What's up with WPengine? Jason Cohen?

Considering how much Jason was talking about their awesome customer service at the previous MicroConfs, I wonder what’s happening…


That’s depressing. The more I read, the more it looked like a horror story. I recommend everyone read it. It’s a textbook example of bad service.

Edit: Be sure to read the comments as well. It seems the terrible service is quite common.

Not good at all, it shows how you can start out with great customer service but then as you bring on staff who aren’t the founders or the first few employees it can all go downhill.

As for stupid stuff hosting companies tell their customers I could go on for hours about that. We frequently have people stuck between us in Perch support and their host, with their host telling them outright lies about how things work.

I’m hosting with WPEngine. The customer service is fast and seems smart to me. My site response is fast too, and always has been. No injected links to WPEngine,too.

Jason had a post recently, where they were investigating the cause of slow WP Admin for a portion of the users (it didn’t affect me), and it looks they eventually tracked it down.

I would really like to hear the other side of the story. The account cancellation tells me there is more to it.

Thank you for the article’s reference to Traffic Planet Hosting which is “a direct competitor” to WPEngine. It has 5 sites on $30/mo account, while WPEngine has only one, and it is my main complain with WPEngine. Since I need to host two more sites, this makes all the difference for me - I’m going to host another site on TPH first, and if everything is good after 6mo or so, move the rest over there too.

This incident actually makes me more willing to use WP Engine, although their new marketing site looks silly.

Thats a lot of support for $99 a month. :wink:

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Quantity doesn’t trump quality here. Lots of time wasted and time is money.

I briefly reviewed the support answers from the tech point of view.

Lack of tools?

The first guy made a mistake of jumping to a conclusion. He did not have a clue what caused the site being slow, and decided to point to the most likely reason – a large table. I guess it works in most cases, but alas did not work in this one.

Why he did not have a clue – I couldn’t know. May be he’s just not that experienced. Or, may be, he didn’t have the tools required to track down this particular problem. In fact, in the post I mentioned above Jason says they were not monitoring some of the important metrics. If so, the support guy was looking onto a row of green indicators, and had to guess.

Some lack of training

Removing anything without ability to restore (I refer to spam comments now) is a big no-no. The support guy did just that, and I do not have any excuses for it. Simply a training issue.

Refusal to provide the resource allocation numbers

I’m fully with WPEngine on this one. I’m doing capacity planning at my day job, and it often goes like this: I build a capacity model and then tune it up based on the real world data points. Then some guys asks “how much memory is allocated to app X?” - “Y gigs” - “only Y gigs?! but the vendor recommends Y*5 gigs! it is configured wrong! we shall increase it immediately!” …

You see, vendors always recommend inflated memory and CPU numbers; it is much easier for them to deal with objection “it makes the hardware 25% more expensive” than with “OMG we used your recommendation and now our system crashes every day at peak hours!!!111!”.

Same for WP: the user remembers how much memory it was allocated for him on the previous hosting. Or someone sometime told his that a good number is X Mbytes. Or he even believes he can estimate this number on his own, based on incoming traffic, page sizes and whatnot. The truth is he cannot without knowledge of how the internal WPEngine system works. To provide with a number - any number - is only to open themselves to a pointless argument, where the user will be throwing unjustified numbers around, and WPEngine would be trying to explain a 20-page spreadsheet with capacity model, with no success at all - and the issue meanwhile will persist.

The installation actually is not healthy

Eventually they moved the whole domain to a separate server, and it was taking 83% of its resources. That tells me that some plugins of the site are to blame.

The support guy points out that the spam filter works really hard. Perhaps the site is under spam attacks from time to time?

Matthew himself admits that his site will always be a target for large volumes of spam comments.


This just sounds like a stupid plugin. Why would a RSS plugin required a FULLTEXT search?

I would disable it too. Perhaps even banned the plugin completely.

Also, the support told Matthew that FULLTEXT is not supported on their platform, and they did it in the first reply to the ticket. They made a mistake to mention something else (extra stuff outside of WP installation), and M. jumped into an opportunity to blame WP support for not understanding what they are talking about. The statement of not supporting FULLTEXT was made at least two more times though.

Also, it was made clear that there are some (better, IMHO) RSS implementations that do not use FULLTEXT.

Cancelling the account

Given the:

  • Lack of skills/tools to track down and prove the root cause from WPE side
  • Lack of willingness to change the used plugins to less resource-hogging from Matthew side
  • The nature of the site that apparently attracts an enormous number of spam comments

it was only logical that WPE decided it doesn’t make an economical sense to host the site.

Maybe part of it is the fact that WPEngine’s own marketing sets very high expectations?

I had a couple frustrating experiences with them (miscommunications, support tickets not getting answered right away, etc.) that would be par for the course for any company, but since they have this image of super-premium service, it can feel disappointing to realize they’re just guys doing their jobs the best they can like the rest of us.


As a WPEngine user of 1.5 years, this thread does NOT mimic my experiences at all. I have had nothing but excellent, responsive support, friendly and helpful service, reasonable technical answers and excellent uptime. I have 10 sites hosted with them on a pro package and I’ve not seen the trouble the OP had in this case. Not saying it wasn’t true, but it’s certainly not my experience with them.

I left due to combination of very high expectations and only medium level delivery. (and I was probably a very profitable customer due to well within plan limits and simple blog with no fancy plugins)

For me was no faster than reasonable VPN, some problems causing more downtime than I had in 2 years of previous VPN based host, questionable support issues (slow response at time they acknowledged very high growth and a couple of slow or incorrect responses).

Maybe I gave them a hard time because of high exp. but I also stayed with them longer than I might have due to Jasons rep and even sent a “Fix this otherwise I have to go” email and all I got back was an auto “> 500 chars, TL;DR; try again” response. Right-o-then…

Re-in-forced that you have to take everything you read on t’interwebs with a large pinch of salt.

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