Domain Slamming

Scam or Solicitation? You Decide.

Like Registry of America and Liberty Names, or perhaps more like RegistryDom or Domain Support Group, another local company, “Website Listing Service“, is sending out bill-like solicitations. They are less misleading than others, IMO, but I can only wonder how many people pay these fees not knowing what they are or if they need them.

In fact, I wonder if it can even be verified they do any work for what they get paid to do.

Image1 2013-06-18 160828

eNom and Afternic: Conflict of Interest?

My first registrar was Bulk Register, now owned by eNom.  (Actually, it was Network Solutions, but I don’t like to talk about that.)  I still have a few accounts I didn’t switch over to my current registrar because they aren’t due yet, but an odd thing happened recently, confirming my decision.

I lost a domain.

Mind you, I’m used to regular notices as to what is expiring and when.  My current registrar send out so many by every means imaginable that I’ve asked them to stop calling me.  But without warning, a client called me up and asked why an unused domain usually parked on his active site went to a page trying to sell it.

I looked it up and found it was now owned by ““.  No redemption period?  Maybe a short one, but again, I wasn’t notified.

I contacted them and they offered it to me for several thousands of dollars.  Based on traffic, all the free value estimators showed it worth $0 except one, which valued it in the three-figure range.  I tried convincing them it was of no value to anyone but my client, but they insisted it was valued according to marketability and would not let it go to its rightful owner for much less.

Upon researching this type of situation, I found that an ICANN dispute costs a cool grand just to file and then it’s a crap shoot to interpret the regulations such that they are breaking the law.  I believe they are, and simply can make it not worth anyone’s time to challenge them.

My old registrar insisted that I must be blocking their emails — which was ironic because we were communicating by email and my server team found no such record of receving emails from the address they use for notifications.  They claim to send out at least three notices.  (For another upcoming domain, I have to admit I later did receive one.)

But shortly after this fiasco — which ended in my offering free hosting for life for the client to make it up to them — I received an email from eNom with the following message:

Moniker and eNom are now live as Afternic DLS Premium partners

The reason this caught my attention is that when I tried to play nice with BuyDomains, I inquired about selling some of my own domain names.  After all, if they’re charging an inflated price, they should be able to buy mine at a high price as well! 

But they don’t buy domains.  It’s handled by their sister company {drum roll please}, Afternic

Maybe eNom is telling the truth about notifications.  But they do have a huge potential benefit by letting them lapse.  Just sayin’ …

Not Quite Slamming

It’s one thing when a company tries to sell you a service you’re already paying for to get you to switch.  It’s quite another when they try selling you something you don’t even know you don’t have — or need. 

I received these before.  Using the same fear method as Domain Registry of America, they want you to pay them so that you don’t lose your Internet ranking.  Who knows what service they are actually selling, but not paying them will not result in losing ranking — that is a lie.  And they don’t specify what people do to make you findable. 

This company, with all information hidden in the WHOIS for their name, is nothing but a page to receive your money.  No contact information or link to ANYTHING.  You basically pay and then have no way to reach them or know what you are getting.  Real scumbags who need to be hunted down.

The funny thing is they have a disclaimer that “this is not an invoice” and get to the e-mail gives an invoice number!  Here is the actual text, and a partial image:

This letter is to inform you that it’s time to send in your search engine registration for KENTROPOLIS.COM.

Failure to complete your search engine registration by Nov 30, 2010 may result in the cancellation of this offer (making it difficult for your customers to locate you using search engines on the web).
Your registration includes search engine submission for KENTROPOLIS.COM for 1 year. You are under no obligation to pay the amount stated above unless you accept this offer by Nov 30, 2010. This notice is not an invoice. It is a courtesy reminder to register KENTROPOLIS.COM for search engine listing so that your customers can locate you on the web.
This Offer for KENTROPOLIS.COM will expire on Nov 30, 2010. Act today!


