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Verisign Sending Deceptive Domain Renewal Mail? 374

Posted by timothy
from the no-kind-words-for-verisign dept.
General_Corto writes: "Declan McCullagh's PoliTech list just forwarded a message detailing how Verisign is sending letters to people who own domains through other registrars, attempting to make them change registrar on renewal. Looking at the letter it is very unclear that you are signing up with a different registrar. Sneaky games are being played."
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Verisign Sending Deceptive Domain Renewal Mail?

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  • Thats pretty bad. (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by SirSlud (67381)
    I'll fire off an email to verisign to chastize them. You should all do the same.
    • Yeah, so we're all IANALBIWTOTs (I Am Not A Lawyer But I Watch Them On TV) ... so what? :)

      Be sure to add, "I watched an episode of Matlock in a bar last night. The sound was off, but I think I got the gist of it."
  • Nothing new (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cre8tor (265494) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:30PM (#3221616)
    Registrars have been doing this for a while, not just Verisign.
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:54PM (#3221825) Homepage Journal
      It's hard to beleive that the revenue from domain owners they manage to trick is worth more than the damage to their brand. First of all, people will make that mistake only once. Secondly, as the number of people who associate Verisign's name with skullduggery increases, the trust that underlies their certificate authority business will evaporate. Granted, this trust is more by default than anything else -- people don't know enough not to trust. But this is all the more reason not to blow it. There was never a monopoly built on such a flimsy foundation.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

      by letxa2000 (215841) on Monday March 25, 2002 @01:44PM (#3222132)
      I agree. I used to have my domains registered with VeriSign. About three years ago we switched all our domains to Register.com. The switch went without a hitch and even doing a whois at NetSol shows the correct registar.

      However, without fail we get invoice after invoice from Network Solutions with letters saying if we don't pay we will lose our domain. Duh...

      They might not be the only one, but it is very deceptive. I think they send it so comapnies who have an A/P department see the low-dollar bill ($35/$70, whatever) and are allowed to pay it without authorization. Little do they know that they, by paying it, authorize NetSol to transfer the domains of their organization back to NetSol.

      Bad, very bad. Kind of like an invoice I once received from somewhere in Europe for something like $1395. It was for being placed in some business directory. What? Obviously they were just fishing. It doesn't cost anything to send invoices and, who knows, someone might actually pay. All you have to lose is postage.

  • Sneaky letter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by herko_cl (533936) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:34PM (#3221652)
    This thing doesn't even have the company name on its return address, it's just called Expiration Department.
    This is just an attempt to snare unsuspecting customers aware from other registrars, apparently earning a tidy profit for Verisign (Go Daddy software complains that that Verisign charges $29.95 instead of their $8.95)
  • Question (Score:2, Insightful)

    All this letter is, is a request to transfer and renew under Veisign without actually saying so. It's almost like receiving spam indicating you requested it without ever doing so.

    It's wrong and deceptive. Just make sure you respond to the communication from the registrar you originally registered with. Being observant can save you money and hassle.
  • Y'all remember "slamming?" That fun practice where Phone Company X would just go in and magically switch you to use their long-distance service without even mentioning it to you, and you wouldn't find out until the bill showed up?

    So, this isn't all that bad... not that they wouldn't LIKE to be, but they don't get to.
    • Y'all remember "slamming?"


      That's a very apt comparison. Verisign has gone from being a monopoly (as Network Solutions) to having a lot of cheaper competition, just like Ma Bell. And similarly, it finds that it can't hack it in the real world, and is resorting to underhanded techniques like this.

    • Slamming domain names used to be a bigger problem. We lost NMTI.COM because Verisign (then Network Solutions) screwed up and bythe time we had things cleared up with them Register.COM was squatting on our domain.

      And the phone companies got slapped for slamming, and they got slapped for sending out letters like this one (here's mine, at [taronga.com]
      http://www.taronga.com/~peter/io/vs/ ).

      Finally, it's interesting to note that thy refused to let me transfer another domain away from them when it was still over a month from renewal, and yet here it is right on the deadline and they're going after scarydevil.com...
  • by wardbekker (219295) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:35PM (#3221665)
    Yep, taken from the Verisign homepage:

    " Trust is the foundation of every human relationship "

    They probably forgot the *: Only applies when you owe us money ;-)

  • Hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zapfie (560589)
    Same game, different industry, huh. I used to see contest ballots for free cars and whatnot around.. in the fine print, though, it stated if you entered that contest that they could switch your carrier over to some unknown company. Although this isn't the same means, it seems that slamming techniques are definately not an uncommon thing in service industries.. It was probably only a matter of time until we saw stunts like this.
  • Farming For Clients (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TwistedTR (443315)
    All they are doing is using information from WHOIS to farm for new clients. It's spam, I didnt register with them, yet they are telling me all about how my domain is about to expire and all the wonderful options available to me to prevent this from happening. It's sad to see a someone as large as Verisign fall to such low tactics to farm new clients.
  • by Mnemia (218659) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:36PM (#3221676)

    This strikes me as a similar, albeit different, tactic to what is known as "slamming" in the phone industry. It was once a common scam for the shadier long distance providers to change your carrier without your permission or consent; the practice was (I believe) outlawed in the 1996 Telcommunications Act (correct me if I'm wrong). This is slightly different because they are just being deceptive about gaining consent, but it does seem similar. Wonder if Congress will step in on this type of practice as well?

