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Your Domain Rights Are Being Ripped Off!

By Dr. Tag Powell
Posted Sunday, November 21, 2004

WARNING...
This information affects your future on the Internet.

There is a secret war going on over the rights to your Domain Name. Your Domain Name rights are currently being ripped off by the major Domain Name registration giants. This rip-off is affecting your Domain rights NOW!

Your Domain Name can become a casualty of the Domain Name Registrar's Renewal War. Reading this article and understanding your Domain Name rights can prevent you from losing your Domain Name altogether, and can at least save you about 50% on your Domain Name renewal.

This is real and it is scary. As to not mislead you, I am Tag Powell, CEO of DomainNameVault.com, and I have been drafted into this battle against my will. DomainNameVault.com and our service Renew-Your-Domain-Name.com is on one side of this war. We do have a vested interest in this battle's outcome.

First, let me give you the short background story to get you up to speed.

Until a couple of years ago ALL Domain Names had been registered and managed by one company, Network Solutions. Network Solutions made billions of dollars on this market for years. All .COM, .ORG, .NET Domains were held in one master database exclusively under their control. They, as a monopoly, could charge anything they desired. Originally they charged $50.00 per year (two year minimum). Then after registering millions of Domains and fielding massive complaints of over-charging, they graciously reduced the fee to $35.00 per year (two year minimum).

For the first few years, Network Solutions did a good job, but as the Internet mushroomed the database problems grew. Hackers entered the database and caused problems. Domain ownership's were illegally changed. Other Domain Names were rerouted to open to other companies. Domain Name security became a joke. Trying to get through to Network Solutions was a nightmare, getting email answered took weeks and they were often ignored completely, and getting through by phone took days. We speak from experience as we have been assisting Domain registrations since 1995. We helped Network Solutions register many hundreds of thousands Domain Names.

By the way, it still could take hours today to get a phone answer from Network Solutions.

A couple of years ago the government, after many public complaints, broke up the monopoly to exclusively register and renew Domain Names in to the master database. This gave the public, for the first time, the right to chose who would manage their Domain Name.

New rules allowed applications from other companies to manage new Domain Name registration and renewals into the master database. After a serious background check and a lot of money some of these companies (over a hundred to date) are allowed to become registrars, and are able to add and subtract Domain information to the master database.

This new ruling allowed our company to put Domain info in and take information out of that master database for our clients, and we are also allowed to set our own prices for this service.

(Instead of the Network Solutions' charge of $35.00 (per year) for .COM, .ORG, .NET Domains and $55.00 for .BIZ and .INFO Domains, our fee is only $19.95 per year for all extensions.)

Shortly after the breakup Network Solutions was sold to VeriSign Corp., a giant multi-conglomerate. At this point their policies seem to have degraded to several quasi legal processes. I can only suppose that suddenly VeriSign must have become aware that millions of their clients (the same clients they had paid big bucks to collect the yearly fees from) were transferring (renewing) through other registrars. This will cost them millions.

VeriSign filed a complaint with ICANN, the official ruling body over Domain Names, that the competition (they named Register.com and our partner Tucows) was "slamming" and stealing Domain Name management against the will of the public. "Slamming" as you may know is an expression of the illegal process of switching telephone companies without the permission of the customer.

Please note, although I am sure that "slamming" is probably taking place in this industry, I know of NO case where this is true. Certainly "slamming" is NOT being done by our partner Tucows and probably not by Register.com. Network Solutions' case (complaint) was based on a survey they did of clients requesting Domain Name transfers for renewal.

They sent an email message informing the Domain Name owners (you) that your Domain Name was being (stolen) transferred away; they could lose their rights to their Domain; and did they request a transfer to an unknown party? Most of the public had no idea who was Network Solutions or who held management of their Domain Name. Out of fear and misunderstanding of the message, most said they did not know that their Domain Name was being transferred to another party.

To prevent this mass exodus Network Solutions seems to have develop several quasi legal techniques: put off the renewal process until the name is close to expiration, they can then legally lock up the Domain and prevent you from transferring away from their control.

They do this, by at least two ways we know. When Network Solutions receives the notice of transfer, they...

1. Sent a notice that someone is trying to transfer your name. You will get the feeling that someone is trying to steal your Domain. This frightens most people who respond to not approve of the transfer (or do they nothing). Network Solutions then sends an email telling the renewing registration company that the Domain owner refused to reply (timed out) and the transfer was canceled.

2. Somehow don't send the required notices. They say they did not receive an answer and lock up the name. The Domain Name owner must now quickly renew with them or the Domain Name goes up for resale.

This is borderline honest but... YES, the plot thickens.

When a Domain Name nears renewal time Network Solutions will lock up the Domain Name and not transfer it. If a transfer has been requested, using one of the above rip-off techniques, Network Solutions denies the transfer. Then they will quickly immediately after the expiration date, offer the Domain Name for resale on one of their many sites. If they can not sell the name (after an unknown time) the Domain Name will then be available to the general public.

This problem swells when somehow the Domain owner requesting a transfer does not receive notice. Without notification their name can be resold to a third party. Bam... the total rights to their Name belongs to the third party. Although this is legal, it is not fair. We have seen this happen several times. They seem to only cancel quickly if a transfer has been requested. We have seen expired Domain Names sit for as much as four months before cancellation.

There are several other nasty quasi legal tricks being performed by Network Solutions. We will get into these at another time.

Our partners, Tucows, have filed an official complaint to the governing body, ICANN, against Network Solutions for these and other borderline practices but it will take months before this is resolved.

The Bottom Line.
You have the right to chose who manages your Domain Name in the master database. You can reduce the yearly cost of your Domain Names by 50%, but you should renew at least a month before expiration date. In fact, you can renew at any time with no loss and the renewal is added to your current expiration date. You can renew a year or two years in advance with no loss of time. A month before expiration date will give you time to get by the tricks of Network Solutions. Do not wait, if your Domain expires in a week, it is too late to transfer. You can pay Network Solutions for one year only. They will try to get you to renew for two years. You can then choose a new registrar and get your Domain Name management moved.

Blatant Plug...
Of course, there are benefits with going with a smaller company. You can get a real email answer from us as to your Domain problems within 24 hours. We do not use autoresponders to reply. You can get us on the phone between 1 and 5 P.M. EST, most time on the first try. Please call us with only Domain problems we have registered or renewed.

At DomainNameVault.com our security is unique, a human firewall, all of our registrations and renewals are hand processed by a live body. This prevents hackers from getting control of your Domain through the automatic processing.

Really, it doesn't matter if you renew with us or one of our competitors, like Register.com, but it is wise to do it now and get it out of the control of Network Solutions. Who knows what they will try next.

About the Author
Dr. Tag Powell
Alpha@DomainNameVault.com (http://DomainNameVault.com) (http://Renew-Your-Domain-Name.com)