SiteGround Review: Ouch!

Rating:

Reviewed by:

Pros: Cost-effective, functional service

Cons: No real customer support other than an ineffective knowledge base

Bottomline: Cost-effective, functional, yet with shady terms and lack of customer support, it’s likely not worth it

SiteGround is a full-featured web hosting provider boasting many different characteristics. Among these are 24/7 “customer care,” 99.9% server uptime, a free domain name, as well as unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and email accounts. They appear to provide all of this at a very affordable price. In this review of their shared web hosting, we will determine if SiteGround provides a foundation for these features with a quality service and effective customer support. SiteGround’s “5 years” of experience and “70 dedicated professionals” should hopefully validate these claims.

Features and Pricing
Since SiteGround provides “unlimited” web space and bandwidth, like some other hosts, they have chosen to provide a single, all-inclusive web hosting package with various billing cycles ranging from 1 month to 36 months.

They include all of the features that one would expect from a web host. Any features beyond the standard package can be added at extra cost. These add-ons include private SSL (for having a dedicated security certificate), the ability to host more than one website under the one account, a dedicated IP address, SSH access, among other things.

They provide certain e-commerce specific features including free shopping cart software, a shared SSL certificate, the ability to accept PayPal payments, and merchant accounts. This offering is very convenient. Sometimes it is necessary to obtain these services individually. This offering is consistent with many hosts, yet it is nice nonetheless.

SiteGround does provide a free domain name with their hosting. Also included is the allowance for the hosting of unlimited parked domains and subdomains, while add-on domains require an extra fee.

Like many hosts, SiteGround also provides numerous open-source scripts that can easily be installed for free.

At the time of writing, SiteGround was offering a 40% discount, reducing their “regular” price of $9.95/month to $5.95. This deal may very well be a consistent offering.

Terms of Service
There are several things that stand out within the SiteGround terms. One thing that presents itself after initial review is that legal actions must be handled within the court system of the Republic of Panama.

Like many web hosting companies, SiteGround maintains very large legal documents to govern the use of their services. This includes a 13,000 word Terms of Service document; a nearly 13,000 word Reseller Hosting Program terms of use document, and then several smaller documents covering their Acceptable Use Policy, promotions, affiliate program, templates, etc.

Like many web hosts, SiteGround does qualify the unlimited nature of their service. Similar to others, SiteGround specifies that “Unlimited use applies to your use of web pages only” and not the storage of other files (specifically movies, pictures, or mp3 files). Whether or not the use of the space and bandwidth is acceptable is really at the discretion of SiteGround. They are able to provide it as unlimited as they are well aware that webpages specifically do not require many resources. If your site’s purpose is to serve photos (likely in the range of several thousand) or video content, you very well may not be able to benefit from this “unlimited” nature. In that case, it may be necessary to purchase a dedicated hosting plan.

SiteGround states that although they back up data themselves once per week, this is for internal purposes (in case something were to happen on their end). It also appears that any movie, music, zip, among other file types, are not backed up. Therefore, even if something does happen with the SiteGround service, these files might not be restored. It is therefore important to maintain regular backups as a customer. They may provide backups to the customer as a service, but there may be a charge for this.

Regarding payment, it is stated that “invoice are due immediately upon receipt” and that an interest fee of 1.5% will be assessed on unpaid invoices, yet it is not explained how often this interest will be applied.

Renewal of shared hosted automatically takes place 15 days prior to the expiration date for terms of one year or longer, or on the date for terms less than one year.

If the credit card on file expires, SiteGround is no longer responsible for a customer’s data or domain name. If a card is declined, there will be a $1.00 service fee.

Customers should be very careful with a dedicated IP address in regards to spam email. If an IP address is blocked due to spam coming from that address, a $100 “block removal fee for each affected block” and an hourly fee of $100 will be assessed to this issue.

Billing disputes must be made in writing and must be received by SiteGround no later than five days after the invoice due date. There are also provisions in place that if a customer issues a chargeback against SiteGround before notifying them and after the “Dispute Deadline,” two $50 fees will be assessed, and a customer’s domain may be locked during this until the fees are paid.

For shared hosting there is a money back guarantee that allows customers to submit requests in writing to terminate hosting and be refunded all prepaid fees (except setup and domain fees).

SiteGround is willing to issue credits due to service interruptions, yet there are some limitations, including that a customer must request the credit within 3 days, can receive one credit per disruption, and can only receive it if the account is not past due.

If a customer chooses not to re-register their domain name, SiteGround reserves the right to register it for themselves and then sell it. SiteGround can also take ownership of unpaid domain names.

If SiteGround believes that a customer does not have “sufficient technical expertise” and requires “excessive ongoing technical support”, they reserve the right to terminate the account.