Liberty Names Of America (LNOA)

Two of my customers already got DROA-similar mailings (below), and I expect more. A quick Google search and the floodgates of accusations open.

What is more, they are operating out of Niagara Falls, not far from DOA’s offices:

Liberty Names of America, Inc.
1623 Military Rd PMB663
Niagara Falls, NY 14304

And here’s their BBB report (from on 3/7/08) –

Number of complaints processed by the BBB
in the last 36 months: 154
in the last 12 months: 28
Complaints Concerned:
Selling Practices (129 complaints)
5 Resolved
124 Company did not respond

Advertising Issues (11 complaints)
11 Company did not respond

Service Issues (1 complaints)
1 Company did not respond

Credit or Billing Disputes (3 complaints)
1 Resolved
1 Unresolved
1 Company did not respond

Refund Practices (8 complaints)
8 Company did not respond

Contract Disputes (1 complaints)
1 Company did not respond

Guarantee or Warranty Issues (1 complaints)
1 Company did not respond

I’m still digging, but I suspect they are the same criminals.

DROA: Cleaning Up … A Little

The Domain Registry of America’s latest mailing isn’t as deceptive. They’ve eliminated the fear tactic in my opinion, and worded it more extensively to show it is not a bill.

Domain Name Expiration Notice 022208 (PDF)

Mail Bombing – Domain Registry of America

These people have continually caused confusion with my clients over the last couple years since this thread was started, and I got a bunch today for a number of domains, both mine and client’s.

Just on a lark, I Googled them this morning and found countless scam warning sites about them. The interesting thing is that the principles of the company have had a lot more legal troubles than just this one company. Thanks to the Internet, so much information can come to light so all the clever arguments in the world will not overpower facts. Well, at least if you have some reasoning ability …

This one in particular:…-america-scam/
Be sure to read the comments section and follow the link about “Cease and Desist”. Of particular interest was their address in my own backyard and the local BBB listing for them:

An exerpt:

Customer Complaint HistoryBack To Top
The company’s size, volume of business and number of transactions may have a bearing on the number of complaints received by the BBB. The complaints filed against a company may not be as important as the type of complaints, and how the company has handled them. The BBB generally does not pass judgment on the validity of complaints filed.
Number of complaints processed by the BBB
in the last 36 months: 157
in the last 12 months: 52
Complaints Concerned:
Selling Practices (90 complaints)
18 Resolved
2 Unresolved
17 Delayed Resolution
8 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve
45 Company did not respond

Advertising Issues (22 complaints)
1 Resolved
2 Delayed Resolution
2 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve
17 Company did not respond

Service Issues (22 complaints)
5 Resolved
1 Unresolved
3 Delayed Resolution
2 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve
11 Company did not respond

Credit or Billing Disputes (11 complaints)
4 Resolved
1 Delayed Resolution
1 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve
5 Company did not respond

Refund Practices (9 complaints)
5 Resolved
2 Unresolved
2 Company did not respond

Contract Disputes (3 complaints)
1 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve
2 Company did not respond

After reading this, it was clear I gave them way too much benefit of the doubt. When I get a free moment, I will likely file a complaint myself with various authorities.

Interview with Domain Registry of America

Email Interview with “Simon” (no last name given), minimal editing, all questions accepted with permission to post under condition of posting response in entirety, and request not to submit as part of any article for a publication.

GBG: What is your position at Domain Registry of America?

Simon: I am one of the [general] supervisors.

GBG: Your company has been accused of “slamming”, or tricking customers into switching registrars. A number of other registrars have had similar accusations made against them. What is your response to this?

Simon: The accusations are false. It is IMPOSSIBLE to switch from one registrar to another without responding to a series of transfer request emails. Nobody can be “tricked” when their verification is required 5 times in order to complete the transfer of registrars. These accusations of “slamming” only come from competing firms of ours.

GBG: How many mail pieces prompting a switch in service do you send out in a n average month, and which domain roles do you solicit mail to – all of them, just administrative, billing, technical?

