And they add the names to your shopping cart whether they are marked to renew or not. That has to be fraud.
Colin McDermott was surprised this week to receive an invoice from the UK’s largest domain name registrar, 123-Reg, auto-billing him £11.99 for a domain name he never ordered. He wasn’t alone: Gavin Owen opened a live-chat with the company’s representatives after receiving a similar invoice for a domain name he didn’t want. …
Like the spread of Chrome, they are counting on the "unwashed masses" of domain owners to not bother fighting the bill, and the large organisations to not notice the bill.
Even in this article, it is people with only a few domains who picked up on the extra billing.
We have a co.uk, going to be keeping an eye out and warning the boss (aka Mummy), not to stump up if she's received an extra bill.
> unwashed masses
You are absolutely right. This is why I have been kicking up a stink. I am a web designer/SEO - I have 100s of domains, but was savvy enough to work out what happened. Whereas the builders/plumbers etc of the world, how many of these people will miss the emails and just pay up? It was so frustrating calling 123 Reg and Nominet initially, because they could just not get their head around the fact I did not care about my own domain names - I was calling to get something done to help other people in the same situation, people that might not even notice! Of which there could be 10,000s of people...
It seems to be a thing with organizations these days to assume you're only in it for selfish reasons. They will whittle down your complaint to just that which affected you personally. I think that's why so many complaints we read about are were the person was traumatized. It's the only way you can get them to listen is if you threaten to sue them for mental anguish or racism or something else that's trendy. Sue them for money and they give you your £15 back.
And of course it's a scam Unless they can show the contract all those people have for the .uk domain, of course. If you don't have a specific contract with them, tell them to fuck off. I'd probably also contact my MP (either in person, or dead-tree letter ... they pay no attention to email).
Actually, both my wife and I wrote to our MP, by email, complaining about the suspension of Parliament.
My wife wrote quite a rant. I wrote a more restrained email.
I got a very polite reply, by letter. My wife did not.
I suspect that he thinks that I might be persuaded to vote for him, but my wife certainly wouldn't - so why waste a reply on her?
This are illegal under UK laws dealing with unsolicited goods and so the domain names may ''be treated as an unconditional gift''.
So: if you get a bill, tell 123-reg/names-co that you do not want it, that you will not pay it and that any attempt to collect money via direct debit will be fraud. It they take money: demand that the bank return it. For good measure you could tell the scammy registrar that if you need to recover the money that you will charge £100/hour for your time, with a minimum of 1 hour.
They tried the scam to make money so hit them where it hurts by extracting even more money from them.
Since it is fraud: why not also report it to the police.
My last experience of the Police happened when one of our users had a laptop nicked. She was too distressed to do anything (she hadn't been assaulted, someone had just seen the laptop on a desk and swiped it). I called the Police, and after getting through the 999 operator and through to the local station, I was told "Here is a crime number, investigate what you can and let us know when you find something". Of course, we didn't find anything. While the room was quite well covered with CCTV, she'd picked the one desk in the room that wasn't visible on any of the cameras, and there were a lot of people in the room when the laptop went missing. None of whom saw anything.
That's a fairly accurate description of what I did after this latest round of unauthorised "automatic renewals".
I transferred all domains I'd actually chosen to purchase to another registrar last year, and a few months later received emails from 123reg regarding charges for automated renewals on said domains, which were already renewed and no longer held with them. Told them in no uncertain terms to close my account and never bother me again, seems it went unheeded.
This time they appear to have managed a partial job... I'm now getting naggy emails asking me to log in to their support portal to see the latest update on my ticket, but I can't log in as my account apparently doesn't exist. Utter clownshoes.
"Since it is fraud: why not also report it to the police."
That idea is not as stupid as it first appears. The police have a sworn under oath to God and the Queen to issue the victim with a crime number. This is then an official record that it was reported. It will then come in handy when you take the case further.
"Since it is fraud: why not also report it to the police."
That idea is not as stupid as it first appears. The police have a sworn under oath to God and the Queen to issue the victim with a crime number.
Don't remember receiving a crime number from my various reports to Action Fraud...
Sounds awful. I trust when the courts find against them that they'll be returning the money with appropriate accumulated interest.
Meanwhile, since the organisation that oversees these companies tacitly approved by withdrawing objections looks like the law ought to be investigating them too. And are there no rules against conflicts of interest with regards to folk on such organisations?
It's illegal, plain and simple.
It doesn't even matter what they put in their terms and conditions, just throwing in random new terms doesn't keep it a valid contract.
Nobody has (yet) tried it on me, but I imagine they have tried it on someone else who would happily take it on as a Sunday afternoon legal complaint as is my wont with such things.
At best, it's deceptive sales practices, which makes me question why I would continue with said company. Hell, it's basically built to mislead: "Your .UK domain name is up for renewal" contains enough to make people think they have to pay it to maintain their .co.uk domain name.
I'm sure they'll make a lot of money over it. I'm sure a lot of people will complain and not pay that part. And I'm sure one guy with nothing better to do with his day will take them to court, get those clauses invalidated, get everyone else a refund, and cause them merry hell and legal costs galore. I don't honestly understand why companies try things like this as it very, very rarely ever works out for them.
There are, however, a number of reason that I wouldn't touch either of the named companies with a barge pole - mainly from experience from my own clients many years ago who "found a cheap domain name".
It's a stupid thing to pull a con trick on your own customers.
@ Lee D: It's a stupid thing to pull a con trick on your own customers.
Unfortunately, if you look around you, you will find that it is a widespread if not near universal problem.
Think "mis-selling scandal" for a start; the banks thought they were on to a good thing with PPI sales, but it eventually blew up in their faces with enormous attendant costs. Think "penalty for loyalty" to your insurance company / ISP / telco / etc and it becomes impossible to escape the conclusion that finding a way to rip customers off is more or less a standard business model.
IIRC there was a problem (may still be one) where businesses found themselves being invoiced for inclusion in "business directories" that they didn't want. In the end businesses and customers have to be permanently looking out for the next session of whack a mole as other businesses try to find ways of depriving them of their money in payment for things they don't want or need.
