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  #1  
04-27-2011, 06:13 AM
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Quick link: If you're looking for a good host, click here.
After reading this page, you won't want to use ClubUptime for VPS or web hosting!


About This Review:

These reviews are for readers of this site, as well as myself. I want to document hosts that "seem okay" on the surface (professional looking, been around a while, verifiable information, etc), but may be a nightmare in disguise.

This is one of my non-trial reviews. All such reviews are clearly marked at the beginning, like this one. What this means is that I have observed behavior that has usually met one or more of the following conditions:
- Abuse or mistreatment of customers in public.
- Public displays of immaturity (i.e., "kiddie hosts") or poor attitude.
- Giving out client information in public.

There are people out there who would say I'm not allowed to review somebody I've never tried.
My response is this: I've never stuck my finger into a live electrical socket, but I'm pretty sure it would be an unpleasant experience. I feel quite justified in suggesting others avoid it. I have enough factual, scientific or logical research to arrive at that conclusion. This is no different.


Why Avoid This Host?

On April 26-27, 2011, this post was made at webhostingtalk.com

Andrew Colbourne of ClubUptime Group, as username "TrySparta", had these comments.

In post #18:
Quote:
Be grateful for what you've got, and stop whining.
In post #20:
Quote:
I really do wish your next host all the luck in the world with you, they'll certainly need it.
In post #22:
Quote:
It doesn't matter what's "fair", I'm not in business to be fair to you.
And then, in post #34, the web host posts client information in public!

The attached image from tinypic.com (in #34) was a screen shot taken by the host (as revealed by the other information on screen, like the back-end admin URL). Seriously, #'s 18, 20 and 22 were bad enough with the immature attitude. But #34 is inexcusable. This company took it upon themselves to give out a client's name and email address on a public forum.

Is that the kind of hosting company you want to do business with?

I'm appalled.

You don't want a host that will ridicule you in public -AND- reveal your personal contact info online to strangers.


Parting Thoughts

I really don't like writing "negative" type posts like this, but I think it's important to do.

This site was created to educate others on digital media -- and that includes web hosting, the computers that power digital publishing (i.e., web sites). A large portion of our reviews/guides have been for consumer protection, for these past 9 years. For example, our well-known testing research and published review guides on What Blank DVDs You Should Buy (and NOT Buy). And we've expanded into sharing our digital photography and digital web/print publishing knowledge.

Seriously, just pick a better host.

(Click here for the list of suggested web hosts.)

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  #2  
04-27-2011, 06:27 AM
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For the sake of Google/Bing, and those that may search for this topic:
  • ClubUptime sucks
  • ClubUptime problems
  • ClubUptime downtime
  • ClubUptime bad host
  • ClubUptime negative review

I'm still in disbelief that a host simply gave out client information on a public forum. I don't know that I've ever seen that before.
But not only that, it was used as ammo to be rude and condescending to the customer.
(Not that the customer was in the right -- he really wasn't. But the company was way, way, way out of line here.)

Again, there are better hosts.

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  #3  
05-01-2011, 07:12 PM
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Hello,

I just wanted to comment on the thread that's been opened here in stating that Andy is no longer an active face of Club Uptime.

We are taking him under disciplinary action for the content written in the thread noted on Web Hosting Talk.

What was said was far from professional, and we do recognize this, and we're taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again -- Especially the posting of client information. However, I would also like to note that in the screenshot posted by Andy, he released no more information than the client already had himself in their own screenshots. While that doesn't excuse what happened, I'm personally glad that the information was limited to a name and email address.

We're far from a bad company. In fact, with thousands of clients, this is the first review that you can find about us that is truly negative and wasn't able to be resolved to the customers satisfaction (Even though we did provide a 100% Full refund, which is what the client wanted originally).

You can feel free to reach out to myself directly with any questions or concerns that you may have.

