Being a Customer is Hard

Being a customer is hard. Deep breaths may help.

I think I’ve spent so much time being a seller and provider that I’ve forgotten how ridiculously hard it can be to be a customer.

This is me as a seller when a customer comes to me with a problem:

“Calm down, don’t worry, I’ll get it fixed for you. 🙂 “

For the most part, my job as a seller/provider isn’t very stressful. I’m always reassuring people and just working through problems. Sometimes customers freak out, but since I usually know exactly what the problem is (or where to start looking), it doesn’t stress ME out that much.

This is me as a customer when I have a problem:

“SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!!! It’s not working! Was it me? Or is this the seller’s problem? Shit, I don’t know what to do!!@!@! What if they think I’m a moron because I did something stupid? Or what if it’s THEIR fault and they won’t own up to it??”

I’ve been feeling VERY stressed out

I was/am planning on renting a new server. It’s with a new (to me) company, but with very reasonable prices (unlike who I’m with now, where their server components are WAY over priced because “they can”). This server, like my current one, is unmanaged. As I explain in my post about kinds of hosting, this means you don’t get any support. It’s up to you to set things up and solve problems. The only way you get support is if there’s something wrong on THEIR end, like a hard drive fails (then they replace it).

So, I started setting up the new server

The host ended up installing something called XenServer for me, which is a really piece of software. Once that was set up, it was all me (and Coding God). All we did was login, poke around a little, just to make sure everything was there (which is nothing, since it was an empty server for now, lol), and change some passwords.

A few hours later, the server lost internet connection. It was still “alive” and running, it just had no access to the internet. That means I couldn’t get into it through “normal” methods (SSH). This was after we’d stopped fiddling with it, so it’s not like we did anything to cause the problem.

Our initial tests suggested a network connectivity problem, which would be something on the host’s end. So we sent them all the data to suggest that and waited for them to respond. They replied saying they’d forward that to their networking team to look into. So we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

For over 24 bloody hours.

Finally, they replied back. They said that they restarted the server and it was fixed now, but they didn’t know what caused the problem. WELL THAT’S NOT VERY REASSURING!

Then, it dies again

Shortly after, it dies again in the exact same way. No internet connection, so I can’t access it. At this point, I’m freaking pissed. I didn’t do anything ‘special’ to the server other than an initial set up (pretty much like buying a brand new computer and installing Windows — THERE’S NOTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG UNLESS THE COMPUTER ITSELF IS DEAD!!).

So I tell them I’m really concerned and I don’t feel comfortable moving my site to this server until we get to the bottom of it. I need to know if this is a software problem (thus MY problem) or a hardware problem (thus THEIR problem) and fix it.

My next day of server activity looks like this:

Pingdom report showing numerous periods of downtime

This is basically stats of the server dying for 1-20 minutes at a time all day long. And that’s when nobody was touching it.

Whose fault is it?

I guess this is the part that gets me. On the one hand, I’m super freaking frustrated. I’ve only had like four different servers, but I’ve never had such a huge problem setting up what is essentially an EMPTY server with nothing on it.

But on the other hand, what if it isn’t the host’s fault at all? What if XenServer is just being really stupid and buggy?

I’m just pissed off because this is really frustrating and stressing me out. I JUST WANT IT TO BE FIXED! It makes me have all kind of second thoughts about moving my site over at all… But then if it’s not the host’s fault, I’ll feel really horrible and guilty for being so impatient with them.

At the height of my frustration, I tweeted this picture at them from my Pingdom report:

Server downtime of 1 day 23 hours (7 outages), with an uptime of only 7.82%

Shortly after doing that, I felt really guilty. They’re trying to help but don’t know what the problem is. I shouldn’t be playing the “name and shame” game with them on Twitter. I’M JUST SO GODDAMN FRUSTRATED!

