Your Domain Supplier Must Earn Your Trust

A domain registrar or reseller should be chosen for being trustworthy, as well as for having the top-level domains (TLDs) you want and good prices.

Problems I’ve run into:

— Locking a domain is good protection, but one domain company left them unlocked. A request for a lock could be made by email and it would be carried out, but later I discovered that the domain company had unlocked it again, and didn’t tell me. My guess is that they simply swept the locks off of all of their domains from time to time. One could wonder about their business model that would make taking the staff time to do mass-unlocking worthwhile. I took my domain away from that company (and then, afterwards, told them why).

— One company had its customers set up accounts, with passwords. We were liable for whatever happened under our passwords. So far, that’s okay. But then I discovered that the domain company was transmitting my password in plain text across the Internet every time I accessed my account. I had no option for encrypting my password in transit. That meant that someone else could copy my password despite my best efforts at secrecy, and spend my money until I was bankrupt. And, the company told me, it was impossible to close my account, even after I had gotten all of my money refunded and said I no longer wanted to do business with them. Their staff told me it’s illegal to close my account. Their terms of service said they could close an account if I abused it, and it’s virtually certain accounts were stored in a database, so deleting or disabling it would be no more than a matter of deleting one record (mine) or adding one checkbox field (enabled for active customers and disabled for me and others). High-level communications fixed that for me.

— Unwillingness to communicate by email and requiring verbal telephone communication is a red flag, a business danger sign. It tells me that they may want to pretend that I ordered something I did not. I suspect that chat has a similar problem. I didn’t use phone or chat. I used email and postal mail only, and kept copies.

— Saying negative things about a domain company was forbidden by the legal terms, or, rather, it was purportedly forbidden. If a prohibition is around today and if it may be binding, and you don’t want to keep your mouth shut, mix in a compliment. Then you can point out that it is positive in totality; and, meanwhile, customers would look at the two statements and go somewhere else with their business. Like, if they overcharged you and refused to correct their error, but were pleasant about it, say all that. Most people won’t want their credit cards drained pleasantly.

— The terms of service were changed every day. The terms had the current date as the date they took effect. I had to review them every day that I ordered a new domain.

— A problem I think I had was the registrar listing the owner as a company, when I owned it myself. This could make my possible future legal claims difficult and make it easier for someone else to take over my domain.

And problems I don’t know about existing but suspect:

— You think you’d like a certain domain, you check a Whois service, the domain is not owned by anyone, and, within a few minutes, you’re ordering that domain for yourself. The registrar or reseller promptly registers that name, but not for you. Instead, they register it into a system for reselling it at a premium. If the domain company wants to do this and sets up the software accordingly, this can be done in less than a second. Then they can say that, yes, it’s available, for, oh, only two thousand dollars, when you were planning to pay under twelve dollars and they said they’d sell names at regular prices. (One domain recently was sold for $155,000. I don’t think it was worth it, but to avoid paying a premium you may have to dream up a new name, which may not match what you already have on your business cards and legal papers.) You could have had it dirt cheap if they hadn’t been slimy. I do my research a few minutes before buying, so I know it’s available then. I use a registrar’s Whois service for that research. I don’t do the research earlier than a few minutes before buying, so there’s almost no chance that anyone will discover that research is being done on that name and buy it from under my feet.

— Registering for more years than you wanted, especially if you stored your payment details with the domain firm, can be good income for the domain company but cost you. You may change your mind before the next renewal would have been due, but now you’re unable to get a refund. You don’t want to miss the renewal deadline by error and lose your domain, but excess renewals can add up to money lost.

Several other websites have written about problems in the industry. Some of these articles overlap, but they give you an idea of problems to watch out for and they offer some protective suggestions (more articles can be found in a search):

Because trust is helpful in choosing a registrar or reseller, simply seeking the lowest price is not a good strategy. But you should be able to find a low enough price, not quite the lowest but close. With any registrar or reseller you use, review your experience and the pricing from time to time.