The Nemesis of Ben Gabler

Posted by in Read the Blog!

It’s not exactly like I was found on the side of the street, barely recognizable and in need of nourishment in order to stem off a premature death. But yes, April found me in need, took me in, and gave me an electronic home.

The past two months of online existance have sucked in ways only black holes and Paris Hilton have known to previously. I had the carpet pulled out from under me and the battle for even an apology still rages on to this day. There is one person directly responsible for all this, and you *will* learn who this deviant is, but I shall hold onto this suspense for now, in order that you will stick around and read my entire post before fulfilling my fantasy of going to said deviant’s place of business with pitchforks and torches.

First, a little bit on what’s been going on since my website took the last train to the Big Adios… I’ve slowed down on the SNG’s online because I was seeing a definite decline in my results in conjunction with the lack of fun I was having. I mixed it in with some limit poker and a *lot* of Stud8, which was starting to prove a better bankroll builder than the SNG’s themselves. I also find that I have a great time playing Stud8, and it seems to fit with my comfort level of how many hands I need to play to feel involved. That nagging voice can be very dangerous in a NL tourney, but in a cash game where the starting requirements are different, it seems like a nice fit. In any case, I’m up and that’s all the statistics I need to know right now in order to realize that things are AOK.

The Geekette and I are coming up quickly on the big wedding and its proven to be a lot of stress that neither of us would really like to have to deal with right now. We’re doing a small wedding with close friends and family, with a simple ceremony and reception. You’d think that would make things easy peasy, but we still get to fret over everything under the sun. I have no idea how people make it through 5-digit wedding budgets and still have a fraction of brain power by the time the big day finally comes around.

I do know however that a lot of the people that we care about will be there, and because of that, it’s going to be very hard to screw it up. It could be an Elvis drive through wedding chapel, and I probably wouldn’t mind, because happy occasions are shared with friends and their attendance makes everything else moot.

Of course, I love Kori and that love also means making sure she doesn’t get married in said drive through wedding chapel. My boss offered to cover half the costs of the wedding if we had Elvis officiate. It took me 10 minutes to say no, but only because 9 of it was spent trying to decide if he was serious… he was. Sadly, so am I.

Return of Pink Five chugs along under the strain of flaky visual effects artists not getting their work to me after missing multiple deadlines, and now I know how my teachers at the animation school felt. Venting to Herr Direktor has not been very productive; I simply receive the knowing smile of someone who’s been in this business about as long as I’ve existed and a comment equating to “Welcome to the club”. I suppose it’s karmic payback for him as well, considering I’m one of the artists who has sent him into a deadline death spiral in the past. We all reach some point in adulthood where we look at ourselves and say, “Wow, I must have been hell as a kid.” This is one of those times. To help along the effects pipeline I’ve brought aboard a couple guys I’ve worked with in the past, and who I know I can trust to be straight shooters about making deadlines. It’s very nice to not have to fret over shots, spending more energy worrying than you probably would have if you had just done the work yourself.

And so, the moviemaking goes on.

The website does not.

SO. Let’s get down into down and dirty details about just what has happened here. Where is chrishanel.com? As of right now, it only exists in my mind, and *maybe* on a server somewhere.

Chrishanel.com was hosted on an internet service known as Exovian, a small operation in Florida which, for the time i’d been with them, had been very reliable and had given me a good deal.

About two months ago, I was going through my spam mail account (the one I sign up for services with so as to keep my personal email as spam-free as possible) and I noticed that Exovian had sent me a notice saying my bill was past due. I scratched my head on this one, as I thought I had an auto-payment set up with Exovian and there was no reason for this service to not be running anymore.

Going to Exovian’s website, I tried to access my account, and was denied. I *knew* my password the way I know my own phone number, but here I was, unable to get in. My emotions had switched from frustration now to a mild panic, and quickly navigated my way to Exovian’s Customer Support page. You will understand my extreme urge to freak out when the Support link took me to a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WEB HOSTING WEBSITE.

This website, HostGator, was completely unknown to me. On a whim I went to *their* support page, started up a chat session with a support rep, and attempted to explain the situation. As soon as I brought up Exovian, I was notified that the two services were merging, and that everything was working fine. However, my websites were *not* working, and had been down for several hours. The fact that the support person could not find my account information did not make me feel any better. I assured myself that if there was a merger, accounts not being transferred over has to be just part of the process, right? Right. I wrote an email to HostGator’s support explaining the full issue (including how I found out about this merger) and went to bed.

The next day, the site was still down and I received an email from Ben Gabler. Now the situation became more clear. Ben was known to me as one of the main operators of Exovian, and now he was working for HostGator as their Support Operations manager. His email actually made me laugh, as it destroyed Bill Simmons’ Unintentional Comedy Scale on a level I hadn’t seen previously from someone in the Customer Service field.

“Hi,

We sent out multiple emails about the merge and posted on the forums. Are your websites currently working for you?”

