It’s times like this when I sit down at the computer that I feel what I like to refer to as a “Vlad” moment coming on. It’s like being mad, but slightly improved upon. You see, to be mad is one thing. You’re angry, yet you have the temperament and intellectual fortitude to restrain your comments within the bounds of polite conversation. To get Vlad on the other hand… Well, that’s an entirely different beast altogether. To get Vlad is to get mad, angry, or disgusted and then while being perfectly capable of choosing to leash your inner demons, making a conscious decision to say “screw ’em” and say what you’re actually thinking anyway – with little to no actual compassion for the victim of one’s righteous anger. I guess you could call it simply not giving a shit, but that’s vulgar, so I choose instead to refer to it eternally as getting Vlad!
So today, I’m Vlad!
Not really. I’m not actually vlad, but I’m going to apply the same components of vlad-writing to my current feeling which is more akin to slightly amused with a side order of wanting to toy with someone that thinks they got the last word on the subject. Now that you have a context for my inner feelings on the matter, let’s get right to the heart of it, shall we?
Datto: Who are they and why do you care?
Chances are you don’t’ care at all. Datto is a on-prem/cloud backup vendor that specializes in disaster recovery. They have a variety of products to serve a variety of markets, from small to enterprise scale businesses. Is their service good? It’s great when it’s working. When it’s not working, it’s endless support emails back and forth for days to get things handled. To be fair, it works 95% of the time absolutely flawlessly.
So why be upset with them at all? Well, choosing to use Datto is a expensive proposition and one that will most likely wind up with you in a contract for 2-3 years right at the start of the relationship. That always tends to irk me. You want to go on a date, but before I pick you up and take you out to dinner the first time I have to agree to marry you for three years, or else continue to pay you alimony if it doesn’t work out, regardless of my feelings on the matter. Sounds stupid when you think of it in terms of a human relationship doesn’t it? So why should it be different for a vendor-MSP relationship? After all, we’re human too, at least the MSP side of us usually is…
Well, my personal reasons are simple. If I’m paying you for a service that I’m using to 100% guarantee that I can provide 100% reliable uptime to my client, 100% of the time so they can sleep at night knowing their data is safe, then I expect you to provide a product that works 100% of the time. After all, it’s the single most critical component of the relationship I have with my customer, right? If they wanted 90% guarantees, they already had that to begin with before I arrived. They want to sleep at night. They want 100%. So, when something goes wrong, I in turn want 100% effort given to fix my problem before I have the slightest inclination to even call you. I want proactive, responsive, top-notch customer support and I want it incredibly fast! Seems reasonable enough right? Considering they’re charging me close to $200 a month for a 1TB NAS drive, not to mention the couple thousand it took to get started with them in the first place.
Relax vendors – you’re paying for their “proprietary operating platform” blah blah snore.
Anyway, I want a product that absolutely never gives me trouble. And if I DO have trouble, I certainly don’t want to play email games back and forth working on trouble tickets. I want rapid remote response from a dedicated individual fixing my problem.
So, I’ve had Datto for probably close to 3 years now. I don’t know exactly how long, but I don’t feel like going back through thousands of emails to find that particular one to give me that critical piece of flotsam, so I’m not going to. I’m just going to say that I’ve had them long enough that I’ve long been off-contract and simply paying my bill happily month-to-month for a LONG time now.
During the last year new innovations have come about that have made Datto less than the ideal solution for me. Other vendors have similar products that, while not fully ready when I first tested them out years ago are very robust and on-par with Datto’s service level today. It certainly helps that these companies already have a portion of my business in some of their other product lines, so I already have a customer relationship that I enjoy with them. It further helps that they have incredible pricing at my tier. And finally, they don’t require a contract. They have the same feelings about customer relationships that I do. Simply put; if you don’t want to be my customer, then I don’t want you to HAVE to be my customer. I want you to choose my company because we remain the best solution out there, not because you’re stuck in a contract. If we fail to remain the best at what we do, we lose the customer. If we remain on top of our game and continue to provide great service, we gain new ones and keep the old ones. It’s a simple way to do business that’s served me well for two decades.
Did DATTO Disappoint?
For the last few months, I’ve been having issues with Datto. The same issues I’ve seen before; agents not checking in, device unavailable, etc. Our support team gets an email, reaches out to the remote desktop, checks on the agent and verifies that it is in fact online. The NAS is online. The agent on the client machine is online. Why am I getting errors on machines that are working perfectly fine?
The issue here isn’t getting a false negative. I’m ok with false negatives. If the systems says it’s bad, but it’s actually good, who am I to complain? Things are working. It’s just a glitch.
Then I try to go to sleep that night….
