My experience with Website Movers

I have been maintaining a WordPress install that outgrew it’s shared hosting plan. I opted to move to WP Engine, as I’ve worked with them a lot in the past and have always been very happy with their service (Note: WP Engine is not at fault here, Website Movers is a third party.). The site I was planning to migrate was decent size (~1,500 posts spanning several years with pictures, media, etc.) but nothing out of the ordinary. I wanted to save some time and make sure the migration went smoothly, so I opted to outsource it. WP Engine recommended using Website Movers for the migration. Website Movers estimated the process would take 2-3 hours, and WP Engine comps the first two hours. So, it looked like we would be paying for 0-1 hour of work at $109/hr. We decided to move forward.

Preparation

Prior to migration, Website Movers suggests running a plugin called WPEngine Ready. This plugin looks through your install and alerts you if there are any plugins that WP Engine disallows. I ran the plugin and made sure that my install was compliant with WP Engine’s hosting. Easy enough.

Migration

Website Movers started the migration – Dumping the database, downloading all the front end files, etc. They then setup a test server. I was able to view the test server and make sure everything was working. After confirming that it was, we set aside a time to complete the migration. The final step would be to update the DNS records to point to the new hosting. They told us that DNS propagation would take 1-6 hours. We arranged a time to do so (a Friday). I made sure all of our authors would NOT make any changes for the entire day Friday to ensure the DNS information propagated.

They said they made the change on Friday before noon:

[Website Movers] Fri, 2 Nov at 11:46am
Hello Ryan,
I’ve finished the database sync, but the website content synchronization still in process. I’ve already switched the DNS. Please note the DNS changes may take up to 4 hours to propagate all the world.
Thank you.

The Results

Monday morning came around, and the site was still not pointing to the new hosting. I sent a message to them letting them know that it had been 72+ hours since they should have made the DNS switch but nothing had happened. I didn’t get a response. However, 15 minutes later, our entire website was down with a general Server Error. I got on the horn with them (after multiple attempts – they were having phone problems, as well) and told them the situation.

They told me to purge my browser cache, as it was working on their end. I purged my cache, and still nothing. I also got confirmation from three of our team members working remotely who said the entire site was down for them as well. I contacted Website Movers once again, and they said they would look into it.

They did manage to get the site up and running, but were unable to tell me what the problem was. At this time, the URL’s for our subpages were incorrect as well – After fixing that, they said it was a “gesture of good will”… Personally, I thought that was part of migrating a site. On top of that, some of our content was missing. I told Website Movers this, and they offered the following reply when asked if they could sync the data (as that was part of our initial agreement). I received the following response:

[Website Movers] Mon, 5 Nov at 12:09pm
Ryan,

We will need 1 additional hour approved ($109) to backup the configuration and perform the sync today. Please let me know if you wish to proceed.

Thanks!

They wanted $109 to fix something that should have been done as part of the migration. That didn’t seem very fair to me. I then sent them the following message:

Mon, 5 Nov at 12:38pm via email
Hi [redacted],

What was the server error then? The migration was not completed Friday as
was agreed upon.

Thanks,
Ryan

And they said:

[Website Movers] Mon, 5 Nov at 12:53pm
Ryan,

The server error at your website was related to the plugin jetpack which is not compatible with your hosting account.

Thanks!

That seemed strange to me, as I ran the WPEngine Ready plugin and Jetpack never brought up a warning. I checked WP Engine’s disallowed plugins list and Jetpack was NOT on there. Jetpack is actually endorsed and curated by WP Engine. They blatantly lied to me about the issue.

I followed up:

Hello,

I just wanted to say that Jetpack is not on the Disallowed Plugins list for
WP Engine. In fact, it is actually on their Curated Plugins list:

http://support.wpengine.com/curated-plugins/

Could you please investigate and let me know what the issue with the
transfer was?

