Want to Host Your Blog with Dreamhost? Grab a Crayon.

by Teresa Valdez Klein on November 10, 2006

Until now, I’ve been nothing but happy with Dreamhost since we migrated our blog there in January. Even when the MYSQL database for this blog crashed about a week ago, I was pleased with the speed and response time of their technical support team. Those guys in tech support are smart and helpful and they get the job done consistently.

I wish I could say the same for the people in billing.

I recently tried to set up a separate account on Dreamhost. I entered the relevant credit card information and waited for the process to go through. That’s when I got a strange e-mail from the Dreamhost team:


Unfortunately we will specifically need fax approval on this card before
the account is activated. I realize this can be an inconvenience but our
fraud department requires it when an account gets flagged for some
reason. When you sign up for a new account your application goes through
our approval system to make sure that your request is legitimate. Usually,
this happens when some of the information you provided did not match the
credit card you gave us so the system has us check to make sure that this
is not fraud because we get a *lot* of fraudulent signups!!! Because of
this, our credit card processor *requires* that in these cases we accept
*only* a fax of this information =(

The form you need to fax us is located at: http://www.dreamhost.com/fax/

I apologize for the inconvenience!

“Umm…ok….” I thought. “This is supposed to be the 21st century. And these guys are supposed to be high-tech. Haven’t they ever heard of VeriSign?”

Confidence in the technical competency of my Web host diminished, I clicked through to the document they wanted me to fill out and sign. Everything seemed relatively normal until I read these words:

Please place your credit card under this paper and make an imprint of
the card below by rubbing a pencil or crayon along the surface of the
paper. A photocopy is not acceptable. Please ensure that the card
number and cardholder name are legible – multiple rubbings are OK!

We live in a world where I can use the embedded web cam on my computer to talk to my girlfriend halfway across the world. Terabytes of information travel over fiber optic cable each day. The world is more interconnected than ever before, and this supposedly high-tech company is asking me to verify my identity with a fax machine and a crayon?

I can’t decide if I should be amused or pissed off.

Update 11/17/06 2:52pm It looks like I’m not the only one who finds this whole thing rather annoying.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim 11.12.06 at 12:42 pm

Well, I can see your point. However, obviously, they’ve been stung before and are protecting both interests. Usually, safeguards like this punish those who obey the rules and are the result of behavior by those who don’t.

The crayon thing is dreamhost trying to be clever. I’m not sure why a photocopy isn’t acceptable though.

2 Des Walsh 11.14.06 at 9:32 pm

So Teresa
You still have a fax machine?
Got an icebox too? :)

3 Jeremiah Owyang 11.17.06 at 3:15 am

I know a lot of folks that use dreamhost, it’s really hit and miss, some folks love it while others have some serious issues.

Here’s a recent issue that got elevated…


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