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).
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: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=domain+renewal+group
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….
- Domain Scams: http://www.domainscams.co.uk/
- “Court bars domain slammer”: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/01/06/court_bars_canadian_domain_slammer/
Their UK office:
Domain Renewal Group
56 Gloucester Road
^ (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..).