe that they were unwilling to help. I’ll never use them.

  8. sam {temptingmama}

    *sigh* Y. There’s so much I want to say about this. I am livid. LIVID.
    I was on the phone with the hosting staff for the better part of the morning trying to do *anything* to get the site back up. I had the required password as well as credit card on file. I had every available opening for them to NOT slam a door in my face. I offered to personally pay for a package upgrade – they had none. I offered to pay for a month’s dedicated service on a server for them – they don’t offer that.
    I said to the lady, “Please? Anything? It’s not like they’re email spammers. They’ve lost a child and we’re trying to have the site available even just as a condolence page. Just the last post would be fine as a statis page so ppl could still comment and leave a note for Heather and Mike. Something.”
    The repsonse was they cannot do that. Sorry. That’s the rules.
    Get this… even if they did open the site again and it crashed the shared server they were still going to ban the Spohr’s from their service because they have a “three strikes your out” rule.
    So we moved the site to a dedicated server offered up by a complete stranger. @PrincessJenn is a wonderful and generous lady who is now hosting the Spohr’s sites until we get them on a different hosting plan.
    I am deeply deeply hurt by what the host has done. It blantantly shows that they do not care about the humans on the other end of the computer. They are all about the money and numbers. It’s disgusting.
    (Sorry for taking over your comments.)

  9. merlotmom

    Thanks for putting this travesty out there. I hope no one hosts with BlueHost and if they do, please, I hope they switch. I’m sure they have no idea of the backlash they are/will get from this horrible, inexcusable behavior. But I hope it’s worse than I imagine. Heather and Mike are two of the nicest people and it would have taken little to help them. Oh, and, thank you again Sam and Princess Jenn for coming to their rescue.

  10. fidget

    Bluehost has been completely inhuman on this issue. I find it to be 100% bad business and now hundreds of bloggers, sit owners and industry influencers will never consider hosting with them- I know i never will use bluehost.
    I understand the protocols set up to stop spammers but when all these people began contacting them, apprising them of the situation, they should have circumvented standard procedures. It’s obviously an extraordinary situation- one that warrants understanding.

  11. c lo

    Oh, I in case no one else has seen it, the president of Bluehost is this guy:
    I sent him an email. I suggested the same thing you did…….Bluehost ought to make a donation to the MoD in honor of Maddie and make this as right as they can.

  12. Jessica

    I’m sorry, expletives following:
    What a bunch of FUCKING ASSHOLES!!! How could they fucking do that?!?!
    Ugh, if I ever acted like this when I worked in customer service, my ass would have been CANNED.

  13. the new girl

    Oh, that’s just HIDEOUS.
    I remember after my mom died and I had to call and settle all her accounts, all the service people who I talked to ALL gave the standard, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’ I knew that they were trained to do that but STILL.

  14. Krystle | Snarky Kisses

    It is SO frustrating that a large company like Bluehost would not for the sake of this special horrible tragic situation, not look ANY further than saying “not unless you know the account info.” So frustrating – and sad and WRONG.
    I sure hope Bluehost sees some of this anger and sadness… I got on their site too and tried to email and complain, but couldn’t find an email address anywhere.

  15. Lynn (Walking With Scissors)

    I signed up with BlueHost a year ago and I’m sorry I did. My site was hacked twice and I got no response from any of the tickets I submitted on it. I’ve heard of others with this same problem. I was upset about THAT, but THIS is a completely different ball of wax. Completely and utterly inexcuseable. I will never recommend BlueHost to anyone and will never again sign up with them. There has to be a better webhost out there. This is disgusting and it makes my stomach turn. Shame on them, indeed.

  16. FlippyO

    Wow, that’s incredibly ridiculous and mean-spirited and assy and BlueHost deserves to have their name smeared all over the internet for this. To not have the common decency to allow the extra traffic for, at the most, a week, I’m sure – it’s unconscionable. What dickwads. Hey, does anyone own Time to get on that right away and get it up and running. I don’t think there’s any way that they can make up for this (not even an apology and a donation would make up for it, although they should do it anyway), so I think for the rest of time, people should know why as a hosting company, BlueHost sucks. Companies aren’t run by robots – it’s amazing that they couldn’t let one single account break their stupid “rules” for a few days. It wouldn’t cost them anything, as I’m sure they buy their hosting in bulk from another larger company.
    That said, I’m glad that I was able to get to the blog when I was up in the middle of the night. I was able to read about Maddie, watch some videos (I’m sure I’m partially to blame for overloading the server 🙁 ), and to see how special she was. I loved the video of her in her little car, with her mom pushing her down the sidewalk while walking the dog. Sooo cute! It was so heartbreaking to read some of the blog entries talking about what Maddie would do in the future. Damn.

  17. FlippyO

    By the way, it was really nice what you and the other people tried to do to keep the blog up & running. I’m sure Maddie’s parents will appreciate the effort that everyone went through on their behalf. After reading lots of the blog entries (I’d never been to the blog before last night), I know that Heather will have plenty to say about BlueHost when she’s ready. I don’t think they’ll know what hit them.

