back to article Would you buy a domain from Google? Industry weighs in on web giant's move

Earlier today, Google opened the doors to its Google Domains shop: its attempt to disrupt the internet domains market by going head-to-head with big daddy GoDaddy. The domain-name industry itself is meeting in Las Vegas at the NamesCon 2015 conference, so we asked a few attendees what they thought of the move. Richard Lau, …

  1. Ilgaz


    People buying from them will hope for better place in search results and it could really happen.

  2. PleebSmash

    Google may be "WalMart"

    But GoDaddy is scum.

  3. Philip Storry


    Given my experience with another big registrar recently, yes - I'd buy a domain with Google.

    My main problem with the other registrar was the lack of an obvious way to not renew a domain.

    I got plenty of reminders to renew before my domain expired, "to get the best rate". Worse rates as you approach expiration of the domain, which wasn't pleasant but also wasn't a problem as I wasn't going to renew. I didn't want the domain anymore, and I'd decided to let it expire.

    Only to get an invoice for an automatic renewal on the day of expiration. At a silly rate, of course!

    Apparently, they have an "automatic renew" option buried deep on the many links of their busy, badly layed out admin portal... And you can't turn it off except by calling a US number. (I'm in the UK, so they can get stuffed on that one.)

    They then had the cheek to point out that my credit card details had expired - which I'd noticed a month before, and chose (wisely, with hindsight) not to update.

    I took it up with their customer services via email. To their credit, they got it sorted without prompting and I now no longer have the domain. So a win there for them. But if the only thing an ex-customer respects about your business is that customer services made leaving painless, you probably have a long-term business problem.

    To be honest, it all smacked of shady business practices to me. Renewal rates creeping up has little justification given that it's a DNS entry & a credit card payment. The lack of a "don't renew" option was odd. The automatic renewal that isn't mentioned and you can't turn off without calling someone is dodgy, given that you can change everything else about the domain whilst logged in to the admin portal. (Don't tell me it's for security to prevent domain hijacking - with my admin credentials, they can just point it at another IP address anyway.)

    So why tell me it's expiring on $date and do the hard sell when you're going to renew anyway?

    This was the last domain I had with that provider. I'll not be using them again. (I have a bunch of domains with two other providers, so I do have other experiences to compare them with.)

    I'm pretty sure Google's offering will be better. Based on my previous dealing with buying things from them, I'd expect clear and simple portals for administration, and more transparency in the way they handle the transactions.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Yes.

      Did you read the terms and conditions? Most services that I use have this, telephone, mobile phone, gym membership, ADAC membership, gas, water, electricity, that I have used, always have automatic renewal. In the T&Cs you generally have to cancel the contract within 3 months of the end of the contract term, otherwise it will be automatically extended for another year or another contract term.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes.

        Which registrar was it? I use Namecheap, personally and for most of my clients and have been happy with them for more than a decade. Also their support is petty good.

        1. Philip Storry

          Re: Yes.

          I'm not going to name them, as my experience may be atypical. The plural of anecdote isn't data, I just wanted to state that things could be improved (from my experience).

          Although I will say that their name is quite similar to this website's... ;-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yes.

            Fair enough. There are a few dodgy registrars around; including some that register names you're thinking of buying so they can clip you on the price. Like I say, never had a problem with Namecheap that wasn't caused by me being gormless. I also use Crazydomains for Australian stuff, again with no problems so far (their online tools are a little more basic than Namecheap, but everything you need is there). Nominet are a bit sketchy...their site only displays controls that you never want to use and I find it really difficult to do things that you do want to do.

            Just some general tactical advice: I find it better to keep domains and hosting separate because you're *far* more likely to get into a dispute with your webhosts than your registrar. If your domains are separate, you just re-point the nameservers and you can be back in business somewhere else within hours; whereas if you have to extract the domains from a webhost the whole process is more complicated and time-consuming. Just a general tip.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Yes.

              Just some general tactical advice: I find it better to keep domains and hosting separate because you're *far* more likely to get into a dispute with your webhosts than your registrar. If your domains are separate, you just re-point the nameservers and you can be back in business somewhere else within hours; whereas if you have to extract the domains from a webhost the whole process is more complicated and time-consuming.

              I totally agree.

              One of the chappies quoted in the article said that small businesses don't want a domain. They want a solution. And I sort of agree, we don't have the time (or in most cases the knowledge) to manage all this nasty IT stuff, and so outsourcing either locally or cloud are the only solutions.

              But our domain name is vital. It's our website and our email. The loss of emails would be critical - as many of our customers might only contact us once a year. The advantage of a separate domain name is that if the worst-comes-to-the-worst (either a technical screw-up or dispute) I can point our domain at gmail or something. Or if we lose the website I'm sure I could get a placeholder one up in a couple of hours and point the domain at that too.

      2. Philip Storry

        Re: Yes.

        I did read the T&C's, a decade ago when the domain was registered.

        They've no doubt changed since, though.

        However, I don't think your analogy holds. My issue isn't with the automatic renewal as such - it's that it's hidden from you, and that the domain in question was clearly flagged in their web portal as "expiring soon".

        Even on the last day, there was no mention in their interface of an automatic renewal, and it looked very much like the domain was not going to renew. And there was no provided way to cancel - the interface allowed you to renew, but not to cancel. No "don't renew" option, and plenty of emails telling me I should renew - so the implication is that if I don't renew, I lose the domain. (Which is what I wanted.)

