Marketing for the burn bin

I won’t say that marketing techniques are getting worse…because I already sound like a broken record. For years I’ve fought the fraudulent yellow pages bills sent to companies hoping that the treasurer will pay the ‘bill" without realizing it isn’t a real bill. Since I’m both the treasurer and the person who buys phone service for my husband’s company … I can tell you we’ve had an amazing number of these. I wonder how much money these rip off artists make? But today I got something that made me even more angry. It was from a "group" suggesting that I need to renew my domain name. "Domain Name Expiration Notice" is plastered across the top, and then there is a whole page of type — with even finer print on the back. It also suggests that I should buy up variants on my domain name.

The problem with this bill is that I know who my domain name is registered through, and it isn’t through these folks. My domain name is locked so it can’t be transferred. I haven’t read all of the fine print as to how they planned on transferring the name, because I really don’t care.

The rates are shocking. $30/year — I pay $10. They’ll give me a deal, though — if I register with them for 2 years, they’ll only charge me $50. Hm. If I pay BlueHost in advance for my hosting, they include my domain name renewal for free as long as I’m a customer. Wow. Somehow, I really don’t feel compelled to do business with this company.

Ads like this one are intended to take advantage of one simple fact: the average web site owner doesn’t pay attention to the name of their registrar. They "buy" the domain name (you really only lease that name…) and then they think they’re safe until something happens. While I’m sure there are many legitimate registrars in existence, there are also a fair number of sharks in those waters, people who will happily give you a deal on a domain name so you can improve the property and they can sell the name to the highest bidder — after you forget to renew.

BlueHost lets me monitor the expiration — and the registrar — of each of the domains that they host for me, making it easy for me to keep track of them.

This "notice" explains that should I need it, they can change my domain from a .com to a .org or a .net. I’d hope that somewhere in this ocean of fine print, they would explain what a bad idea this would be, but I can’t seem to find it. I did glance through the fine print and find several surprises there. If you feel they have charged you in error and you call your credit card company to do a chargeback, they claim ownership of your domain name and all data hosted on the site. If you want it back, you’ll have to pay them $200 or whatever fee they feel is appropriate at the time. Oh, yes, I want to give these folks access to my site. They go on to say they may remind me of the expiration of my domain name in the future, but it is my responsibility to remember it, and it isn’t their fault if they forget to remind me. If they forget to remind me and I forget to renew, the site is theirs.

Your domain name is an important part of your website. Know who your registrar is and when the domain name expires. Don’t fall victim to this sort of marketing.

I’m going to drop this in the burn bin now.

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