Sunday, February 07, 2010


Slimy advertising

My business domain name,, is registered by my hosting service, and the registration is included in the fee I pay them for hosting. They automatically renew it each year, as long as my account is paid up. It’s something I don’t have to worry about.

As it happens, it expires on 3 Feb each year. But, as I said, I don’t care; it’s automatically renewed.

The folks at Domain Registry of America would have me care. They want to take my business. And that would be fine — that’s what businesses do. Except they’re not being straight about it.

If they were being straight, they’d send me a flyer that tells me why their hosting service is better than what I have. They’d sell their service to me and give me an incentive to switch.

That’s not what they did. Instead, they sent me a “Domain Name Expiration Notice”, warning me that my “domain name registration is due to expire”, and that “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.”

Tiny-font registration agreementYes, sprinkled throughout the text are other things that say — if you read it carefully — that they’re asking me to switch from my current registrar to them. But this is intentionally laid out and worded to look like a bill from my registrar for a simple renewal. It’s misleading, and that’s not an accident. (And, to boot, their “Registration Agreement” is printed on the back of the “notice”, a solid 8 inches by 8 inches of four-point, low-contrast type! (Click the image on the right to see it.))

No, I won’t be doing business with them, because I don’t like their marketing choices. They remind me of spammers.


Ray said...

We've received these for several years. The first time, it took me some time to figure out that it was a scam, and I can imagine they suck in lots of people with this official-looking notice.

Things like this really should be outlawed, but I suppose it's difficult to draw the line between legal, and outright scam.

Thomas J. Brown said...

I think I've had every one of my clients freak out over this at one point or another. I always have to calm them down and explain that it's a scam and their domain is safe.