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Evan Reiter

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Server Hosting Expenses - Dispute to be filed with NYC
« on: July 18, 2016, 06:38:04 pm »
As many of you know, when we used to run an FSX multiplayer server, we contracted with a New York City-based web hosting provider called GalaxyVisions to provide dedicated hosting for that server. For reasons I will describe below, we were routinely pre-paying for a year of service with GalaxyVisions on the condition that the pre-payments were refundable if we elected to close our account.

However, when we attempted to cancel our service and receive the refund we were entitled to at the end of last year, our requests were delayed, deferred, and eventually ignored. To this date, the company owes us more than US$2,000 that was paid for service in 2016 that we never used.

After multiple unsuccessful attempts to contact the business and submitting a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, we have decided to submit a formal complaint with the New York Department of Consumer Affairs.

This forum post provides some background information about the scenario, why this issue has come to be, and what we as an Administration Team are doing to try to recover the funds our donors contributed to the community.

Unlike almost every other game, an FSX “server” is actually just a regular version of FSX, like any of us would have. There is no “server only” mode in FSX; you have to be running a flight or connected as a controller in multiplayer mode to allow others to connect. As a result, the FSX server computer must be capable of providing desktop graphics. An onboard card is not enough. If you’ve ever done any research into web hosting, you’ll know it’s next to impossible to find dedicated hosting that offers desktop graphics. Most server farms have “blade” servers that aren’t physically thick enough to support a PCI graphics card.

After two separate projects to find different providers, GalaxyVisions was the only one we had ever been able to find that could accommodate FSX. They did this by installing a graphics card that I personally FedEx’d them. That’s right: our old FSX server was powered by a graphics card I sent to GalaxyVisions and they installed for us.

Despite the occasional issue, we were generally satisfied with GalaxyVisions’ service. Given that, and the fact that they were our only choice, we had been pre-paying for a year of service in order to get a free three months. In other words, we pre-paid for 12 months of service but got 15 months. This deal provided almost $1,000 of savings each year for our community.

Before we agreed to the pre-payment, we confirmed in writing with the ISP that we could cancel the account at any time and receive a pro-rated refund for any pre-payment.

Fast forward to September 2, 2015, at which point our organization was reviewing options for the FSX server. At the time, I emailed our contact at GalaxyVisions to confirm that the refund option was still available for us:

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On Sep 23, 2015, at 4:30 PM, Evan Reiter <[email protected]> wrote:
Can you please confirm if we choose to discontinue the plan, we can receive the pro-rated amount of our pre-payments back?
--
Evan,
We can do that minus the free months and it takes 60 to 90 days for pro rated refund to be processed and posted to your account.

Thanks,

On November 18, 2015, I formally requested to close our account and receive the pro-rated refund, and for them to return my NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS to me. I received the following reply:
Quote
Hi Evan,
I saw your email. I will start the process on Monday when I get to the office.

Thanks,

Since that point, no action has been taken. We have neither received a refund nor an explanation from GalaxyVisions. When I first emailed to follow up, they would say “oh yeah, it’s in process, it just takes a few weeks”. Eventually, they stopped answering me altogether.

We have tried multiple points of contact. It’s got to the point where GalaxyVisions began screening our calls. When I would first call, they would answer, then hang up once they found out who I was. So I would ask Jeremy or Phil to call…and they would get the same thing. Now, any calls from Jeremy, Phil, or I just ring to voicemail. We’ve tried emails to the COO and CEO, and I even tracked down the phone number of the COO’s wife. All to no avail.

We also tried a credit card dispute through our bank and a complaint through PayPal. However, the timelines and also nature of the dispute are such that the bank and PayPal aren’t able to help at this point.