Edit: thinking further about it, I don't buy much from Amazon but last time I tried I gave up because it wouldn't allow me to buy what I wanted without subscribing to Amazon Prime, which I didn't then and still don't want. I got caught by that once before and only spotted a month later; once bitten, twice shy and I won't let Amazon catch me that way again. To put it another way I simply don't trust them not to try to rip me off.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, as the French are wont to say.
"puling a con trick on your own customers" seems to have worked very nicely for the people running the "financial services" sector in the UK in recent decades, and there are plenty similar examples.
Anyway, if I was interested in getting some action on this latest incarnation of "inertia selling", I'd ignore the police (same as they and their ActionFraud call centre colleagues mostly ignore us), I'd give Trading Standards a miss (they don't have the resources even for complaints where product safety and people's lives are at stake), and maybe I'd look to raise a bit of rapid publicity (e.g. here, maybe the Daily Mail business pages, MoneySavingExpert?).
Perhaps most importantly I'd look for a way to involve what used to be called the Consumers Association (now known helpfully as Which?) - they've got the legal power to raise the equivalent of a 'class action' on some subjects.
A potentially relevant legal starting point might be the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which had "inertia selling" as a specific target.
"The 2008 regulations prohibit as a criminal offence various unfair advertising and marketing practices and in paragraph 29 of Schedule 1 make it a criminal offence to engage in "Demanding immediate or deferred payment for or the return or safekeeping of products supplied by the trader, but not solicited by the consumer, except where the product is a substitute supplied in accordance with regulation 19(7) of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (inertia selling)".
(verbage from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsolicited_goods)
If you would like to do something, make it quick, as there may be a bonfire of the red tape in early November (or maybe something more significant before then, if the remaining members of the Privy Council haven't all been sectioned in the next week or two).
"Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008"
This would apply to people who have registered personal domains. Domains for commercial purposes wouldn't be covered as consumers. Probably the best approach would be to tell the registrar you didn't want it, didn't ask for it and, if they've taken the money, tell them to refund it or you'll go to the small claims court. And, f they don't pony up, do just that. Then move the domains to a better registrar.
The only difference between Network Solutions and their free registration of .online domains and this round with Nominet is that Network Solutions didn't put it on auto-renew. Of course you had to put up with them sending the renew now followed by the begging please don't let go of 'your' domain emails but they could at least be safely ignored.
The initial proposal was based on who registered first. However, this being Nominet, they changed that to prefer co.uk over org.uk over me.uk (see https://www.nominet.uk/three-month-countdown-begins-for-third-level-uk-domain-owners-to-opt-for-uk-equivalent/).
Therefore a org.uk that had a domain for 20 years was trumped by a co.uk registered only 6 months previously.
>Therefore a org.uk that had a domain for 20 years was trumped by a co.uk registered only 6 months previously.
Wouldn't be surprised that the current 'owner'of that .co.uk is...Nominet or some other shark - bet someone out there considers your xyz... to have value when attached to a .uk
They didn't with my .co.uk domains either - I decided to take up the opt-in on my oldest domain, which is now old enough to drink (hence icon) and drowning in spam (hence icon again). I specically had to contact Support@ to take up the opt-in.
I've been with them for over a decade now, with no real problems, so icon again - cheers !
and it works in all walks of life. Gas/electricity bills, 464732364674 exciting tv channels on your contracts, because you can't be arsed to tell the suckers to fuck off and cancel the package. Ah, and the "opt out", that little funky box you need to tick. Or untick. Or untick/tick/untick (and you'll get it wrong in the end anyway, as planned). Same as 434646 pages long terms & conditions. Yeah, it works.
Difference is, you knowingly and willingly signed up for these packages. It's what 'subscription' means, and I get very tired of people who have 'forgotten' they signed up for an annual renewal, and then say 'Oh I forgot, and I've been using your service for 3 months since... I want my money back'... it isn't going to happen. Not enough people bother to actually check what they're signing up to, and thus blame everyone else for their own mistake.
In THIS case, no one signed up for anything, no one knew they were going to be charged, and in many cases no one actually used the product they were unwillingly forced to have. And as it appears there was no obvious opt-out for these domains, it is pure theft.
This won't end well for Nominet I suspect...
"you knowingly and willingly signed up for these packages. It's what 'subscription' means, and I get very tired of people who have 'forgotten' they signed up for an annual renewal, and then say 'Oh I forgot, and I've been using your service for 3 months since... I want my money back'... it isn't going to happen."
I downvoted you because the last two years I have specifically opted out of my car insurance being auto-renew, and they tried it anyway. Just because you know what subscription is, doesn't mean they don't lie to your face about it later.
I downvoted you because unlike the people that Kaltern was talking about, you actively tried to prevent the auto-renew. Your insurance company ignored your request. That is significantly different to Kaltern's discussion and as such Kaltern's post was not deserving of your downvote.
"I downvoted you because unlike the people that Kaltern was talking about, you actively tried to prevent the auto-renew. Your insurance company ignored your request. That is significantly different to Kaltern's discussion and as such Kaltern's post was not deserving of your downvote."
Yeah... what he said! *blows raspberry*.
Ok, back to grownup-ing.
At one point BT, after being with them for several years, changed me to a more expensive package on a "same price for three months" thing. I missed that letter, so when I noticed the price change and asked to be changed back to the previous tariff they insisted I could only do this by signing up to a new 12 month contract. So I did, with a different provider.
See also Sky, who have a nice move in: adding services to the package you subscribe to and increasing its price while creating a new package equivalent to the one you previously had. Don't want to pay for the extra services? Certainly sir, but you'll have to renew your contract...
The article doesn't make it clear, at least in my mind, whether this is a simple auto-invitation to renew or if they'll direct-debit you automatically.
If it's an invitation and they word it carefully then it's a simple marketing attempt to someone they're already doing business with. For example: "We've been reserving this .uk domain name for all of our .co.uk customers for the last two years. Now is the time for you to decide whether to renew one or both of them at this fantastically low price of £..."