Well, if things are actually ok when the system says they’re not, how do I know they’re actually OK when the system says they are? If I can have false-negatives, then I can have false positives. Maybe I should go spin up a virtual appliance and look at it. Oops that failed. I’ll try another one. Oops that failed. Well, let me go check the integrity of the on-site backup. Ok that’s good. Cloud backup has been lagging behind for two weeks now. Hmm. I wonder why?
This is me working on company computers at 3 in the morning for a service I can not charge my customer for. How many of you are going to accept a bill from me saying “Just had to check and be sure the services I’m selling you are working ok!” What kind of confidence does that inspire? If you’re me the answer is very little. I can’t do it, and I won’t do it, so I’ll search for a replacement that DOES allow me to sleep at night knowing my client’s data is protected to the degree that they can afford and I am comfortable with. (Being totally honest here for a moment: backup is a bitch. Client’s never want to pay what REAL backup solutions cost. They just don’t get it most of the time.)
So I went in search of a replacement and found one I could deploy in 1/10th the time, with 1/100th the headache and I can deploy backup with the flick of a few switches and go to sleep knowing my dashboard monitoring systems have everything well in hand. NOW I can sleep soundly again. I can virtualize within minutes. I can download, upload, verify status, deduplicate, archive, and perform all the other myriad tasks that go into the simple word “backup” without my clients having to understand how complicated it is to actually do what we do. As far as they know, we’re copying files. How hard is that? We know different… you are taking your client’s entire business reputation and sustainability in your hands when you offer disaster recovery solutions. You are the SINGLE thing they are depending on to have business continuity in the event of a fire, flood, earthquake, virus, ransomware, or other potential unknown calamity.
Time to Cancel DATTO
So, I’ve decided it’s time to cancel Datto. This was back on June 2nd. I know my monthly DATTO billing doesn’t hit until the 6th so I’ve got time. I quickly put replacement backup strategies in place, tested them, and emailed a support ticket to DATTO to cancel my service for these two agents. I headed on over to the support portal, opened a ticket and posted the following message:
It’s quick and to the point. No sense in trying to have a long drawn-out conversation about it. I’d already been in talks with my account rep, Matt, about some new DATTO products that would solve meet some more aggressive backup needs I have for some clients, but these overpriced non-working devices I have now just aren’t doing the job I need them to do, so I want them turned off. Easy enough, right?
Five minutes later I get the following response:
It’s a typical canned response but that’s to be expected. That’s just an email letting me know the ticket has been routed to a person. No problem. A few minutes later I receive a second response:
Again, it’s a slight variation on a canned response. She opened the ticket, checked it out, and determined she wasn’t the one to handle it. She cc’d my account rep on it, so that’s cool. Matt will handle it.
Now, personally, I didn’t want to deal with Matt on this one. Don’t get me wrong; Matt Gaylord is by all my reckoning a fantastic guy. He’s always been great to me as an account rep. But at the end of the day, his job is to drive sales, not lose them. That means talking to him is NOT going to end up with a simple “ok, Tommy. That’s been cancelled. Have a great day.”
That’s why I didn’t contact him directly the first time. If I wanted to talk about a new account, I’d call Matt. If I want to quickly cut off service hassle-free, I intentionally cut him out of the chain because I know me and nothing pisses me off more than a sales pitch when I’m trying to UNSELL myself from something anyway. Matt has always been nice to me. I don’t want to put him in that spot, but fine. I guess Matt will have to handle it.
Well, 24 hours go by with no response, so I email Matt.
Matt responds pretty quickly with the following:
Oh, see now… now we’re going to start to have problems. I see what you did there. You completely glossed over the entire purpose of me emailing you to cancel BEFORE June billing takes place and just drop that 7/1 bit in there hoping I’m just going to say “ok” and take the charge without complaint.
Don’t get me wrong; I could really care less about the $248. It’s not going to affect the bottom line of the business long enough to be worth the accounting it would take to argue about it, but it’s the point of the matter that starts to irk me.
I just felt that collar on my neck jerk a little bit. You see that? It jerked. I do NOT like having my chain yanked… leave my damned chain alone if you know what’s good for you!
So I reply…
I wasn’t hostile in that email. I was matter-of-fact and blunt possibly, but not hostile. This is now the 6th email I’ve had to deal with over 2 days. That makes six times I’ve had to stop and handle this issue, so I’m starting to get slightly miffed, but I’m not showing it yet… Matt is a good guy. He’s not paid enough to deal with me when I’m Vlad.