Thank you,
Matthew Rosenblatt
CEO, Club Uptime LLC
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  #4  
05-03-2011, 05:25 AM
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Before I Begin: Everybody should note that I purposely made this a thread in the forum, to give ClubUptime a chance to respond to it, on the off chance they came across it online. (Probably from a Google alert, if I had to make a wager.)

It's an interesting experience to run a media business that provides services to other services, studios, corporations, individuals, etc -- and at the same time works to educate colleagues and peers, would-be professionals, and our own clients. That includes reviews and other "consumer aware" type content. It's an odd balancing act of not angering our potential customer base, yet not allowing our business to bleed over into the editorial content when we feel the need to share something.

Now then...

Quote:
I just wanted to comment on the thread that's been opened here in stating that Andy is no longer an active face of Club Uptime. We are taking him under disciplinary action for the content written in the thread noted on Web Hosting Talk. What was said was far from professional, and we do recognize this, and we're taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again -- Especially the posting of client information.
Had you stopped here, I have simply said:
"Thanks for the response, hopefully you can put these sorts of incidents behind you, and learn from your mistakes."

I really wish that was how it could have ended.

... but it didn't ...

Quote:
However, I would also like to note that in the screenshot posted by Andy, he released no more information than the client already had himself in their own screenshots. While that doesn't excuse what happened, I'm personally glad that the information was limited to a name and email address.
To use an extreme example, that's like trying to justify rape because he/she was already not a virgin, or maybe even "asked for it". There is no way to dig yourself out of this hole, and attempts to downplay it simply reveal the character of the company. In other words, you don't see it as an extremely negative incident. So that still should cause concern among any and all current/potential customers. Red flag.

You have to own your mistakes, without excuses. (Reasons are fine, excuses are not.)

If you want a great example of what not to do, simply look at Sony, and their mangled handling of the Playstation Network hacking incidents. Their inability to quickly admit problems has given them a huge black eye to consumers.

Quote:
In fact, with thousands of clients, this is the first review that you can find about us that is truly negative and wasn't able to be resolved to the customers satisfaction
This is also NOT a true statement. On many sites right now, ClubUptime is being criticized for having a big promotion that encouraged annual prepayment for hosting, only to have those unmanaged plans EOL'd the following month because your company suddenly decided to end that product line. I don't know all the details, but it amounts to (if nothing else) wasted time on the part of users, to have to unwillingly move their sites and services to another OpenVZ host, or even another setup (Xen) within your own facilities. If not mistaken, the new plans are a higher price, too. If I subscribed to a monthly plan, then had move the next month, I'd be pretty pissed off, as it takes weeks to fully setup and tweak a VPS/server.

So even if I understand the position to discontinue ... and I do ... it's a valid complaint.

Again, own the complaints when valid. Don't try to brush them off. The only way to defend yourself is with truth, and in situations like this, the only truth available is that you've screwed up, so you have to take your lumps like an adult.

Beyond that, I would point out that "Andy" has been criticized elsewhere online for being rude in chat and in support tickets as far back as 2010. And that apparently bled out into public forums like Webhostingtalk.com in 2011. So this was not a one-off incident from somebody that claims to be an "Executive" of ClubUptime, and not simply a first-line tech support peon. That guy needed to be muzzled months and months ago.

Anyway...

I have no further input on this topic. There is plenty of information for potential (or even current) customers to read here (or elsewhere online, for that matter), to use in the decision making process on whether ClubUptime is the right solution for their hosting needs. I'm simply pointing out what I perceive as a problematic attitude, based on available texts written by ClubUptime employees. You may find new customers that completely disagree with my assessments, and that's their choice to make.

Clearly there are worse hosts out there, and in due time we'll get to those, too. (If for no other reason than I'm tired of seeing "Top 10" spammer sites that list crappy unlimited hosts solely for the purpose of taking advantage of their ridiculously high affiliate payouts.)

And when we find good hosts, we'll become one of their best allies, as good companies need support.

All the best with your business.

