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Is Domain Slamming a scam? (2010)

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According to Wikipedia Domain slamming is a form of scam in which an internet service provider (ISP) or domain name registrar attempts to trick customers of different companies into switching from their existing ISP/registrar to the scamming ISP/registrar, under the pretense that the customer is simply renewing their subscription to their old ISP/registrar.

It's not so much a scam these days as the main perpetrator (Domain Renewal Group formerly known as Domain Registry of America) has reworded their forms and it does say "as a courtesy to domain name holders We would like you to transfer and renew your name from your current registrar; review our prices and decide for yourself....". However that is contradictory, how can you tranfer from your current registrar and renew from your current registrar?

I think domain slamming is still a dubious business practice not unlike doorstep salesmen trying to get you to change energy suppliers or buying a single ringtone and getting a subscription instead. Here's why I think it's dubious. Note this is my opinion but the last point can be very important.

  • The slammer is trying to pinch customers.
  • They claim to be cheaper but are often not. All their prices are a lot dearer than 123-reg.co.uk who I use (see price comparison table below).
  • There is no mention of any other services provided, e.g forwarding, cloaked registration etc apart from the bare minimum DNS, URL (duh- these are what registering a domain gives you!) and email forwarding.
  • What if your registrar is hosting your domain and you forget that? Transfer to the slammer and your site is no longer on the web!. Companies often offer low cost domain registration/hosting when the two are done together so the company hosting your site will not be amused if the domain is renewed elsewhere. It'll take a few hours of your time and a few days down to sort out the mess! (I've done this type of sorting out- I charge £50 an hour, usually 2 hours to do it). It's actually bad practice to host your domain with your registrar, but many do.

On that last point; most of the domains I have were registered with 123-reg.co.uk and hosted elsewhere.

Price Comparisons

Period Domain Renewals Group 123-reg.co.uk
1 Year £20.00 £9.99
2 Years £35.00 £29.99
5 Years £65.00 £49.95

Note I have no connection with 123-reg.co.uk ecept as a satisfied customer.

This is what a Domain Renewal Group (formerly Domain Registry of America) Domain Name Expiration Notice looks like. They tend to send these out six months before your domain needs renewing but you'd think it was about to expire. They want you to panic and conveniently renew it with them. Their print however has enough weasel words to keep them legal.

In 2003, they, the Domain Registry of America were ordered by the Federal Trade Commission not to make misrepresentations after telling consumers that their domain registrations were expiring, leading many consumers to switch their domain name registrar.
Domain Renewal Group letter

 

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