Thanks,
Ryan

And they responded:

[Website Movers] Mon, 5 Nov at 6:19pm
Ryan,

Unfortunately we cannot continue working on your migration project unless you wish to approve some additional time. Please let me know if you have any questions or wish to discuss this with our sales representatives.

Thank you.

So… Not only can they not provide me with an answer as to WHY things went wrong, but they won’t even talk to me. I got on the phone again. I was told that a senior tech support agent would call me in 30 minutes. Four hours went by and I didn’t hear a thing and Website Movers had since closed for the day. I spent the rest of the night manually migrating content from our old install to the new.

The next morning I did get a call from one of their senior tech reps, and he did genuinely try to help. He investigated things on his end, but still couldn’t seem to provide any answers. He said that he would comp us one more hour of work for migration… But when I asked how much time total they needed, he then estimated it would take 3-4 additional hours. By this point, I had already migrated the remaining content manually myself, and I had wasted far too much time on the phone getting the run around. I decided to cut my loses.

Website Movers Review Conclusion

I understand that with anything web related issues can arise, and there is no bulletproof way to migrate a website. DNS records can take awhile to propagate, servers can get disconnected, etc. But the lack of accountability on Website Movers’ end is what frustrated me. The amount of time wasted on both sides could easily have been avoided if they were upfront about the issue and willing to work with me. Instead, they just denied everything.

I did talk with one of the execs at Website Movers, and shared my frustrations. He told me that he was sorry I had a bad experience, but when it came down to it, I got a free migration (Because WP Engine comped the first three hours). That irked me. It wasn’t free. I spent more than two full working days to solve this issue. I also had to manually complete parts of the migration myself.

I don’t like to badmouth anyone, but I felt that other people should be aware of this experience. Granted, even with my complaints, this was one isolated incident. Have you had an experience with Website Movers? Good or bad, I would love to hear.

20 thoughts on “My experience with Website Movers

  1. Comment removed per request.

    Not an uncommon experience. I use to work for them and this happened ALL the time. It’s their way of getting more money out of people.
    1. Thanks for the reply, Jamie. After doing a few quick Google searches it appears that I am not the only one who has had an experience like this with Website Movers, either.

  2. This is Ryan Pelerin, Website Movers’ Founder/CTO.

    You may recall we spoke a few times about your concerns during the course of
    our migration project for the JohnnyJet website. I regret that you felt
    our service did not meet your expectations. I take our customer experience
    very seriously, so please don’t hesitate to contact me at
    ryan@websitemovers.com or 313-469-9005 if I can help out to further address
    your concern and/or assist you in any way.

    1. Hey Ryan,

      Thank you for the reply. I did mention in the article that I found you to be genuinely helpful. The thing is, by the time I finally got to speak with you, I had already put more than a full day into trying to fix the botched migration. And I still had to complete the migration myself. It just boggles my mind that Website Movers was able to put so much time into telling me it wasn’t their fault, but they weren’t able to just help me fix the situation — Which would have taken a significantly lower amount of time on both ends. With that said, thank you for reaching out to me here on my blog.

    2. Several years ago I dealt directly with Mr. Ryan Pelerin, Founder of Website Movers’. Needless to say someone (my competition) had managed to delete my website and I had to have it rebuilt. I had nowhere to host my site, so Mr. Ryan Pelerin offered to host my website for FREE and he was most helpful in every respect. Eventually, I had 2 websites moved and Ryan Pelerin insured my that everything would be fine even though I was a very small account.
      To my amazement, everything did go great. I am not a “computer or website person” but Ryan Pelerin was there for me always and performed everything perfect and beyond. He is honest and a professional.
      You always hear the complaints, but never the “good stuff”. That means you’re doing a good job or got what you paid for. No one is perfect. Years later, I did have an issue with one person at Websitemovers’ and it was not Mr. Pelerin. No one or company is perfect, but unfortunately “people have to pass the buck or blame.” I am sure that is what has happened in Ryan’s situation because ultimately if Mr. Perlerin would have known the truth of an unsatisfied customer and or a bad situation within his company, he would have addressed it and/or remedied the problem immediately had he known the TRUTH. Again, this is the way he is and this is the way he runs his company. Even though I had a similar situation, as did Ryan, (not Mr. Ryan Pelerin) I would highly recommend Websitemovers’ and trust them. Mr. Ryan Pelerin helped me “when I needed it,” he did a GREAT JOB and he did not know me and that is something I will never forget!!!

