Domain renewal pseud0-scam

Last week I received this piece of snail mail from an organization that looks pretty darned official. The red and black colour scheme, the maple leaf, and the words “Domain” and “Canada” make you think this may have been issued by the federal government itself.

I wanted to feature this to shed a bit of light on what I think of as a pseudo-scam. Technically, these guys aren’t doing anything illegal, they’re just being manipulative and in my books that’s still not cool.

When you buy a domain name, unless you pay extra to have your contact information masked from public eyes, anyone can find the name, address and phone number of the person who owns that domain. Companies like this take advantage of publicly available contact information by sending you mail that prompts you to renew your domain name with them – instead of your usual company – at outrageous prices. And there, readers, is the issue for me. The pricing.

Unless you are savvy and remember what you originally paid for your domain and to whom, you might look at this letter and simply think, “Oh crap, I need to get on this. Ooh, look at the savings!”

Please know that you can buy a .com domain from any number of companies for a cost of $12.99 per year.

These guys want $40!

Buy two years of domain name registration from them and save $10 for a total cost of $70.

Buy five years of domain name registration from them and save $40 for a total cost of $160.

So, $160 (+HST) will get you five years of domain name registration. I paid $37.50 for five years of Seriously. $120 stays in my pocket.

I rank companies like this right up there with the guy who scams a sweet little old lady out of her savings by posing as her grandson on the phone. You can’t blame yourself entirely when tactics like this dupe you. They can be pretty convincing even when they add their disclaimers about this not being an invoice or a bill or an account due notice. When in doubt, call the company that originally sold you your domain, or renew your domain with the lovely folks at Vancouver-based W3 Registry. They are a BC business that has some of the best customer service around. They are patient and ridiculously helpful. And no, they are not paying me to write that.

I have purchased domains many times through GoDaddy but my main complaint with them is that they try to upsell you on services you don’t need so it can be frustrating and confusing to navigate their website if this is not a language you normally speak.

I wish you good luck in steering your way around offers like this. Be vigilant, ask questions, share information, stay safe, and save your money.