    Not sure that's the best idea, but it will probably take Washington 10 years to notice this anyway and by then there won't be any players but Verisign left anyway.

    • by EXTomar (78739)
      I wonder if the Telco Act as it stands now already cover this? IANAL nor do I keep the law text lying around to study. :-)
    • I don't know about legality, but the company I work for got slammed by MCI last fall, after we opened a branch office. It's quite a noticable difference going from our ~$0.07/minute AT&T contract rate, to the ~$0.55/minute rate MCI was trying to charge us.
    • no, this should remind you more of the phone book directory billing scam. Unscrupulous companies would send out "Advertise in the yellow pages" or "white pages". What they forgot to tell you wans that they were located in an area no-where near where you were located, and they barely published a directory. (Just a few copies usually, in some barren remote wasteland.)
  • scam ('skam) noun 1. a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation .

    I think that Verisign is spamming, but physically, damn Post Office, it's an relay server ain't it?

  • They only have their name in one place on the mailing, and it's not on the mailing service. Given how Verisign advertises their business as if they're *the* Internet company, it's not surprising that people might actually see the Verisign logo and think that it's either a safety/security measure, or that they're partnered with Go Daddy to conduct the renewals processing.

    Woe betide he who does not read the fine print.

    On a separate note, where do you legally draw the line between deceptively stealing customers and "slamming"?
  • by the_radix (454343) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:37PM (#3221691) Homepage Journal

    The letter is very deceptive. Verisign seems to only be prominently mentioned once, and the address the letter gets mailed to doesn't mention Verisign at all. This is about as shady as switching your long-distance plan by cashing a check they give you (anyone else get those?).

    But, I would hope that any sane person would refuse to put down their credit card number on a piece of mail as flimsy as a business reply card. Ignorance only extends so far, right? ...right?

  • by Evro (18923) <evandhoffman@gma ... com minus author> on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:37PM (#3221692) Homepage Journal
    My girlfriend got a "DOMAIN NAME EXPIRATION" notice from Interland. It said something to the effect of "if you don't renew now, you may lose your domain!" The problem is, she registered it through Network Solutions. NetSol must have taken notice of this and thought it was just a fantastic marketing technique.

    I registered several through GoDaddy [godaddy.com], by far the best one I have ever used, and Godaddy sent me a "warning" notice that Verisign is sending out these deceptive messages, and suggesting we write to icann about them...
    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: 22 Mar 2002 20:52:05 -0000
    From: service@godaddy.com
    To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Subject: A WARNING TO OUR CUSTOMERS

    Please be aware that Verisign, Inc. (formerly Network Solutions) is sending via the US Mail, what we believe to be deceptive and predatory domain expiration notices.

    The purpose behind these notices is to get the unsuspecting customer to transfer to and renew their domain name(s) with Verisign Inc. at significantly higher prices.

    The domain expiration notices are designed so that it is not obvious that the notices are from Verisign, Inc. as opposed to Go Daddy Software. To see a copy of one of these deceptive expiration notices, please go to the following URL: http://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/private_vsrn.asp?dis play=letter [godaddy.com].

    Those customers who fall prey to the Verisign, Inc. scheme will have their domain name(s) renewed at a price more than 3 times higher than would be the case if they renewed with Go Daddy Software.

    For a .com, .net or .org domain name renewal, the victimized customer would pay $29.00 to Verisign, Inc. instead of the $8.95 charged by Go Daddy Software.

    Those customers who fall prey to this scheme, will not receive any better service or value. They will however be tricked out of $20.05 per domain name.

    Renewal notices from Go Daddy Software are sent via email, and always mention the Go Daddy name. You can be sure that any communications you receive concerning your domain name that do not explicitly and obviously display the Go Daddy name are not from Go Daddy Software.

    If you believe, as we do, that this practice of Verisign Inc. is misleading, predatory and improper, we invite you to make your feelings known by writing to ICANN (who is the governing body for all Registrar's and Registries) and to Verisign Registry. Email links for both are provided below.

    Sincerely,

    Bob Parsons, President
    Go Daddy Software, Inc.

    ICANN Registrar Complaint Form (hosted at InterNIC)
    http://www.internic.net/cgi/registrars/ problem-rep ort.cgi

    VeriSign Registry Customer Service
    info@verisign-grs.com
    • Yeah, I was at godaddy.com this morning.. there's a big yellow "A WARNING TO OUR CUSTOMERS" button on their homepage.
      Links here [godaddy.com].
    • Instead of ICANN, I would suggest contacting your State Attorney General's office for deceptive trade practices, or the Postmaster General for mail fraud. ICANN can't prosecute these scumbags the way they should be.
      • Instead of ICANN, I would suggest contacting your State Attorney General's office for deceptive trade practices, or the Postmaster General for mail fraud. ICANN can't prosecute these scumbags the way they should be.