I forgot to include the time stamp on this one, but it was sent a few hours later at 7:37PM EST. Ok, now I’m getting actually pissed off. Don’t screw with my money on Friday at 7 PM. I told you what to do. Your job is to do it. That’s it. You want to pull my chain a little? That’s fine but I’m starting to feel like I want to walk into someone’s office, grab THEIR collar, and bounce their heads off the desk a couple times until I hear the words “Yes sir. Sorry sir” come out of their mouth. But hey.. it’s Friday… let’s enjoy the weekend, right? Meanwhile, I’ll go kick a puppy somewhere until I cool off…
But nope.. I just can’t let it go. Why can’t I let it go? Because at almost exactly midnight I get the following email from support.
This tells me a few things.
First off, it reminds me that I was pissed off five hours previously and now she’s reminded me of it again.
Second, she apparently has absolutely no idea if I’ve talked to Matt or not, which means from a support portal standpoint their portal interface sucks. Support has no idea what’s going on with the account end of the system, so this nice little unicorns and rainbows email just gets under my skin. “I’m sure he’ll be able to get this taken care of for you.” Really? Because that’s not the impression your account rep is giving me when I talk to him.
Sunday morning June 5th
On Sunday morning I log back into the portal while enjoying my morning coffee and try to resume a civil conversation, yet I want to be sure whomever I am talking to actually tries to investigate my issue rather than sending back another canned response from her Bangladesh-based canned-script-repsository. So I sent this update:
No response was forthcoming on Sunday.
No response was forthcoming on Monday during business hours either. I also never got a call from Matt’s supervisor. I did finally get the following message at almost 7 PM. So we’re on 4
days to handle ONE issue.
A whole new level…
Yup, we have now entered an entirely new level of being jerked around. It’s been four days. I still don’t have any meaningful response from anyone with the clearance, access, or whatever is required at Datto to handle this. Matt quotes the policy manual at me. This chick just responded with “we don’t handle that.” What! It took you four days to tell me you can’t do what the very first issue said to do?
So now.. yeah.. now I’m pissed. Now, I’m Vlad. Now I get to bring asshole Tommy out of the closet, release the testicle clamps, put the fingernail pliers down and stop playing nice, because thus far I think we can agree that in four days, nice hasn’t gotten me anywhere. So I sent the following update to the support console:
That’s right… I pretty much would rather burn down all their little Indian mud huts than have to waste any more of my time dealing with these people. Notice the date stamp. I was actually fairly calm by then. I wasn’t able to respond the way I wanted originally because I was working on actual important client projects, so I lost another 48 hours getting this far.
Now I’d like to introduce you to Vern. Everyone, this in Vern! Vern, this is the interwebz…
This is the reply I get from Vern a few hours later.
Ok, so Vern apparently called me. I checked my call log and sure enough I had a voicemail from him. The Caller ID didn’t say “Datto” so I must have missed it. That happens. Fair enough. It does sound promising though, doesn’t it? A call tomorrow regarding the funds… makes it sound like a lot more money than it really is. Lol Let’s move on.
So Vern and I talk on the phone, the contents of which aren’t recorded here. The point is –Vern, I want my money back and I want these damned alerts to stop spamming my email!
Note: When a Datto device is malfunctioning, it alerts the shit out of you to let you know. So in addition to NOT getting responses from actual Datto personnel for the last six days, I HAVE been getting actual tons of email from Datto that my malfunctioning devices aren’t working correctly! No shit? Really? Wonder why I ever wanted to cancel them in the first place. Sheesh. So as part of the conversation I asked Vern to PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SUPPRESS THE DAMNED ALERTS so those emails will stop coming to my phone. Thanks!!
Vern told me he wanted written permission to cancel the alerts, so he posted this ticket update. I replied with the following:
I almost believe someone at Datto intentionally tried to play a Fuck You on me. For some reason I got 32 alert emails within seconds of each other, a number that constitutes WAY more alerts than I’ve ever received in any 24 hour period. Yeah, it’s a little hinky. I ask to STOP getting alerts, and within a few minutes get hit with a flurry of them as a last-minute snubbing from DATTO tech support. Ok. Fine asshole. As long as the rest of the alerting is suppressed going forward, I’m OK with you playing your silly games, you pathetic tech-support monkey.
Then I get this polite little update..
While I’m on this email, let me point out something.
DATTO doesn’t have a Billing Portal, or a Sales Portal. They have a support portal. There is only ONE portal to escalate issues through. I don’t do phone calls with vendors like this because I want an audit-trail and a phone call doesn’t provide one. So support is the ONLY portal available to use. ALL issues are routed to the support portal, yet they can’t talk to billing apparently, and I have to call my sales rep for a technical question on the licensing of a device? That makes ZERO sense! Just answer the fucking question!
A few minutes later, we get another email from Vern.
Well thanks Vern! I appreciate that!
Here is a screenshot of my inbox, AFTER the alerting has been cancelled. Notice Christopher’s email there at the bottom? That’s the one shown directly above here. The next series are all alerts that come in over the next THREE days!
