Thursday, May 20, 2010

HIT Web Design Of Provo, Utah Under Fire For What Are Hideously Restrictive And Slanted Terms Of Service; 619 Complaints Filed With The BBB

KSL Channel 5 is raising hell about HIT Web Design, a Provo-based web design and hosting company that's the target of over 600 complaints to the Better Business Bureau (619 complaints as of this report). But the real problem may be that first, they've got some of the most restrictive terms of service I've ever seen, conferring every possible advantage to the company, and second, many customers are not reading the complete ToS before signing contracts. The ToS is clearly published HERE, so the company is not deceiving or blindsiding the public. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com



Customers cite a litany of complaints, to include website not ready when expected, difficulty in consulting a technician live, excessive and surprise extra charges, and, in one case, when a customer protested an excess charge with a credit card company, HIT took the site offline (ToS #31 specifies this, clearly stating, "In the event that Client initiates a credit card dispute...HIT, at its sole discretion, may suspend work on the website until the billing dispute has been resolved"). And, to add insult to injury, if you're a client, and you complain about them publicly, they reserve the right to sue you. ToS #46, entitled "Negative Comments/Slander", states:

"Client specifically agrees not to engage in negative comments or slander regarding HIT, including but not limited to publishing, or causing to be published, complaints or derogatory comments regarding HIT in any format, including but not limited to, print, newspaper, television, radio or on internet complaint sites, blogs or other public internet forums. Should there be a breach of this condition HIT will be entitled to liquidated damages in the amount of $2,500.00 for each publishing or posting. If said breach occurs on an internet complaint site each hit to that website will be considered an individual breach of this condition, and subject to additional liquidated damages of $100 per occurrence. Further, HIT shall be entitled to litigate this matter, and obtain the money damages together with injunctive relief. HIT reserves the right to terminate any account for any negative postings made by the account owner or its representatives, or employees".


Unbelievable.

Give the company credit for not hiding from the media, though. When confronted by KSL, Mark Strong, one of HIT's four owners, said "We're taking a thought, an idea, in somebody's head and trying to transfer that into the designer's head and come up with a product that hits a home run, and we're not always successful." Strong believes most complaints have nothing to do with HIT's product. Instead, he believes some customers simply have buyer's remorse because their website, for whatever reason, didn't do its intended job, which is to sell. Strong also told KSL there will be no repercussions against the people who appeared in their story, and the Utah BBB reports HIT is working to resolve all of the complaints filed against it, but advises that with its strict contract, "resolved" can mean a decision in HIT's favor. You can read the BBB's report on the company HERE.

I also think a lot of customers may not have read through the ToS in its entirety. I know that after reading HIT's ToS, there's no way in hell I'd accept those conditions -- not because the company's dishonest, but because they stack the deck far too much in their direction. Good golly Moses, they're almost asking you to buy a pig in a poke.

HIT Web Design recently changed their name from Heritage Web Solutions. But according to a former employee who posted a comment to the KSL story, that's not all that changed:

Christina 10:59 P.M. Thu May 20th, 2010

...Here's the thing - a few years ago they were a great company (I am a former employee who quit voluntarily, JSYK), but a year or so before I quit, they started to go downhill. Really downhill. Now if you try to call in, every other sentence will be about buying something else to make your website more visible. If you do not express interest then, a few days later a sales person will call you back and offer you it again anyway, just to make sure you haven't changed your mind. They are ALL about selling selling selling now, whereas it used to be a great focus on customer service.

Honestly, I am really happy this FINALLY came out. There is a big list of complaints on complaintsboard.com, both from former customers and former employees (like myself) who really think things are screwed up at HIT. Money is their bottom line now and they write pretty much all situations into the contract so that they can keep their money. They would make you do ridiculous things if you did not sell (I was a customer service rep. They didn't care if my customers were happy, only if I hit the phone percentages and the sales targets).

Anyway, HIT should go back to their original design (most likely when your brother purchased from them). Customer service oriented, quick completion and incidental selling instead of the current model of selling products for your website that you don't need (which in most cases were FREE to the company in the first place... For example, a product called zencart - free to the company, sold to the customer for more or less $1000)

But anyway, don't buy from this company. They don't care about getting you what you need, only what will make them the most money while screwing you over.


You can access all the complaints against Hit Web Design on ComplaintsBoard.com HERE.

Apparently, when the company changed its name, they also changed from being a service-oriented enterprise to a sales-oriented enterprise. This means you're the greatest thing since sliced bread - until you sign that contract. Then, you become nothing more than a cash cow - and a pain in the ass should you be so bold as to actually request service after the sale. Here are some newer comments from the KSL story:

Greencard 9:27am Fri May 21st, 2010
I work there in Customer Service and this company SUCKS at Customer Service. It is Customer Service in name only - it is really an extension of their Sales Team!

Every employee in every department of the company that has contact with a customer is on commission, because they are expected to upsell on every call! Every CS rep is expected to upsell to an additional product or service on EVERY call. Each CS rep earns cash in their hand the next day, based on what they sold the previous day and bonuses in each paycheck. The base pay is $9 an hour, but some of their more persistent Customer Service reps are making thousands of dollars extra a month and so the motivation to exaggerate what their website can do (lie) and make additional sales and therefore put more in their paycheck is very high.

Team Leaders constantly patrol behind the CS Reps, listening to their conversations, and berate the rep if they don't get a sale on each call! The reps have to ask permission to go to the toilet and take meal breaks!!

Customers are never allowed to talk to the saleperson who sold them originally - they can only be passed to their voicemail, and they NEVER get return calls, so they keep going through the process of Customer Service and Sales voicemail until they give up!

A further warning for any prospective and existing customer - if HIT registers your website name (Domain Name) THEY OWN IT! And they will charge you big bucks for you to buy it from them!!

For those of you defending the Management of this company, don't be so naive - the four Owners know exactly what is going on in the floor - it's a converted bowling alley for pete's sake - unless they spend their day hidden in their offices, they have to know what's going on and condone it because of the profits they are making!

Stay clear of this company - they really deserve to be on Rip Off Report and BBB and any other place that can expose their business practices!!


No more shots 11:41am Fri May 21st, 2010

I apologise to anybody I talked to while an Account Manager at HIT. I tried to be helpful, but was told to sell on every call. Tech support is a joke, they only have 4 tech support guys, and the reason there are so few, is because the tech support department makes no profit for the company. I resented the constant push to sell an enhancement, and sending people to the Cust service or tech support people, only to be left on hold forever. My conscience bothered me to a point I couldn't keep working there. I lasted less than 6 weeks.

HIT is taking advantage of entreprenuers who are naive and trying to get an internet presence by trying to upsell every day or two.And yes, HIT owns the domain name, not you. And yes, the turnover rate is incredible, due to people seeing past the rah rah attitude of the managers. Keep it green!! meaning stay on the phone, and [no] commission if you don't average 600 in sales per day..... I am so glad I left

6 comments:

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