In 1998 I started a small (miserably so) online business and had my first experience with selecting a hosting company. Back then it was really no big deal because mine was way too small a business to have many hosting needs and in those early times there was less competition amongst hosting companies. About all I was concerned about was having adequate storage space. Traffic wasn’t even an issue. Still, I ran into unexpected difficulties and soon learned that even very small businesses have to be concerned with more than just disk space. Support was the detail I hadn’t considered.
That first experience soured me somewhat because I learned that it can be like pulling teeth to get support from a company that doesn’t take this aspect of business seriously. The company I first hosted with turned out to be located in someone’s home — a fact that was never divulged in the advertising. The man was nice enough, and he tried very hard to accommodate me as long as my support questions came about on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., his time. Even then, he did not impress me with his level of expertise.
I have since been through no less than six moves, and until this last one, not one of them were easy to tolerate. If I remember correctly, the second hosting company I tried had a penchant for going offline way too many times, and attempts to get support were frustrating. An eCommerce site cannot afford to be available to customers only on occasion. By this time my business had grown somewhat and I had become very sensitive to this aspect. It was a sour experience and I remained with the company for less than a year.
Next came a well publicized hosting company that had received some good reviews — though I’m still a little suspicious of so-called reviews one finds online — and while the initial move went well, I had ongoing problems with connectivity and, again, a horrible time getting support. For one thing, there was no phone support at all. Everything had to submitted via a support ticket. This is fairly common, I’ve found, and there is nothing inherently wrong with support tickets, unless they are slow to be addressed and there is no alternative route to Support. Also, there was a most obvious language barrier which led me to believe “Support” was located off-shore. I am certainly not racist, but I believe it is mandatory that both parties are able to understand each other for anything constructive to happen. It was ugly.
The next experience was awful, more so than any other, because after a few months of reasonably adequate hosting the company I had moved to simply went out of business, with absolutely no prior warning. This was so bad word spread throughout the Internet and it became a well known debacle.
Skip to my most recent forced move. The host company I have been with for the last three years, I will say, has been a good host. It shall go un-named because I have no malice toward it. I had to move because, as an eCommerce site, I am compelled to show that I am PCI compliant in order to continue accepting credit cards via the Internet. This fairly new security measure is one I applaud, as it goes a long way to giving the buying public the kind of hard and fast security that has been lacking up to now, but because my hosting company was either unable or unwilling to provide a PCI compliant environment I was forced to find a new host. I imagine there are thousands of businesses scrambling to find hosting companies that will meet this need, which is one of the reasons I decided to write this article.
I found TVCnet.com as a result of being referred to them by McAfee Secure, a well known company that provides online businesses with security scanning and certification. They told me TVCnet.com was one of the very few hosting companies they felt comfortable recommending. When I looked at the available packages this hosting firm offers, I have to say I was not blown away. The packages are fairly small, but the pricing is also very affordable. The BIG plus was that they obviously put themselves forward as the leader in striving to be, and stay, PCI compliant for the sake of all their eCommerce customers. I decided to give them a try. My expectations were low until I called the phone number on the TVCnet.com home page . . . and got the owner!
Not only did Jim Walker answer my questions, he did so with candor, amicability and enthusiasm. He did not over sell. In fact he went out of his way to make sure I knew exactly what the company could do and what not to expect. There was precious little of the latter. I didn’t keep him on the phone, he kept me on. For over twenty minutes he spoke with me and would not hang up until he knew every one of my questions and concerns had been answered. Result was that I signed up an hour later, via the online process. Still . . . I knew not to expect an easy transition. There was a shopping cart that had to work, a Linkpoint gateway that had to work, and several other site functions, including installation of my privately owned SSL cert, that had to go well. I crossed my fingers and waited, while Jim and his support team handed everything. I didn’t have to upload a single file. My entire site was moved from the current host to TVC and every script and application was handled with care and concern.
Yes, there were problems. My payment gateway to Linkpoint refused to install properly and I fully expected this to take days to fix. But Jim, himself, stayed at it on into the weekend without interruption until it was done and working flawlessly. We exchanged dozens of emails (less expensive than phone time and email affords a record of the process that can be saved), and all I had to do was provide him with access information to various sources where he knew he could find the information he needed.
Jim does not know I’m writing this article. I am doing this because, quite simply, I am blown away by the seriously impressive support — no, let’s make that Support with a capitol ‘S’ — that TVCnet.com provided to me. Others need to know about this company. Hopefully, this article will make the road less bumpy for others who are compelled to find PCI compliant hosting, and for anyone with any sort of web site who would like to be hosted by an intelligent, helpful and friendly company.