For years, Wordpress.org has maintained an exclusive endorsement of Bluehost as the only company on its Hosting page of “the best and brightest of the hosting world” but my experience with the company is more in line with a growing number of bloggers who believe WordPress should end this relationship.
Before I went with Bluehost, I googled everything from “best WordPress hosting” to “Bluehost review” and came across this WP Site Care article comparing 7 WordPress hosting providers which found Bluehost’s performance “lackluster.” However, since I anticipated using many high-resolution photos on my blog, cheap storage was the major selling point, and I chose Bluehost anyway despite its ambiguous quality because it offered 30GB of storage space in its basic plan for only $4 a month. Little did I know how much it would cost me.
The Server Was Slow and Unreliable
I bought the hosting plan in January but left the country for 3 weeks, so I didn’t realize until I got home in early February and began using the site that I had underestimated how important reliability was. Even without any visitors, the response time was excruciatingly slow to the point where it hampered my ability to work on the site, because I would often have to wait a full minute or more just to save a draft, or refresh the site to see how a change I made would look.
getting a Refund Was Expensive
After transferring my website to another host that offered a free professional transfer service, what I got back from Bluehost came out to (34.68 months left * $3.49/month = $121.03), less $11.99 for the domain and $16.49 for domain privacy protection for the rest of the year (~$1.50/month) for a total refund of $109.04 out of the $137.04 I originally paid. That means registering my domain with Bluehost for one year cost $28.48 (the same service which Google Domains provides for an all-inclusive 12 bucks!)
THEIR “EXPERT SUPPORT” Were Not EXPERTs
I called Bluehost to ask if it would be possible to cancel domain privacy protection for the remainder of the year, and specifically asked if I could get a refund for doing so. The rep told me in no uncertain terms yes and that I could do it myself in the Domains section of the website, but said good-bye and hung up before I could log in and try it. When I did, I saw that the only option available was to DISABLE the domain privacy, but not cancel the service for money back.
When I was finally connected to another rep after 40 minutes, this time through chat, I began with “I was told on the phone that I could remove domain privacy and receive a pro rata refund from the website but I could not find where on the site I could do that. Can you please help?”
Instead of telling me that the company does not issue refunds on domain privacy, I was forced to go through a literally 15 minute process of verifying my ownership of the account, then explaining that my hosting account was closed but that I still owned the domain, before the rep told me my request wasn’t even possible! I might as well have been speaking to a robot designed to waste customers’ time with useless procedures and preprogrammed answers.
Waiting for Tech Support
After being flat out lied to by their customer service representatives, I decided to stick to chat support so everything they told me would be in writing. Of the three times I used their customer service on two different days, my wait was 40-60 minutes. If that wasn’t bad enough, I kept being given an expected wait time of 30 minutes, which counted down to 1 minute… then rebounded back to 30!
If you’re going to offer people an estimated the wait time, maybe not lie about it about it so blatantly. Most of us have better things to do than sit at our computers wondering when, if ever, our web host will get back to us.
Their Policies Were Misleading
Bluehost’s website says that if you cancel anytime in the year after the first three days, there will be a “$15.99 charge for your domain name, which will be your domain to keep for 1 year.” However, as I discovered, owning the domain does not mean you get to use it.
(13:20) [Akshay] If you want to redirect that domain then you will have to renew your hosting account in here.
So the domain is “yours” but you need a hosting account with Bluehost to use it, even if you just want to redirect the domain to the much better WordPress host you are using!
Tech Support Admitted It’s A Scam
After a 40 minute wait, and frustrating 20 minute conversation in which I got the runaround from the customer service rep who kept asking me questions I had already answered while giving me canned unhelpful answers, I actually got him/her to admit that even if the product I paid for does not work, I would not get my money back.
(13:34) [Stephanie] It is past the 3 days for your normal policy of refunding a domain, but you have sold me a product and service that I am unable to use.
(13:35) [Akshay] Sorry that is not possible to have the refund as you can have the refund only from the 1st 3 days you purchse.
(13:35) [Stephanie] Through no fault of my own because I followed all your protocols and instructions, and spoke to representatives who claimed to helped me multiple times over the course of 3 hours.
(13:36) [Stephanie] Thank you for your time and finally answering the question of whether Bluehost is a scam. Have a great day.
I filed a claim with my credit card company who agreed that I should not pay for a service I never received. For anybody who’s on the fence about Bluehost, I would be happy to provide the full transcript of all the chat conversations mentioned.
WHAT I USE NOW
Bluehost promises a risk-free trial of their products, but my experience was far from it. After everything I went through (hours spent on hold attempting to fix what should be very easily solved issues, then trying to get my money back for services not rendered) I regret giving this company the benefit of the doubt and would not use them again for anything.
I went with SiteGround because it offered a similarly low-cost, entry-level package, though with less memory (10GB of storage space vs. Bluehost’s 30gb). The difference was immediately noticeable. Refreshing pages now takes milliseconds, not minutes, and I have noticed virtually no downtime or even lags. Although this is the only other WordPress host I have tried, I’ve been satisfied enough with the service not to look further for my needs yet.