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101domain shifts blame to Google as premium buyers offered 50% discount

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2014, 12:00:22 (UTC), Domain Registrars

101domain has offered a 50% discount to customers that were sold premium new gTLD domains for a vastly reduced price, and has tried to shift some of the blame to the registry, Google.

The offer was made in a letter (pdf) to affected registrants — previously hit with delayed invoices for thousands of dollars for domains they bought for $12.99 — sent yesterday.

It indicates that the registrar is prepared to eat at least part of its pricing error on both first-year registrations and subsequent annual renewals.

101domain told customers:

  • You now have until June 23, 2014 to make a decision whether to delete the name or pay for the premium name.
  • If you want to keep the name(s), 101domain will offer you a 50% discount on the first year premium price and a 25% discount on premium annual renewals.
  • If you give up your name(s), we will give you a credit on 101domain.com for any future purchases equal to 25% of the price of the premium name.

Previously, affected registrants had been told to pay up or have their domains deleted the following day.

As we reported last week, almost 50 domains in Google’s .みんな (“.everyone”) were sold for $12.99, despite some being earmarked by the registry as “premiums” with annual fees of up to $7,000.

In its letter to customers yesterday, 101domain characterized Google’s system for handling premiums as non-standard and difficult for registrars to work with.

Google’s list of premium names was circulated to registrars via an email, and the registry had no EPP commands for checking out whether a name was premium in real-time, the registrar says.

There was also no way for registrars to prevent the registration of premiums and no way to check with the registry for premium sales, it added.

It seems clear from the letter that the discounts now on offer mean that if registrants choose to keep their names they’ll be getting them at less than the registry fee — 101domain will eat the difference.

We contacted Google and requested them to work with us on the matter since we felt strongly that both sides were responsible to right the situation. Google offered no assistance other than extending the date to delete the names — telling us it was our problem.

Despite this seemingly generous response to domainer outrage, at the least one affected customer is not impressed.

In an email to DI last night the original registrant that first alerted us to the pricing problem described the latest 101domain offer as “lame”.

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Comments (26)

  1. sugarplum says:

    It is simply wrong to say that the offer is generous. It IS lame and I hope everybody affected will reject it.

    We’ve already paid for our domains. Period.

    I urge everybody affected to reject this offer and stand up for your rights.

    • unimpressed says:

      lets get together and move forward no this!

    • unimpressed says:

      cant seem to respond to your question below.. i have only one name, but i’m willing to fight this out…

      By the way, this can come and will come to bite any future registrant. The implication is that months later..they can always say..”oops… we made a mistake. Pay us an extra $1000 or whatever…”.

  2. unimpressed says:

    Very unimpressed.
    Work it out with Google… Climb the ladder higher now that you bought some time until July..

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      As a registry I don’t think we would cut any slack for registrars doing pricing wrong. Although we intend to have an option to block any non-regfee domains both from availability check and registration, in order to prevent issues like this, after the rules are settled and published, both registry and registrar need to abide by them… it would actually devalue the TLD for the registry to do what is being suggested.

      Although the reaction to this offer from the registrar is not positive, I think the registrar is walking the extra mile that someone that screwed up should do, and the ones not liking it can vote with their feet (or their lawyers).

      • unimpressed says:

        ahmm.. I am glad to see that your values are spot on… no shame these days…

        Please go buy anything in any store or in amazon online and then have it upped a month later..saying our price was wrong… WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU AND THE REST OF THE REGISTRIES?? NO SHAME AND NO VALUES??

        In my opinion it actually wouldnt devalue anything but the opposite would show the registry and registrar have the customer at their bestt interest and -at the end of the day..there are way to many new gTLD’s.. Those that give good service will prevail..
        And by the way, none of those so called premium are premium… the market is pretty much dead as of now.. and has been for a long time.. That is not where the registry makes money.. It makes money off renewals etc..

        • Rubens Kuhl says:

          For a good number of registries, premium pricing is not about making revenue, is about reducing arbitrage by getting the price of a name on par with its market value. If the value is not there as you say, then the market will end up correcting the price.

          Reducing domain investing activity promotes relevance of the TLD, and relevance is the main long-term goal in this program.

          The comparison of pricing errors on goods and pricing errors on services doesn’t hold. If a hosting provider billed you $1 per month and the price was $10 per month, you won’t pay $10 for the months already passed, but you will pay $10 the next month or they will suspend your service.

          • Brewster says:

            Putting aside the point about revenue versus arbitrage (as one is a means of achieving the other, not an alternative), I would suggest that a better analogy is in the rental of premises, given that for many a website is their business address/destination.