From my e-mail:
The product(s) listed below are due for renewal. We'll attempt to take payment from your PayPal account on or around 11/10/2019 to ensure the continuation of your service.
So to answer your question - they'll direct-debit you automatically.
The difference is... if you aren't paying attention and the corresponding .uk for your .co.uk gets registered by a squatter - you'll have to pay the squatter whatever fee they wish to charge you - or Nominet's dispute resolution fee (which looks to start at around £200).
Which is why I don't use any company that doesn't let me turn off auto-renew, and why I sign up only to monthly recurring agreements.
I'm happy to "auto-renew" month to month but if you try something next month... bye! Quite likely I'll just go somewhere else entirely, and most it will cost me is one month's payment.
And I barely pay any kind of premium for doing so.
T&Cs are pretty much unenforceable when they're long and/or unreasonable anyway. Opt outs you will abide by and if they are not, by default, opted-opt there are rules against that.
TV providers - I see retired people spending upwards of £100 a month on watching TV which I just can't fathom at all, as they never watch anything that's not on Freeview. After a while, you just realise that the companies are scumbags are just don't deal with them.
- No TV package (I have Freeview via a Raspberry Pi which can record/stream anything to my phone, other computers, abroad, etc. at will and without restriction).
- No landline package (I just don't bother).
- No broadband package (I used 4G on an unlimited monthly rolling contract on a device I own and can change the SIM card in at will)
- My mobile is owned outright and the SIM is pay-monthly and on a different provider (so I can easily swap my phone SIM into the 4G box if I'm ever really stuck).
And I tend to stick to online-based providers who don't have the sales teams to push their products to you.
I trialled Netflix, Amazon Prime and all kinds and ended up sticking with Amazon Prime as I save month on the postage enough over a year to justify it anyway. I also realised that Netflix is only "fun" for the first few months and then it quickly becomes very same-y and not worth the effort.
I get no phone calls. I get no "upgrade" notifications by post or email or anything. I get no upselling. I'm not contracted into anything longer than a month, and I can easily swallow the cost of a lost month if I ever need to just buy another SIM and use that immediately instead.
I moved providers about six months ago because the one I was on wasn't giving me the best deal (40Gb for £25). I switched. I saved (stated 1000Gb "unlimited" for £20). The old provider now offers the same deal. Too late! And, no, I will not spend my life looking around for the best deal and phoning them up to see if they can upgrade me... if you don't care about me, you don't care, and I'll go elsewhere as soon as I notice.
My dedicated servers are on monthly auto-renew from a company that never contacts me. Their annual price is literally the same price times 12 and cheaper than most others and I never have a problem. My domains are on annual auto-renew with another company but I get 30 days warning of it happening so I can cancel/move it if I like. I have, several times, over the years when companies started getting silly with the costs of a simple .co.uk domain.
I realised long ago that I should not be paying companies for their atrocious customer service which I never use or avoid using as much as possible, or for them to upsell to vulnerable elderly people. I'll happily take a company with no customer service or sales lines at all and a quick get-out if it goes wrong. Giffgaff, Smarty, those kinds of places just work so much better. Hell, even Amazon at the end of the day.
Life is easy (and cheap) when you do things like that. It's a bit like the original idea of RAID (gather a load of "inexpensive" things and just expect them to fail)... just gather a lot of cheap providers and when they mess you around, move onto the next. The alternative is having to tie-in with a big name who wants to do things like this to you. I can't see that there's even a comparison there.
> just gather a lot of cheap providers and when they mess you around, move onto the next.
123-Reg falls into the "cheap provider" category though (or at least used too, not so sure any more), so had you been with them, you'd have fallen into this too.
But, I agree to some extent - my main disagreement is that you should do this with domain names/registrars. I've found that some providers have issues that aren't immediately visible and take a while to notice and find (like their nameservers dropping a fluctuating %age of queries). Sometimes it's better to go for a bigger more competent provider for something like domain names (assuming you're not willing to run your own DNS). There's more to service provision than cost.
The registrar I'm referring too there, btw, is owned by the same Goliath as 123-Reg.
But, I did exactly the same thing you're describing with 123-Reg not that long ago. They tried to auto-renew a UK name and gave me crap when I told them I didn't want it. So I dropped them like a hot potato and moved the majority of names out.
I used Mythic for names now, and they're firmly in the "they leave me alone and are not at all shit" category.
I try to do something very similar... although I am tied into a fibre/phone ISP contract. I share Netflix and Prime with my folks to save money, use giffgaff for mobile and only purchase budget/mid range phones in the £200 rage... I've had Moto G's for a few years and I was a Wileyfox customer (My mum now has that phone).
As for having a 4G unlimited sim... I can easily hit 1TB of data in a month... or at least get close enough on average (Virgin Media complained because my average was over 700GB per month on an unlimited package).
Got rid of sky about 5yrs ago and don;t miss it at all, I rarely watch TV... I stream or download 99% of what I watch... and if it's not on a service I pay for... I find an alternate way to watch it. I'm not paying into the ever more fragmented market. I use Amazon because I save more on postage than it costs over the course of the year and I get free tv/movies/music as needed. Netflix is on the cusp of being a burden... I got a 4k TV earlier this year so upgraded to 9.99 a month... then they decided the following month to raise the price £2... so I down graded again. If they put it up again past the 9.99 mark... I'll drop it.
Decent of them???!!
They take your money without agreement, send you off doing work to find out which domains you have actually ordered, waste your time having to find this information and then contacting them to ask for a refund, and you call them DECENT?!
For god's sake man!
The minimum acceptable response from them would be:
Your money back.
Plus interest and any charges involved in returning it.
Plus a minimum of one hour of your time, say £100.
Skrill will issue one with a Skrill account, I think in Sterling. Think there are plenty of others as well, when I lived over there they were often marketed as being specifically for tourism purposes (i.e. buy Euros in the form of a pre-payed Visa card that you could then use abroad without paying any fees.)
