What happens when a locally-owned ISP / hosting company has a problem and 3,000 of their customers lose access to their websites and/or email? Trouble, that’s what. Customer’s websites are down. They can’t get email. They can’t access the Internet. Two of my web design firm‘s clients have called up and expressed emotions of panic to me.
The Salt Lake Tribune published the article ArosNet move causes Internet headaches which says service was supposed to be restored yesterday, but as far as I can tell it hasn’t been. KUTV reported on the 19th that the website was up and you could access email there, but a quick visit to aros.net shows the website still not working.
I’ve previously written a post on how to set up a web hosting account if you’re looking to switch to a different provider.
This reminds me somewhat of what has happened recently to jetBlue in that while jetBlue sells seats on jets and Aros.net sells web hosting, email, and ISP services, they’ve both experience exceptional events that have cost them a lot of money and credibility, and which have exposed the level of our own dependence on such services.
jetBlue has taken a big hit financially, but I believe they have done a lot of things right in the aftermath. The CEO has expressed his sense of embarassment, humiliation, and mortification. He has pledged millions of dollars in compensation, has written a passenger’s bill of rights, and has pledged to put processes in place to prevent any such event in the future. He avoided the fatal mistake of pointing the finger of blame at the airport or the weather. People like it when someone takes responsibility and takes a matter like this seriously, rather than saying “Hey, it’s not really my fault…” even though David could certainly make a credible claim to that effect.
Likewise, the problem Aros.net has is not entirely the fault of the current owner. But I suspect he will be hurt much more than jetBlue. The big difference between buying web hosting and buying a plane ticket is that one product you purchase once and generally use for a long time unless there is a catastrophic event, and the other you buy repeatedly and every time you buy you have a lot of choice. It is a big hassle to switch hosting providers, but it is not such a big deal to go with one airline one time and a different airline the next (assuming they both fly where you’re going). Customers who are unhappy with jetBlue might come back. But once you move hosting companies the pain and cost of moving back makes moving back a large hurdle, and therefore the customers who leave Aros.net will probably never return. The negative press will keep customers from signing up with Aros.net since there are so many adequate alternatives, and therefore the chances that Aros.net will ever recover from this are, unlike my physique, slim.