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When customers see red, sometimes the obvious solution will only fan the flames

Alister Silver badge

We provide web hosting for a number of clients in the rail transport industry. They generally own their own domain names and just point the A records at our servers IPs.

I was on call one weekend, and at 3AM on Saturday morning I got a pager alert that one of the client sites wasn't responding. I jumped onto the server, but the site was up, just not receiving any traffic. I checked the registration details of the domain, and sure enough the domain had lapsed.

I sent an email to the client's internal IT, and the "Digital Experience Manager", and copied in my boss and various other interested parties, explaining that there was nothing we could do, and the client needed to re-register the domain, then I went back to bed.

By 10 o'clock on Saturday morning my inbox was filling up nicely with emails from various high-ups at the client, demanding that we fix the issue, and decrying our "useless" support, questioning our SLA's and all sorts of threats. I then had a phone call from the chairman of our company, asking what the hell was going on and why we didn't fix it.

So I explained to him what the problem was, and he calmed down and told me to ignore all the flack that was flying, and enjoy my weekend...

Come Monday morning, the site is still down, the domain is still unregistered, and the client is threatening legal action if we don't do something...

We have a very shouty conference call, where again, we explain that there is nothing we can do, they are responsible for registering the domain, and only they can fix the problem. It transpires that following a number of staff layoffs, there was nobody at the client who knew the registration details of the domain, or the login for the registrar account.

It took them until about Thursday to sort it out, and they reckon they lost about 18 million in online ticket sales, but get this, they STILL tried to say we were liable for those losses!

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