        Excellent idea. If you personally have received one of these cards, report it to http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/MailFra udComplaint.htm [usps.com]


        If you have already paid this, you could complain at the FTC [ftc.gov], too.

        • While I do think that this is sneaky of VeriSign and Co, I don't think that it would classify as mail fraud. How are they "defrauding" you? Never did they say that they were associated with your current registrar. They give you the service that you paid for, domain (re)registration. The service that they are "advertising" is legal & not a scam. The card clearly has Verisign on one of the pages. I can't read the fine print at the bottom of the form, but I can see Verisign mentioned in several places.

          Maybe there is a case for the FTC or your state's AG office for deceptive practices, but not mail fraud.
    • Interland isn't doing that. If you actually pay one of Interland's renewal notices, you stay on your current registrar. They just want money for no work on their part.

      Of course, they're about as incompetent as NSI. I have my domain's registered mail address set to my father's PO Box, and my father paid the Interland renewal notice before asking me. He paid for two years, but my domain was renewed for four. And he paid by check, so they couldn't double-bill us.

      Of course, even at half the price it still was more expensive than some alternate registrars...

      Avi
    • My saga with Interland convinced me that I should take every opportunity to share the tragic story, in hopes that it would keep others from having to undergo the same sad fate.

      The short version is that I signed up for a domain transfer to Interland. Everything went fine (that is, they were very efficient at ringing u the sale on my credit card). Then, the troubles started. Various snafus at their end made the domain transfer take not one, not two, not three days - but NINE.

      To make matters worse, their POP server went down repeatedly. Their "helpful web-based admin tools" didn't work properly - for example, WebTrends worked, but only sporadically. Server response times were atrocious - I regularly ran traceroutes from a variety of locations and found response to routinely be 2x slower than most other comparable sites.

      Tech support failed to respond to any of my above complaints, but each time I received a handy message from their automated system, telling me that the problem had been resolved. How had it been resolved? There was no problem in the first place, so everything is OK!

      Finally, I elected to end my misery. I switched to another host, which has given me none of the above-mentioned difficulties. I complained yet again to Interland and they finally promised to send a refund for the unused portion of my 1-year contract.

      I faxed in the appropriate form over two weeks ago, and haven't been credited the amount due. Why am I not surprised?

    • The post office is very serious about mail fraud. If a fraudulent transaction involved the postal service at any step along the way, they will get involved. I've heard of problems with some ebay sellers being investidated because the post office recognized it as mail fraud.

      ICANN, on the other hand, may not particularly care. But it wouldn't hurt to let them know, too.

  • by Binky The Oracle (567747) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:38PM (#3221694)

    For the last 2 months I've been receiving similar mail from Interland (a Verisign partner) for a domain that doesn't expire until late May. I have two sites hosted on Interland and they're sending me renewal notices for a Verisign-registered domain that I parked on Interland servers (no live site).

    Initially I was keeping all of my registrations with Verisign/Internic because I felt they provided me with the best service. That's still true as long as I don't need them to do anything like send me a registration report or help me change a contact because the record got munged.

    I also felt a bit more secure with Verisign because they don't seem to be going anywhere and domain registrations are long-term investments for me.

    These new tactics may be the final straw. The trouble is, I don't know how reliable any of the other companies are. Any recommendations?

    • I have my domain, cowlark.com, registered through Gandi [gandi.net]. I'm in my second year with them and have had no problems whatsoever. They're cheap (12 euros a year), reliable (in my experience), easy to use (everything is done via web interfaces), they handle COM, ORG, NET (and INFO, BIZ and NAME if you feel so inclined), you own the domain, they do basic parking (5 email redirections and an HTTP redirection), and they do DNS hosting (withing limits; A, MX and CNAME records). There are no penalties for transferring to another registrar. And they speak French as well as English.

      I reckon they're well worth a look.

  • My PHB often comes in with letters from register.com and always says, "I didn't think we had domains with them? How did they get our domains?!" and I have to tell him that those renewal letters are just gimmicks to trick you into changing registrars.

    I'm not one who is satisfied with the incompetence of Verisign, but I can't let them take the blame for coming up with this scam.
  • As much as I hate verisign, mostly because it took 3 phone calls and 4 tries to get my domain switched to TheNIC.com.. I've seen register.com and other people do the same thing with mailing and emails. Plus, I would think that big verisign logo might be a tip off, as well as the confirmations you need to switch registers.

  • by Leme (303299) <jboyceNO@SPAMci.redding.ca.us> on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:39PM (#3221711)
    I really can't think of a good technical reason that I need to see the expiration date and other information off of the whois servers. Only information I really care about is the DNS servers and the admin/technical contact.

