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HostEcon: Intransparency, bad support, and phishing attacks
I’ve been a customer of HostEcon (hostecon.com) since January 2009. Basically this used to be a one-man offshore hosting operation run by one Sam Phillips. Support was 24/7 and issues could mostly be worked out within a reasonable time frame.
In April 2011 I learned by chance that HostEcon had been sold to Host Hong Kong (hosthongkong.net) – another one-man operation run by one Clive Rand. (I only know the proper names of Sam Phillips and Clive Rand from Whois records, because they would register my domains in their own names – to facilitate registrar transfers as Clive Rand claims –, otherwise everything is anonymous.) The business continues to operate as HostEcon.
Customer support has deteriorated dramatically since Clive Rand/Host Hong Kong took over. To start with, customers were never informed about the sale. Clive Rand claims that they don’t need to know. When I complaint about a lack of transparency in his business practices, Clive Rand would get confused and talk about transparency in IT structures, which apparently means that they should be invisible to customers. Transparency in business practices means however the opposite. I want to know when my hosting provider is being sold. (The discussion of this dragged on for about two weeks, and he still doesn’t get it.)
Next thing Clive Rand took upon himself the decision to change the registrar for all domains of HostEcon customers. Customers were not to be informed of this either. Clive Rand wanted to make the transfer whenever a domain was up for renewal. I insisted that at the very least all my domains should be transferred at once, as otherwise for the next year some of my ten domains would be blocked at all times and a transfer to another host practically impossible. (At that time I was already getting worried about the unsatisfying quality of support I received.)
For the transfer he insisted on registering all my domains in his own name – against my expressly stated wish that they be transferred with my name as registrant. Here as on many other occasions, Clive Rand simply ignored my wishes.
Despite some hickups, the transfer was finally done – and my domains prohibited from further transfer for two months –, when I started to get phishing alerts from Google Webmaster Tools. According to Clive Rand, another account on the shared server was responsible for adding phishing extensions to nine of my domains (which subsequently were listed on phishtank.com and similar sites).
While Google and McAfee SiteAdvisor still display warnings for the phishing links, Clive Rand claims that the links do not exist (although he admits having suspended the other customer’s account). The fact that one account on the server could get access to my domains held in another account does not bother him. He claims that this does not mean that his IT structure was compromised or my account had been hacked.
I really don’t care what he wants to call it – in my understanding HostEcon was compromised and my account has been hacked to abuse my domains for phishing.
I wouldn’t normally post something like this, but I feel that the changed ownership and dramatic deterioration in customer support at HostEcon warrant this warning.
Myself, I will despite the phishing problems Clive Rand refuses to address have to wait until the end of the domain transfer prohibition period in mid-June until I can leave HostEcon. I feel like being held hostage.
Biggest Pro: Cheap offshore host
Biggest Con: Incompetent support
Hostecon is an average host. I have been hosted with them from over 5 months and I can say its neither good nor bad. Means, I had a 2-3 hour downtime once but just once. Never again. The speed is good. The support service is slow. I had to wait for about a day to get the answer to my support ticket. The main thing is this that their servers are offshore ones allowing warez linking, proxy and other stuff. Just because of this I have been able to maintain a good relationship with them. :)