I’ve learned that I have little patience

When I can’t figure something out or I feel like it’s “out of my hands”, I have absolutely zero patience. I just want to kick and scream and go hide in bed until it gets fixed.

Tell me about a time you were frustrated because NOTHING IS WORKING AND I DON’T KNOW WHY!

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. Ashley, this is my life. And I know it’s my fault. While yours is technical, mine is more academic. I can never get my schedule straight. Whenever I think I’ve got it, something gets in the way and completely messes it up. It’s annoying and funny at the same time but a lot of the time, I totally feel like you.

    Obviously, I’m not at the stage of being a seller. But I know that when I get bad grades, I freak out and the teacher has to reassure me and hand me pamphlets on extra help classes. I found this really relatable [especially the part where you were freaking out because that is ME]

    Nova @ Out of Time recently posted: Mandatory Rules On: Talking to Authors
  2. Awww sorry to hear to about this Ashley. I hope it works out quickly and for the better.
    Well I’m not a seller but I’m the same with my friends, if they come to ask for help about something I’m just you do this/that and no need to worry, everything will be fine but if I feel like I messed up than I just can’t even think start, I’m just WHAT DID I DO? and just panicking/over thinking about every minor thing then.
    I’m currently quite frustrated with pretty much everything. My parents are away at the moment (have been away for a while now) and they won’t be returning for another two weeks at least. It’s just my siblings and me (I’m the middle child) and they refuse to help around the house apart from one or two little things. I’m running haggard since I’m doing everything and getting really testy about everything since it’s not just house stuff, its bills, my university assignments, grocery shopping, dealing with whatever my parents dealt with and I’m just really tired of it all now. 🙁

  3. It’s too bad you’ve been having technical difficulties lately. Hopefully, everything gets fixed up soon. I’ve never really had much frustration as a buyer or seller of online “goods”/”services” because I don’t do it often. However, I have experienced immense frustration as a coder myself. I haven’t done much web design, but I do work on projects in languages like Python and Javascript. As you probably know, bugs are a frequent occurrence and whenever I come across a particularly nasty one that I have no idea how to fix and I can’t find out how to fix, it is so frustrating. A lot of times Google searches aren’t quite helpful, either, because forums are always popping up where people don’t use grammar and punctuation so it takes me so long to figure out what they’re trying to say. It’s just so frustrating trying to debug code. Ugh.

    Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: My Blogging Wishlist
  4. That’s why I give some leeway to my customers because I know what it feels like to be confused and frustrated from something you don’t know how to do or fix.

    I have had experiences like this with my blog before transferring over but mostly, problems with my computer in general makes me want to kill myself. Because I just don’t know internal computer shit! Or like my anti-virus problems. Ugh.

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday #7: Magic Shifts
  5. Haha, you would totally freak out if you lived in Brazil. I had a 13 kbps (!!!) internet connection for 36 hours this week – and the company kept saying the problem was on my wifi. It meant nothing to them that it happened the same with the cable plugged on my computer. It took a bunch of screams on the telephone for them to finally fix it.
    Here it happens the same with energy, telephone, water supply, on banks, and everything you can imagine. And it’s always our fault… So I’m used to scream at the first sign of trouble (social media included).
    It takes not just deep breaths, but a monk patience not to go crazy.
    Good luck with your new server, Ashley, hope you can figure things out.

  6. I haven’t had any website related frustrations like you speak of, and I hope you can solve the issues Ashley.

    I have, however, been as angry and frustrated as you sound. I pre-ordered Lee Evans’ DVD Monsters with Amazon and it was out early November. I then placed another pre-order for Girl Online which was out a couple weeks later. Amazon VERY KINDLY (sarcasm) held my Lee Evans order and sent it along with Girl Online. Trouble is, the post here in Tenerife is CRAP. It takes weeks at the moment, and the DVD was actually a Christmas gift. Come mid-December Girl Online had arrived, but my DVD hadn’t so you can imagine my panic and frustration. Amazon weren’t very helpful (other than offering to send me another copy express which would incur customs charges worth more than the DVD) and the Correos had no answer and I was literally waiting and waiting during Christmas week for it to arrive. It FINALLY arrived the day before Christmas Eve. It’s completely put me off Amazon, as all I seem to have with them is issues. And the less said about the Correos the better!!!! I could deliver a parcel quicker than them.