(Since I *don't* live over there any more, and in any event .co.uk has been devalued by the whole shambolic switch to .uk, I let my .co.uk domain lapse recently - but damn, the endless stream of nagging/pleading/doommongering emails that unleashes is quite something. It's been expired over a month now and still they won't let up with nagging me that there is still time to change my mind, or bid at auction, or pay a special re-registration fee, or... Shut up FFS.)
A friend was scammed by a teeth whitening site advert. She had unwittingly signed up to a subscription to a very expensive and very small kit. She hadn't read the small print which said.........The first payment was tiny then they ramped it up massively and it was something like £60 a month. I told her to cancel the card she'd used or she'd end up paying a fortune. She initially said she wouldn't until I pointed out it was possible she'd pay £720 to these scum in a year.
One of my clients in a totally unrelated field found that their telephone number was being used on a teeth-whitener's site. When the complaints rolled in I had to try and get the site shut down. A lot of these sites are promoting illegal techniques to whiten teeth, so a refund should be easy for a savvy customer. Illegal for good reason, I hope she didn't get burned (literally). Getting a take-down of the site arranged was a bit more challenging.
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She lost £10.99 if I remember correctly because they weren't offering free delivery just a free trial product. The number you had to call to cancel was a US number which we did over Skype. They said it took several days to confirm cancellation and they couldn't do it over the phone. You had to either fax them or email them which she was quite happy to do. I told her not to bother and just cancel the card. Or if she did want to at least not to do so from her own email account. I said generate a throwaway one on Gmail or Hotmail but don't give them something of yours to sell on. She told me the next day that she was very grateful I'd made her cancel her card as she couldn't afford £720. There's an old thread on MSE about this particular scam.
On the subject of cancelling not being possible to do by phone/online -
We were with UK2 for about 6 years, with domain names and hosting packages. Then when we found somewhere a bit cheaper and with a bit more flexibility than UK2 (at the time, even having access to configure your own DNS records was something UK2 didn't offer without contacting support) - so we turned off auto-renew on our services on UK2 and started moving stuff to the new host.
UK2 eventually started complaining that we had a massive bill, because unlike every other company on earth that cancel your service after a few months of not paying for service, UK2 apparently keep your service active and keep the meter running until some time in the future when they contact you to let you know that you know them £500 for not cancelling your service.
Additionally just to make it really fun - you can't / could not cancel online, by phone, by email, by fax. Nope - they only accept cancellation requests by letter and IIRC at the time obviously carried an admin fee.
Will never ever deal with UK2 again, we didn't pay we just ignored them, for all I know the service might still be sat there racking up thousands of pounds of debt.
Your card number may change, but the issuer can still charge your account - if it was that simple, people would just buy things and cancel the card to get free stuff.
Worse, scammers get people to agree to a Continuous Payment Authority (CPA), allowing them to bill your card whenever they see fit - they're not the same as Direct Debit or Standfing Orders, as they're not covered by anything like the Direct Debit Guarantee. Until about 2009, you had to get the entity taking payment to agree to stop the CCA (good luck with that), but now you can instruct your issuer to cancel them. Still not easy in all cases...
I have .net and .org registrations, and NS then registered .com 'free' for a year without telling me. Then billed for renewal, which I declined. Now they e-mail every 10 days re-offering the same .com (which has presumably stayed on their books). If I say yes, I pay: if no, I risk squatting. Shady business there too.
"Now they e-mail every 10 days "
And you're still with them for the other domains? If I were feeling very generous I'd have given them 1 chance to stop. Otherwise I'd just have transferred the domains and deleted the email address I'd given them (as a matter routine I'd have given them a unique email address to I could do just that if needed).
I had a ".co.uk" domain, which expired earlier in the year. This left the un-asked-for ".uk" domain, which comes up for renewal in a couple of weeks.
I've unset 'autorenew' and ensured that no payment methods are defined, so I'm safe aren't I?
No - namesco/nominet have a very lucrative, very shady operation and I think it would be wise to check regularly until the thing expires for good.
Hmmm I had the renewal mail last month and similarly had overlooked it. However I've just visited my 123-reg control panel and my <domain>.uk domain auto-renew is already set to OFF.
I have the original mail from 2 years ago with the link I had to click to activate the free 2-years. So either 123-reg saw this article and quickly corrected some peoples accounts or more people don't remember clicking activate 2 years ago, or I'm just special...
Had I not seen this article I wouldn't have even twigged, it's about time for my domain renewal to be up so I went in after the 123 email last week and "renewed". I now own a .uk domain that I never asked for. I've just dropped them a friendly support ticket asking them to resolve the issue as they appear to have given a me a new domain rather than renewing the existing one which is wurely what they meant to do. We'll see what the reponse is and take it from there. I can't think of a single valid reason as to why someone would think this was a good idea, especially once the court cases start.
Same here, vaguely remembered an email from them, saw the article here, checked my account and yes, auto renew for a .uk domain that I didn't want set to auto renew for next month.
Will be looking to move from them when my only remaining domain with them expires.
What a bunch of tossers.
Open a support ticket telling them, they've just agreed to refund me and apologised.
I just said:
You sent me an email last week asking me to renew a domain name, as I only have one domain name I duly renewed the requested domain. However you appear to have given me a new domain name sitename.uk instead. Please remedy this situation by renewing the existing domain name refunding the price difference between the two.
But yes, they are tossers.
A co.uk domain that I had registered with 123 was allowed to expire well over a year ago. It was the only service that I had with 123 and at the time, no other domain was listed against my account. With no services left in 123's hands, I was entirely unaware that I still had any account or payment services with them until the renewal email came through in the last few days.
I first thought I had simply forgotten to expire the domain and that my memory was at fault but it wasn't until I read this article that I realised the "renewal" was for an unsolicited uk address, not my old co.uk one.
Logged onto 123-reg this morning to renew one of my regular domains, and I noticed a .uk domain charge a few weeks ago for a 4 year renewal totalling £47.95. No confirmation had been sent out before or after this payment was deducted from my credit card.