            If you agree a rent of $100/week you do so with some kind of long-term plan and with the implicit understanding that your landlord knows what he is doing. If a landlord were to suddenly turn around with no warning once you’d started spending money on the place and say that the rent is increased from $100 to $1000/week, it would of course be plainly ridiculous (and presumably contractually illegal) for any commercial venture. If your rent was multiplied by 500 as in some of these (multiplied by 500, not increased by 500%, multiplied by 500), there would rightly be uproar.

            For a lot of people, you aren’t playing with domain names and numbers on a balance sheet – you’re playing with people’s futures and have a responsibility to get the most very basic of registration tasks correct – you get the fucking price right.

          • unimpressed says:

            Like you said you wont $ pay a higer price for the months passed. The yearly bill was paid for. You argued my point better than I just did.

            You are wrong about premium names and how they help the registry… Its about use and that doesnt come by pricing premium names higher…

          • sugarplum says:

            unimpressed – how many domains do you have in dispute?

  3. Martin L says:

    .
    you forgot to link to your own original article on the issue 🙂
    .
    http://domainincite.com/16534-guy-hit-with-1600-bill-a-month-after-registering-premium-name-for-12-99
    .

  4. Ms Domainer says:

    *

    Take the offer and run, or go to court. Otherwise, you’re not going to win this fight.

    Haven’t you heard? Big money always wins.

    Even if you get your name for reg. fee for one year, the renewal will still be premium.

    Then what?

    It is my understanding that any reg. fee name in the new g’s can be a deemed a premium at any time, so if your site is successful, you may be SOL.

    The rules are basically Wild West.

    *

  5. unimpressed says:

    But that is why this industry has such a bad name.. No more wild west…
    And big money doesn’t always win…
    That attitude is what causes many times big money to win… You quit before the battle even started.. In today’s social media world even more so – big money can lose…

  6. Ms Domainer says:

    *

    unimpressed,

    Waiting for your big win against ICANN and the registries.

    Let us know when that happens.

    Waiting breathlessly…

    *

  7. Martin L says:

    the most interesting stories about ‘wins’ dont make it as far as the press that way people can keep doing business and keep relationships going. i dont even share my ‘big win’ over a beer let alone the internet 🙂

  8. Rubens Kuhl says:

    Brewster, arbitrage and revenue are too very different things.
    “In economics and finance, arbitrage (/ˈɑrbɨtrɑːʒ/) is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.”
    (Wikipedia)

    Reducing arbitrage may generate revenue, but at least in my book is not as good as a goal since it’s too short-term. Getting real end-users instead of so-called developers is my goal in preventing arbitrage. End-users bring relevance, and then long-term revenue comes along.

  9. Rich S says:

    LOL 101domain have started advertising a savings coupon on here LOL was that a “generous response” to this story? the guys at domainsherpa don’t say its a “generous response” they say that its too little too late and 101domain should eat the first year costs at the very least, watch the video from 18:12

    http://www.domainsherpa.com/discussion-20140501/

  10. Domain Angel says:

    101 domain “extortion” as Rick Schwartz called it on Domain Sherpa. 🙂

    i hope nobody is accepting there lame offer. you are NOT alone if you have told them your not interested in this silly offer.

    if your affected by it make sure you keep a copy of the whois record from google. with this and 101domains public explanation of the serious mistake they made i believe you have all the proof of their responsibility that you need to show that they owe you the domains or should pay you the revised value of the domains to take them back.

    more great tips on this issue to come in the near future.

    do not roll over people.

    domain sherpa link http://www.domainsherpa.com/discussion-20140501/comment-page-1/#comment-1055066

    • unimpressed says:

      ok..so if others are reading this.lets get together unless 101domain can come out with something better…

  11. Domain Angel says:

    ill be stoked when they come up with the goods as it wont be on my mind anymore to try and support others in there battle for a fair deal. hopefully we wont need to get together 101domain will just play fair. just hang in there brother and dont accept the bad deal.

  12. Domain Angel says:

    101domain.com “extortion” as Rick Schwartz called it on Domain Sherpa. 🙂

    i hope nobody is accepting there lame offer. you are NOT alone if you have told them your not interested in this silly offer.

    if your affected by it its worth lookingh at your contract to see what rights they have to withdraw the registration after it has taken place. The answer is: no right.

    more great tips on this issue to come in the near future.

    do not roll over people.

    domain sherpa link http://www.domainsherpa.com/discussion-20140501/comment-page-1/#comment-1055066

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