Simon: We do not give out company strategies and every month is different depending on our market research. [And] we have spent a lot of money researching this and we are not in a possession to give out such info. We’re a private company so I have to keep some things that way.

GBG: From your experience, is the person managing a domain (i.e. someone who deals with their current registrar) usually well informed on domain issues, or someone who is just in charge of paying bills or other business process, such as a typical small business owner?

Simon: It varies. We deal with a wide variety of clientele from farmers in the valley with one single domain to hosting companies that register hundreds of domains with us on a monthly basis. We treat every customer with the same level of professionalism and appreciation. Our customers will confirm this fact.

GBG: In an earlier conversation, you stated “It is impossible for anyone to switch to our company by mistake,” and that “A series of electronic confirmations are required in order to transfer a domain from one company to another. This method avoids any confusion.” Please tell us a little about this process and how it may prevent unwanted switching.

Simon: Without registrant consent, the transfer of a domain CANNOT take place. The emails state very clearly who the losing and gaining registrars are. NOBODY has EVER accidentally switched to our company. It is impossible. It CANNOT happen.

As for the process, here goes: [1] We obtain authorization from the registrant who has the authority to legally bind the registered name holder. [2] The form of authorization is an email link to our website to which the individual of authority must approve or disapprove of the transfer. As the gaining registrar we are required to retain a record of the authorization and as such we maintain the time, date, decision, and IP address. [3] Once approval is provided a transfer request is issued to reflect the new registrar in the Registry database. Both the registrant and the losing registrar MUST either approve or disapprove the request. [4] Once the transfer is completed both the losing and gaining registrar are informed of this by the Registry Operator (Verisign) and in turn the gaining registrar informs the individual of authority who initiated the transfer. [5] Once approval is provided to us, we initiate a transfer request to reflect us as the new registrar in the Registry database. Our automated system approves the transfer requests. [6] Once the transfer is completed both the losing and gaining registrars are informed of this by Verisign and in turn the new registrar informs the individual of authority who initiated the transfer.

There are a total of 5 emails to be verified before the transfer of a domain to our company can complete.

GBG: How often do you receive customer service inquiries about people having switched, or making a payment to switch, by mistake?

Simon: Every so often we will get a call from a customer who has sent us payment by accident, as do other identities as well. However once they get one of our customer service representatives on the phone, they usually decide to remain with our company. You see, one thing this industry is severely missing is customer service. Until now, domain holders have been dealing with registrars that keep their clientele on a 20 minute wait before an operator even answers, only to be discouraged with the lack of assistance they are provided. It is for this very reason our company grew so fast; our customer (and technical) support is second to none. We guarantee it. Customer care is as important as your service or product. There are many registration companies that don’t even provide a phone number in which they can be reached, and these are BIG organizations.

I urge anyone to test Domain Registry of America on our customer support. As well, we are the only company I know of that will actually respond to email inquiries AND within an hour.

GBG: After the FTC statement … have there been any significant changes in the snail mail marketing materials or related processes? And if changes were made, have you received fewer complaints since that time?

Simon: If you READ the FTC statement (albeit lengthy) it states nowhere about changes having to be made to our mail outs. The only change we were required to make was that we are no longer able to charge an administration fee when processing a refund (we lose money in the process). The “Important Notice” was removed and changed to “Domain Name Renewal Notice” but we suggested that to the FTC as they felt Important notice was a bit strong

It’s funny how people see our name on the FTC website and assume the worst. People don’t take the time to READ the article. It’s these same types of people that don’t actually READ our solicitation. People don’t read.

GBG: I noticed in a recent mailing, you talk up front about “switching”, yet my client almost mailed you a check, thinking it was necessary to keep their name.

Simon: But your client DIDN’T mail the payment. Obviously they understood they are not obligated to pay us anything. In fact, it even states within our letter that no one is under any obligation to use our services.

