Why I kinda like GoDaddy. Hint: it's all about service.

Summary:In a world where customer service is normally a matter of unanswered emails or, at best, incomprehensible accents, it was a refreshing pleasure to work with a company willing and able to help me solve my problem, spend as much time with me as I needed, and do it well after midnight.

Image courtesy of GoDaddy.

GoDaddy often gets a lot of bad press. Most market leaders get their fair share of bad press, and GoDaddy goes out of its way to stand out from the crowd, ranging from its altogether stupid name to its outlandish ads, to its almost Borg-like attempts at upsells.

Recently, my friend and ZDNet colleague Scott Raymond wrote GoDaddy still violates ICANN policy--and still sleazy. To say Scott doesn't like GoDaddy is an understatement. He details some problems he had moving a domain name, and his complaints are legitimate.

I've used GoDaddy for years to host my hundred-plus domain names. I don't do any Web hosting with them or any other services -- they're just my domain registrar. When I moved my domains off of the truly heinous Network Solutions more than a decade ago, I found GoDaddy to be a breath of fresh air.

Today, the air is a little less fresh, but in contrast to Scott, I have to say that I'm still rather satisfied with GoDaddy. Over the last two very late nights, I spent a whole lot of hours on the phone with GoDaddy's Gary, Devin, Matthew, Brian, Daniel, MaryAnne, Sergio, and Steve, and while not all of them had a deep clue, they were all, without fail, helpful and polite.

Here's what I wanted to do. For a very long time, I've managed my own DNS servers using BIND. I noticed some weird DNS activity in my logs this week and decided to check on my BIND version. I found an ISC Advisory dating back to May indicating that the BIND version I'm running might have some vulnerabilities.

Unfortunately, there wasn't an updated version of BIND prepared for CentOS, and I once again faced losing another pile of hours to downloading an alternate distribution of BIND, finding and filling all the dependencies, compiling my own build, installing it without error, and yada, yada, yada...you know this story.

I'd had enough. I get free DNS management with my GoDaddy domains and I wanted to get one more maintenance hassle off of my plate. I decided to delegate domain management to GoDaddy.

As it turns out, this isn't particularly simple, although it's not as bad as you might think. I had to move 25 active domains over, so it took quite a while to get all the zone files moved. A bunch of my calls to GoDaddy (mind you, these were at, like, 1am and 2am and real Americans were there to answer the phone!) were before moving the zones, to make sure I understood everything that I'd need to do the move.

But some zones, upon movement into GoDaddy's system, got "stuck". They were corrupted in some way that couldn't be fixed through the self-service Web interface. I had to call in, get the calls escalated, and get help from their DNS team. Most of the time, the problem was fixed in less than an hour. Once it took until the next morning, because the one guy who knew how to fix my particular weirdness had gone home.

In all cases, the GoDaddy customer support people followed up and when they said they'd fix my problem in the morning, they did.

Now, this is GoDaddy, so there were some bumps in the road. Some of the first-line phone people didn't know anything about DNS, thought they did, and needed a little firm persuasion to get them to escalate my questions and problems to the right experts.

And then there was the upsell. The upsell is annoying, but almost charming the first time you experience  it on any given evening. But by the fifth or sixth time you have to listen to it and politely and firmly dissuade the nice man or woman from proceeding, it becomes brutal. No, I don't want to pre-register all my domains. Yes, I know I can save a few bucks. Yes, I know I could host my incredibly complex and completely non-portable CMS on your piddly shared server, and, no thank you, I really don't want to move it. Yada, yada, yada...you know the story.

But the fact was, despite the upsell (and we want successful American companies who employ actual Americans for customer service work, don't we?), my experience with GoDaddy was about as good as I could have hoped for.

Gary, Devin, Matthew, Brian, Daniel, MaryAnne, Sergio, and Steve were all very nice, they were all there very late at night, they were all very patient with me and took all the time with me that I needed, they were all real Americans with real American jobs (GoDaddy's customer support people work in Scottsdale, Arizona), and I did get my needs met.

Scott and I (and many of the other ZDNet columnists) are going to keep a watchful eye on GoDaddy because the company does push its luck at every opportunity.

That said, in a world where customer service is normally a matter of unanswered emails or, at best, incomprehensible accents, it was a refreshing pleasure to work with a company willing and able to help me solve my problem, spend as much time with me as I needed, and do it well after midnight.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Networking


In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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