        That, combined with the repeated renewal rate rises, makes me know exactly how valued my custom is.

        My mobile phone contract, for example, does indeed just renew after each term. But the bill doesn't go up suddenly because I took no action to renew and instead just let that happen... (At least, it hasn't in the 18 years I've had a mobile, across two providers.)

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Yes.

          I agree with you, Philip, that it is a poor show to have auto renewal hidden away and no way to disable it and this stinks of sharp practice.

          On the other hand, caveat emptor, I always look at the T&Cs when I'm looking to cancel, to make sure I don't get caught out by an auto-renewal etc.

          I guess you've learnt, that companies will always try and pull the wool over your eyes, when it comes to sucking money out of you. ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes.

      Sounds exactly like Virgin Mobile. You can easily sign up online and get a very nice price for cell service as long as you give them a credit card and sign up for auto-pay. Try and cancel service, there's no way to do it online, you have to call and make nice with a customer "loyalty" rep.

      This is all business as usual in the modern world.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They'll be hoovering data at the domain level. That's a 'nope' from me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They already do that with Google Analytics. Burn your tin foil hat

      1. Ole Juul

        Google surveillance

        No tin foil hat needed. To me it's simply a matter of principle. And yes, Google Analytics is already over the top for my comfort. I don't put all my eggs (or in this case identity information) in one basket. Google knows too much about people. If you give them your credit card, street address and phone number as well, then that's just simply too much for them to have. I say NO!

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google surveillance


          So you have a problem with sites reading the information that your browser freely provides whenever you visit those sites?

          Well you know what to do then, don't you?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google surveillance

            I don't use Google Analytics on any of my sites and I block it for my personal browsing. Your point AC?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Knowing Google

    Anyone that does will receive targeted ads for evry DNS lookup against the domain name.

  6. Kev99 Silver badge

    Maybe Google should work harder at getting its own networks in place as well so the existing ISP might quit charging the stars for providing so-so service.

  7. Furbian

    Google blocked me from buying an 80p App until I gave them a copy of my passport.

    Well that's pretty it that, I can't even if I wanted to. In the meantime I use fasthosts, not for hosting but just for domain management, and it's been OK, I get reminders when a card is about to expire, I update the details and life carries on. Actually that reminds me, it was updating an expired card on Google Checkout (as it was back then) that caused the Google block in the first place, if you're bored, you can read about it here :-

    Oh I've been using Amazon App store since for paid apps, which is OK apart from most Apps needing a wi-fi connection to work, i.e. no using most Amazon Apps on a flight etc.

    1. Stephen 2

      Re: Google blocked me from buying an 80p App until I gave them a copy of my passport.

      Google also asked me to send off a wealth of information / proof of ID.

      I bought something and it went through fine. A few days later I got an email from Google Wallet saying my purchase failed. Now whenever I try to use anything that requires Google Wallet, it tells me I have to send over lots of documentation/ID etc.

      Google Domains is only available for US customers.

      So Google Wallet + US only = Another crappy service that will fail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google blocked me from buying an 80p App until I gave them a copy of my passport.

        They also break stuff if you don't play along. Creating an account with Google Play tags that machine to whatever data they can extract from you. I have an Andoid tablet that has never been near Google play and a lot of Google stuff (notably YouTube) is broken on it. Fair enough in a sense...I'm not playing along so why should they be nice to me; but the fact that they put the effort into breaking stuff seems a bit wanky to me.

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Google is DNS for most people

    Ordinary people browse the web by typing the site name into the browser bar. If it isn't in their history it goes to Google - as far as they are concerned that is the web.

    Nobody who doesn't know Vint Cerf's phone number ever types a full url.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google is DNS for most people

      I can't say I know Vint Cerf's phone number either but I'm still in the habit of typing full URLs… back in 1996 there wasn't any real alternative.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Google is DNS for most people

        And back in 1991 I used to email /etc/hosts files to other universities - we had no DNS

        But the point is that google could run a whole separate internet without needing a .google simply by relying on all chrome and android users by default and anyone else putting the name into the search bar.

  9. Mike Flugennock

    So, judging from the glowing comments from industry big-shots...

    ...this will likely turn out to be the dick move of the decade.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd give them...

    ...5 years before I think about it.

    1. it will be in beta no doubt until then.

    2 after 5 years it will either come of beta or be dropped with little notice and your on your own.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real winner though is the end user.

    oh, it's like google replacing old-style monopolists, user wins. Right.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    one positive thing, maybe

    google entry might kick godaddy in their fat, fat arse, to do something about their God-awful website and admin panels design. That said, they can always try hard. And make it even worse.

    oh, and remove phone support, cause removing email support only got them half-way there, wherever the "there" is.

  13. agricola

    "Would you buy a domain from Google?"

    You, El Buzzard, are mightily concerned with internet security, right?

    Well, I also am, and that is the reason I refuse to buy, use, or have anything to do with any product or service remotely associated with Google.

    And before all you sheep weigh in with how much I am missing out on by not using Android phones, Chromebooks, Google+, and ANY Google sevice, I have one piece of advice--which is woefully too late, and which is a tantamount to casting pearls before swine: learn to think for yourselves.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can you say "monopoly"?

    Seriously, how quickly will this get stepped on by the various monopoly commissions? Are Google trying to have an ongoing relationship with the DoJ and EC?

    And just wait till Google domain owners get preferential listings.....

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