GBG: Your mailing makes clear warnings of various potential losses by not renewing a domain name, which some critics online have called a “fear tactic” to prompt action. Considering the mailings are sometimes many months before renewal is required, what is the reason for the language in the mailing?

Simon: I don’t agree that our mailing is a “fear tactic.” However I will say that it is aggressive. In the world of business you have to be. We didn’t want to be another fly by night registrar that sits back and waits for the business to come to them. Where do you think those businesses are now? The language in the mailings is quite clear if one READS it.

Anybody can be an “online critic.” That’s the problem with the Internet – suddenly EVERYBODY has a forum to voice their opinions. There are forums online where people criticize everything from the war on terrorism to Gap commercials.

GBG: Is there any consideration when mailing as to how soon a domain name is about to expire?

Simon: It doesn’t matter. Sometimes we renew domains that still have years left in their terms. The reason for this is because we add the years on to the existing term. In other words, no one loses time on the domain they have already paid for.

GBG: There is news of your company’s recent expansion in marketing to the UK. Is there any information you’d like to share about marketing initiatives in other countries?

Simon: Like most businesses, we’re looking to expand. There are great opportunities abroad, and there are several competitors of ours doing business in places offering customer service that doesn’t compare to ours. We’re hoping to eventually tap that market also. It will take some time for new markets to warm up to us, but once they start communicating with us they will see how easy we are to deal with. As I said before, customer care goes a long way and ultimately prevails. Just like North America, other markets WILL appreciate our service and competitive pricing. 

For the record, here is the letter received, and when asked what they thought it was, the response (coming from a paralegal) was

I opened the letter from that group and I thought that it was an invoice that we had to pay to keep our name registered. 

Yes, if you read it through, I as someone who deals with the web find it clearly not an invoice, but the question remains: would the average person take the time to read something that might be a bill about a service they may not be clear about, or just pay it to avoid the repercussions stated in the letter?

Decide for yourself.

DROA_Mailing (PDF)

Domain Registry Of America / Liberty Names of America

As I’ve warned customers in the past, DO NOT make a payment to renew your domain name through the Domain Registry of America, or ANYONE ELSE for that matter. The letter you received is trying to get you to switch services to them, NOT a bill to protect you from losing your domain name. They are not your provider, but you may mistakenly think they are.

They are under investigation by the FTC and have lost a couple of court battles over this practice of theirs.

A letter I emailed their sales staff:

Listen up you Scam-holes:

One of my clients (a LAW PROFESSIONAL’S ORGANIZATION) almost switched to you by mistake, until I alerted them to your scam.* I used to getting your crap in my PO Box, but tired of you targeting my clients.* Your bull about not intentionally scamming obviously doesn’t hold water when reasonable people (under definition of law) are misled.

I will be posting information on your scam shortly on our consumer education site,, and there’s not a damn thing you’re going to do about it.* Consider yourself served.

I received a response (rather polite considering) from a representative of Domain Registry of America (DROA), who expressed an interest in rebuttal or explanation of their position here on the forums, to which I extended a heartily warm invitation.

In the meantime, I have done some research and found that MANY companies like Kentropolis have posted similar warnings regarding domain name “slamming” from DROA. Often listed were other companies I have had such problems with, including Register.Com and Verisign.

There were very little hard facts about the details of the DROA’s practices, but opinions abound. However, here are two articles that are not editorials.

(1) The settlement (not an actual ruling / judgement) by the FTC, which can be found directly on their website at …, titled Court Bars Canadian Company from Misleading Consumers in Marketing of Internet Domain Name Services.

(2) The court ruling in favor of Register.Com against DROA …, titled Wins Stay Against Domain Registry of America.

Apparently, there have been various beefs about DROA’s marketing practices over the last couple of years, even before they changed to their current name. And even after the FTC’s statement of “keeping an eye on them” the complaints abound.

I will be very interested in hearing the other side of the story, and have a lot of specific questions that when answered would give people an honest opportunity to decide for themselves — is DROA slamming or not?