A long while back I wrote an article on Domain Registration. I have been registering domains for about a decade at this point. I manage domain registration for many of my clients and I use OPENSRS as my registrar. I have never really like Network Solutions and their parent company Verisign. I have long thought their business practices were horrid.
Last night I was doing some Whois lookups for a client and found one of their domains was still with Network Solutions. I was just so frustrated to see that Network Solutions is openly violating ICANN rules by not providing Whois information on domains. Instead they were just trying to get me to buy that domain or a related domain, no whois domain.
If you do not know what a Whois search is, it is where you can lookup who owns a domain. As far as I know this is a requirement to be a registrar and ICANN is the organization that governs all registrars. They are there to decide what top level domains are available, this would be .COM, .NET, .MOBI, etc. While sometimes they have cause controversy, it is more of a political nature and does not really hurt consumers or businesses directly.
I thought as I did the search last night that Network Solutions was up to no good and it turns out they are up to worse than I realized. According to an article posted on Tech Crunch today Networks Solutions is registering any available domain a Whois search is done through their system immediately in the name of Network Solutions. In other words they are registering any available domain anyone does a look up for availability through their site. This is just not acceptable from any angle.
Before anyone buys a domain they will typically do diligence by research domain availabilities. I have spent many an hour doing just that looking for domains. Domains are the first piece of property anyone buys before they develop a site. So they are very important. So imagine doing 5 days of diligent research on available domains and trying on Friday afternoon to register a domain you found available on Tuesday and seeing it is registered already. Then each and every domain you have on your list is now also registered. Wow how discouraging this would be to a typical business person.
ICANN should immediately strip Network Solutions of the ability to register and renew any more domain names. This is not the first fowl practice Network Solutions has participated in, and honestly it would take a while to research the history of their atrocious practices. I mean it is just terrible they charge $35 a year for a domain renewal or registration. It costs around $10 for them to actually pay their fee and other overheads. Again I have a good insider view of what it takes. My cost is slightly higher because I am such a low volume.
If you have a domain with them, please transfer them to another, customer friendly domain registrar. If you plan on registering a domain in the future do not use Network Solutions. If you need an SSL key do not use Verisign, there are also many other more customer friendly SSL key authorities available too. I sell them at a fraction of the cost and hassle Verisign charges and puts you through.
I am not writing this to pitch me services, I really do not have much interest in being a high volume registrar by any means. I do it mostly as a courtesy service to my clients because it helps them have a better overall experience with their web properties. So I am not asking for you have me manage this for you directly, I will, but that is not where I make any money. I tend to lose money on domain registrations. Not many companies really offer domain management services like I do.
Most registrars are much friendlier than Network Solutions. If you want my quick opinion about some of the other companies I will be glad to tell you. Well honestly, stay away from Register.com and GoDaddy.com too. But those are other threads and I am not here to bash today, just protect.
Update: No sooner did I post this entry I got this e-mail from Network Solutions:
We understand that there is a significant amount of misinformation being circulated about Network Solutions'' recently initiated customer protection measure. We want to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
Is Network Solutions 'Front Running'?
Network Solutions is not front running. We've implemented a customer protection measure to help defend our customers against the actions of 'front runners' -- people who register domain names known to have been searched, for the purpose of monetizing them and then selling them at inflated prices either directly to the customer who searched for the domain or through aftermarket channels.
The Network Solutions customer protection measure holds the searched domains on Network Solutions' homepage and domain search page for up to 4 days so customers can take the time to decide whether to register the domain name. These searched domains are available for purchase at Network Solutions' regular rates - not for inflated prices as has been falsely stated. This includes being purchased via your Partner Portal or XML API accounts at your regular contract price.
Is Network Solutions selling reserved names in the secondary market?
Network Solutions is not registering these names after the 4 day reservation period with the intent of selling them in the secondary market. Likewise, we're not placing any advertisements on these domains to monetize their traffic while they are in the reservation period.
We can not stress strongly enough that we are taking these measures with the intention of protecting our customers. We have received numerous complaints from customers and Partners about front running. Our complaints to the industry regulators fell on deaf ears. We were left with little else to do but to try and protect customers from industry front runners. Inevitably, there will always be a vocal few that assume only the worst and blatantly mischaracterize our actions and in some instances make patently false statements.
We are available to speak with you to address any concerns that are not addressed by this email. Additionally, we are available to help reassure any of your customers that may have concerns.
So they claim they are protecting their customers. I find this a very thin and wrong way to spin this. In order for someone doing a whois search through the Network Solutions site does not constitute them being a customer. I am sorry. Cease and desist immediately.