Called up their support line and asked them who had authorised the new product on my account. Whilst not answering the question they said that as I had never requested a credit before they would cancel the charge. I told them that I didn't want their kindness, I wanted my money back pronto and that they should be lucky I don't seek legal recourse for the blatant scam that this was.
Exhibit A : This article.
Exhibit B : This article, https://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/23/nominet_legal_win/ where the "Internet Registration Office" sent invoices for domains that were similar to .co.uk names but different extensions, a dishonest practice shut down by ....Nominet
Sadly that was a different Nominet back then. Not run by money-grabbing scumbags. The current lot only seem to be interested in enriching themselves - despite the fact that they weren't exactly badly paid before all this.
Bit like ICANN - used to be a boring place to sort out boring but important bits of the internet. Now a place to farm first class travel expenses and big bonuses - while making everything slightly worse.
Charities have much tougher oversight/auditing requirements - as well as restrictions on what they can do and charge for.
Whereas Nominet was set up as what I guess would now be called a social enterprise - a normal company whose charter required it to raise cash for good causes and not to be a profit making machine. While still making enough to be able to get by, and have cash to spare if required.
Clearly not enough safeguards were built into the voting structure to stop the board from dumping all of that and then ridiing on to profit and glory.
I can attest to this, having worked there for a number of years prior to the new CEO and a few years after.
The entire culture changed within a few months. The 'C Team (or suite) or whatever' clearly orchestrated the 'changing of the guard', forcing out the previous CEO and bringing in an individual to assist in keeping the golden goose laying eggs.
Bottom line, new registrations had reached saturation point and renewals weren't generating the amount of income they once did.
There's nothing wrong with savvy business decisions, until they start to gravitate toward shady practices - and clearly, this is what has happened.
The company is slowly moving away from a 'not for profit' organisation, branching out into other areas.
Again, nothing wrong with this, except for the key fact that this is built on the back of all those riches generated prior to the new CEO - some of which once went directly to charity, through the now defunct 'nominet trust'
I was there when this change happened - it wasn't pretty. On the surface, it was all light and roses. The CEO explained it away as a mutual agreement. That the Trust wanted to move on and that was best for them and Nominet. Really? So a charitable organisation associated with Nominet, getting millions each year, just decided to go it alone? Right. Sure. Through the company gossip grapevine, it was anything but mutual - the trust were given the boot, simple as that.
Loads of other changes happened too. Some were great - salary bands increased. Some were not so good, the company started acting like a Google or Microsoft - lots of brand messaging appearing all over the offices, motivational bullshit pretty much everywhere. A big '2020' company drive, with screens displaying countdowns to 2020 all over the damn place.
Some people love this shit, I can't stand it. Just let me do my job and take pride in the work I do, without having this mantra shoved down my throat.
Then there was this whole drive about the good Nominet were doing - the messaging constantly driven home - 'the heart of the internet'. No, sorry, it's not. It's a registry. The internet can continue to exist just fine if Nominet ceased to exist.
I started at Nominet at the tail end of 'the good days', when, despite the criticisms of the amount of money being generated, at least a large portion went to charity and at least the board was open to scrutiny. I left because I got sick of the hypocrisy. I initially drank the 'coolaid', then slowly started to realise just how scummy things were getting - how shady, slick, corporate - just not a nice place to be anymore.
Posting anonymously here, as ... well, probably best to do so.
I have now moved all my domains out from 123-scam, I refere to my previous post in: https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2018/10/25/123reg_privacy_fee/
"123 are RUBBISH! Stay well clear!
Charging extra money, loosing domains when being transfered, forcing you to grab the .uk after purchaing a .co.uk
I hate 123, I had nothing but issues with them.
The worst part was thier "support" services asking me for my username and password over the phone, I asked to speak to a manager who then said and i quote "Its okay as we have secure telephone lines" WTF? Security? What security!
Try namecheap, they cover the WHOIS info for FREE!"
Must keep an eye on this, my names.co.uk renewal is due in March. However just checked my domains and they haven't added the .uk version of my .co.uk domain.
I've recommended namesco to quite a few people in the past, but if they start this sort of shit I'll be off to someone else for DNS and domain name management.
>However just checked my domains and they haven't added the .uk version of my .co.uk domain.
You need to do a whois lookup on your .uk domain as it is highly likely to not have the same expiry date as your .co.uk domain. Unfortunately with GDPR I see most of the other useful details are now cloaked, as in my case the .uk domain was still owned by 123-reg and was only transferred to my ownership on payment.
Just like when they charge extra for "domain registration privacy" (and also automatically at renewal), which is now a given due to GDPR so is free.
I had to contact GoDaddy for each domain to get them to remove it, but even still they played the FUD card and pretended that it still offered privacy above and beyond that of the current GDPR requirements. After persisting I got them to remove it from my accounts and refund what they'd already taken.
That one's been around since before the Internet was a thing only back then it was for some bogus listing in a fax directory - send random companies something that looks like an invoice for something they didn't order and more often than not they were paid....
If you paid using Paypal, Open a dispute with Paypal for unauthorized charges on your account, It appears whoever set up the 123 reg Paypal account doesn't bother monitoring the email address for any open cases. I know because I opened a case a few months ago when 123-reg charged my Paypal account for something I didn’t recognise as I hadn’t used 123-reg in over 3 years. So i opened a dispute on Paypal and after about a week Paypal refunded me in full as 123-reg never responded to the claim.
I would have said Gandi too, I use them for work and personal domains, but I'm less and less enamoured with them. Their "no bullshit" slogan is itself total bullshit. The support is dreadfully slow, there's more frequently problems, such as huge delays transferring in .uk domains, their interface doesn't seem to cater for .uk domains so usually needs them to prod it on the redundant authorisation code step.
Their migration to their v5 interface/platform looks like a bodge, it's now two different platforms mashed together with different authentication. I'm still using the v4 interface, maybe some of these problems are fixed in v5. But as I recall, that requires me to change nameservers and maybe lose some other functionality, and I just don't want to do that en masse on 100+ active client domains for no good reason. Although I'm still uncomfortable about my registrar basically running two very different platforms, and seemingly more or less abandoned the 'classic' one. At least, none of the bugs I've discovered have ever got fixed.
