James wrote to Gripe Line late last week in something of a panic.
"I renewed my domain and hosting contract last month with EMC Telecom for a two-year period," he says. "Yesterday, my domain disappeared, and my domain setup tool is inaccessible. Email to tech support goes unacknowledged."
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Bad enough was the sinking feeling James had of impending professional disaster. Worse was when he hit the phone to find out what was going on.
"Calls are now greeted with a message that says, 'That phone number has been discontinued,'" he reports.
I also felt that "uh oh" sensation when reading James' note. After all, it contained every red flag to suggest his provider had packed up in the middle of the night and hoofed it to avoid creditors. Nothing is worse for a customer, as it leaves them holding the bag. It's very hard to get satisfaction from a company that has disbanded and whose principals are in hiding.
"What are my options?" asks James. "Is there any way to get my money -- or my domain -- back?"
The company's Website was not live, so I checked with the Better Business Bureau, where the company gets an F rating, though not for a checkered past of bad acts; rather, the BBB didn't have much info on the outfit. I found some buzz on Twitter about other people's Websites and email going down -- along with the resultant fears that the company had gone AWOL.
I was commiserating with James and working the Net for answers when a Google search on a company principal turned up a blog entry from one of the company's resellers. The author had heard from the company, and the news was reassuring: It had suffered a major outage but hoped to be back up soon.
"The fact that their phone number has been discontinued may be due to them putting all eggs in one basket and using IP telephony?" James guesses.
Indeed, James' Website and email were back up again late that night, and by the next day, EMC Telecom posted this statement on its (once again up and running) Web site:
We experienced a major network outage at our datacenter. This happened at approx. about 2pm MST AZ time yesterday [February 24] and lasted for about 25 hours. Our internet connection to the datacenter was disabled and we lost connection to the internet.