Domain Registry of America are not happy with me. But the feeling's mutual. They emailed me earlier this year when they discovered that one
of my blog posts were ranking in Google's top 10 SERPs for their name:
"It has been brought to our attention that you published or caused to be published an internet bulletin containing words that are false, misleading and defamatory to our firm. Your publication has caused and continues to cause Domain Registry of America irreparable damages and we intend to hold you responsible for these damages both past and present. You are hereby notified that we demand these false, misleading and defamatory statements mentioned above that you have published or have caused to be published be removed by no later than 15 days of your receipt of this notice.
If we do not receive written notification that these publications have been removed by the above deadline we will without further warning, advise our lawyers to commence a lawsuit in an Ontario court for damages and a permanent and interlocutory injunction restraining you, your employees, agents and representatives from making and publishing such publications."
Um hello? Ever heard of Freedom of Speech? Before you sue me, you might want to read the thousand other bloggers bitching about you
on the net. Most are much more vicious than me.
My hate/hate relationship with Domain Registry of America goes way back to when they first sent me a junk "domain name expiration notice" in 2003 for a domain I didn't even own. I binned it. Then in 2004, I got another letter regarding a domain I DID own. In my opinion, the letter was very misleading and I remember thinking that if I was unfamiliar with my domain registration details, that I may have fallen for their tactics and renewed it through them by mistake, instead of my existing registrar. I wondered how many others had done just that.
I conducted some research on DROA and learned some interesting facts:
1) In December 2003, the Federal Trade Commission found that Domain Registry of America violated the FTC Act by misleading consumers in the marketing of Internet domain name services
2) The same month, the FTC requested that a Federal district court issue an order requiring the Domain Registry of America pay redress to 50,000 consumers.
3) Despite being prohibited by the FTC from engaging in similar conduct, it appears to be business as usual at Domain Registry of America.
4) DROA allegedly operate under various names, including The Domain Registry of America, Domain Registry of Europe and EU Registry Services.
5) DROA apparently have offices worldwide, with letters received from DROA addresses in the UK, Europe, Australia and the US.
6) A lot of registrars have issued warning messages about Domain Registry of America
letters on their web sites.
7) There are a lot of consumers who believe they have been duped by DROA into renewing their domains and they are complaining online
Now I was willing to leave Domain Registry of America well enough alone, despite their threatening email, but today I received in the post YET ANOTHER of their annoying expiration notices for one of my domains. I could wallpaper my office with these things!
Today's letter has the same potentially misleading wording that I've complained about before
, but I have to concede that at least it makes it clearer than it used to that the domain transfer is optional. This one still has the world's smallest small print on the back. I honestly had to borrow my son's magnifying glass to read it. Turns out it's DROA's Registration Agreement. Here are some classic extracts:
"FAILED TRANSFER POLICY: Payments received by DROA for transfers/ renewals are done on our best effort basis. While DROA guarantees it will issue the transfer/renewal request from the existing registrar of the domain name, DROA cannot guarantee that the existing registrar will consent to the transfer/renewal."
Of course they can't. Any registrar worth their salt will likely be suspicious of a DROA transfer application and contact the domain owner directly.
"FEES: As consideration for the Service(s), renewal of the Service(s), and, if you select it, automatic renewal of the Service(s), you agree to pay, prior to the effectiveness of the desired Service(s), the applicable Service(s) fees. All fees are non-refundable, in whole or in part, even if your domain name registration is suspended, cancelled or transferred prior to the end of your then current registration term, unless this Agreement specifically provides for a refund. At our option, we may require that you pay fees through a particular payment means (such as by credit card or by wire transfer) or that you change from one payment provider to another."
So you pay up front for a service you may not ever receive? What a bargain!
"CREDIT CARD AND OTHER CHARGES: In the event of a charge back by a credit card company (or similar action by another payment provider allowed by us) in connection with your payment of fees for any Service(s), you agree that we may suspend access to any and all accounts you have with us and that all rights to and interest in and use of any domain registration(s) services, website hosting, and/or email services, including all data hosted on our systems shall be assumed by us, as the case may be. We will reinstate your rights to and control over these Services solely at our discretion, and subject to our receipt of the unpaid fee(s) and our then-current reinstatement fee, currently set at $200 US Dollars."
Right. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding of this one is that if you dare to cancel your order, DROA can take possession of your entire domain and it's content until you pay them a ransom of $200. Charming.
But my personal favorite is this one:
"IF LAWSUIT(S) ARE THREATENED: If we are sued or threatened with lawsuits in connection with Service(s) provided to you, we may turn to you to indemnify us and to hold us harmless from the claims and expenses (including attorney's fees and court costs). Under such circumstances, you agree that you will, upon demand, obtain a performance bond with a reputable bonding company or, if you are unable to obtain a performance bond, that you will deposit money with us to pay for our reasonably anticipated expenses in relation to the matter for the coming year."
So if you want to sue them, you have to cover their legal costs? A year in advance? You've got to be kidding me. I was going to bin the letter but I've decided to frame it and hang it in my office. I'll read it on days when I need a good laugh.
If Domain Registry of America really want me to stop blogging about them and beating them in the SERPS, they should stop sending me junk mail.Subscribe via
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Labels: domain names, droa, law suits