Today I received my mail from France and noticed a weird letter coming from “US Postage paid, Jamaica N.Y. 11431, Permit #9014″. The letter had the old familiar look you get from those “Domain Registry of Amarica”: american flag, and company name containing the word “Domain” and trying to look like the company handling domain renewals for everyone (that’s the impression you get from the name)… oh and let us not forget the amercan flag, it’s important to be american.
This one contains a return enveloppe to “Domain Renewal Group, 56 Gloucester Rd., Suite 526, London, England, SW7 4UB”. I guess since they posted this to France, it’s only normal they put an address somewhere close.
The letter itself is exactly the same you get from “Domain Registry of America”: your domain will expire soon and you have to reply by date D to renew it.
Even if this letter outlines the fact this is not an bill but an easy way to switch to a different provider, direct marketting of domain owners is seen as bad practice, and as far as I know, only them are doing it, and they are now doing it with different names, most likely to mitigate their bad image over new names the customer hasn’t been warned about.
Whois of the domain domainrenewalgroup.com shows it is owned by “Domain Registrar – Domain Registry Group” with an email on droa.com, the well known “Domain Registry of America”.
Some more remarks on the letter:
- It introduce the ability to choose a registrar as something new. It says “Privatization of Domain Registrations and Renewals now allows the consumer the choice of Registrars [...]“. The “now” is likely to confuse almost anyone (ability to be a registrar for com/net/org domains has existed since November 30th 1999)
- The letter focuses on payment and says nothing about the transfer procedure. The customer has no information on the process that will come, with the obligation to unlock domain, etc
- Nothing is said either about services linked to the domain. For example let’s say you have a web hosting with domain name and you pay 40€/year. This letter tells you you can renew for 28€/year, and while explicitly stating this is a domain renewal, most customers won’t make the difference.
Also, the letter states that not renewing will result into the customer “losing his online identity, making it difficult for his customers and friends to locate him on the Web”. This sounds like renewing with them will allow the customer to keep his online presence, which is false.
- The second paragraph is formulated in a way that will make most people think they have to renew with them. While it is an impressive work of marketting, it lacks something called ethics.
Most registrars have been tired of the plague brought by DROA, and have to tell their customers that those letters are not bills, because customer won’t read. One would expect after all those years DROA to go out of business, but it’s not the case, and they are probably quite comfortable (when I see the price they ask for, I can understand).
Some day another registrar might decide to use the same kind of letter and attempt to trick people into transferring domains at an outrageous price, let’s just hope the practice will become prosecutable before it happens (it is already technically illegal, as whois information is not made for mass-marketting but for fixing technical problems, still DROA seems to be doing fine).