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How to Sue a Web Host

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I maintain several websites for clients as part of a service I provide, to achieve this I rent servers for my clients from a web host company, and point their domains names to that hosting company.


Clients emails are provided using an imap client, webmail, provided by this company.

Each client has multiple mail boxes attached to their domain name.


This service requires a "main domain name" as the owner of the rented server,

I used the name wirral.net, this meant that the webmail access would be http://webmail.wirral.net/


In January 2018, I received multiple calls from panic stricken clients who could not access their email, instead they faced a big red warning screen from google stating

"Malicious Site Ahead, the person who owns this site could steal your bank details" or

"Deceptive site ahead" Attackers on X.site may trick you into doing something dangerous.


After several attempts to request Google unlock my sites they simply wouldn't.

I contacted the web host every day who said it was "something on my sites" and not their fault.

Google continued to flag up webmail as malicious.


I transferred some clients sites to a new webhost and the problem disappeared immediately.


I could not move wirral.net as that was the main account holder and I have not yet completely migrated all of my client sites (the ones who were not affected) as this is a time consuming task.


I removed all data from the wirral.net website months ago, the website address is actually clear and accessible. The webmail.wirral.net address remains blocked by google you can see that by hitting the link.


I have no control over that address, I cannot do anything about resolving the problem there.


The web host does have control over it, but still they do not understand what is wrong, and have continually said its not their responsibility. The last communication (yesterday) stated " they are failing to see how this has anything to do with them", followed by even more conjecture regarding the problem.


This has caused me months of disruption, and hours of migrating mail boxes and websites to a new server, is there anything I can do or anywhere I can go for advice on this matter?



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Are they in UK or elsewhere?

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As BF asks, it would help to know if the company are UK based, USA based or Europe based as this will alter how you do things moving forward. Some web hosts have head offices in the US or Europe, but they do have UK companies for any UK operations and datacenters they have.


You mention that you rent a server. Could you also clarify if this is a "Fully Managed" server or "Unmanaged" server?


I'm a little confused on your explanation of how the IMAP webmail is provided. Is this something the ISP provide as a completely seperate product? Or are they providing you with something like Plesk where you have a web interface that does everything for you? Again it would be helpful to know if this a Managed Plesk or Unmanaged.


It would also help if you could name the Web Host in question if you don't mind?

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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I have no problem naming them at all, I only held back incase it was against cags rules ..

its heart internet, https://www.heartinternet.uk/

I bought a reseller account so that I could host as many sites as I wanted, https://www.heartinternet.uk/reseller-hosting


The account comes with a control panel but its not cpanel,

it is not managed.

+Webmail is in the package.



My point is - the user .. ME .. has no control over webmail other than to add or remove email accounts via the control panel,

I cannot alter anything to do with the address webmail.wirral.net


that address is assigned to me by them


any more information required please ask I have recorded months of communication from their support ticket system.


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Thanks for the answers. I don't believe naming companies involved in cases like these is a breach of CAG rules unless there is some embargo or injunction in place. However the site team knows more about this than I do so don't quote me on that.


The reason I asked what service you purchased is because certain services that Heart Internet offer, their response would be correct. For example if you rented a Dedicated Server with root access that was unmanaged. The customer would be fully responsible for this type of problem. However from reading the Reseller Hosting page you've linked, assuming you are using their simple web hosting (i.e. servers managed by Heart Internet) and not an unmanaged VPS / Dedicated Server then I would say undoubtedly that you have some form of case.


What is interesting is the following:


We're responsible for...

  • Server hardware and software
  • Power and network availability
  • Server security
  • Webserver and mail server configuration


So all you need to worry about is...


  • Setting up hosting packages
  • Scheduling your website back ups
  • Setting up customer accounts
  • Adding domains to your packages


My emphasis in bold. So by the sounds of what you have written, if my understanding is correct. They are failing to provide the service for which you are paying for.


If you hover over the 2 points I've bolded you see the following:




We’re responsible for ensuring the security of our hosting platform and protecting it from Internet-based threats. We will actively monitor services to prevent intrusions and ensure all server software is kept up-to-date with the latest patches.


Webserver and Mail Server Configuration:


We’re responsible for configuring the webserver and mail server. We will provide you the facility to add hosting packages, domains, and to allow your customers to manage their email and hosting accounts.


Which it sounds like they have allowed to become compromised and thus failing to provide the service you are paying for. Now depending on how you have your account setup, you may have a business account or personal one, which will affect how you go about tackling this. Assuming you have a personal account, then you could bring your claim to the Web Host under Consumer Rights Act 2015 for failure to deliver the advertised service. I personally would tempted to claim from when the problem started.


As for consequential losses, I'm not 100% sure if you could claim for these so the experts would need to advise on that. I do have alot of experience working with Web Hosts and have successfully sued 2 web hosts for failure to deliver advertised service and won both cases. So it is definitely possible to hold them to account.


For now though, I personally would write a very strongly worded letter to the CEO Craig Cotter demanding a refund for services rendered since this problem began. His email is: craig.cotter@heartinternet.co.uk


Don't waffle too much, just tell him the problems you've faced, how the support team think this is not their problem, how they are failing to deliver the advertised service etc. Give him 14 days to respond. If you don't get a satisfactory response then you could make a claim against Heart Internet using Money Claim Online.

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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From you first post the actual issue seems to be that Google is Blocking your websites etc. for some reason and classing them as Deceptive I assume.


Is this what your clients are seeing when the try to get access?:




It could be a script error, images, hacking etc but you need to know so you can rectify the issue and ask Google for a review.


This is Googles link to 'Request a review': https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/security/hacked/request_review


I would try to find out the issue with Google from Google, as it may assist your case with the Host you are paying.

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Hi nuclearshark, stu007


thank you both for your advice, it is greatly appreciated.


Firstly, Stu007, I have repeatedly submitted requests to google since January, weekly, I have them all listed in my google webmaster tools app. Each time the request was refused and they would highlight webmail.wirral.net as the problem.


nuclearshark, they have just offered me 1 month refund, and no charges whilst I move server, I'm just so annoyed because of they have continually refused to take responsibility, and every support agent has only ever stated the obvious, never a solution, then pointed the blame at me, another one of my clients sites that was on heart suffered that message from google, I moved that site to a new host, and in the same day the site was clear, this alone speaks volumes to me, and I would suggest it validated my previous 'conjecture'.


This drama has caused me so much disruption over many months, I think I will write to their CEO


Thank you both again for taking the time to help me.

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