    They should make the whois servers not give this information so other companies can use it as their own personal sales list.
    • We have 200+ domains hosted at work, and I don't want to wade through all the letters and emails that Verisign sends me (since they send multiple mailings per domain... and even mail you warning notices AFTER you've registered the domain).

      I wrote a Perl script that goes through the entire /etc/namedb directory, does a whois, and writes the expiration dates to a file, ordered by expiration date from soon to far-far-away.

      Having a nicely formatted list of all the expiration dates is much nicer than wading through individual (and possibly duplicate) peices of mail.

      Also, I have used the contact (email and phone) information to get ahold of current Technical and Administrative contacts to request domain transfers by request of the domain owner/holder (most customers don't want to deal with stuff themselves... they want the world handled by everybody else)

      So, in conclusion, the WHOIS information is invaluable. It is unfortunate that it's misused and abused, though.
    • It wouldn't really matter if the public whois database no longer carried that information, since verisign runs the database, and could look at that info anyhow.

  • I got the same letter from VeriSign, but it was for renewal of a domain that I do not and never have owned. The domain turned out to be registered to some company in Turkey who used register.com. I'm somewhat concerned that other people are getting the same letter for *my* domains.
  • The letter clearly shows the Verisign trade mark. If I got one of these, I'd know right off what was going on. If I didn't know what was up, then I shouldn't be the domain contact because I'm too clueless.

    People that have domain names should be somewhat cluefull, or have a consultant that is. I do think that Verisign is gonna get it's little fingies wacked over this. I hope that it's a very firm, costly wack for them.

  • by mesach (191869) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:41PM (#3221722)
    But since my domain isnt registered with NSI, im going to send it back to them no postage necessary, and im going to write on it in magic marker "NO WAY IN HELL"

    maybe ill add a few washers, since they pay by weight of the letter, thats what i suggest, hit em where the investors feel it.
  • Ads? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wind_Walker (83965)
    This looks suspiciously like a bit of corporate maneuvering. The linked article practically screams advertisement (giving the price of their own domain service, while defaming Verisign?)

    I'm not one to normally be conspiratorial, but I think that it's not Verisign that's sending these letters, it's their competitor, GoDaddy, making it look like Verisign is to blame.

    If it weren't for Verisign's bad maneuvers in the past, I would jump on that bandwagon immediately. Just a thought...

    • Re:Ads? (Score:3, Informative)

      by thesolo (131008)
      I'm not one to normally be conspiratorial, but I think that it's not Verisign that's sending these letters, it's their competitor, GoDaddy, making it look like Verisign is to blame.


      Please check out a good scan of the letter in question here: http://www.domainscams.com/ [domainscams.com]. It is not from GoDaddy.
  • by mark_lybarger (199098) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:42PM (#3221737)
    don't most domain name holders know who they registered with, when their time expires, and who their options are for renewal? isn't it normally a tekkie who handles the domain name administration for a company? if they really wanted to be sneaky, they'd send it to the administrative assistant to the VP of operations. this isn't any more sneaky than the 5-50$ check that AT$T sends in the mail where they switch your long dial phone service if you cash it.
  • I must say that they are the sleaziest company I have ever dealt with. I don't think I'd have any problem finding a used car salesman with higher ethical standards than Verisign.
  • It was suspicious because it didn't list all of my domains. It listed two of my three domains. Those two pointed to sites, the third does not.

    So their selection/identification has some basis on actual use.

  • I avoid VeriSign... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stevel (64802) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:45PM (#3221759) Homepage

    I'd say that VeriSign is the Microsoft of registrars, but that would be an insult to Microsoft. VeriSign has screwed up billing and renewal of various domains of mine four times in the past - after the last fiasco, in which they triple-charged me for a single two-year renewal their web site told me was not processed, and which they had already told me they couldn't do because my domain had (afterwards) been transferred to eNom [enom.com], it took me three months and a letter to my bank disputing the charges to get my money back. I now use eNom for all my registrations. (Yes, I know there are cheaper choices...)

    However, I get the last laugh.. When the domain involved in that triple-renewal came up for renewal this year, eNom told me that VeriSign's database had the domain as having been extended for six years - it didn't a year ago when I had the mess with them - so I was all set through 2008! I wrote them to explain what happened - they thanked me for being honest and said that it was more trouble than it was worth to "correct" the situation...

  • Others do it as well (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iammichael (90526) on Monday March 25, 2002 @12:46PM (#3221774)
    I've gotten numerous letters from various registrars trying to get me to renew with them. None of them were very straightforward about the fact that they weren't my current registrar. Luckily, I know better (what's weird is that my domain is registered for the next 10 years, and some registrars still think it was expiring this year).

    On a slightly related issue, I got a phone call a month or so ago from "The Domain Support Group". They tried telling me that since I owned a .com domain, I had early access to a .info or something like that. They repeatedly implied that they were just a support group calling, and not a company named "The Domain Support Group".

    Paraphrasing a bit...

    Who would be the registrar for the domain?
    "We would be"

    And who are you?
    "We're your friendly Domain Support Group"

    So you're not my current registrar?
    "We're the domain support group".

