If there’s one thing I hate it’s when people assume I’m an idiot and try to rip me off.
So when I got home today I opened the mailbox (yes, the real one!) to find this letter from a company called the Domain Renewal Group. Their letter – which looked very much like an invoice – was addressed to me as the owner of the domain betchablog.com and kindly informed me that this domain was due for renewal soon and that I should pay this as soon as possible. The wording on the letter said that “the domain name registration is due to expire in the next few months“… and that… “Failure to renew your domain name by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identity.”
All of that is true. Betchablog.com IS coming up for renewal, and I DO need to renew it. The problem is that Domain Renewal Group are NOT my domain registrar, and they never have been. I happen to have all of my various domains registered with GoDaddy, and I’ve never even heard of this other mob.
A closer reading of the letter reveals that all of the statements in their letter are technically correct, but written in such as way as to be misleading and underhanded in their deceptiveness. The letter reads just like a regular renewal notice, but is in fact a transfer and renewal notice. By signing it and sending it back with payment it would authorise them not just to renew the domain, but to take the domain away from the current registrar and move it their overpriced services. How overpriced? Well, I just took a look at GoDaddy’s site and it seems the going rate for a new .com domain is USD$10.69. Their price for a domain transfer with 12 months renewal is only USD$6.99. For the same thing, the Domain Renewal Group were about to charge unsuspecting or careless domain owners AUD$45 (about USD$41.50).
The thing is, there are many organisations where the bills are often paid by a different department to the ones that register the domains, that wouldn’t even question such an invoice when it arrived. The wording is sneaky enough, and the format looks enough like an invoice, that many people would just pay it without even questioning it. I find this notion of trying to trick people into doing things they don’t mean to do is an appalling business practice.
There happened to be a Toronto-based phone number on the form so I rang it using Skype. The guy who answered asked what he could help me with, so I told him that I was very unimpressed with this deceptive and misleading way of doing business. He sounded both surprised that someone would bother to call just to complain, but judging from his tone this was not the first time he’d had a complaint about it. His response was a careless, “Like, whatever”, but he incorrectly assumed that there is nothing I can do about it other than complain.
He forgets that we live in an age where everyone is a publisher. He stupidly neglects to consider that the very customer base they are trying to mislead – those domain owners who own blogs and websites – are the exact same people who own their very own “personal printing presses” in the forms of blogs. If you’re going to pull this scam-like crap on people, how stupid do you have to be to do it to people who can publicly tell the world about it?
My advice? NEVER do business with the Domain Renewal Group. Tell your friends never to do business with the Domain Renewal Group. And if I did have any domains registered with them I would be immediately transferring them elsewhere.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.