Guided by comments here, I'm going to give Mythic Beasts a shot.
On the plus side, Gandi have always offered 2FA and whois anonymisation for free and haven't pulled any of the nonsense 123reg became famous for, I wrangled every domain I could (couple of hundred) away from them years ago. Utter crooks, so this latest scam doesn't surprise me.
I've got half a dozen clients with freeparking supplied domains.
Late April they sent me this:
"Could you have a reserved .uk domain?
When the new .uk domain was launched in the summer of 2014, we reserved a number of .uk domains for registrants of existing .co.uk domains registered before 28th October 2013. If you own a .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .plc.uk, or .ltd.uk, the matching .uk domain name may have been reserved for you and you should do the following:
Check your account. If your name was allocated then it will require renewal soon.
Check your rights here. You have until June 25th to decide, but time is running out!
Check with us. We are here to help if you are unsure as to your rights or you wish to claim your .uk."
which was up front and not unreasonable but we weren't interested. I told them so.
Despite which, since then, approximately every 2 weeks I've been getting "Consolidated Renewal Reminders" which I can't ignore in case any of them involve the domains we actually own. In classic American marketing protocol, they claim they cannot suppress the automated message! I bet if I could afford to take the buggers to court, they'd find a way pdq
That said, at least they haven't gone the extra mile and tried to invoice us...
A monopoly, originally set up to manage the domain space effectively purposely makes the system worse to maximise their profit.
It's clear they aren't working in the interest of the UK dns structure, so why is this private company allowed to abuse their position?
The contract needs to be moved immediately to a proper non-profit who can manage the system properly. Nominet are now too toxic.
What alerted me to this was two things (1) This thread - thank you! (2) A declined payment notification from 123 for one of the items. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but to me it indicates that the credit card processors might be seeing a spate of disputed transactions involving 123 for similar amounts.
@Ken Moorhouse - What alerted me to this was two things (1) This thread?!
I'm skeptical about people claiming "they didn't know" etc. particularly given this isn't the first article on this subject mentioning 123-reg...
Yes it is a bit annoying that you probably binned the notification emails because you took one look at the subject line and decided they were junk and thus deleted without opening or have only realised that emails from your registrar have been labelled as spam for these last few years...
What happens if two different customers own separate domains of acme.co.uk and acme.org.uk. The article suggests that someone will get the auto-registration for acme.uk - but which customer will it be?
I haven't received any notification that my domain on .org.uk has now had a .uk domain added. I never pay the renewals myself - they are paid by a godson as part of his maintenance of web space for himself, his family, and me.
Using Network Tools WhoIs is interesting. It shows my acme.org.uk with hosting and registrar details as expected.
It also shows acme.co.uk and acme.uk as registered - the former being listed for sale by a "Private Seller" on DAN. Both these have the same registration dates of January 2015 for registrar Coherent Limited [Tag = COHERENT-NZ]. That looks like speculative cyber squatting on a short abbreviation/acronym.
What happens if two different customers own separate domains of acme.co.uk and acme.org.uk. The article suggests that someone will get the auto-registration for acme.uk - but which customer will it be?
But most of the time acme.co.uk will trump acme.xyz.uk
That looks like speculative cyber squatting on a short abbreviation/acronym.
Depends, it might have been that registrars policy to reserve the .uk domain for all their customers for a period of time. Remember by doing this that registrar ensured their customers would be able to gain the .uk variant at a reasonable price rather than pay auction prices...
I got the renewal notice from 123 a few weeks ago, about renewal in October.
As I only manage 1 domain, I thought this was strange as I renewed <domain>.co.uk in March.
After re-reading the email I noticed it was for <domain>.uk
I tried to login to my 123 Control Panel - login failed.
Attempted to invoke "forgot my password" - never received an email to change password.
Had to phone support. After 20 minutes in a queue (probably because many people were calling to complain),
I eventually got to talk to someone, She did not apologise and just advised me to login to my control panel
and change auto-renew to off.
When I said that I could not access it, she checked my account and tried several things to resolve this.
She then gave up and raised a ticket for me. She checked my <domain>.uk was not set to auto renew, so I would not be charged.
I asked for an email confirmation when my control panel access was resolved.
She said that she would instead phone me back when resolved.
Last Friday, after no call or email, I tried to login again with no success.
Tried "forgotten password" and this time got an email with a link to change password.
Changed password, which now requires 12 characters. Wonder then this was changed and this was why I could not login earlier.
Just glad that I only manage 1 domain.
It's true that NamesCo offers a £9.99 two-year renewal for these .UK domains...
But the default duration it offers is three years, for £42.96 !!
You have to choose to change the duration to see the "offer" price (for a service never ordered).
Which then reverts if you navigate away from the renewal page!
More borderline-fraudulent practices. Deliberately misleading at best.
After reading this article I realised that the same thing happened to me last week, so I phoned them (Namesco) up and cancelled it. Really not happy. What they say about multiple emails sent telling customers about the free domain being added is also misleading. I went back through my mails. There were two, I guess that's multiple. But they both described the new domain as FREE. First one reads:
"You already own a .co.uk, .org.uk or .me.uk; now you can own the matching, shorter .uk too - it's a FREE gift from us to you!
We've added the following .uk domain(s) to your account at absolutely no cost and we'll complete the registration for you too so you don't need to lift a finger."
Only if you look at "What's included" do you see "FREE .uk registration for 2 years". Though it's implied, it's not explicit that the free domain is a limit time offer. Second email about two weeks later reads:
"Great news! We've secured your free matching .uk domains - they're in your account and the forwarding has been set up to your current .co.uk, as promised. If you want to make any changes, go for it... your domains can be managed as normal.
If you have any questions at all please feel free to get in touch, you can give us a call on 0345 363 3633 or raise a ticket from your Online Control Panel."
