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Don’t get caught by the dodgy domain “renewal” trick (it’s legal, but dubious and unethical). - Mike Wilson
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Don’t get caught by the dodgy domain “renewal” trick (it’s legal, but dubious and unethical).

Every so often I receive a letter like this from a company called, “The Domain Renewal Group”. It’s an official looking document that has in bold print “Domain Name Expiration Notice”. Their letters usually contain a hefty dose of fear, uncertainty and doubt stating lines like, “Failure to renew your domain name by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you on the Web”. (Grammatical errors theirs, not mine).

Photo Sep 30, 1 07 57 PM

If you respond to this letter they will transfer your domain name away from your current domain name registrar and to themselves and it’s quite probably that you will lose any custom domain name forwarding or other domain customisation (DNS) in the process. It is worth noting that they may well increase their prices when it comes to renewal and unlike regulated services (such as electricity or telephone suppliers), they are not obliged to keep their prices in line with the market so you may find yourself getting an even heavier bill come renewal time.

My problem with this “notice”:

  • They purposefully make this look like a bill. The document says that it is not a bill, but instead calls itself a “notice”.
  • You can get your domain renewed much cheaper elsewhere with a different registrar. My domains are mostly with GoDaddy and 123-reg. Both charge no more than £7 per year per domain name, and it’s often much cheaper than that with easily found discount codes on the web.
  • The transfer “fee” is non-refundable. That means if the initial transfer fails (and it often takes a few attempts to get these transfers to go through due to validation checks at the originating registrar), you lose your money. On the bright side, you keep your domain at your current registrar!
  • This company has been banned by a Canadian court from sending these notices and these practices and 50,000 Canadians may have gotten their money back. This was in 2004. They’re carrying on now but in the UK where that Canadian ruling doesn’t apply.
  • The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) have warned this business (prior to 2005), but seemingly nothing’s changed?

As I see it, this is a modern day spin on the dodgy energy supplier salespeople tactics who would go from door to door canvassing for homeowners to change their supplier. They would use phrases such as “notice” and “due for renewal” in order to coax the unsuspecting homeowner into signing a transfer agreement contract with a new energy supplier (usually a poor deal for the homeowner).

Fortunately in today’s modern age where everybody in a developed nation has access to the wealth of information on the web at their fingertips, (or at least knows somebody who does), it’s easy to find out about this business and their practices. Simply google:

In reality, if you’ve transferred your domain to this business or have replied to this notice, undoing that mistake is going to be a major inconvenience for you as I doubt (on the basis of these ethics) that they will consider transferring the domain name away easily once they have you.

Ok, so I’ve been had. What can I do now?
No idea. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, but I recommend Googling in case anyone else has successfully cancelled their transfer or re-requested a transfer away. Please let me know how you get on!

What should I do if I get one of these letters?
Shred it and forget about it. Take it as a useful reminder that your domain name may be due for renewal in the future and check with your current registrar the domain renewal date and put it in your calendar. Treat your domain renewal dates like your car or home insurance renewal date.

I want to read more.
Be my guest….

Their UK office:
Domain Renewal Group
56 Gloucester Road
Suite 526

^ (this address is only a mailbox, it’s just there to collect cheques – don’t try to visit it). They also used to write to me under the name of: “Domain Registry of America” (a very grandiose title..).

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Richard 30th September 2010, 8:35 pm

    You’ve left your domain visible in the opening paragraph of the letter. Assuming you blanked it out elsewhere for security/privacy thought you might like to know. Thanks for the informative article 🙂

    • mikelwilson 30th September 2010, 8:38 pm

      So I have! Thanks for letting me know. I don’t mind people knowing these domains as they’re all for products I’m trying to advertise but I don’t want these honest domain names associated with this particular outfit in any pictures on the internet 😛

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

      • Paul Murray 15th September 2012, 12:15 am

        hi, a few weeks ago i got this letter and i hav’ent responded yet (but i did think it was genuine) now i can’t get on my website or into my admin & when you google my site all the links say “warning this site may harm your computer” could they have done this? thanks, Paul.

  • Jane Copland 30th September 2010, 10:52 pm

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the link 🙂 I also left my domain name (or at least the one in question!) visible when I initially posted a screen shot in my piece on these guys as well 😉

    A truly scummy company. I still receive their letters frequently, but I also receive a fair amount of traffic from people Googling their name and ending up on my post. Their search results are so awful that I hope a high number of people don’t fall for this.

    Needless to say, enough people *are* falling for it that their business can continue, but at least the information is out there if someone chooses to look for it.

    All the best!


  • Scott Kane 2nd October 2010, 2:40 am

    G’day, Mike!

    Good article. We get them sent to us here downunder from this outfit too. There are variations, BTW, that I’ve seen with red bold showing through the envelope window with “URGENT – OVERDUE”.

    What’s overdue is the relevant location they trade from shutting them down. The scam must work, because they’e been doing this for years now.

    • mikelwilson 2nd October 2010, 2:41 am

      Hey Scott,

      Same outfit trying to milk Australian domain owners too? Wow. Their underhandedness really knows no bounds.

      New email address? 😛

  • Scott Kane 2nd October 2010, 1:43 pm

    Hi Mike,

    New email, no. Its my ISP one, FireFox autofilled it and I didnt’ notice.

    Yup, they are the same mob, on .com etc, not the .au space, of course. They’re controlled here and you have to meet requirements just to own one, let alone sell one.

  • carlos 6th August 2012, 10:30 am

    Hello Mike ,

    Had a letter from the Domain Renewal Group !!!!
    They were asking me to renew a domain name”” . Never heard of the name before and has nothing in common with what I do . Is this a scam or may someone else have registered a domain at my address ????

    Would be interested in your thoughts …..

    Carlos .

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