It is possible to terminate services through their website, and a customer must acknowledge an email verification for the termination to occur. It will then take five days to process and for any refund to be issued. Customers are apparently responsible for fees during this five day period.

Then they go on to state that termination of shared hosting must be requested within 30 days prior to the expiration of the current term and “before a renewal invoice is due.’ Otherwise there will be a $24.95 “Early Termination Fee”.

There may very well be more issues with their terms, yet these are some that stood out.

Control Panel
SiteGround has a Customer Area component to their site that serves as a gateway for managing services. The presentation is very user-friendly and it links to areas providing account management, billing access, support, and the addition of services.

siteground_ss_2

The industry standard cPanel is utilized by SiteGround to allow customers to effectively manage their websites. It is easily accessible via the My Account section of the Customer Area.

For those new to hosting, cPanel provides a setup wizard that guides individuals through the setup of their account settings (e.g. email account).

siteground_ss_1

Testing
I noticed that within cPanel, SiteGround links to a site builder application. It provides some very generic looking templates, almost tacky in nature. There are some site builders that generate very appealing pages, but this was not one of them.

Also integrated into the cPanel control panel interface is a “Google Apps Manager” allowing customers to easily setup a component of Google Apps under their domain name.

Customer Support
Upon signing up, I didn’t receive a welcome email. Often this includes important information regarding the account. I needed to setup my domain to point to the hosting so I needed to find out the nameservers.

There is no support number stated, but I thought perhaps that their sales number might have support options, which it does.

SiteGround has a very clear phone menu system that guided me through finding this information on the website.

I then wanted to obtain some information that may not have been so readily available, so I decided to ask about how to set up custom error pages (available through cPanel).

I placed another call around 2 PM on a Saturday. After dialing the option for Technical Support I waited as the subsequent options did not match my issue. The system then played some music as if it might be transferring me to a representative, but it just repeated the options and then disconnected me after I did not select one.

I tried calling again and dialing 0 to speak with a representative but that disconnected my call.

It appears that SiteGround does not offer technical support (other than guided prompts) by phone. That can be quite frustrating, especially when other options aren’t effective.

I went to the Contact Us page on the site, clicked to “Contact the Technical Support Team through our HelpDesk” only to be directed to the knowledge base system with no real option to contact the support team. The “HelpDesk” (self-serve knowledge base) provided me with several categories of issues. I tried searching for “custom error page” and I received no results. I tried picking the “Other Technical Issues” category and it didn’t provide me the option of contacting the support, even though issue specific categories did.

I ultimately found the SiteGround customer support to be completely inaccessible for my issue. I couldn’t even find an email option, let alone a live chat system.

In order to cancel an account, it appears as easy as clicking a button in the billing system. Upon doing so, it informed me that I would receive an email with a link to confirm this. The link then took me to a live sales chat (as there do not appear to be support chats) in which the representative questioned why I was canceling and if there was anything he could do for me.

The chat operator’s name appeared to be Eastern European. I have replaced it with “John” here. That may be evidence of outsourcing the live chat.

[START CHAT]

Kyle Summers: ?Question: Hosting account cancellation for example.com account?OID 123456?Immediate cancellation?Refund Due: No?Reason: I am not happy with the quality of service you offer.: Support is rather inaccessible.??———————
John: Hello Kyle
John: Welcome to SiteGround.com Hosting Services!
John: Allow me a moment to check your account please and I will gladly assist you further
John: As we strive to keep long-term relationships with all our customers and their feedback is of much importance to us, may I please ask for the difficulties you have encountered with our services and I will gladly assist you and find the best solution for you
Kyle Summers: I find support to be rather inaccessible and we have obtained a solution elsewhere. I would like to cancel the account please.
John: Fully understand you sir, and if you are still willing to elaborate your issues I will gladly give you a step-by-step walk to the correct category in the ticketing area to reach the Support Team
Kyle Summers: No, that is okay. Please cancel the account.
John: Sure, allow me just a moment
John: I can confirm that your account is fully canceled now
John: We are very sorry to lose you as a customer
John: Goodbye for now and I wish you all the best

[END CHAT]

I didn’t consider this to be a terrible hassle, but depending on the level of frustration the customer has gone through before this step, it may very well be pushing their tolerance.

Conclusion
SiteGround offers hosting for a very cost-effective price, yet they don’t support it very well. For any customer that is not 100% confident, they will never need to place a support call, it is likely the wrong choice.

The legal terms set forth in their myriad of documents seem a bit discouraging as well.

Price: $5.95

Coupon: No Coupon Available at This Moment

Visit: SiteGround

Disclosure: Clickfire has an affiliate advertising connection with SiteGround

19 comments

  1. Stanman

    Great article! It looks like Siteground offers a lot of features for a low price. Thanks for putting together all the details about this web hosting company.