    Are you the same company as my existing registrar?
    "Uh, no."

    Yeah... so, I filed a complaint with the FTC.
    • My company got a call from these folks as well. Actually the old contact for our domain got the call (since NetSol doesn't seem to update their Whois info often). The voice mail message got forwarded down the chain of command to me. It immediately sent up blaring sirens and red flags in my head and I did a Google search for "Domain Support Group." (With the quotes.)

      Found this page with some info:

      http://www.carr-ferrell.com/pubs/html/dotinfonotic e.html [carr-ferrell.com]

      I also found out that this scam is similar to another scam that took place last year from "Electronic Domain Name Monitoring." A Google Search on that name came up with the following FTC page:

      http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2001/02/morgenstern.htm [ftc.gov]

      The interesting thing is that both last year's scam and the current one seem to be based out of Toronto, Canada. Looks like the same guy's at it again.

  • They have access to Whois, they know which accounts are ready to expire, so they send out a renewal notice attempting to get you to switch. I know I registered via godaddy, I can see the Verisign logo, andyone who is "fooled" by this deserves what they get.

    Now if they sent this out under the premise that they (verisign) were godaddy THEN this would be a valid complaint.
  • Okay, is it just me or does anyone else find this just a little funny (in a sick, unethical way)? I mean, sure it's wrong of Verisign to try and trick people into doing business with them. On the other hand, if people/companies have such poor records management that they don't even notice it then they've got bigger problems than Verisign
  • These things can never be said often enough:
    • Verisign is an awful company

    • Network "Solutions" is an awful company



    These letters from Verisign/Netsol border on fraud.
  • This is total bullshit. I just got one of these in the mail today, and if GoDaddy (my registrar) hadn't warned me about it a few days ago, I may have filled it out and sent Verisign $30.

    This is an incredibly sketchy practice on the part of Verisign and it pissed me off (as I'm sure it does many of you). Imagine if the U.S. government or IRS sent notices like this that said "Warning: If you don't send us X amount of dollars by March 31st, you will be in danger of facing criminal prosecution".

    I mean, this is essentially what Verisign is doing, but the fact that they're a bunch of uber-capitalist business pigs^H^H^H^Hmen, it is somehow legal.

    m o n o l i n u x :: Have You Had Your Linux News Today? [monolinux.com]
    • This is an incredibly sketchy practice on the part of Verisign and it pissed me off (as I'm sure it does many of you). Imagine if the U.S. government or IRS sent notices like this that said "Warning: If you don't send us X amount of dollars by March 31st, you will be in danger of facing criminal prosecution".

      Actually, they do. But it's 15 April, not 31 March.

  • We've received numerous calls from customers of ours regarding this issue as well. We've posted a sample of one of these Verisign notices at:

    <a href="http://domainscams.com">http://domainscam s.com</a>.

    There's also a good thread on the OpenSRS discuss-list mailing list. <a href="http://www.opensrs.org/archives/discuss-list /0203/">OpenSRS discuss-list archive.</a>

    What is disturbing to me with this is that while similar renewal scams have been running for some time, these have usually been run from small time registration service providers like Domain Registry of America/Canada. This one is from Verisign, and they've the money behind them to hit a lot of domain holders with this.

    Their notice also includes a reply date which is timed 40 days following the expiry date of the domain, the day that most other registrars will drop the domain if not renewed.,

    The notice itself is entitled Domain Name Expiration Notice, and looks as close to a renewal form as possible.

    If you have received one of these & paid it, you should contact your bank/credit card company about reversing the charge. Verisign won't be able to complete the transfer without you authorising it by an email that is sent to the existing admin email contact for your domain.

    You may also want to visit http://www.usps.com and in the search box type in "false billing". You will find the first result link is for: "False Billing Schemes Against Business".

    "Notify your local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector if you receive a questionable invoice or have been taken in a false billing scheme. This will help postal inspectors protect other companies with weak controls."
  • by thesolo (131008) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Monday March 25, 2002 @01:02PM (#3221873) Homepage
    Things like this are exactly why I no longer use Verisign/NetSol as my registrar. However, unfortunately this not their only dirty trick.

    Aside from this, which is very similar to long-distance carrier slamming, Verisign also has a nasty habit of holding onto domains/not allowing customers to transfer their own domains. I know several people who were forced to wait for MONTHS for Verisign to finally go ahead and transfer their domains to another registrar, and that was only after repeated calls to them. Verisign's own transfer process was completely ignored, in the hopes of squeezing another $35 out of the billing contact.

    Verisign also uses deceptive overbilling; if you register a domain with them for a year, come renewal time, they will send you a renewal bill for $70 or more! Of course, only in the very fine print do they tell you that it's $35 a year, so they are trying to make you renew for 2+ years. Yes, you can select 1 year, but they should not default to 2 years unless you previously paid for 2 years. It is very carefully worded to make it look like you actually owe them $70+.

