How to Ensure You Stay Ruler of Your Domain
The Sprocket Report
We just got a "Domain Name Expiration Notice" in the mail. Have you also received one of these? Were you alarmed about losing your domain? Ready to pull out your credit card?
Here’s what you should do first with this letter.
Throw it away.
Folks with a few years’ experience know this by now, but there’s always someone new to be caught unawares. It is a legitimate, if slimy, business model.
Operating under various names, this domain registry service searches publicly available information to find out when your domain name expires and obtain your address. Then they send you a “renewal” notice early, before your current registrar is likely to send the actual renewal notice. The notice looks like a legit bill for a real and expected service, so people pay it.
To be perfectly honest, the letter clearly states that you are being offered an opportunity to “switch” to their company, that you are “under no obligation” to take this opportunity and that “This notice is not a bill.” Also, this registry service will, in fact, register your domain name correctly.
But you will be paying significantly more. The renewal rate in this letter is $50/year, much higher than the $16.99 we will actually pay when the renewal date rolls around.
The cost doesn’t bankrupt people, but it does tick them off. The Better Business Bureau has given them an “F” rating under most of their business names, maybe just for the number of bad reviews. When you read the complaints, they tend to be on the same theme – people feel hoodwinked. The company responds to most of the complaints with variations on “it’s not our fault you didn’t read the letter properly.”
As a quick review, buying a domain name gives you ownership for a year or up to ten years and you can renew ownership when the purchased period comes to an end. If you don’t renew ownership, you can lose that domain name forever. Some registry companies have a grace period after the expiration date to allow for a bad credit card on file or simple absent-mindedness. It will probably cost you extra to reinstate ownership, but much less than if you need to buy your domain back from a third party who snapped it up when you dropped it.
There is quite a number of ICANN-Accredited Registrars. (ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.) If you buy a domain name at our Sprocket Store, the registrar is Wild West Domains, part of the GoDaddy Group that includes Domains By Proxy among others. We advocate that you own your own domain name because we’ve worked with too many people who lost control of their domain when they lost touch with the person who registered it for them. When you make the purchase, you can set it to auto-renew so you never have to worry about forgetting to pay the fee. You can also purchase a privacy option, if you wish, that will hide your information from companies like this one.
All of us have enough issues to worry about. Being overcharged for our domain name renewal shouldn’t be one of them. Note your renewal date on the calendar, along with the details of where to renew it, and take the time to read letters like this thoroughly. But if you are still perplexed, give us a call before you give them your credit card number. We’re happy to help you sort it out.