  2. Gar

    I have had a very similar experience, Siteground are extremely problematic and don’t live up to their promises in terms of support, they seem to wish to charge for basic support. What I find surprising is the overwhelmingly positive reviews one reads around the site and some fora on the web. I suspect this is a very shady practise on their part posting reviews as advertising (or vice versa).
    Gar

  3. Stuart L

    I’ve been a siteground customer for several years. Our company uses the service to manage about 6 clients and several of our own domains. For regular maintenance and record changes we use the ticketing system located in the support section. At first it seems that it’s impossible to receive anything but guided online tutorials and their knowledge base search capacity. After a search of the support area you can find in the helpdesk area a section called “HelpDesk – report a hosting related issue”. Within that is a tab called “Domain/DNS issues” which from a developer’s point of view is the most widely used resource.

    The key is to initiate a ticket in the “click here to contact us.

    “If neither the resources above, nor our extensive knowledge base could help you answer your question, please click here to contact us”.

    Unlike many services I’ve used, Siteground’s system is attended by many operators and starts processing within minutes. Usually, in no less than 5 minutes our request is taken care of and resolved, including record changes or more complex file related problems. I have never been refused or experienced anything but top quality and efficient support from this company. The online support chat feature is of the same quality, attended round the clock by experienced operators.

    After using about 6 other hosts for enterprise level php driven sites, I find Siteground to be the most competent and up to date with regards to software and price. Lately, in a very competitive market, they have given our clients new domains even greater value by offering probably the lowest cost shared server found anywhere across the board at $3.95 per month no matter if you’re signing up for 1, 2 or 3 years. Pretty incredible.

    So, after 2 years with no surprises we are confident of this relationship and sticking with it. We specialize in wpMu installs.

  4. Kenny

    I really must agree with the message posted above,posted by stuard.
    I’ve not been using siteground for long (couple of months), but I must say that they’re service and costumer support is outstanding. Never had to wait for more than 5 minutes before an issue got resolved.
    and true, in the beginning you have to search a little to find the link to the costumer support, but once you found it, you will get help… And fast…

  5. Brett

    Look into their renewal policies. If you miss their email, it automatically will renew for the 3 month term 15 days prior to expiration! THERE ARE NO REFUNDS…..its a sham company, Inc. in Panama focusing on recurring charging! Read the TOS.

    They screwed me on a business shared hosting plan for 3 months $80+ dollars non-refundable. Spread the word- this company is out there to take your money and run.

  6. site ground sucks

    don’t use siteground, u wont even be able to login, plus no customer service

  7. Sun

    Siteground sucks, they have a very bad cancellation policy and deduct setup and processing fees conveniently hidden. I lost $25 for nothing!

  8. Danny

    Cancellation policy sucks only if you want to cancel ;) As long as you are okay with the up-time, loading speed and tech support (got response almost immediately), it’s totally fine.

  9. Jim

    Was blind but now I see…

    Although the plans are appealing, and all seems simple enough once you’re a customer for 3-4 years you start noticing the horrible policies and overwhelming pricing that other companies refrain from charging. The support for the sales team is amazing – the technical support on the other hand is non-existent. All I suggest is that you read all of their policies, otherwise a few years down the road you will be trapped.

    Since moving to my new host, I have more freedom, more space, and more money in my wallet.

  10. Wolfgang S.

    What do you mean by “you will be trapped”. I just looked at the renewal policies and think they are pretty clear. Besides, I have websites with 3 different hosts and I can clearly say this is more than a common practice in the market. What is the name of your new host where you have more freedom? ;)

  11. jeff

    Siteground Is A Scam! I signed up for the service and was promised help in getting the site going. Nothing on the site has ever been functionable. I wasted many hours and money trying to figure out things myself. Followed all the instructions and reported that nothing would work. All I heard was excuses. They have taken my money and offered no service or resolution to these issues. I feel that this is a scam site and warn any one from payiong for a service that mis represents. If you read positive reviews then it is by people who work for this company! All They Care About Is Getting Your Money! Beware This Is A Rip Off!

  12. siteground.com is my web hosting, I very much appreciate the helpdesk team, because they answer quickly my request. I’m so glad.
    Thank you siteground

  13. Terrible service, let me change that, NO SERVICE after the sale….Terrible issues w/ sending & receiving e-mails, mostly not coming through…ZERO tech support, no responses back from them regarding any issues, No parent firm to file an official complaint to, was told thee was NO MAILING address, we are all online only….Really??? That’s a first.

    SCAMMERS to the max, paid for good service, received nothing in return….