  7. I so know how you feel! Just a few days ago, I had a problem with Google Work Apps, as I entered a wrong mail address, thus a confirmation email never reached me, and I was freaking out if it would cost me anything if I wasn’t able to cancel the account before the free period ended. I was trying to find the problem in the FAQs, as any good user should, but when I couldn’t find anything (I was looking in the wrong place, apparently, but I used appropriate key words)… I had to google Google Support, can you believe that? I found the German support mail address (there was DE in it) and got an automatically generated answer, basically telling me that this e-mail will never be read by an operator. That was my first WFT moment. Then I used a German form to contact support somewhere in the FAQ feature, very small print — and got a call from an English speaking operator. I thought I had to strangle somone — hat’s so unprofessional! If I provide a service in different languages, I need to have support in all those languages as well. They got lucky with me, but think if it had been my mother to send out that support ticket?! Seriously, what can you say to this?! I still feel like I have to put some heads through the wall…

    Caro @ The Book Rogue recently posted: Me, my Shelf, and I ~ 18/01/2015
    1. OMG it’s so funny that you mentioned Google Apps! I had a problem with them recently!

      I have a ‘normal’ Google account with my custom domain email. So the email isn’t through them, but it is a Google account that I use for my Google Play subscription.

      But then I wanted to actually turn that into a Google Apps account to use email. But it wouldn’t let me sign up, since that email address already existed as a ‘normal’ Google one!

      So I sent in a support message. Waited a week. Heard nothing.

      Then my husband live chatted with them for me. The guy didn’t know how to get around this, but he took down my details and said that he’d have someone from the UK office call me on Monday.

      Monday came and went, NO CALL!

      Finally I called them, spoke to someone, and solved the problem. GRR.

  8. I should probably see something wrong with tweeting to a company when you’re annoyed with their service, considering that M-F between 8-5, I’m the one getting angry customers tweeting at me lol.

    But you know what? It’s effective. One the issue becomes public, the company usually deals with it a lot faster. I can speak to this on the company’s side. So you do what you gotta do. As long as you’re not being like super rude and attacking them, a quick “Hey, this is going on” message on Twitter is likely more effective than an email with the same message.

    There are some companies that I *only* get customer support from through Twitter, just because it’s so quick and easy if they’re on top of it. For example, I use a plugin for my editorial calendar and social sharing. They have people monitoring the Twitter account like 18-20 hours per day. They also have a pretty extensive help section of their website, but it doesn’t have a great search feature. So I just tweet them and know I’ll get my answer more quickly than trying to comb through their help articles.

    1. Yeah I totally get that Twitter can be effective. I just felt bad because they were ALREADY helping me. So by contacting them on Twitter when I was already communicating via email, I just felt like I was being a bit annoying and telling the whole world, “Look how long my server has been offline with this company”. 🙁

    1. I don’t think you’re an idiot! 🙂 Even if they’re easy for me, I totally understand that a lot of people know nothing about coding.

      There are definitely areas in my life where I’m a TOTAL noob and I’m the one asking the stupid questions. So I get that!

  9. Seriously, anytime anything goes wrong on my blog, I always panic. It’s because I don’t understand technology, so 99% of the time, it probably IS something I have done, but I don’t even know where to start looking to fix it. You’ve received my emails, you know how bad I am about it. I always feel like a moron because after a year and a half, I thought I would have a better understanding of some of the technical stuff. So, I hope you get all of your technical issues taken care of, and know that I really really appreciate the help you have given me! 🙂

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