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To outsource or not to outsource

In these challenging times for our world economy, some web hosts are choosing to honor their customers and some are choosing to honor their bottom line. A great example of this is the comparison of Fasthosts to Webfusion. Both of these UK-based web hosts are geared toward the economically-minded small business owner. They both offer relatively the same package features of free domain names and £50 ad vouchers. They both debuted services to the US market in 2008 with Fasthosts offering reseller hosting and Webfusion offering standard hosting. This is where the similarities stop.

Last week, Fasthosts announced that it will offshore its customer service department from Gloucester, UK to call centers in Romania and the Philippines. In all, 38 employees are facing job loss. 38, not 3800. Although I’m certainly not privy to Fasthosts’ business model, I can’t understand how it would be a smart move for the self-proclaimed UK leader in web hosting. No one can deny the economical advantages to outsourcing, although the advantages do not overpower the insult. What exactly does it mean when a company cannot keep employed a staff of 38 people, but rather chooses to farm out services? It means that this company is not concerned with customer service or satisfaction, only with making a quick buck, or pound in this case.

The problems with outsourcing are obvious: lowered customer service due to cultural clashes, misinformation, foreign accents, and that unshakable “you’re reading from a script, aren’t you?” feeling. Although many customers may put up with outsourcing when there are no alternative companies to choose from, web hosting has no such luxury. Web hosting is over-crowded with companies that are more than happy to hire from their own country, and boost their own economy. One such web host is Webfusion. Webfusion is no small web host. It currently hosts over 1 million websites and has registered almost 2 million domains. It’s has a 92% customer satisfaction rating. 

Compare this to Fasthosts, who’s inattentive customer service is legendary. In 2007, in response to a hacker attack, Fasthosts changed their customer’s passwords– without notification. In 2008, following an outage, dedicated servers were offline for 8 hours. When you look at those statistics, it’s hard to believe that Fasthosts could have any worse customer service with outsourcing. The problem isn’t their customer service, which seems like it will be horrible no matter who’s answering the phone, it’s the fact that they are gaining from their country and investing in another. Especially in the sensitive economy, it seems like an insensitive option to take. Fasthosts only seems to care about benefiting from the country, but not about stimulating the economy.

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