Uniregistry has backtracked on its plan to hike renewal fees on thousands of domain name registrations.
CEO Frank Schilling described the U-turn, which followed a ferocious backlash from domain investors, as “the right thing to do”.
The company had announced price increases across 16 of its 27 gTLDs that in one case exceeded 3,000% but in many more cases represented increases in the hundreds of percent.
The increases were to apply to new and renewing registrations, and Schilling had said that they were necessary to keep the affected TLDs afloat.
But domainers were furious, taking to blogs and message boards to announce and decry the death of all new gTLDs.
Leading registrar Go Daddy soon said that it would no longer sell Uniregistry TLDs, at least temporarily.
But yesterday Uniregistry announced a change of heart, providing an unusually detailed account of the thought process leading to the price increases that’s worth quoting at length.
“The registration providers we consulted reported that differentiating prices based on the time of the registration was technically difficult and confusing for customers,” said Bret Fausett, head of the Registry Services Team. “Based on that feedback, and considering the small number of registrants affected, we made the difficult decision to raise prices for all registrants.”
“After the announcement, however, we, and our registration partners, have heard clearly from our end users that the ability to register ten-years at the existing price does not ameliorate the pain of subsequent price increases for registrants facing substantial price increases,” said Mr. Fausett. “So, for the names in our highest-priced tiers, the price changes will affect only new registrations. We are asking our registration partners to do whatever is necessary to enable this approach.”
“Creating a legacy tier of prices for inaugural registrants in our niche, premium top-level domains is technically more difficult,” said Frank Schilling, Managing Director of Uniregistry, “but it’s the right thing to do for those pioneering individuals and companies who have staked their claims in the new Internet real estate.”
In other words, if you register a name in the affected gTLDs before September 8, your renewal fee will be at the current lower level.
Whether this will be enough to mitigate Uniregistry’s reputational damage in the domainer community remains to be seen.
But the company also said it plans to overhaul its premium names pricing by the end of the second quarter, scrapping the multi-tier pricing approach in favor of a one-size-fits-all menu.
Schilling said that price reductions will affect “millions” of reserved names and mean “hundreds of millions” of dollars of hypothetical value have been wiped from the portfolio.