Given that, about a month ago, we submitted a formal complaint through the Better Business Bureau (GalaxyVisions was once an accredited business although they no longer are). The complaint reads as follows:
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We pre-purchased a year of hosting from GalaxyVisions on the promise that the hosting could be refunded
(pro-rated accordingly) in the event we wished to cancel before the end of the term. The ONLY reason we
pre-paid for the hosting was on the guarantee that it was refundable. In November, 2015, I re-confirmed that
a refund would be available and was told it was. I then requested the refund, and was told that it it was in
process and the funds should be refunded within 4-6 weeks. I have been following up since (more than 6
months). No refund has been issued. The company has ignored my emails and has begun to screen calls
from my phone number. My colleagues have emailed and called with the same results: initially, they answer
the phone. Then, after they find out who it is, future calls are ignored. I have sent several emails to the billing
contact, COO, and CEO, and have not received a reply. The most recent series of emails was on June 8,
2016, at which time I also made several phone calls that were not answered (even by the main support line).


The Better Business Bureau reviewed our complaint and agreed that it had merit. They contacted GalaxyVisions and provided the ISP 30 days to respond. GalaxyVisions has declined to reply to us.

The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization, like us, and as such does not have the resources to follow up further. However, they recommended we submit a complaint with the New York Department of Consumer Affairs, which does. That is our proposed next step.

We will be asking the New York Department of Consumer Affairs to review the emails from GalaxyVisions in which we were promised a refund, and will ask for legal action to be taken, if required, in order for us to get our donors’ money back.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2016, 06:52:28 pm by Camden Bruno »


Evan Reiter
Training Administrator

Re: Server Hosting Expenses - Dispute to be filed with NYC
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2016, 05:06:47 pm »
I am really sorry to read all of this....

What a mess - and I'm sure it's eaten up a ton of the BVA Admins time! Sucks.

All I can do to help is send a few bucks to offset potential legal fees.

By the way - are we now with the VATSIM Server, and that's why we don't need GalaxyVisions any longer?

Mark Mayo
N49

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Camden Bruno

  • 3568
  • If God meant man to fly, we'd all have more money.
Re: Server Hosting Expenses - Dispute to be filed with NYC
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2016, 06:53:54 pm »
By the way - are we now with the VATSIM Server, and that's why we don't need GalaxyVisions any longer?

Mark,

Yes, now that we are a VATSIM organization, we do not have any servers dedicated for online flying. All of the online flight simulation servers that we connect to the VATSIM network with are hosted by VATSIM. We do still have servers of our own for the TeamSpeak, website, etc. (just like all other ARTCCs do) but those are not through GalaxyVisions.

Thanks so much,
Camden Bruno (BN) – 1253785
Air Traffic Manager Emeritus

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Evan Reiter

  • Training Administrator
  • 6263
Re: Server Hosting Expenses - Dispute to be filed with NYC
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2016, 05:04:15 pm »
Update -- on the advice of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, we have contacted the Office of the Attorney General for the State of New York. We have submitted the complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau as well as our conversations with GalaxyVisions (our provider) as evidence that we are owed almost $3,000 in payment made for services that were never provided.


Evan Reiter
Training Administrator

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Evan Reiter

  • Training Administrator
  • 6263
Re: Server Hosting Expenses - Dispute to be filed with NYC
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2017, 02:51:11 pm »
We are pleased to announce that the Office of the Attorney General for the State of New York accepted our claim and followed up with GalaxyVisions. Thanks to the help of the Attorney General, BVA has just received the refund check for the $2,879.52 that we were owed.

We will be putting this money to use on our existing expenses (covering our current server costs).
« Last Edit: September 08, 2017, 05:20:56 pm by Camden Bruno »


Evan Reiter
Training Administrator

Re: Server Hosting Expenses - Dispute to be filed with NYC
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2018, 06:16:19 pm »
Evan:

I know this thread is almost a year old, but I was curious - we got the money back, but did you ever get your graphics card back?

Wondering minds want to know! :)
Richard "Doc" Kinne (KE)
Somerville, MA

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Evan Reiter

  • Training Administrator
  • 6263
Re: Server Hosting Expenses - Dispute to be filed with NYC
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2018, 11:25:32 pm »
No, never did. I didn't bother following up; that thing is so old at this point, it wouldn't be worth anything.


Evan Reiter
Training Administrator