    Lastly, they make it ridiculously tough to modify your own contact information for a domain. I had a domain which was registered in my name, and with an email address that was now expired. So, you have to fax them a paper requesting a change of email address. Fine, no problem there. However, I had to send them nine faxes before it got changed. I would call to followup the fax, and they would repeatedly claim that it was never received. It took over 3 1/2 months for me to get an email address changed on a domain contact!! Of course, if you sign up for their expensive premium services, it only takes a day; glad to know where regular customers stand with Verisign.

    I recommend that anyone who does use them to switch elsewhere. A company like Verisign/NetSol does not deserve our business.
    • Lastly, they make it ridiculously tough to modify your own contact information for a domain.

      Amen! I had a similar experience. I had my contact information on my URateIt.com domain name set for my parent's house (where I lived at the time). I moved from Long Island to Albany and attempted to update my contact info.

      Fill out the e-mail form, pretty easy, right? Except that NetSol kept claiming that I was filling it out incorrectly. I called them and the rep said they'd e-mail me instructions. I should have stayed on the phone because the instructions they sent were the ones I just finished telling her didn't work!!! (Tried it again just to be sure and surprise surprise it didn't work again.) Finally (for unrelated reasons), I changed web hosts and someone at my new web host had good contacts in NetSol and was able to update my address. This took FOUR MONTHS!

      A few months later I found out about, and signed up with DirectNIC. It's only $15 a year (not $35) and they have an online account manager where I can update my info, change the domain name servers the domains point to, renew my domains, etc. And the few times I've had problems with them (very few, could probably count them on one hand), they resolved it quick and easy.

      I'm now in the process of moving my companies domain names to DirectNIC. And sure enough, Verisign/NetSol bungled the first transfer we sent through. I was told that "it takes a month to transfer domains" and that "all managers are in meetings right now." (When I asked to speak to a supervisor.) Had my boss call them back and force a better answer from them.

  • Verisign routinely sends renewal requests for domains that have been transferred from them to another registrar. At best, it's terrible business practice. At worst, it's highly deceptive.
  • ever since network solutions turned into verisign they've begun to suck like everyone else. i'm assuming these guys, just like every other registrar, is using 'whois' in order to get their information. interesting that they expect other people to abide by their own server's "information clause" and while disregard everyone else's:

    By submitting a WHOIS query, you agree to use this Data only for lawful purposes and that under no circumstances will you use this Data to: (1) allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission of mass unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via e-mail, telephone, or facsimile;

    i know people who work for <a href=alldomains.com>alldomains</a> and they say they use the same technique, knowledgably and with complete disregard for the law. i get a courtesy calls often concerning my domains from other registrars. can we crack down on these guys? or should we just find them and physically hurt them?

    by the way, why is crsnic's whois server still screwed up? do a lookup on any major site with it, like microsoft.com, and you get all these BS listings obviously made by someone who hacked them. i don't get it. it's been like that for months!
  • My office mate got a similar letter from another registrar and sent them a check. He's still trying to get the money back. He just assumed cause it said he needed to renew he did.

    I'm trying to read the fine print at the bottom.
    It looks like it says "by signing the reverse side of this form, you hereby authorize to transfer the registration of your domain name(s) from your current registrar to Verisign, renew your domain name registration for a period of one year from the current record expires date, and charge your credit card for this order."

    So, it clearly states what you are doing. But why is it so easy to transfer to Verisign?

    I just let my domain lapse (not that it was doing much anyway) because I watned to get away from Verisign and it was a nightmare the hurdles you had to jump through.

    Good think we have ICANN looking out for us...er...well for something.
  • This issue was already discussed [kuro5hin.org] on K5 [kuro5hin.org], a while ago, for anyone interested in seeing the discussion there.
  • At least I assume that's what the writer at Go Daddy was doing when he suggested protesting to ICANN about it. Like they care!

    TWW

  • by Jace of Fuse! (72042) on Monday March 25, 2002 @01:15PM (#3221954) Homepage
    So how is this different from the mail I got from several other Registrars?

    I just now sorted through this month's mail, did my bills, and threw away a ton of junk. In my sorting, I had TWO paper mails from other registrars telling me that my domain was about to expire and that in order to keep them I had to re-register them. Well, guess what? I'm registered with Verisign, but both of the letters were from other Registrars. One of which was Registrar of America (or something like that). They're both in the trash now, but the point is, Verisign isn't the only one guilty of it.
    • by bani (467531)
      Just because others do it doesn't mean it's OK for verisign to do it too.

      Every registrar using these deceptive and illegal practices should be fined and/or shutdown by the FTC.
  • This happened to my company a few weeks ago, and I was hopping it was just me;

    It happened about a week after we transfered registrars. we started getting renewal notices about or domains even though they were paid up until December. The Verisign people said that it was a "glitch" and that there was nothing they could do to effect a domain name once it had left their ownership.
  • Class Action (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wytcld (179112) on Monday March 25, 2002 @01:21PM (#3221992) Homepage
    Of course it makes no sense for one person who's lost perhaps $15 by paying too much - and ended up with much worse customer service, but still - to sue. Unless that person becomes lead claimant in a class action suit on behalf of at least everyone who has suckered for this scam, plus perhaps everyone who has wasted valuable business time urgently asking employees or consultants why the renewal hasn't been "taken care of," or assuring bosses or clients that the notice - from the best-known name in the business - is a fraud.