Thing is, I don't ever go to my control panel unless it's time to renew. I don't look at it. This free" domain offered as a gift was of no interest to me so I ignored the emails, as did many other customers it seems. So the fact that I had this new domain registered for me (despite the marketing emails) didn't really *register*. It's a deliberately misleading marketing campaign designed to trap customers into paying for things they never wanted. I'll probably use a different registrar when my true domain name comes up for renewal. Thank you El Reg for the service you provided me today.
Edit: I read a comment about the default of 3 years which is at a much worse price point than the two year offer. I had that as well. I nearly selected 10 years before I realised that it was much more than 5 times the price of 2 years, which was a quarter the price of 3. Very, very poor.
Now just received an email from the resolution team saying that because my account is classed as a business account (We haven't been a trading business in over a decade. We still just use it for personal email), they can't offer a refund under the 14 day cooling off period. I'm livid.
I'm glad I found this article. I checked my 123-reg account and found that they had added the .uk version of my primary email domain, and had set it to auto-renew. I've been with 123-reg for a long time, and it is a lot of hassle to switch elsewhere, but I'm very tempted to do that. If only it didn't feel like all the alternatives were just as bad!
I have had loads fail over the last couple of years.
They wanted non alphanumerics, they got them, then a year later could not handle them.
" was valid now invalid.
EVERY account has had to have a new password.
I did use a simple keyboard pattern with shift. Even if the keys were all known still have 21 million million (English BIllion) combinations. But they stopped me using it.
Never trusted 123 or GoDaddy, "too good to be true" offers and prices way below others, I went to a well known French registrar. The prices were a touch higher than others but touch wood they've been good as gold with support second to none.
I had the 'we are going to renew your domain automatically email' last week which came as a surprise as I was up to date with the 2 domains I currently had active with 123-Reg (the others had been left to expire). When I logged into the control panel to check I discovered a load of unwanted .uk domains all thankfully were set to expire (well, to not auto-renew) so thought nothing of it, however... On reading this article I have just logged in again to find my unwanted .uk domains now in my basket ready for checkout! Unfortunately, my CC is on record and I have to go via support to remove from the account so until this is done will be keeping a close eye to ensure I am not billed! Will definitely look to move my remaining domain to another provider (Mythic Beast looking best option, thanks!) but does anyone know of a cheap, reliable email host for multiple accounts under one domain (I have long thought of just hosting my own mail server but I never have the time!)?
Here is the discussion I just had with 123-Reg about it.
In the email dated 16th September "Renew your services to avoid losing them" it says
"The product(s) listed below are due for renewal. We'll attempt to take payment from your card on or around 16/10/2019 to ensure the continuation of your service. "
The products listed are:
Both of these domains are listed as "cancelled" in the control panel, as in they are not due to renew - although the email says they are.
I have attached the email and the control panel image.
Is the email incorrect, or is the control panel incorrect?
Thank you for contacting us regarding this matter.
Under the rights of registration policy, we've registered the .uk version of your .co.uk domains in September 2017, free of charge for 2 years.
Having the fact that the .uk domains are soon to expire, we've recently activated them for you free of charge and set to manual renewal so that you don't have any unwanted charges.
If you wish to keep the .uk domains, you should proceed with the renewal procedure.
If not, you can simply let the domain expire on their own.
Rest assured, the payment won't be taken automatically for the renewal of the .uk domains.
I'm sorry for the inconvenience that this might've caused you and your understanding is highly appreciated.
If there’s anything else at all I can do for you please let me know and I’ll be very happy to help.
Please confirm, is the email sent to me incorrect, or is the control panel incorrect?
The email says
"The product(s) listed below are due for renewal. We'll attempt to take payment from your card on or around 16/10/2019 to ensure the continuation of your service. "
Thank you for replying.
Our earlier email stated that these domains would be automatically renewed and that we would attempt to take payment from your account.
This email was auto-generated and in error. These domains will NOT be automatically renewed, and you will not be charged.
The domains are set to manual renewal so they can renew themselves when they reach the expiry date.
I hope this solves your query!
If there’s anything else at all I can do for you please let me know and I’ll be very happy to help.
Total scam artists, shocking behaviour.
God know how many people are renewing these domains.
It seems nearly four weeks after you received this 'auto-generated in error' email 123-reg have just sent me the same. Five times overs. Still waiting to hear back from them but I imagine it will be the same excuse.
Sharp practice at the very least. I certainly won't be using them for any more domains in future.
I have 6 .uk domains showing on my 123-Reg account. When they were first added I set them all to Auto-Renew OFF as I did not, and still do not, want them. I have been getting emails from 123-Reg saying that they will invoice me on the chargeable date for each. Some days ago I checked and found 2 of them in my Basket for payment. I removed them and checked that they were still set to Auto-Renew OFF which they were. Today I've just been to check my account and all those .uk domains are still set to Auto-Renew OFF but in my Basket I found the same 2 .uk domains again! I am not happy as you might guess!
Incidentally, another renewal in my Basket was for a .co.uk domain which was retagged/transferred to another Registrar on 30th August 2019 and doesn't even appear in my account's list of domains any more!
Try this in Iowa. After (before my time...) those (music) record clubs started sending people unrequested records and told them they have to pay if they don't return them, Iowa passed a law that in the case of unrequested items, you get to keep the item and don't have to pay a penny for it.
I was already in the process of moving my clients' domains away from 123 to somewhere cheaper and better (123 had screwed up once too often. For example they'd made a charge to my credit card and refused to provide an invoice or tell me what it was for. They claimed they couldn't disclose under the data protection act!). Then I found 123 were registering the corresponding bare .uk names for free. I managed to transfer some "free" names elsewhere but others seemed to get stuck, just gave an error when I tried to change IPS tag. Tried to transfer at Nominet (yes, I was willing to pay Nominet's £12 fee to escape from 123reg) but they weren't in my account. I found a way round the blockage in the end.