  18. geek with a heart

    As a geek who has lived through the tech side of this delicate issue, I would like to offer my view.
    First of all, my deepest and most sorrowful condolences to you, your friend and all touched by this. It’s a horrible tragedy. I agree that that Bluehost could have handled this better but there is also no way on God’s green earth a host company is going to let you in on anything about the site. You being a good person with no malicious intent are the doomed one as you are only trying to help. Not everyone has such good intentions, no matter what the story is.
    They did get the site back up and I think a nice donation from them to the March of Dimes would be an excellent gesture. I think they should also have a discussion with the staff on how to handle situations that don’t leave someone angry enough to start a blog war against them.
    I hope this helped. Good luck in your future communications with them.

  19. Y

    I appreciate that. I do want to make it clear though that at NO TIME did I ask for information about why the site was down or what happened to the account. All I asked was if there was anything they could do to get it back up.
    However, I do appreciate that point of view. I truly do.

  20. Kristi

    I also called them because I host with them and figured it couldn’t hurt. I was able to get through to the Suspension Dept (I just gave the name of the site – didn’t say I WASN’T the owner) and she explained that there was a script on the site that seemed to be erroring out, possibly one of the tables in the database. The owner would need to go in and repair the database via the CPanel (pretty easy to do) at which point I explained that I wasn’t the owner, her DD had passed, and would they be able to do it.
    She didn’t even acknowledge that I said anything about the daughter, just said they needed to fix it themselves and then they could call back to get the account un-suspended. 🙁 Boo.
    She was very unfriendly, I was pretty disappointed in them. They could have made more of an effort. I realize that something bad could have happened but if it was that ‘easy’ (clicking a ‘Repair Database’ link) then why didn’t they just DO IT?

  21. SciFi Dad

    Just for the sake of fairness, I dealt with an individual named Nathan via their live chat support, who, after I explained the situation, said he would contact their abuse department immediately. Shortly thereafter, the site returned.
    I have no idea whether or not it was Nathan’s actions that precipitated this.

  22. FlippyO

    For the sake of fairness, it sounds like Bluehost had NOTHING to do with getting the site back up and pretty much refused to help from beginning to end. The site was switched to another hosting company thanks to the people Y(or someone else, I know I saw it somewhere) mentioned putting the site on their server. Bluehost doesn’t deserve any credit.
    Okay, I’ll shut my mouth now and go to bed.
    I’ve had my own dedicated servers for around 6 or 7 years now, so I know what happens when there’s a problem with a spammer or a hacker. The problem with their account was easily explained extra traffic, which could’ve been handled without a problem. They said that they couldn’t help, yet they advertise right there on the front of their website, “UNLIMITED File Transfer (NEW!)”. And that, THAT would’ve fixed the problem. So,’s “Affordable, Reliable Web Hosting Solutions” (HAHAHA!) still SUCKS. If the problem was with a shared server (which is what they said on their forum), then why didn’t they temporarily move the domain to another server that wasn’t full? Oh hell, why didn’t they at least ATTEMPT to help? Oh, that’s right…because they suck.
    The site was successfully moved to a better hosting company, – clearly, a company able to handle the traffic. And, if you have a website and suddenly have a surge in traffic for whatever reason (hopefully not something as devastatingly sad, but if it was, you want to be able to reach your friends), you want your hosting company to be able to handle that traffic, even if it costs you more to keep your site up. For some people, it could mean that their business was mentioned on Oprah and suddenly millions of dollars are at stake. Bluehost would shut you down and say, “Oh, sorry, can’t handle it.”

  23. Midwest Mommy

    If you have a name and address I would happily love to fill their mailbox with compliant letters. I will never use them nor ever recommend anyone to. That is just heartless. Regardless if they are a business there are still humans working there and they should have hearts to understand these circumstances. Horrible Business!

  24. Michelle

    God, what assholes. Some people don’t have the guts to say something to their superiors when they know something should be done.

  25. cagey

    I used to be a customer service rep for a student loan company. There was a famous murderer here in Kansas City (Richard Grissom) who killed several college students. I had to speak with the parents of one of the students – it was a call with potential high media and was very sensitive. But I still could not help the parents because I was not legally allowed to do so. I tried to be as polite as I could, but the father was really, really angry at me. I will never forget that call.
    I know a lot of folks are hurting because of what happened to the Spohrs, but truly, sometimes folks’ hands are tied.

  26. Mamacita

    On LinkedIn, where someone was singing Bluehost’s praises:
    A large, rapidly-growing segment of the Blogosphere would have to disagree. Businesses would do well to remember that it’s not wise to antagonize bloggers, and to treat a grieving family as Bluehost treated this family, no matter what their “rules” might be, is NOT my idea of a good business. Sorry. They might be great, but their attitude isn’t. I prefer that the people to whom I pay over my money have more than just business savvy; I patronize businesses that have heart.

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