@zander I sympathise... Like @Csfalcao, I've dealt with most of the large international companies, including the US-based ones like GoDaddy, Dreamhost, and Hostgator. I have also hosted domains for myself and for clients in over a dozen small companies all over the world, including the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.
The big advantage of dealing with a large company is that their infra-structure tends to be better, more reliable and more stable than smaller companies. Unfortunately, NO company can give you absolutely 100% uptime guarantee: at some point, the servers of all companies will go down. With the larger companies, you are just a little fish in a big pond, and when things go bad, it's incredibly difficult to get good support, or even a straight answer.
The big advantage of smaller companies is that the support tends to be personal, prompt, and excellent. The main problem with smaller companies is that their infra-structure is simply not as robust, and as reliable, as the bigger guys: their servers will be offline a lot more often. And that creates horrendous problems for you, and your clients. Imagine websites that go offline every month, email messages that go missing every week because an email server constantly overloads, etc...
It took us many years, but we finally found a company that we are truly happy to deal with - they are large, have excellent infra-structure, and they are honest: if their servers are down, or they are experiencing technical issues, they will tell you, and they will be quite prompt in fixing it - which saves you an incredible amount of troubleshooting time, and keeps clients happy. This company is called "CrazyDomains".
You have to realise, however, that when you call any large company for support, you will be dealing with a call-centre operator, who probably has very little technical knowledge, and is just following a script as best as they can. I feel sorry for these guys: they are underpaid, work very long hours, and cop a lot of rudeness from frustrated customers. If you are someone who is not very technical yourself, and you need a lot of guidance and support, it can indeed get frustrating having to setup and maintain your domain services on your own, or with only the help of a call-centre operator.
Because of this, we have ended up becoming resellers for CrazyDomains: our clients almost always host their domains directly with us. This means, that although their domain is being hosted in the CrazyDomains infra-structure, if they experience any technical issue, or need guidance and support, they can call us. We are happy to register your domain, setup your email, configure your PHP settings, instal your secure certificate, and add sub-domains for you - you don't ever have to access your cPanel, unless you really want to. Everyone is happy.
We charge around $300/year for this hosting package, which includes unlimited data, unlimited email addresses, unlimited databases, and our around-the-clock support. Over the last 5 years, server uptime has been consistently above 99.99%, and clients are usually happier not having to deal with the technical issues themselves.
For the more demanding sites, we also offer managed dedicated VPS, dedicated (hardware) servers, and a range of cloud-based solutions, depending on the site's needs. The reality, however, is that the vast majority of our clients are small businesses, that are very well served by a standard hosting package, with the extra support we provide.
TL;DR: try "CrazyDomains" for cheap, reliable hosting - and if you want top-notch support on-tap, get in touch with me!