  14. Beware of offer of free hosting with domain. Read the fine print. This is a catch 22 plan. If you cancel then you will pay 14.95. If you don’t you will pay 107 dollars to renew for a year. You cannot op out of this scenario without paying. This is a cheap ripoff as far as I am concerned. I failed to pay attention and was hit for 107 and on they tagged me for another 107 on the day I was cancelling the next domain. I then paid 14.95 a domain to cancel the rest. They did carry the 214.00 over to another site as a 2 year extension but at what I consider a ripoff rate. I will not recommend them and will plan on leaving in the future. Look for another hosting site. As they say, you can shear the sheep many times but you can only skin it once.

  15. Hello Boyce,

    Please note, that we do not offer free hosting. I suppose you took advantage of our $9.95 hosting with free domain. This offer is valid for the first year of hosting and gives customers the chance to test our services. If after the first year the customer is satisfied with us and wants to stay with us, he or she pays the regular hosting fees. The terms of this promotion are clearly stated in our Term of Use. This offer includes a free domain for the entire time you stay with us. This means that you only pay $9.95 and get one year of hosting plus a domain registered especially for you, that we pay the registration fee for every year. Please note that the domain alone costs more than $9.95. If you decide to cancel your hosting account, you loose the free domain that is associated with it, thus you were asked to pay $14.95.

    Regards,
    The SiteGround Team

  16. Enormously Dissatisfied

    A lot of the people on here sound like siteground reps. They have the same names and speak the same poor English. Be very very wary of this company. I’ve actually been a customer of theirs, a reseller in fact, for several years now. But I discovered recently that these guys really don’t give a crap about your business. All they really care about is pushing you into higher paying packages. That’s it.

    After years of building our business and seeing traffic grow, we began to exceed plan limits. We were told we needed to upgrade our account and were offered a new hosting package more suitable for the resources we were using. After some discussion with their sales and support team, we agreed to upgrade our account and pay additional fees. To our surprise however, we were told that the package they had just offered us (a VPS solution) was “no longer available” despite being listed on their website and that we had to purchase a much more expensive dedicated server solution.

    To force the issue, they then pulled the plug 48 hours later before we could make alternative hosting arrangements for the site in question and migrate it. The site went offline and they flatly refused to grant us an additional 24 hours to allow a seamless transition elsewhere. We were forced to scramble, but the damage was already done. What took years for us to build up, siteground managed to destroy in one day. By pulling the plug on our service, search engines had already begun delisting the site, and in a flash, the traffic we had worked so hard to build had vanished. That they needlessly resorted to such hard-ball tactics suggests that they may be having serious financial problems.

    If you’re a reseller looking for a reliable partner, do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. Try to find a company that is willing to actually work with you as a *partner* to meet the needs of your business as it grows. Siteground is certainly not that company.

    If you’re a consumer looking for a place to host your site, you can find cheaper places for the same relatively crappy service you’ll get from siteground. Siteground has no live support, their English is poor, and all correspondence with their team is generally boilerplate, generic stuff, often missing the point of your request entirely, which is enormously frustrating.

  17. The SiteGround Team

    Hello Enormously Dissatisfied,

    We are sorry that you are not satisfied with our service, but please note that as soon as our monitoring system showed that your account was not suitable for a shared hosting environment, we contacted you and offered you immediately to upgrade to a VPS service. At that time there were available free VPS nodes. Since you did not request this within the next 10 days, the nodes had been filled and we had to offer you another solution.

    Regards,
    The SiteGround Team

  18. I have been hosting with these guys for years and devastating issues pop up regularly. I just received info that there has been a HD failure again on my main site, this is the second time on this one site. All e-mail accounts have been wiped. First time they wiped my entire website and database.

    I paid for an SSL certificate in December 2010 and it took them 8 months to figure it out and today, September 2011 it is still not working. I got an e-mail from them stating that they want me to fill more forms out. And all they do is re-sell Global’s certificates.

    I have never gotten as much as a sorry from them. Not even a free month to re-build my business. I lost clients & money due to the horrible state of their infrastructure. HD failures are a regular occurrence every 8 months at least.

    Getting hold of customer service is next to impossible alone and the company feels that they have zero responsibility for everything that is happening.

    All of their tech support is outsourced and if you actually get hold of them it’s impossible to get anything done.

    Do not host with these people, don’t let the price fool you. Contact me if you have any questions, perhaps I can actually get the customer service to e-mail me !

  19. Alex

    Hello , just began using siteground this evening, ive been doing research for days and was happy to deal with siteground , specialy from godday, but anyways the comments here are pretty scary but to avoid being pulled into others emotions i will try it for a month and post my experience. some details iv read are just kinda the nature of this business but i do have to say that i do like that siteground tries to explain itself . most of this is about money but honestly anyone can afford dollars , anyone . i just hope they have professional proper procedures , some of these people have had there whole websites instantly deleted because they exceeded there space ,? huh

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