GoDaddy still violates ICANN policy--and still sleazy

Summary:GoDaddy continues to violate policy, good taste and common sense.

It's no secret that GoDaddy is a domain registrar and web hosting provider that uses sleazy marketing. It's also no secret that they have come under attack for business practices that have angered many of their customers--myself included.

Recently I had deliberately allowed a domain to expire, since I no longer used it and it wasn't worth maintaining for sentimental reasons. However, GoDaddy has a policy of spamming their customers incessantly with emails begging them to keep paying for the domain, and upsell the customer on even more services.

This continued even after the domain expired. If anything, the number of email messages trying to get me to buy back my lapsed domain increased. When I contacted support, they told me how to unsubscribe from emails; however, on the website it informs you that they are going to keep sending you more messages to buy back the domain for as long as it is associated with your customer account.

I had to actually delete the domain from my account, and even then I could not be sure that the messages would stop. Why? Because GoDaddy continually tries to upsell you on every single service.

I had been willing to overlook the bad reputation, since I had a handful of domains registered with them and never really needed to do anything special with them except renew them every year. But if you want to let one expire, the constant stream of emails to get you to reconsider, along with laundry lists of other services they want you to buy along with it, will simply not go away.

At this point I finally decided it was time to move my domains over to another registrar. One that didn't use half-naked softcore porn actresses to jiggle in their Super Bowl commercials. One whose CEO doesn't boast about how he killed an endangered, protected animal to pump up his already gigantic ego.

Hey Bob, killing protected, endangered animals is illegal

Hey Bob, killing protected, endangered animals is illegal

I had decided to move my domains to pairNIC , a smaller domain registrar that my wife had been using for several years and had nothing but good things to say about it. Online reviews bore this out, and about the only negative thing I could say about their service is that it's somewhat boring and plain. But it's very easy to use.

Consolidating my domains with my wife's account turned out to be more troublesome than I expected. For one thing, GoDaddy has a domain proxy service that allows domain holders to keep their contact information private. While this is convenient, there are two issues. One, they charge extra for this service while most other domain providers do not. Two, if you have the domain proxy service active, you cannot transfer your domain to another provider. You have to unsubscribe from the proxy service, allow your contact information to become visible again, and only then can you initiate the transfer.

I didn't really have a problem with that. What I did have a problem with turned a simply domain transfer task into a two-day aggravating war of words with GoDaddy support. You see, one of my domains had an old email address. The address, in fact, was on the domain I had recently allowed to expire, and which instigated this mess in the first place.

Here's where it gets interesting. Years back, GoDaddy instituted a policy that prevented domains from being transferred to another registrar for 60 days after the WHOIS contact information had been updated. Well, I couldn't transfer the domain without switching the contact information to a live email address.

It gets worse. ICANN, the organizational body that determines international policy for things like this on the internet, actually created a policy that prohibits a registrar from blocking transfers for making WHOIS updates. GoDaddy's response to this was to implement a so-called opt-in policy, which means in order to change your WHOIS information, you had to agree to let your domain be locked from transfer for 60 days.

Pointing this out to GoDaddy will get you nowhere. The corporate line is, "You agreed to the terms." They will not acknowledge the fact that the terms are unenforceable because they violate ICANN policy. They simply keep repeating the mantra that you chose to opt-in. I couldn't get the transfer authorization code because I had to change the email address, and I couldn't change the email address without accepting their illegal policy, which would negate the ability to transfer the domain.

This isn't the only ICANN policy they violate. A quick Google search finds plenty of shady practices they've been committing since the company was founded. There used to be a site called NoDaddy, which kept track of all of the dirty dealings, along with a message forum for visitors to relate their horror stories.

This past summer, however, GoDaddy was sold to a group of investors. Shortly after that, GoDaddy purchased the NoDaddy site, and promptly shut it down. Too bad they can't buy and shut down the Internet Archive WayBack Machine, where a cached archive of the site and its message forums reside.

I don't understand why NoDaddy would have capitulated like that, since Bob Parsons is still CEO of GoDaddy in spite of the company sale, and it's still business as usual over there.

Holding domains hostage from being transferred, from a business standpoint, is financially sound. There's less customer turnover if you make them wait for 2 months before they can take their domains away from you. By that time they are too tired to bother fighting it, or may have even forgotten about it.

I wasn't about to let them off the hook. I reported GoDaddy to ICANN, although I am not holding out hope that they will actually do anything. ICANN is notoriously lax in actually enforcing its own rules unless a major corporation or an entire country starts demanding action from them.

What finally solved the problem for me was making the domain being held hostage completely worthless to me, and therefore to them. Since it was locked anyway, I changed all of the contact info on the domain to some nasty commentary about GoDaddy. Sure it's juvenile, but considering how they had gone out of their way to give me a hard time, and did it with an air of smug satisfaction--both in email and from their support staff--I felt it was justified.

During this debacle I had discovered that the .net version of my domain had become available. It was, in fact, the one I had originally wanted when I first registered the domain. So I immediately registered it on pairNIC.

With this freedom in hand, I simply turned off the domain on GoDaddy's site. It was no longer useful. I had something better. And for the next six months, the WHOIS information is effectively giving them the finger. The only way they can change that is to violate ICANN rules again and steal the domain away from me while I am still owner of it.

Topics: Browser, Networking

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