Scamming For Dollars- Domain Name Ploys
Such a deal! Several years ago I received a VERY official looking notice, by mail, that my website domain was coming up for renewal. The company that sent this to me was Internet Domain Name Services, iDNS. The registration for my domain, www.optimaautomotive.com, was about to expire at the end of June and, according to them, I needed to take action. This notice had big bold lettering at the top saying “Domain Name Expiration Notice”. In the middle of this notice it had the pricing plans. At the bottom it had a tear off section to submit the renewal. It was “Recommended” that I renew for at least two years, but if I renewed for five years, which was what they described as the “Best Value”, I could “save” $45! Wow, where do I sign up?
Problem is their 1-year renewal cost, $45, is 4 ½ times more expensive than where my domain name is currently registered. Their 5-year plan costs $180, and they call that their “Best Value”, yet my current service, through a company called ENOM, would charge me only $60 for the exact same thing. Had I fallen for this ploy, this “Best Value” would have cost me an extra $120.
I also received an email for another domain I own the rights to. “This letter is to inform you that it’s time to send in your registration,” the email says. “Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer, making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.”
That last statement was laughable, but if you didn’t know any better you might fall for this because no one wants it to be difficult for potential customers to find us. Notice how they slipped in the term “search engine registration”? What a ruse! This was not a domain renewal notice, this was simply to “register” with search engines, which is basically done for free if you know what you are doing. These practices are deceptive and of no value.
Most certainly you have received similar notices about domain name expiration and “registration”. You’ve received them by mail or by email and/or phone calls. We have heard from many of our clients asking us about these notices and wondered if these were legit and required any action on their part. Virtually every time no action was required other than to toss those notices in the circular file. The only exceptions to this are when these notices come from the actual service they actually work with. Being educated about who your registration is actually with can save you confusion, headaches and possibly money if you fall for any of these ploys.
Can these companies legally do this? Yes, technically they are operating within the law. That doesn’t make what they do right or ethical. They bank on (literally) that you are ignorant of the facts, not paying attention or scared by such an official looking “notice”. Who wants their website domain to go down? That would mean emails would go down, too. “Better take care of this now while I’m thinking of it,” some people say.
The mailed notice I received had a fine print caveat that said, “As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification of the domain name registration that is due to expire in the next few months. When you switch today to Internet Domain Name Services, you can take advantage of our best savings. Act today!”
The notice further went on to say, “You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below, unless you accept this offer. This is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to switch your domain name registration to Internet Domain Name Services.” Again, this was in the fine print that nobody reads (except lawyers), and the rest of the solicitation was skillfully crafted to draw your attention and make you think this was an actual bill. Even the company name seems official.
So, what do you need to do when these notices come in or the phone rings and there’s a slicky boy salesman on the other end warning you about your domain name expiring? The answer is to know the facts. Where is your domain actually registered? If you don’t know, you need to. To find out where it is registered, and to whom (hopefully you), go to https://whois.icann.org/en Most of the time your domain will be registered at places like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, ENOM, HostGator or some other large domain registration service.
As I have stated many times before, and it bears repeating again, the owner of the business needs to own the rights to the business domain name, not your developer or anyone else, like an employee. In addition, if you pay your registration service a little extra, you can have your registration information hidden from public view. This will cut down on getting these annoying, and confusing, solicitations and protect you from falling prey to their tactics. And finally, don’t ever pay a dime to “register” your domain with search engines or other websites. These solicitations are totally BS and they are just scamming for dollars.