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  #5  
06-25-2011, 02:39 AM
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Is ClubUptime unprofessional? Apparently the plot thickens...

Based on the information found at:
This is the situation:
  • In late 2010 (December?), ClubUptime "merged" with the Minecraft/gameserver host Brohoster, which was created and owned by 17-year-old Jacob Jervey (known as "JWJ" online). According to posts by JWJ, it was supposed to be a partnership in running Brohoster, now a subsidiary of ClubUptime.
  • For the sake of comparison, ClubUptime/Brohoster's CEO "Matt" doesn't look to be much older. All of 21 years old, to be exact, according to PeopleFinders. In my opinion, he appears to be a younger version of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.
  • In May 2011, Matt (known as "CU-MattR" online) fired JWJ, who he accused of being a lazy/under-performing, embezzling drug user. (fp post#118, 437, and others -- it's a long 76-page thread there at facepunch.com) JWJ's "severance" is somewhere between $5k and $12k, depending on who's postings you want to believe (Matt or JWJ).
  • In late May, some sort of press release was sent out stating that JWJ was "no longer a part" of Brohoster (as if to insinuate he had left by choice).
  • The domain name "brohoster.com" was owned and registered by JWJ, and according to JWJ, Matt invoked the ICANN disputes process, and somehow acquired the domain "brohoster.com". JWJ seems to infer that Matt won the ICANN dispute. However Matt claims no dispute was filed, stating that JWJ had agreed to hand over the domain in 2010, thus inferring that JWJ simply handed it over when a dispute was filed. (fp post#89)
  • Within a week of firing JWJ, Matt puts Brohoster for sale on Webhostingtalk.com (WHT), asking for $350k starting bids or $600k buy price. (Matt later insists this was a mistaken amount.) When reading the various posts by Matt, notice the fluctuating numbers of clients -- it's varies from 3500+ to 4500+ within mere days. Interesting.
  • According to posts by Matt, all clients were going to have their servers cut off on Monday 6/20 because Brohoster couldn't pay its server bills to the actual host, Softlayer, and that Brohoster would cease to exist. (Matt also blamed JWJ for the lack of funds.) After this drama unfolded online, Matt withdrew the WHT bids/sales, and the company is apparently still online.
  • Reading through the massive amounts of posts and online bickering between the former owner (JWJ) and the apparent current owner (Matt), there's a lot of worrisome information. Threats are traded via posts and phone calls, accusations made about hirings/firings within the company, etc. In between the posts of these two young men are thousands of other posts by dozens (possibly hundreds?) of angry current/former Brohoster clients, as well as looky-loos that find the situation revolting. All of the anger is channeled at Matt, and I'm reminded of the Vince McMahon kayfabe character "Mr. McMahon" and WWF crowds chanting "a$$hole" in unison.
  • Matt has attempted to threaten sites with legal action for posting articles/blogs/posts on this topic. However, such threats hold zero legal footing, between First Amendment rights and 1996 statutes on ISP liability.
  • A 6/22 press release by Brohoster seems to convolute the story even more, publicly un-firing a fired tech, who was originally also fired on accusations of being lazy/under-performing and belligerent (information also gleaned from various online posts by CU-MattR). How many professional companies air their dirty laundry like this?
  • What I don't really understand is why JWJ ever merged with Matt, if ClubUptime was not as money-making of an operation as Brohoster. (As per JWJ, fp post#248) Nor do I understand why anybody would merge businesses without any kind of contract. (It's my assumption, based on all posts to date, that everything was via undocumented verbal agreements.) Of course, the official messages from Brohoster/ClubUptime dispute this account of the facts. Both stories are full of holes and contradict one another.
To swipe a few quotes from Reddit.com:
Quote:
- Founder hires CEO.
- CEO fires founder.
- CEO fires lead technician.
- CEO sells company after making virtually no contribution.
Quote:
It actually looks like they had no written contract, and that the CEO did an end-run around the founder, officially registering the company and claiming the domain, then giving the founder 5k and the boot. So it's a case where one was a noob (albeit a 17 year old noob) and the other one was/is an a$$hole.
I think that's a pretty succinct summary of the available information. (But is it true? That's for you to decide.)

