The dreamhost saga ?

When I read this post at MrsMicah(, I was like “Wow!”. This is exactly what I dread about auto-debit. While you may have much confidence on your bank, and your creditcard, and your vendors, you never
know how badly, a single digit error, during a auto-debit transaction can screw you up. The damage it did for dreamhost is a miscalculation to the tune of $7.5million.

Read it all here.

In short, there was a date mistake when one of the dreamwork staff wrongly typed December 2008 instead of December 2007 — a serious fat finger mistake! What did this do? It made each and every one of the accounts of dreamworks
overdue 11 months, and auto-debited them. It did cause some serious damage (like huge overdrafts, mortgage payments bouncing etc). Read the very angry comments.

At the end of the day, my take is — the tone with which this whole issue was reported, should have atleast been more serious and apologetic. I think it was rash, inconsiderate, and arrogant.


1. It does look some sense descended into the owners of dreamhost, and they got out an apologetic post. Saying the joke was not intentional and it was unwarranted, and they do understand that it hurt the sentiments of a large number of people. I wonder what caused the sudden turnaround (large exodus of people threatening to leave? A class action suite threat?).

Read the aftermath here.

2. Anyways, it did not end there. Josh discovered another boo-boo in their biller system. The refunding script only refunded the money for about 25% of the folks – causing a further rage of people who commented by saying that Dreamworks is not keeping up their word of refunding.

Read the second booboo here. (very inaptly titled final update? final? really?)

I wonder how billing systems can have boo-boos. Now my respect for some of the software factories in India (WIPRO, INFOSYS, TCS, SATYAM, etc) have risen considerably. These guys do specialize in banking and billing software. The need for robust and reliable software for these kind of applications is just exemplified by such an incident.

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