    Not to mention that it perpetuates the notion that anything dot.com related is suckersville - but I guess you can't sue for making the neighborhood look bad.

    Still, if none of the lawyers reading this can frame it as a rich class action, we need to attract a brighter class of lawyers.
    ____
  • by toast0 (63707) <slashdotinducedspam@enslaves.us> on Monday March 25, 2002 @01:24PM (#3222013) Homepage
    on the page w/ the recievers name and address, it clearly has the verisign logo, and the instructions have for step 3..

    Sign the form to authorize your renewal, transfer and payment.
    It also clearly states the renewal rate and additionally, it has a section of inputs for 'Renewal and Transfer Authorization'

    The fine print didn't really come through the scanner very well, so i have no idea what that says.

    In any case, if you bother to read the mail, its not deceptive at all. I don't think its the greatest way to advertise, and it certainly doesn't encourage me to use verisign directly again, but theres nothing improper about it.

    • by bani (467531)
      This is exactly as if you were subscribed to e.g Sprint as your long distance carrier, and then all of a sudden you start getting "past due" bills from MCI.

      1) MCI has NO BUSINESS sending me "bills".
      2) It's deceptive.
      3) It's illegal.
      4) The FTC *has* spanked companies over issues like this.

      Why should verisign get away with it, just because "others do it too"?

      Using that logic, M$ should be let off the hook just because "other companies violate federal law too".
  • There are a variety of companies that do this, that have been doing it longer than Verisign. Maybe you (whomever) has just never got them before but this is nothing new to Verisign. There jsut as stupid for taking up the practice because I lose all respect for companies taht operate in this manner (and may switch my Verisign registrations because of it). But in general this seems to smell of a particular kid of /. whine....

    -shpoffo
  • I got a letter too. It says to fax it back to
    1-866-234-4134, or call 1-800-810-6298 if I have questions.

    I think I'll mail the letter back just to be sure, and *boy* do I have questions.
  • Switch away (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hether (101201) on Monday March 25, 2002 @01:50PM (#3222193)
    One of my husband's relatives got a letter like that from Verisign. He was previously with NetSol. and hadn't even noticed the offer was from a different company. He just wanted to know what to do with it. I switched him to Doster. A helluva lot cheaper and easier to work with than either of the other two.

    I guess I didn't consider the letter deceptive because it referred to transfering and the poor uncle just thought it was from his regular host to begin with. He had no idea what their name was.
  • I dunno... I'd think that anybody who signs their name on the line right below where it says, "Renewal and Transfer Authorization," can probably figure it out.
  • by Wakko Warner (324) on Monday March 25, 2002 @01:54PM (#3222239) Homepage Journal
    ...for one of my domains. It's actually pretty obvious that it's a transfer application, but I can see how it might confuse some people. It's just a single sheet of paper that you write your name on, check a couple of boxes to renew (and transfer your domain to them), and print your credit card info on.

    I guess if NetSol wants "what--the--fuck.com", they can have it.
  • i worked for a large company (read: s&p500 listing) that, as one of their services, did web hosting for small businesses - handling the domain registration and renewal internally. boy, did we start getting angry phone calls when people thought their domains were going to expire (and we weren't going to renew them inclusive to their contract/fee.)

    doesn't internic have a policy of conduct for domain name registrars? i seem to remember there being a lot of concern when they broke the netsol monopoly that the 'alternatives' would provide poor customer service and business ethics. who's the pot, and who's the kettle NOW?
  • but it's still dishonest.

    They are OBVIOUSLY banking on deception to get them more money. Otherwise, why be so obscure?

    It's in bad faith. It's deceptive. They should
    be punished.
  • smells fishy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I own a domain with [thedomainname].net
    Last year, when I was eyeing on [thedomainname].com that was registerred at verisign and already expired for like 4 and half months, i noticed something odd.

    I emailed verisign asking why they are not releasing the domain since it has been expired for almost 5 months. They replied saying that there's some disputes with the domain. But by the next day, the domain is handed to some person, and it's up for sale. And guess who got a first solicitation for that?

    Also I noticed that if we do a lot of whois to a domain name, netsol will not release the domain even if it expired for a long while (more than 5 months).....

  • I knew right away something was fishy since it was addressed to "Jason." Yes, the idiots forgot to put my last name on the envelope. A quick look inside turned up that it was from NetSol and not my real registrar, DirectNIC. (Plus, it was for a domain name that I had just renewed with DirectNIC a week ago.) I'm so glad to be rid of Network Solutions. (And I'm spreading the joy by moving my company's domain names away from them.)
  • by intuition (74209) on Monday March 25, 2002 @02:02PM (#3222334) Homepage
    If you look at the image [godaddy.com] of the letter you will see that they blocked out the address, but not the postnet barcode.