Even if it turns out that JWJ is not accurate, and Matt is "innocent" -- Do you really want a host that has so much drama? ClubUptime and/or Brohoster are/were obviously run by extremely immature individuals, some of who are not even of legal age to sign contracts. Even without this unfolding drama, WHT and Facepunch, among other sites, have quite a few complaints (example1, example2) about slow tech support from ClubUptime and/or Brohoster, lack of communication, etc.

What a trainwreck!

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  #6  
06-25-2011, 03:36 AM
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Reading further, it seems Brohoster has removed the ability for customers to cancel their own accounts.
Users have posted instructions, which I'm mirroring here:

Quote:
How to cancel if the button is gone:
  1. Go to the "My Services" page.
  2. View the source of that page. Look for the line "<td><form method="post" action="/billing/clientarea.php?action=productdetails">" (This should be around line 55 or so.) If you have more than one service with Brohoster, you might have that line more than once. You'll need to find the one relating to the service you want to cancel. The details for the service that the line belongs to will be a few lines above it.
  3. Directly below that line, you'll see: "<input type="hidden" name="id" value="####" />" where #### is the ID of your hosting package. Remember that ID.
  4. Go to hxxps://bros.brohoster.com/clientarea.php?action=cancel&id=#### where you replace #### with the ID from step number 3.
    (Note: Replace hxxps with https)
That's it, you should now see the cancellation request form for your service.
That looks to be standard for any WHMCS billing system. (Not sure if WHMCS has an admin-initiated option to disable the cancellation in the backend, or if that was something that had to be customized in the code. Either way, I've never seen a WHMCS-using host that lacked a cancellation button.)

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  #7  
07-19-2011, 12:32 PM
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I can only say to everyone to follow the advice of KPmedia, don't go with Clubuptime. They have the worst support I ever had with a hoster, they just don't respond to tickets ... blaming customers if they use Skype after waiting for 10 days on an unanswered ticket.

STAY AWAY ... Just do a lookup on Clubuptime on webhostingtalk.com.
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  #8  
01-03-2012, 06:08 AM
christiwilsonc christiwilsonc is offline
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Post #5 is going to keep me from getting any sleep tonight. It scares me that businesses such as this are going to be taking care of me in the future. I have a 13 year old who is far more mature then these young men. Thanks for the heads up and I am looking forward to more of your informative posts. Just give me a few days notice so I can clear my schedule, and inform family that I will unavailable and please clean up after yourselves

(responding as thread was sent in link to me)
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  #9  
01-03-2012, 09:43 PM
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For me, the topic of ClubUptime is over with. There are other things I need to write about, good hosting reviews to write.

But, since you seem interested...

There's plenty of information online already, for anybody that wants to look. It's a long, long, long read, however. The June post by admin summed up probably 100+ pages of arguing and bickering across a half dozen or more sites. So with this post, I'll quickly sum up the events that transpired from July to December 2011, and thus complete the CU story:

Note: CU = ClubUptime, BH = Brohoster, SL = SoftLayer


ClubUptime was three-act play...
  1. Act One: Prior to June 2011, going back as far as at least 2007, CU was a low-end host that had gone by several names (HostTDS, Brohoster, ClubUptime, and a few others). It was started by a teenager who liked to refer to himself as a "CEO". Most non-BH CU employees were obviously immature, based on how they replied to customers in public. This thread was started based on my being appalled at one such shameful remark/incident.
  2. Act Two: In June 2011, the partnership between CU and BH imploded in public. The 17-year-old BH founder and 21-year-old CU founder had a feud on some video game forums, which eventually leaked into web hosting forums.
  3. Act Three: In July 2011, ClubUptime servers were cut off by the datacenter (SL), due to non-payment. They were tens of thousands of dollars in the hole. It's likely that CU's owner knew the cut-off would happen, but chose to not warn clients, thus preventing them from creating last-minute backups. The owner disappeared for days/weeks. Former BH techs did what they could to recover some data for clients, but some servers were unrecoverable. The owner promised to issue refunds, but former clients were posting up to 5 months later that no refund was ever made.
Sources: (#1)(#2)(#3)(#4) -- and these are all from WHT. There are more on others sites.