As for my clients, I told them I'd secured their names and have been sending separate renewal invoices that read:
"If you wish to retain these names please pay this invoice, otherwise disregard the invoice and the names will be allowed to lapse in [month/year]
You do not need these name variants, your web site and email will not be affected by your choice but you may want to retain them on a precautionary basis."
Then there's a longer explanation for anyone who can be bothered.
The cost to Nominet of managing the names is trivial (or should be). Simply an extra database field for the .co.uk name saying effectively "registrant also holds bare .uk variant". I think the variant should be free or only attract a nominal fee for holders of the corresponding .co.uk name, the "benefit" of 3 fewer keystrokes is insignificant but the confusion and possible need for dispute resolution (£££ for Nominet) or litigation (£££ for the very deserving legal profession) should a competitor get the variant is a stronger reason to hold the name variants.
My advice is to hold the names but not to route them to a web site, not to make any use of them at all.
I advised a different approach - cancel them before the renewal date.
That way, there's nothing to "accidentally" renew, and they'll just get off scot-free if you let the domains just lapse.
It doesn't cost them any extra to cancel, but if forces them to do some extra work for no extra money.
Websites being websites, where On/Off renew sliders can be manipulated "server-side", there is no evidence that cancellation has taken effect. Even taking a screenshot only proves that at some point the renew was set Off, they could say that you changed it back immediately after taking the screen shot.
If only there were an email sent as a direct consequence of changing that switch from On to Off, but there isn't. One has to watch that page periodically to see it hasn't changed - a scenario where this could genuinely happen is that they have a server crash and revert to a backup - the backup being prior to your change.
I got work to check their NamesCo account, just in case.
FOURTEEN .uk's, all due for renewal a week tomorrow !
They're not on auto-renew, but having that many URGENT! renewals knocking about, someone's bound to have an "accident".
We're the WRONG sort of customer to try that with - a university with a law school. I sure we could find someone who would squash them like bugs AND make 'em PAY for the privilege.
Names co aren't even using their .uk name in their reminder e-mails either
"Your registrar contact details
Domain Name Provider: NAMESCO
+44 (0) 1905 342342 or 0345 363 3632"
roflmao.... to actually make something work like this then the companies that are trying to convert people need to start using it themselves...
Network Solutions used to (and maybe still does) do something very similar. For example, if you had a .org domain and the .com version was available, they would register it on your behalf (at no charge the first year) and stick it in your account hoping that you would renew it.
One of the many reasons not to use them for ANY services.
Interesting that these domain name registers want everyone to get one of these .uk domain names and advertise them as being new - even though they're nothing more than a way to fleece more money out of website owners.... especially when you consider that one of the reminder e-mails for one of the domains I work with had this attached to it...
Your registrar contact details
Domain Name Provider: NAMESCO
+44 (0) 1905 342342 or 0345 363 3632
Hmmm.... you'd think if .uk was such a big thing then why are namesco still using their .co.uk name in e-mails!!!
I've also been 'scammed'... I received notification on 13th October 2019 from 123Reg that my renewal of the 'other' domain name, which I didn't know about or had ever authorised, had been invoiced and I was charged £11.99 through my paypal account. They never sent me any notification about the 'free' domain name or the terms etc. (I have all emails going back 5 years from 123R) and they'd set payment to auto-renew! Is this activity not against the data protection act? I can't believe these companies... or Nominet... are allowed to get away with it. I spoke to a 123Reg Rep this morning (after holding on for almost 1 hour!) who fudged around the issue, just saying he would raise the points I made and look into a refund! Will I get this refund? Has anyone else been refunded for the 'free' domain name they didn't ask for or authorise? I also spoke to Paypal who simply wrote back to say they were denying my claim and that decision was made because (they said) the transaction was not unauthorised! But I never authorised it! Where does one go to get this sorted out or do we just sit back and accept this goes on and be more aware in future! I sincerely hope some legislation can be introduced to stop this 'scam', and soon!
Read their T's&C's thoroughly (Section 6).
Their WebFusion division screwed me over their Continuous Payment Authorities some years ago, but I did what they, rather arrogantly, told me to ("read our T's&C's"), and I surprisingly found they hadn't abided by them. I just highlighted the relevant sentence to the CC company, and they revoked the transaction immediately without further ado.
KM... Is this the section you refer to?
6.8 Where the Client authorises payment of any of the Fees by credit and or debit card then 123 Reg may deduct other amounts becoming payable to it under the Agreement from that credit or debit card without obtaining additional authorisation from the Client. For the avoidance of all doubt the Client must have an active credit or debit card stored on 123 Reg’s systems for the duration of the Agreement.
Interesting if so, because they don't say for what they would deduct other amounts only that the client has to agree. BH that almost entitles them to a 'blank cheque'!
I first bought my 'one' domain name about 5/6 years ago and tbh I don't recall what the T&C's were, maybe the same, but I haven't received any further T&C's or information regarding the .uk domains. The wording will probably say, new T&C's automatically void previous T&C's.
I've just spoken to Paypal again and following their earlier decision to deny my claim, when I explained the situation (123Reg adding .uk domains on auto-renew - in my case without my knowledge) the agent promptly said my claim will be upheld and a refund issued.
Tbh it wasn't the £12 they took from my account that annoyed me so much as the underhanded practice of auto-renewing the domain names they decide to add to an account (without telling the client). According to the article above, 123Reg is the only UK domain company using this practice! A nightmare I should think for those individuals with hundreds of 123Reg domain names!
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I've been bitten by this .uk scam three times by Reg123 ... total cost being £11.99 x 3 = £35.97
I opened 3 different support tickets with Reg123 and they rapidly closed them down, so I kept reopening them.
In the end I contacted PayPal which is how the payments were made. They didn't even look at my support tickets and just closed them saying I didn't have a valid case.
Now 3 months later I have just spoken to the Fraud Team at Natwest Bank. They said, they'd put the money back into my account tomorrow and raise a dispute wiht PayPal. They said they'd be asking Reg123 for evidence that I'd authorised payment for the product.
I would now like to move all my domains to another provider. Does anyone have anyone recommendations?