General Chat Thread, Anyone else having major issues with ParentMail? in General; We've been having major issues with ParentMail since the beginning of term, meaning we look like fools to our parents.
19th September 2013, 12:50 PM #1
Anyone else having major issues with ParentMail?
We've been having major issues with ParentMail since the beginning of term, meaning we look like fools to our parents.
Things such as:
* Transactions taking 5 minutes+ to complete, say they failed, but then list as being succesful in some of the reports.
* Reports not running
* Phone lines taking 10-20 minutes to be answered
* Emails abrupt and almost rude
* Excuses given seem poor
So, anyone else having these issues? If so, what're you doing about it?
19th September 2013, 01:34 PM #2
Exactly the same issues here. And very poor excuses/support too. Currently we are just pushing them as hard as we can and threatening to ditch it. Awful service at the moment. They are apparently working on a new version which is of no help to us at the moment.
20th September 2013, 03:58 PM #3
Exactly the same here, all noise but no action, we too have lost the initial good impression with year 7 parents, all down to this.
its not anything we can recover easily as you say we look like a bunch of fools!
Looking into "product not fit for purpose" and ending our contract...
School Comms anyone?, Oh and as for Parentmail X and the email this week about all their charity fundraising well....
20th September 2013, 03:59 PM #4
Fun thing for us, the newsletter we got sent us to a server error... So even their advertising didn't work properly!
20th September 2013, 05:06 PM #5
- Rep Power
Folks ... many apologies! We will be issuing a statement to schools/parents for the recent problems in the next day or so we will provide this as soon as the situation is fully resolved. The root cause of the problem is with the hosting provider who had a fibre outage to their SAN about 3 weeks ago. They told us the problem had been fixed as soon as it happened but we've had to commission further diagnostic work to prove that the problem remains with them! The quality of this connection has degraded which means that our database is getting timeouts (connection errors) and this is what is producing the slow response on the website.
I've now contacted the Global Chief Exec of the provider and he has pushed down so we're seeing a more focused response. The hosting provider has both US and UK experts investigating the situation and they are giving us updates every hour.
In the meantime we've taken the opportunity to perform a number of 'optimizations' to the PM2 environment which has helped but which weren't technically necessary and certainly weren't responsible for the current situation. We are putting maximum pressure on the hosting provider and will let you all know as soon as we have a complete resolution.
It is an incredibly frustrating situation for us being out of our direct control and all we can do is ask for your patience. This type of problem has never occurred previously in twelve years of business so it is a first for us. Clearly as a result of the issue we're now considering our hosting provider and how to avoid such a problem in the future.
The situation affects ParentMail 2 users only, while ParentMail 1 and PMX users (latest platform) are unaffected. We will issue official communications through appropriate channels as soon as we are able in the next few days.
Apologies again ...
20th September 2013, 06:16 PM #6
Thanks Paul but with the greatest respect that doesn't help us as customers. This is THE chance to get year 7 parents on board. Once it's failed we will struggle to get them to try a 2nd, 3rd or 4th time etc.
20th September 2013, 06:42 PM #7
- Rep Power
@jcollings. I'm not sure what more I can say? Clearly if it were down to me/us, there would never be system or environment problems & you can be sure that if the timing of these things was down to us, we wouldn't pick September! In the meantime I don't have a magic wand and can only work with our providers to correct the problem as fast as we can.
We will do all we can to help including providing information schools can use to explain the situation to parents.
20th September 2013, 07:48 PM #8
Thank you for the response. There are a few things I find somewhat odd though.
1. From the description you give, it would appear that you are using shared servers and storage, either via a cloud or some other arrangement.
2. You have a situation whereby you had to commission diagnostic work for your own services, rather than having in-house expertise that could do it.
3. You don't appear to have a redundant solution.
For a service that is used by as many schools as yours, I would have hoped you would have at least the following:
1. A private set of servers and storage
2. Infrastructure expertise on your team
3. A split system, across a couple of data-centres with master master replication for databases and load balancing for the front end (n+1 redundancy), thereby removing the possibility of a single data-centre causing downtime for the solution.
Surely this isn't too much to ask?
Also, the technical problems do not resolve the more personal problems we've seen, such as abrupt emails, staff not giving clear information when you get through via phone, and the long waiting times to get through in the first time.
As it stands, your customers are having to pester you in order to get simple answers, wasting their time on hold as emails go unanswered for days.
From a financial point of view, we have examples where payments are being returned as failed at point of sale, then reports stating they succeeded and parents being left in limbo not knowing if they have paid or not, and the school in the same situation. An accountant or auditor would not sign off a set of accounts with inaccuracies such as this in place. Schools could in fact get in a lot of trouble over it!
So, it all just seems poorly implemented, from technical to communication to customer relations!
I don't want to switch provider, it is a lot of effort, but we can't go on looking like fools to parents.
20th September 2013, 09:00 PM #9
- Rep Power
I'm sure you'll appreciate that I cannot enter discussions about individual school experiences or discuss the technical setup of our system in a public forum.
Please email me Paul.firstname.lastname@example.org if I can help.
20th September 2013, 09:22 PM #10
Originally Posted by PaulHughes
Why ever not? Isn't the technical set-up a normal part of your marketing? Do people have to enter into contractual NDA's before you will tell them how you provide the service they have paid money for?
or discuss the technical setup of our system in a public forum.
21st September 2013, 09:12 AM #11
Wait, What? You release information as its happening! not after the fact…
Originally Posted by PaulHughes
8th October 2013, 11:30 AM #12
- Rep Power
Any Alternatives to parent mail?? The school office are not happy with it at all!! They haven't been happy since January when it snowed and tried to send out a message and the website was down!!
22nd October 2013, 02:11 PM #13
Ok, after another weekend of payment issues we have now reached the breaking point, parents are calling up and asking to be removed from ParentMail altogether and go back to paper letters!
For us this is going to be a deal breaker as the one of the main reasons for going with PM was to reduce paper not increase it!
It will not save us any work or paper if we have to run a dual system, especially if the online side of that is so unreliable
if you're reading this ParentMail I think the straw just broke the camels back....
27th November 2013, 04:29 PM #14
Hi there – we’ve just started sponsoring the MIS Forum and noticed that we’ve been mentioned in this thread. If you’d like to compare your current service with what we provide, here are a few facts:
Our software uses SIMS parent contact data and so there are no issues around collecting data all over again or maintaining multiple databases – or other people sending emails to parents.
We answer over 90% of calls to our support line within 60 seconds and we target to answer emails within 2 hours. 95% of our customers rate our service as ‘great’. 97% of customers renew their licences with us.
If you’d like to trial Schoolcomms, let me know and I’ll get one of the team to demo it to you over the phone - Messaging or Payments. You’re welcome to a 30 day free trial. If you want to speak to another school that uses Schoolcomms … I’m sure we can fix that up.
If you like the system we can provide up to 6 extra free months transition to help you move from your existing contract. This is a great way to test the system and re-gain the confidence of staff before using it to send parents emails and texts.
Thanks to Schoolcomms from:
GREED (28th November 2013)
27th November 2013, 04:38 PM #15
Welcome to the forum, however not too sure how comfortable people will be if you look to hijack other peoples threads for commercial gain?
its a bit "not the done thing" although not sure if its against forum rules MOD?
Nor am I very happy and being mail shotted by PM
Last edited by MGSTech; 27th November 2013 at 04:41 PM.
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