      1. David,

        Thank you for the reply. I did work with Ryan Pelerin towards the end of the ordeal, and I found him to be the one person that was helpful that I worked with. I would just like to be clear, my issue is not with Mr. Pelerin. By the time I spoke with him, I was already several hours (more than a full working day) into migrating the content myself and getting the runaround from everyone else that I talked to. Complete lack of accountability. And even though Ryan tried to help, there was still nothing he could do to remedy the situation. He offered to comp me one hour of work, when Website Movers estimated the migration would take in upwards of four hours to complete. So, that would have been $109 off of a $436 bill. I appreciate the gesture, but I couldn’t justify spending ~$327 more on a company that just botched the job that they were supposed to do.

        You mention that you had a similar situation, yet you still recommend and trust Website Movers. What was your situation? I created the post just to share my own experience, and would encourage others to share theirs, the good and the bad. And also, I am just curious, how did you come across my blog?

  3. Hi Ryan,

    Given that this thread has expanded and we never publicly addressed your concerns, I believe it’s important that I address them on behalf WSM for the public record. We discussed this on the phone previously, so I’m, assuming none of this will come as a surprise. My job here is to make sure that, to the extent I can, every client is satisfied with the work we provide.

    I understand that migrations aren’t something that people go through on a daily basis, so with that in mind we always try to educate to the best of our ability through the instructions we provide during the course of any project, and accommodate where we can if any confusion arises.

    To address your specific concerns laid out in your original post, which we discussed on the phone previously:

    1. Someone on your end installed the JetPack plugin over the weekend, after our migration work was completed. This caused the site to go down on Monday morning. WSM jumped in to assist in diagnosing and resolving the problem at no charge. The JetPack plugin was disabled which restored functionality to the site. While JetPack may not be on the list of disallowed plugins at WPEngine, for whatever reason it was incompatible with the site when it was activated on your end. Again, though this issue was unrelated to the migration work WSM was performing, WSM jumped in to resolve the issue immediately and without charge.

    2. You indicated that many people were making updates to the OLD website during the propagation window over the weekend. Domain propagation times are out of our control, especially when factoring in any potential browser caching on your local Mac or PC. In most cases we’re seeing propagation occur within 4 hours in the continental United States. You reference missing data, we discussed this on the phone, the data that was missing was the data added over the weekend, to the old website, during the propagation period. You indicated that you wanted us to manually merge the data that was added during propagation. WSM offered a good faith credit toward that work. You chose to perform the work on your own. WSM did recommend placing a maintenance page on the old server during the propagation period, you elected to leave the old site/server live during this period. I could find no error on the part of WSM that would warrant us writing off all of the time required to perform a manual data merge. I did offer a good faith credit toward this as you indicated you budget was very tight, and we truly did want to help.

    3. Our phone system was up and error free on the date this occurred and during the course of your entire project. WSM responded to you within 4 minutes of the error being reported on Basecamp and had the error resolved within 30 minutes of it being reported. You can reference the response times in your archived project history in Basecamp. WSM is open from 8 AM to 5 PM EST and available for off-hours scheduling as well. You posted at 9:19 PM EST on Monday the 5th after an all day exchange. We immediately called and emailed you the next business morning.

    The issue was escalated all the way up to me the day you reported the error. I immediately called to discuss the problem, explain the situation and the root causes and discuss the best way forward. I determined and explained why these issues weren’t caused on our end and offered solutions to assist, as time is our product, they did come with some cost associated in cases where there isn’t a failure on our part.