    To my eyes the POSTNET barcode looks like this to me : (where t represents a tall bar and s a short one)

    t ttsss sstst sstts stsst tssst ssstt ssstt sstst ststs sstst ststs tssts t

    This decodes into 0 2 3 4 7 1 1 2 5 2 5 8.

    which is ZIP+4+2: 02347-1125-25 Checksum 8

    The way the POSTNET checksum value is given by (10-((Summation of all digits) Mod 10)). The total of our digits 02347112525 = 32... (10-(32 mod 10)) = 8. The checksum is valid and our decoding is probably successful.

    Next step... head to the usps [usps.com] website to find that 02347 is in Lakeville, MA. Mind you, a ZIP+4+2 code in most cases is a unique address. However, the USPS is not going to make this easy for us.

    Lets try our friend Google instead... searching [google.com] for 02347-1125 give us the personal web site of Steve Douillette [steve-d.com].

    But how can we be sure that this is the letter Mr. Douillette recieved and diligently forwarded to godaddy to warn other customers? I wonder where [internic.net] Steve registered his domain name steve-d.com.

    If you want to be anonymous, please be careful with what you post online.
    • This decodes into 0 2 3 4 7 1 1 2 5 2 5 8.

      which is ZIP+4+2: 02347-1125-25 Checksum 8

      The way the POSTNET checksum value is given by (10-((Summation of all digits) Mod 10)). The total of our digits 02347112525 = 32... (10-(32 mod 10)) = 8. The checksum is valid and our decoding is probably successful. post online.

      I know that this is just being picky, but....the check digit cannot be as described above, since if you had the number 02347112523, then using your method you would have a check digit of 10. This is obviously two digits and not one. One can only assume that this s meant to be 0, therefore leading to the checksum digit being computed as follows:
      (10 - ( (Summation of digits - 1) Mod 10 ) - 1)
      This means that your example would be (10 - ((32 - 1) Mod 10) - 1) = 8, and my example would give (10 - ((30 - 1) Mod 10) - 1) = 0.

      Having said that, I want to take nothing away from the the wonderfully instructive example that you gave on how to use/abuse this information! :-) I along with many other slashdotters stand in awe :-)

  • That's Verisign's motto. I guess honesty and integrity don't aren't part of trust.
  • by dstone (191334) on Monday March 25, 2002 @02:26PM (#3222548) Homepage
    Looking at the letter [godaddy.com] it is very unclear that you are signing up with a different registrar.

    Okay, Verisign is a lousy registrar and their service sucks. But their letter is reasonably clear, I think. Click on the link to that letter and you'll quickly see:
    1. A nice clear Verisign logo. (duh)
    2. The words "Transfer Authorization" just above where you sign.

    Anyone who can't see those two things in black & white simply isn't up to the responsibility of being the administrative contact for a domain. I still dislike and distrust Verisign, but if the person in charge of my domains didn't clearly see that as a TRANSFER to VERISIGN, then they'd be out of a job.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday March 25, 2002 @03:20PM (#3222978) Homepage
    It's illegal to send out a solicitation that looks like a bill. And the rules on that were tightened up recently. See the relevant sections of the postal regulations. [usps.gov] There are some very specific requirements on sending out stuff that looks like bills. Like "THIS IS NOT A BILL", in 30-point type. See below.
    • Any otherwise mailable matter that reasonably could be considered a bill, invoice, or statement of account due, but is in fact a solicitation for an order, is nonmailable unless it conforms to 1.2 through 1.6. A nonconforming solicitation constitutes prima facie evidence of violation of 39 USC 3005. Compliance with this section does not avoid violation of Section 3005 if any part of the solicitation or any information with it misrepresents a material fact to the addressee (e.g., misleading the addressee about the identity of the sender of the solicitation or about the nature or extent of the goods or services offered may be a violation of Section 3005).
    • 1.2 Required Disclaimer
      The solicitation must bear on its face either the disclaimer required by 39 USC 3001(d)(2)(A) or the notice: THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER. The statutory disclaimer or the alternative notice must be displayed in conspicuous boldface capital letters of a color prominently contrasting with the background against which it appears, including all other print on the face of the solicitation and that are at least as large, bold, and conspicuous as any other print on the face of the solicitation but not smaller than 30-point type (see Exhibit 1.2).
    • 1.3 Surrounding Matter
      The notice or disclaimer required by this section must be displayed conspicuously apart from other print on the page immediately below each portion of the solicitation that reasonably could be construed to specify a monetary amount due and payable by the recipient. It must not be preceded, followed, or surrounded by words, symbols, or other matter that reduces its conspicuousness or that introduces, modifies, qualifies, or explains the required text, such as "Legal Notice Required by Law."

    If you get a solicitation that looks like a bill, and you don't see those disclaimers in huge type, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. [usps.com]

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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