Thursday, May 16, 2013

HostGator - The Privacy-Intrusive Web Host

To proceed with this transaction, we require additional pieces from you.
After spending quite a bit of time exploring an alternative web host, I chose HostGator. The reviews were kind, the price was reasonable, and they were having a sale. Seemed like a good time to start migrating my 10 domains (soon to be 11) over to new digs.

I was quite pleased with the speed of the transaction and the ease of managing my settings with cPanel, when I received this message from them:

Hello,
Thank you for your order with HostGator.com!
In order for us to continue with the account setup, please respond to this ticket with a scanned copy of a Photo ID such as as a passport, or drivers license. In addition to a photo ID, please include a scanned copy of the credit card that was used in your account purchase  (assuming you purchased a hosting account with a credit card). For security purposes you can mask off all the digits of the card number except for the last 4 digits.
We sincerely appreciate your cooperation here, and look forward to working with you.
Thank you,
HostGator.com Sales Team

Really? In order for the privilege of receiving 3 years of their service, pre-paid, I have to agree to provide HostGator with digital scans of (1.) my personal identification and (2.) the payment card?

Flabbergasted, I called to see what I could do.  A polite gentleman named Phillip seemed quite unprepared for my discomfort.  The most that he could say was that my transaction had been flagged as suspicious.  He excused himself for a moment to get help from a higher-up, but when he returned the news was the same. There was no over-the-phone information I could provide, nor any other explanation I could give to satisfy him that I was a legitimate customer.  It was my copies of my personal information in their custody or no service.

Not a difficult choice. No service.

On a brighter note, I was pleased to have been offered an exit survey: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend HostGator to..."

Beep.

I think she was about to say "friends".  Perhaps "friends and family".  "Friends and colleagues" would be better still.  I'll never know now, because I hit zero too fast.