    WSM has completed over 1,000,000 website/application migrations since our founding. I believe there are less than a handful of negative reviews online in the history of our company. On the other hand, WSM has dozens of stellar reviews from previous clients which can be viewed here:

    http://www.websitemovers.com/about/testimonials

    We do our very best to please every client. In this case we offered a good faith credit to help resolve the data merge issues that remained after your content updates. You elected to merge the data on your own per your last post in the project.

    I am always willing and ready to take full accountability if/when a failure occurs. In fact, we welcome feedback to help us continue to improve our processes. In this case the migration work itself was executed without error. The issues you encountered were related to post migration activity including updating the old site, installing additional plugins, etc. WSM attempted to provide support to assist you with those issues.

    WSM was very responsive during the course of the project and still remains responsive after the project was completed. As I was during the course of your project, I remain available to address any/all concerns you may have as our reputation is very important to us.

    I wish you the best of luck in the future, and have a great new year!

    1. Hi Ryan,

      I apologize for the delay in responding, but I’ve just been getting caught up after the holidays. My responses below.

      1. JetPack was installed and active long before the migration (months before). I would be the only one on my end installing and/or activating plugins, so I am still not sure what the problem could have been. I don’t think either one of us can be 100% sure which side this error occurred on, but I do know that JetPack was active and functioning prior to the migration. As to when / what exactly happened, I checked with my team and they assured me no plugins were altered, as I am sure you did with yours. So, it remains up in the air.

      2. I do understand that DNS records can take a while to propagate (~72 hours sometimes). However, we were told that we could begin making updates in four hours on Friday. We didn’t make any changes until well after that four hour mark (the next day, actually). You offered good faith credit of one hour, and estimated that the entire process would take an additional three to four hours. I couldn’t justify spending the $327, especially after the previous events.

      3. When I first called your phone system was down. I finally got ahold of Kenan and he told me that you were experiencing problems with your phone system. I am not sure what it shows in your logs, but I know for a fact (as I was the one who called) that there were errors. Kenan even told me this when I finally did get through to him. This isn’t a huge deal to me, as I know these things can happen, but I just want to let you know that it did in fact happen and I did not make it up.

      In regards to when I first spoke with you, you said you called me the first day. However, you did NOT call me the day of the error. I talked with Kenan off and on throughout the day, and he told me that a senior tech representative (you) would call me within a half hour. However, I did not receive a phone call until the following day (I remember because I was in my car on the way into the office at the time).

      I don’t doubt Website Movers has had successful migrations – after all, you guys are still in business and you wouldn’t be if you didn’t. And on top of that, you do have a lot of positive testimonals. However, I just wanted to present the other side of the coin and share my personal experience.

      Unfortunately I did NOT feel that Website Movers was responsive, and that was my biggest frustration. Throughout the process (and still) I feel that Website Movers was more focused on damage control than making the client (myself) feel satisfied or comfortable with the process.

      I do want to make it clear that I don’t have any problem with you personally, but I just had a bad experience with your company. In my experience you have been courteous and professional.

      I also wish you the best of luck, and I hope that my experience can help you avoid similar situations in the future.

      Happy new year to you as well.

    2. This detailed response and investigation on your end a the founder speaks volumes to the way you run you company. I’m a new customer with a current project and I find this to b very reassuring.

      B.

  4. Quick question Ryan, from Brian ironically enough. I do word press sites and blogger sites and I use a content management system but do not do programming of any sort, correctly at least anyways lol. So do I still have the title of Front End developer or no, because I don’t have programming knowledge?

    1. Hey Brian,

      From the sound of things, I would probably consider you more of a content manager or editor. A front end developer generally writes the actual code (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc) that handles the display of content from the backend. If you are interested in front end development, there are a lot of great resources available online to get started – and if you have any questions, feel free to give me a shout. Thanks for reading!