In all honesty, this is a typical story of low-end hosts. They try to compete on prices, offering ridiculously cheap hosting, which is not business smart. They don't make enough money to pay for business expenses, so they try to get more customers to increase income. The problem, however, is that the increased customer base is not met with increased infrastructure. CU folded before it got quite that bad, but a lot of crappy hosts just stuff boxes as full as they can.

This is also what happens when you're just renting servers, and are not a "real" host that owns their own hardware (and rents cages or rooms in a datacenter). From what I recall, some of the turned-off servers were recycled quickly by SL, which is why customer data recovery was not 100%. Had CU owned the servers outright, data could be recovered at any time.


The failed sequel...

A few months later, in the fall, the CU owner re-appeared, to defend himself. Most of the posts were just him (A) refusing to accept responsibility for the failure, and (B) blaming customers for their failure. To date, an apology has never been made that I've ever seen. The owner's idea of an apology is along the lines of "I'm sorry you feel that way" in response to anger by former customers. It's sneering platitudes along the lines of what right-wing politicians do (think of Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld) when forced to discuss their past bad decisions.

In November and December, the owner again re-appeared online, advertising a new service with the same old company name. Again holding onto the silly notion of being a "CEO" of a two-man operation (with the other 20-something being the "CFO"), he was going to get into server monitoring. But when I was researching monitoring server a few weeks ago (to add another service in 2012, as backup to what I already use), I saw that CU's site was down.

At this moment, clubuptime.com has this as its only message:

Quote:
Dear Club Uptime Clients,

Due to various reasons, Club Uptime will no longer be opening to the public. We are hereby closing the doors of Club uptime permanently due to financial and legal purposes. Beta testers may continue using the beta software located at my.clubuptime.com indefinitely, although we will no longer be accepting new registrations. Beta testers will be contacted with more information privately via email.

Thank you,
Club Uptime, LLC


Some parting thoughts...


What really grinds my gears is the fact that some people were actually defending CU after the three-act play went down, and supportive of this ridiculous attempt to make a sequel. It was quite apparent that amateurs -- with no college education, no business experience, and no professional qualifications of any kind -- were running it. For one thing, trying to use the same disgraced brand name? Really?

I have two bits of advice no kiddie host ever wants to hear:
  • When you're in your teens, go to school. Date. Have fun. Play video games. Get a hobby. Hang out with friends.
  • When you're in your 20s, go to college. Get an internship. Learn a profession or trade. Take an entry level job, and work your way up.
Too many youngsters have this idea that you can pay a few hundred bucks to create an LLC or S-Corp (thus granting yourself the title of "CEO"), resell a real company's products/services online, and then skip having a formal education or entry-level jobs that give real-world experience. Just get rich running a "business" from your parents house or college dorm room, even though you have no idea what the hell you're doing. It never ends well for the kiddie hosts -- neither for the owners or the customers.

CU makes for a great case study for an old cliche: Kids, stay in school!

I actually wish the CU owner well in his future: Go get a degree in something, stay away from hosting and IT, and find your successful calling in life. This wasn't it. This was a dumb teenager/college experience that needs to be hung in a closet, right alongside spring break shenanigans and frat parties. We all make mistakes when we're young and dumb. (Though my generation didn't do it online, seeing how there really wasn't one back then.)


Thanks for reading.

And if you need quality web hosting, for goodness sake, pick a real host.

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