Monday, June 15, 2015

The XYZ Domain Name Scam


What is the XYZ domain extension all about and why are you being exhorted to get one?


If you have a network domain name registration through Network Solutions, you probably have been getting e-mails like the one produced below, for about a year now, exhorting you to "renew" your XYZ domain name.

Problem is, you never registered for a domain name with an XYZ extension.   What is going on?

Well, the XYZ extension, like .com or .gov or .org or .club, is just one of a number of domain name extensions.   And it has been the fastest growing one to date, as Network Solutions, in a promotional move, decided to automatically register all of their clients (or nearly all) for the new domain, unless they explicitly opted out, which is hard to figure out how to do, so most people didn't bother doing it.

Well, the "free" year of registration is up, and Network Solutions is sending out alarmist e-mails that suggest you are about to lose your domain name - a domain name that you ordered.   But of course, you never ordered it, they slammed it on you by negative option marketing.

And I suspect a lot of folks, who don't understand domain names or are too busy to read the fine print, assume their primary ".com" domain name is about to expire, and thus renew this useless XYZ domain name that they didn't want, didn't need, and didn't order.

And I wonder whether perhaps some customers, who signed up for "auto-renew" for all their domain names, will have their credit cards automatically dinged by this.

To me, this is deceptive marketing - sending out an e-mail that claims that I "ordered" this service and then making vaguely threatening noises that I am about to lose my domain name forever.   I actually had to go online and research this to figure out what is going on, as the Network Solutions site is of no help.

As you might guess, Network Solutions does NOT have a page that says, "We slammed you with a useless .xyz domain name, and are trying to trick you into renewing it for a fee."

No, that is not on their site.

I just checked my robertplattbell.com registration and it is paid up until December 2016.  In order to get to the page telling me this, I had to say "no thanks" three times to offers to "auto renew" my domain names.   I renewed my domain name for another twenty years, at which point, I will no longer need it (not that I need it much now).   When it expires, I will expire shortly thereafter, if not before.

The website also has a number of other dire warnings on it - for example claiming my website is not completely set up, as I have not contracted them for web design or e-mail services.   This is the modern way of marketing, I guess, making people feel vaguely uneasy about things and giving dire warnings of horrific consequences.


Action Recommended! Continue your domain set up.

 This "thermometer" bar seems to indicate that my domain is not properly set up.  Actually, it is a pitch for their e-mail service, which by the way, I already have.  The % complete seems to vary depending on which page of their site I am on! Sometimes it is 65%, sometimes 75% - clearly it is just a static graphic.  Deceptive?  You bet!


Oddly enough, the pages say, "Thank you for shopping!" as if renewing a domain name was like buying a new pair of shoes.   Very odd.

By the way, I did NOT sign up for auto-renew, because "negative option" is never a good idea, and games like this .xyz gambit are a case in point.  It is sad, but since web.com bought Network Solutions, well, they seem to have taken on the air of a carnival barker.

Maybe some clever attorney will file a class-action lawsuit against Network Solutions and their parent company web.com, to collect all these fees that were paid by folks who inadvertently renewed a domain registration they never really wanted or needed.

Just a hint there, boys!




Service Expiration - Renew Now

Dear Robert Platt Bell,

In an effort to serve you better, we wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that the registration period for the service(s) listed below has expired:

 

Order Information
Order Number: XXXXXXXXXX
Ordered By:
User ID: ROBERTPLATTBELL
User Name: Robert platt Bell

Account Number: XXXXXXXXXXX
Account Holder: Robert Platt Bell
Primary Contact: Robert Platt Bell (ROBERTPLATTBELL)
Order Summary
Service DescriptionQty
domain .XYZ
ROBERTPLATTBELL.XYZ
1
 
 
To help you avoid losing the service(s) listed above, they will continue to be registered to you for a limited time, but have been disabled.

Please Note: For nsWebAddress™ names only, unless you renew immediately upon receipt of this notification, the nsWebAddress™ name(s) listed above will be deleted from your account and we may, in accordance with our service agreement, attempt to renew and transfer the domain name(s) listed above to a third party on your behalf.

This notice has been sent to both the Primary Contact and Billing Contact assigned for these services. To re-instate your services, please go to http://networksolutionsreinstate.com, login to your account, and confirm that your service(s) has not already been renewed. If your service(s) has not been renewed, please make your payment immediately.

Some of the services you have with us may have other products/services, like emailboxes or other Website services, associated to them. If you do not renew these services immediately, all of those associated products/services will also be deleted.

If you forgot your password, go to: https://www.networksolutions.com/manage-it/forget-login.jsp. If you believe this message has been sent in error, please visit the Customer Service Center at http://www.networksolutions.com/help/index.jsp

Please disregard this notice if you have already made payment and accept our apologies for any inconvenience.

Network Solutions is committed to providing you with the solutions, services, and support to help you succeed online. We hope to continue serving you in the future.


Sincerely,

Network Solutions® Customer Support
http://www.networksolutions.com/help/index.jsp


 


UPDATE:  When I renewed my "dot com" registration, I get this pitch for "private domain status" which would mean my name and address would be not visible on the DNS search.    Sounds like a good idea, but of course, they make you pay for this and moreover, my name and address and phone number are on my website.   Kind of hard to get customers when they can't call you or write you a letter.

In fact, if you are doing business with someone, and you don't have their full name, address and phone number, ask yourself why.


Call us at 877-558-7330
Privacy Notice
Your personal information is available online.
Dear Valued Customer,
When you registered, you did not select to keep your contact information private*. To help protect against identity theft, we strongly suggest that you protect your personal information with Private Domain Registration on all of your domains.

2 comments:

  1. The truth of the matter is, of course, that no one gives a shit about domain names anymore. There are still a few clueless geeks out there who are stuck in the 1990's and think they can sell domain names for millions of dollars.

    Google basically killed off the domain name business. People find things online with search engines, mostly Google, not by randomly typing in domain names.

    In fact, if you try to find things by domain name, all you will likely do, is be steered to a Russian Porn site.

    And of course, with smart phones, even Google searches are passe.

    So the idea of "losing" my domain name doesn't frighten me. I would just register something else, or in fact, use the URL of my google sites or whatever.

    Domain names are about as worthless as AOL KEYWORDS.

    And therein lies the rub - when AOL hit the skids, they resorted to all sorts of negative-option trickery to get people to keep paying. It seems the domain name registrars are doing the same dance.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So I get another e-mail from Network Solutions:

    Dear Robert Platt,

    You've been selected for a free 30-Minute Business Consultation with one of our Web Experts. This consultation is your chance to get tips and recommendations on how to improve any aspect of your businesses' online presence from one of our top Web Consultants.

    Your Consultant will work with you to ensure your business is optimized for success utilizing their extensive experience and knowledge in website development, search engine marketing, social media, mobile advertising and more.

    Call 855-261-3785 for your complimentary consultation.

    Seems they want to sell me more "Stuff"!

    ReplyDelete

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