All the way back in 2005, when they started encouraging private individuals to register .be domains as well — only organisations, institutions and businesses had been able to own them before — there were some great deals to be had at a company called OVH.
So off I went to grab uberwald.be and gloomysunday.be before someone else did.
The former became home to a short-lived blog.
The latter, for various reasons in the “life happens” category, would remain unused.
I faithfully kept paying their bill every year, though. Just in case.
Maybe I’d suddenly get inspired to build a personal website again: Music Madness & Mayhem 2.0, perhaps. Or a writing site. Or a tribute to long-gone animal companions.
It might happen.
Or so I told myself.
A few months ago, amidst a scary pandemic and shifting priorities, I decided to finally clean house.
I owned a ton of domains I didn’t need anymore (probably never even needed in the first place, to be frank), and what was the point of my old discarded rubbish still floating around the internet anyway?
The time had come to declutter.
Two domain registrations were moved from Network Solutions to Dreamhost, a switch that was long overdue.
Three others were set to ‘let expire’. Those, too, I had registered but never used.
Is there such a thing as ‘domain hoarding’? If so, that was me between 2000 and 2005 for some reason.
While I was at it, I closed a few other online accounts as well; I hadn’t signed into them for the longest time: Ebay, LiveJournal, InsaneJournal, Typepad, LastFM…
(I’m still on the fence about sticking around on Facebook, by the way, but only because of the daily appearance of many cute cat pictures in my newsfeed.)
Finally, it was the two aforementioned .be domains’ turn. They would expire within the next two months; a good time to pull the plug on them for good.
The OVH website’s customer area looked straightforward: a nifty ‘cancel on expiry date’ option next to each domain.
I assumed it would be a simple case of select, click and sorted.
I was wrong.
Cancelling those two domains myself proved impossible.
Internal server errors popped up all over the place, on every browser on every device I tried.
Stuck, I contacted tech support, who turned out to be a disaster.
Upon reporting the errors, I received a list of standard instructions on how to cancel the domains via the website, possibly copied straight from some FAQ.
Either they hadn’t understood me or they just couldn’t be bothered.
After repeating and politely clarifying my question, I was met with total silence. Not as much as a soft chirp from a solitary cricket.
Next, I took to social media.
Their Twitter teams were equally useless.
The English language team couldn’t assist me, apparently. I needed to speak with the French one because my account had been set up on the .fr site originally.
Initially, the French team ignored me once again.
I persisted, however, and was promptly sent back to square one: I should contact the crappy tech support reachable through the website. A colleague would also be ‘relaunched’ to deal with my issue. (Not sure where that one ended up landing, by the way, but it was nowhere near here.)
By this point, it was fast becoming clear that nothing was going to get done.
I decided to try a different approach. I wrote OVH a letter, requesting my domains be cancelled, and mailed it to their postal address in France.
Out of the blue, tech support resurfaced via email and asked for screenshots.
And… more screenshots.
They claimed I couldn’t be getting those errors. No one else was.
OVH tech support also, quite rudely, informed me I was only allowed — yes, you read that correctly: allowed! — to cancel my domains through the website or via registered letter. They point blank refused to do it for me at my simple request.
The letter I’d already sent was no good either. They demanded a registered one.
Such a charming, helpful bunch.
After weeks of pointless communication, I finally gave up. I wasn’t prepared to spend any more time or money on this farce, and I certainly wasn’t going to risk my health by queueing in a crowded post office while COVID19 was (and still is) running rampant in my area.
As a last resort, I stopped the recurring payment on the Paypal website and will now patiently wait for OVH to suspend my account once they realise they’ll not get another cent from me.
In short: a lousy experience and a complete shambles. Also the rudest, most arrogant and most unhelpful customer support I’ve had the misfortune to encounter in 25+ years on the internet. If you value your time and sanity, steer well clear of this lot!
Will not be continued. I hope.