  5. I forgot to mention…my 2 month nightmare has cost close to $3,000 so far. I think I’m going to find a different company. After reading your post again I’m afraid I’ll risk the entire site by letting them continue. This has been the year from hell, the last thing I need is more stress.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sorry you went through what you did with them but your post has been a lifesaver for me.

  6. Comment removed per request.

    Because you rank number one on Google for website movers review, I feel as if I should update this.

    I was a sucker and bought into the “we’ll make it right” and “It’s a delicate operation” spiel. I was also told they’ve done large migrations before and they were pros. That was a few days after I posted the above (end of July).

    As of today, the site was migrated to a new server. Every single url was a 500 Internal Error. I was told they’d check into it and get back to me.They didn’t and much like I should be doing, left for the holiday weekend.

    I ended up solving the problem, which was an htaccess error even a high school programmer would have known was the first place to look. Not only that, every manual url on the site was changed to make a dev site for their use, and has been left that way which throws even more internal errors.

    I’ve invested another $600, the last payment was done without my approval. They’ve supposedly gone over the initial amount of hours and are now charging hourly.

    So beware, anyone considering using them. You pay $95 an hour for their screw-ups as well as what you thought was going to be performed according to a promised contract.

    I am a shmuck at this point, but my hands are tied. I need my site up and it’s probably about a week away from being done. I’m past the point of no return. We’ll be celebrating three months together on Tuesday…for a migration and server upgrade (which ended up being performed by the server company to expedite things).

    Only problem is, I am not celebrating. Their only saving grace is Corinne and my advice to her would be to jump that sinking ship. She’s incredibly sweet and is put in front of the firing squad by them. The company sucks, plain and simple.

    I would not advise anyone, no matter how small the job, to use them.

    Thank you Ryan for letting me share my experience on your blog. I wish I would have seen your post before I hired them, or at least cut the ties last month.

  7. I found this blog and wanted to share a positive experience about Website Movers. I am sorry to hear about the problems the above people have had with Website Movers. I have been using them for over 2 years now and my experience has been a positive one.

    They migrated my site from Godaddy to Rackspace 2 years ago. Of course there were some issues, but they solved them in a timely manner and within budget. I also use them for some outsourced development services and they have done a great job. They have actually finished some projects nobody internally or elsewhere could. Sure they have made some mistakes, but compared with others that I have tried, they are a good value at the end of the day for me. Sometimes, completion of a long overdue project is priceless.

    I just wanted to share my experience. I am not sure how many customers they have, but I am happy with their service and have recomended them to others.

    I just wanted to post this because I know how powerful a good blog is and wanted to share my experience.

    Thanks,

    Steven

  8. WELL???? I can tell you my experience with WSM….I have been a customer now for many, many years…..and everyone of my experiences with them has been mega positive.

    My latest, and most recent experience happened to me just about 1 month ago. My entire family (9 all total) was on a family vacation to Europe. 3 week vacation….planned, paid, and and we were right in the middle of it when my web site was hacked!!!! And I’m not talking about a simple defacing…but a major…crash it…destroy it….problem!!!!

    My site has been around for well over 20 years and contains a massive database and 2+MILLION entries!!! NOW….the revenue stream that this web site produces was HOW I could afford to go to Europe for 2 weeks with my whole family…and now….it was down….hacked….partially destroyed.

    All I did was send one simple email to WSM….and Ryan Pelerin, Sasha, and the whole gang got on it INSTANTLY!!!!

    In less than 1 week…before my trip was over I got an email explaining that everything was fixed, working…and well…frankly…the revenue stream was opened again!!!

    HAD it not been for their expertise….I would quite frankly still be down.

    This is just one simple story….I have hundreds!!! In my most humble opinion…..you simply cannot do business on the web with out someone like Web Site Movers in your corner.

    I personally thank them for saving me time after time after time.

    THANKS GANG!!!

    Yours,

    Kirk Voclain

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