Vern says alerting was cancelled.
Christopher says alerting was cancelled.
These are just the ones I didn’t think to delete that were left lying around my inbox. I’m sure there were another dozen or so I deleted. Obviously alerting has not been suppressed because I’m still getting emails with the fucking subject line of “ALERT!”
Don’t write emails when you’re Vlad. It’s never nice.
Unable to contain myself anymore, I went off on support. In my defense, this is TEN DAMNED DAYS after I sent my first email telling them to cancel service. Is it clear to you, the reader, that if I say cancel service, one might assume I don’t want any more alert emails about the service I just cancelled? I know it’s not working. I just spent TEN DAYS trying to get my money back AND to get you to stop sending me alerts, yet you can’t seem to get that much right.
So I send this email:
Now, this next one is funny.
This is Lindsay Henderson from Datto. Apparently he/she is one of their support personnel. I’m going to assume “she” because it’s a girly name and if someone’s parents named a boy that, then it’s their problem to overcome. You might as well be named Jessica…. it’s a girl’s name!
Her comment was delivered to my email, but it was removed by someone else from the support thread on the DATTO website. Apparently their employees are only allowed to be just so snarky. I’m guessing she intended it to be an internal-note, but accidentally posted it on the customer-facing side of the portal instead. I’m pretty sure I was never supposed to see this one.
Let’s fast forward to today. Today is June 21st. It’s been 19 days since I opened the support ticket originally.
Notice that Lindsay apparently saw it, checked the ticket on the portal, and still continued to do nothing about it. Way to go you useless vagina-waffle.
Here is my list of Datto emails this week so far.
Apparently alerting is still working. Hey Lindsay, why don’t you get off your ass and fix that for me please instead of goofing off in the support portal and then going back to browse Tumblr for funny tech support memes to post on your cubicle wall?
And now… what you have all been waiting for.
I get another email from yet another name I don’t know at Datto. This one is from Michael Fass. Ooh.. he’s DATTO’s legal counsel! Apparently it works like this:
- At <$100/hr you’re a lawyer.
- $100-$300/hr, you’re an attorney.
- At >$300/hr you are promoted to the honorific of legal counsel! (Except unless if you’re hired to work out of a cubicle in Datto’s headquarters?)
Update: Nevermind… this is an in-house guy they’ve hired apparently that graduated law in Miami. I won’t bother to continue beyond that.
Anyway, Mr Fass, legal counsel extraordinaire, sent me this email today with a follow-up letter to come in the mail later.
Hey, Ditto Datto!
Wait a minute here. I file a request on the 2nd of June to simply cancel my services before you charge my account.
An entire three weeks later I finally get what I was asking for in the first place and you have to have your legal counsel draft up a response for it to occur? I suppose in the end someone at DATTO is sitting back saying “Well, I guess we told that asshole!”
No you jerk-wad. Pull the tampon out of your ear and listen to me for a minute here. It’s absolutely freaking ridiculous that it takes a company of Datto’s reputation THIS MUCH SWEAT EQUITY to accomplish something as simple as doing what your customer asked in the first place. A simple “Sure, Tommy. We’ll be glad to take care of that. We’ll hate to see you go but hope you’ll come back to the Datto family again soon!” would have made everyone’s day so much better.
You didn’t fire me, you dummy. I fired you three weeks ago. You just had to pay your legal counsels fees to recognize what I already told you in the beginning.
Congratulations. Here’s what the world at large can take away from this discourse:
- Can be an overbearing asshole.
- Likes to use canned responses way too often in their support tickets.
- Can’t handle billing issues through the support portal, yet has no billing portal but instead requires phone calls to make account changes. I don’t EVER make account changes via phone because I personally demand a paper trail so I know who to hold accountable to what. This isn’t a feature on your part. It’s a failure on your part.
- Can’t answer simple questions regarding device status via support. Who the hell else are you supposed to ask a question of? Why would I want to call a sales rep to find out about licensing on a piece of hardware I’m pretty sure was paid for over two years ago. You can’t simply look at the device and see the ownership status of the device?
- Can’t handle tech support issues in a timely fashion. It took you 19 days to accomplish one simple task.
The world at large already knows I can be an asshole from time to time. That’s ok with me. I’m an asshole FOR my clients. I will rip out your hearts, burn your house down, and in general vow to make your life hell if it is in the service of my clients, my family, or my friends. That’s not something I will ever apologize for. I am one of the most dedicated engineers one will ever meet… but I’m also always on the lookout for a great place to vent the frustrations CEOs, small business owners, and engineers like myself have to deal with after dealing with cutthroat vendors that would rather take up three weeks of our valuable time than just handle the fucking problem the way we said in the first place…