Oursourcing PHP and Joomla Development
Using companies like OSSMedia Ltd / Xicom Technolgies Ltd - A cautionary Tale
Then things went wrong...
One morning, we noticed that some parts of our web site had stopped working. This was our main, existing web site, not their test site or any of their new work. Index files had been uploaded, and other files had been modified so that they no longer functioned (this had a material affect of custom and operations). Upon examining the FTP directories, we noticed that files had been modified, and upon examining the logs, we saw that many other files had been uploaded, deleted, replaced and so on. The FTP logs showed that the only logins had been from OSSMedia's IP address and using their login ID
This was obviously highly disturbing; OSSMedia had no authority to upload, modify or delete files on our live site, yet they clearly had. We contacted them immediately to ask what they had done and why. We got back a denial:
So, we sent him the logs (a longer version of the above extract) and he still denied it!
Now, we're reasonable people. Their unauthorised access and vandalism of our site could have been accidental - someone being careless with the FTP client or something, so if there had been an immediate admission, investigation and apology, we could have moved on but instead they just denied it. That either means that they wanted to cover it up, that they had inadequatw controls and a rogue operative/programmer who had 'stolen' the access credentials, or simpyl that they were incompetent. Any of those options are unacceptable and without a proper explanation, we could not proceed with them.
Various emails went backwards and forwards but OSSMedia still refused to give any explanation of why they had damaged/modified our web site. We asked for the issue to be escalated and that we be put in touch with management, but James and Sushant refused to put us in touch, or provide us with their names. We also asked what their real company address was for formal communication and they refused to provide that information. The USA address is not an operating location; it appears to be a mail forwarding service and all of their personnel (programmers and management) are in India - there appears to be no legitimae reason to list the USA address. As I later found out, James Matthews is not the salesperson's his real name and his Linked-in profile claims he is in Rochester, New York, USA, which he isn't. Maybe this company just wants you to believe they are American-based, and to quote directly from one of their web pages : "OSSMedia ltd is a New York based open source software development company......"
100% Moneyback guarantee
When we asked about their "100% money back" guarantee, James Matthews (not his real name) explained that it doesn't apply because they had started the work! So, it seems if you are unhappy with their work, you can have your money back as long as they havn't started work, and they won't let you look at the code produced during the project so you can't check it anyway!
As OSSMedia have not provided any of the source/PHP of the work they have done, we can't check that it is clean; if a programmer is making unauthorised changes to servers/files (either through ignorance, incompetence or negligence), who knows what else a he might have put in the code if he was rogue or incompetent. OSS have said that they will only provide the code if we agree to drop all claims against them. Imagine if your hairdresser asked you to pay before letting you look in the mirror to see what a mess he had made!
So why are we telling you this?
Is this just sour grapes on our part? Did we try to get a job done cheaply, cut corners, get burned and now want to whinge about it? Well, we certainly did hope and expect to get our job done inexpensively - OSSMedia's costing was attractive and actually money we could have afforded to write off if it had gone horribly wrong. It did go horribly wrong, and trying to get the money back through the Indian system is long-winded. You might think we were naive, that we didn't carry out enough checks, and that we were foolish to provide RW access when they only needed 'R' (actually, the latter is true), so we learned our lesson.
The reason for this posting is, however, to help others. Subcontracting CAN work, and geographically diverse companies can provide good service, so based on our experience of OSSMedia Ltd, here are our top tips:
What about us?
We've taken all of our web development back in house. Will we ever get our money back from OSSMedia? Well, they have specifically refused that and we're advised that getting it back through formal legal means will take time and money; ultimately, through the courts we should get our money back, plus costs and interests, but it's a distraction and one I wish we'd never had. Incidentally, I should point out that this blog entry was not written with any 'warning' to them to return our money; they refused, and that is that. This piece is intended as a genuine warning to others about precautions and applies to all outsourcing companies, whether they are OSSMedia or not.
OSSMedia are still in business, so even if they were negligent, incompetent, dishonest or just poor at communication in our case (we never worked out which), perhaps they have learned some lessons and other people will be saved the cost, inconvenience and hassle of how they handled us. If they have learned nothing and will repeat these same mistakes, then hopefully this article will warn people of their competence and customers will go elsewhere.
Tags : Wordpress, Outsourcing, Drupal, Magento, Joomla, OSSMedia Ltd, Xicom Technolgies Ltd.
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