I knew it was bound to happen. Despite all the security precautions implemented on client websites, I knew that sooner or later, one of them would fall victim to malware. Recently, Wordfence software kicked in letting me know that one of our client’s websites was infected. We immediately jumped into action and implemented our security plan. Part of this plan is to contact the web hosting service to let them know that the website contains malware. That’s when things went bad. Read on to discover what happens when WordPress technical support goes wrong.

Have a security plan

As mentioned earlier, we immediately implemented our security plan when we received warning of an infected website.  First, we made a backup of the website (used for testing and investigation purposes). Next, we took the website offline while we investigated how the malware got on the website. We installed the backup to our offline testing server. We discovered that the malware had entered the website through a plugin (that the client inadvertently installed). We removed the plugin and infected files (1.6GB in total). With the files removed, we ran the malware scanner on the website, and all came back clean.

With a clean version of the website, we created a new backup to upload to the live server. We deleted all the files in the live server website folder and erased the database. We created a new database and tried to install WordPress in the empty website folder. That’s when the wheels fell off. WordPress refused to install! After several repeated attempts, it was time to contact the website hosting support team.

Ask for support

Looking for WordPress technical support, I fired up their online chat system, selected ‘malware’ from the dropdown subject, and provided a brief description of the issue. Much to my surprise, a ‘support person’ located in the USA immediately came online (warning flag # 1 – not the normal tech support team). Normally, we have to wait 10-15 minutes and get an overseas support person.

The support person immediately went into sales mode (warning flag # 2 – trying to upsell before learning about my issue) saying that my security plan was no good and I needed to upgrade my account. The account needed a dedicated firewall and full-time protection. When I said that we used Wordfence on all our websites, he said that Wordfence is no good (warning flag # 3 – not understanding what Wordfence does).

Understand the issue

I explained what had happened, the steps taken to clean the malware, and my problem with installing WordPress. The support person said that their engineers would need to clean the infected files (warning flag # 4 – there were no files to clean). Didn’t matter, the engineers still needed 4 – 6 hours of billable time to clean the website. By this time, I began losing my patience with this person because he just wasn’t listening to the issue.

Hearing my change in tone, the ‘support person’ asked if he could give me a call (warning flag #5 – support never called before). I said sure. Then he asked for my phone number (warning flag # 6 – it’s on my account). Once the support person called, he immediately went into sales mode again. There was no way we were going to pay their ‘engineers’ for 4 – 6 hours work to clean a non-existing website. I told the support person I would think about it. He then asked if he could email me some details. I said sure. Then he asked for my email address (warning flag # 7 – it’s on my account). The received email contained sales brochures!

Look for options

In the end, we moved the website to another website hosting platform (yes, we use several depending on the needs of the client). Updated the domain pointers and had the client’s website online in less than 30 minutes. Needless to say, we are now questioning our continuing to use this website hosting firm. Moving the websites installed there will take some time, but we can’t condone poor support. Ensure that you have professional WordPress support. Watch out for warning flags when you are looking for WordPress technical support.

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