Okay, number one: No, I did not receive any emails informing me in any fashion that Exovian was going to be under new management. I even went through my Spam folder and my entire inbox (neither of which I delete) and found nary a shred of anything from Exovian, except for a note saying I needed to pay my bill.

Number Two: Telling me you posted on your websites forums about an important merger is like Mr. Prosser informing Arthur Dent that the plans for his home’s demolition had been “on display” for some time. The fact that this is believed to be sufficient communication blows my mind.

And Number Three: Did you really just ask me if my websites are up? You, support operations, asking me if I can see my websites? The only, ONLY situation where I can see this being acceptable is where the websites ARE IN FACT UP. This felt more like an inept attempt to pull the rabbit ears around from behind the television, while asking the person in front of the TV, “How’s that, better?” No, my websites were still down. You shouldn’t be asking me if they’re up, you should be checking yourself and then, hrm, I dunno, working to get them back online?

I responded saying basically what I’ve extolled up above, but in a very nice manner: No, never got an email. Nope, websites are still down.

Response:

I can assure you multiple emails were sent out and there was a post in the forums made on February 13, 2006. What package did you have with Exovian?

So now i’m either incompetent or lying. Okay, fine. And me not visiting the forums means I’m a bad customer, so I’ll just drop being angry about that. I answered his questions about which packages I had at Exovian, and waited.

…and waited. Another week. I tried contacting HostGator, and they still couldn’t find my account information, asking once again which packages I purchased at Exovian. I tried to explain, and again I waited.

Finally, after two weeks had passed since my website had originally gone down, I was informed that chrishanel.com was no longer giving a standard error message when attempting to go there, rather the visitor was greeted with this message:

“This website no longer exists. Sorry!”

I emailed HostGator one more time, begging for a response as to how this could still be going on and now there was evidence that someone knew full well how to access my servers and put up a note telling people that my site was never coming back. HostGator responded:

“Hello,

We are unable to locate your domains on our servers. This could be caused because of past due balances or transfer issues. Please directly email beng@hostgator.com. Ben will be able to explain exactly the cause of this.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Thanks,
Josh

Bile began to rush to my mouth as I suddenly became hungry for the head of whoever wasn’t doing their job to fix this situation. Being a former tech support person and dealing with many assholes in the past, I calmed down as best I could before going to HostGator for the umpteenth time. I went through the process I knew I would be entering into: the rep trying to find my account info (and failing), explaining the entire situation, being asked the same questions again, and finally, the inevitable question:

“So, what package did you have over at Exovian?”

I explained again what kind of setup I had, which package I had purchased, and what kind of server I was on, a windows box. That was when something finally clicked for someone enough to offer an answer.

“Oh, we don’t have Windows servers here, we only offer Linux.”
“So?”
“All Exovian accounts were sent to a different hosting service, GetNetSmart. You can contact them here…”

It was at this point that I snapped. It had been awhile since I believed I would be continuing business with any of these people, I just wanted access to my servers one last time to retrieve any files I didn’t have backed up and then cut all ties. And it wasn’t happening. Instead, I now needed to speak with Ben Gabler so I could get an explanation as to how this situation could get this fucked up. So many times Ben had an opportunity to give a concise explanation as to what was going on, considering Ben should have full access to my information and be able to tell me a simple factiod like WHERE MY WEBSITE IS and WHY IT IS DOWN.

It was around this point that I went back to Exovian’s forums and read Ben’s post about the merger explaining that there wouldn’t be any outage of service. Ben Gabler, the comedic genius.

After this point, HostGator’s support refused to deal with me, saying I had to deal with Ben. GetNetSmart had no user access, and to me it didn’t matter, as it was obvious that any transition that should have happened was unsuccessful. I began to email Ben multiple times asking for more information without success.

Yesterday I called HostGator attempting to track him down, and was told he was on the other line. I insisted I would wait, which I did for 10 minutes, before the line was cut off. I called back and asked for him again. I went on hold again for another 20 minutes, before being told he was now in a meeting. I gave my phone number and explained to the nice lady on the phone how badly my situation was and how I was being told that Ben was my sole source of information anymore. She seemed to get the idea and told me she’d grab him by the hair (her words, not mine) and get him to call me.

Two days later, no phone call, and I sit here like a wronged Bugs Bunny, stewing over one phrase in my mind: “Of course you realize, this means war.”

I’m going to continue to call Ben and email him (at beng@hostgator.com) just to get an explanation or an apology. If anyone else were to try and contact Ben and ask him why one of their favorite websites no longer existed, I wouldn’t stop them. I simply ask that you remain very nice and courteous, especially to the other people that work at HostGator. They have all been kind and sympathetic, if a bit in the dark as to how this whole merger was going down. If there is only one sin any of them have committed, its that they’ve agreed to have their support under the guise of what seems to be an utter and total putz.

Meanwhile on this part of the globe, I have to move on with my life and not let total assholes ruin my day. If I let it totally derail my life, then the terrorists have won, right? I have a beautiful girl that deigns to share a bed with me and a job that I love doing. I have my friends, my films, my cat, and my laptop.

And once again, I have a blog.