Domain Registry of America still slamming, still scamming

Kevin Murphy, October 6, 2011, Domain Registrars

Domain name slamming is alive and well in the ICANN-accredited registrar community.

I’ve just received a letter in the mail offering me the chance to transfer and renew domainincite.com for the knock-down price of £25 ($38) a year.

It’s Domain Registry of America again, still slamming almost a decade after it was first sued for the completely unethical practice of conning people into transferring their domain names.

Domain Renewal GroupThe letter looks like a renewal notice. Besides ostensibly coming from “Domain Renewal Group”, it also contains the prominent text “Domain Name Renewal Service”.

Domain Renewal Group and Domain Registry of America are one and the same – fronts for the ICANN-accredited registrar Brandon Gray Internet Services Inc, dba NameJuice.com.

The letter, as you can see from the scan, is a little less bogus than the ones DROA started sending out back in 2001. The text states now much more clearly that “this is not a bill”.

But domain slamming has always relied upon people not reading the letter properly and/or not understanding the intricacies of domain transfers, and this is no different.

DROA’s business depends upon its letters finding their way into the hands of gullible individual registrants or accounting departments that will blindly pay official-looking notices.

At the prices the company charges – pretty much the most expensive in the industry – very few people will have transferred their domains because they thought they were getting a good deal.

There have been numerous complaints and lawsuits against DROA over the last decade.

In November 2009, the UK Advertising Standards Agency found DROA in breach of truthfulness and honesty guidelines for a substantially similar mailshot and ruled:

The mailing must not appear again in its current form.

And last year, the .ca registry CIRA terminated Domain Registry of Canada, another Brandon Gray front, for slamming .ca registrants using the same methods.

So isn’t it about time ICANN shut these muppets down too?

Unfortunately, ICANN can only use contracts to enforce compliance, and I’m not sure there are any sticks in the 2001 Registrar Accreditation Agreement that it can use to beat them.

DROA has plainly breached Go Daddy’s Whois access policy by slamming me (the letter was sent to my Whois billing address, not my actual residence), but I don’t think there’s much Go Daddy can do about that short of suing.

As far as I can tell, Brandon Gray, which has about 130,000 domains under management, got its ICANN accreditation in about 2003. It was previously an eNom reseller.

So its accreditation is probably going to be up for renewal within the next couple of years.

Fortunately, ICANN has just this week introduced stricter new accreditation application rules that are specifically designed to weed out the scumbags.

Any company or individual with a track record of dishonesty is no longer welcome at ICANN.

So if there’s nothing that can be done before then, at the very least when Brandon Gray’s accreditation expires ICANN should not renew it.

What’s more, other registrars should lean on ICANN to make sure Brandon Gray is shown the door. It’s been bringing their industry into disrepute for the best part of a decade and it’s time for it to stop.