There are dozens of registrars, people who will handle the business of registering a domain name for you. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need one, but the people ultimately in charge of the domains you want set things up so that in reality, you do.
For example, it’s possible to register a .co.uk domain directly with Nominet, the people who run them. It’s just that they will charge you £96. If you are a member, as any registrar offering .co.uk domains is, the amount Nominet charges them drops to £6, and so they’ll do it for you for about £8*.
Ever since one of the early registrars prepared to deal with the public – freeparking.co.uk – fucked up a renewal, costing me a much loved domain name about ten years ago, I have used 123-Reg.co.uk but I am currently wondering why.
In January, I noticed that according to their system a particular domain should have been renewed a week ago. ‘Eeek,’ I think, ‘I don’t want to lose it, I had better renew it now! I wonder why it wasn’t renewed automatically…’ Fortunately, just before pressing the ‘pay’ button, I check the details with Nominet and discover that it’s not due for renewal for another year and eight months. Using 123-Reg’s support service sorts that out, eventually.
Yesterday, I had a PayPal email regarding a payment to 123-Reg. Looking at the amount, it’s a .com domain for a year. ‘Ah, I must have forgotten to renew one and it’s done it automatically,’ I think, ‘How nice’.
Except that today, I had another PayPal email regarding another payment to 123-Reg. Looking at the amount, I go ‘What the fuck?!’ as it is for rather more, and I know that I have not either registered or forgotten to renew anything today. ‘That’s interesting, I haven’t had the usual invoice emailed to my account’s email address for either of these…’
It turns out that yesterday, they renewed a domain – without being asked or sending me any email about it – that does not need renewing until next June. Then today they renewed it again, this time for another three years. Had this not been done via PayPal, but done via a direct debit or card, I would not have had any notification of this until a statement arrived, possibly nearly two months later.
I am waiting to see what the response to my email to them is. I still like their control panel** but this is twice in one year that their system has decided to make an error to their advantage. And that’s twice too many.
So if you have any domains registered via them, keep a very very close eye on your accounts.
Update: They say that they renew domains for the same number of years as they were originally registered for. Which is fine, but the domain in question wasn’t originally registered for four years and thus even more shouldn’t have been renewed for five (one in June plus one plus three in successive days in July)!
I have had a refund for the big payment, but I am still interested in hearing how good the control panels for gandi.co.uk and portfast.co.uk are… Moving .co.uk domains between registrars is fairly simple.
* The difference between that and what you pay the registrar is partly their profit, partly the costs of membership, and partly the cost of having the systems that should make it easy for you to do it.
** The website interface to manage your domains – it is much easier to get it to do what you want than the pain that is GoDaddy’s.