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Internet host and ransom payments

Nigel Morris-Co...

This is our personal story and we are mightily pissed off. Our long-time internet hosting company was recently acquired by UK hosting company NamesCo. We don't want to use them. The reasons are immaterial. We simply want to transfer all of our domain names to a host of our choice who trade on terms we like and deal with us in a way we want to be dealt with. NamesCo wants to obstruct that and demands what amounts, in our eyes, to a ransom payment to release the domain names which are, after all, our intellectual property because they are terms of art we created.

It's incredible to think that NamesCo would demand a fee at all (we are not aware of any host that does so) but to take steps to forcefully discourage the transfer of domains by a customer who has never entered into a contract with them and has never agreed to their terms of service, including several charges that we were not previously subject to and a style of service that we do not want, is simply unconscionable.

Domain transfers work like this: the domain owner asks his current host for a code which then authorises the new host to arrange the transfer. The owner pays the new host a domain registration fee (the same as for a new domain). There is, therefore, a cost attached to the domain transfer. What NamesCo do is to charge a fee for producing and mailing that code which, because the fee is broadly the same as the registration fee, doubles the cost of transfer.

For those who own one domain, they might think it's a small price to pay for their freedom. But Vortex Centrum Limited, owner of PleaseBeInformed.com owns many domains. The total cost of transferring domains will, in registration fees alone, be considerable and that does not take into account the cost of hosting: we will be throwing away unexpired hosting periods at NamesCo.

The cost of NamesCo's charge for transferring out is a serious disincentive to change service providers.

We, not NamesCo, owns the domains. Even so, they have, without our agreement or authority, changed the registrar of our domain names to a registrar of their choosing (it appears to be their in-house registrar). We were very happy with our previous registrar and would not have, voluntarily, changed. As part of that change, they unilaterally decided to change our renewals process to auto-renew. Then they started issuing invoices (or what appear to be invoices) for domains that we may or may not renew in the future. It appears (but it is not clear anywhere obvious) that they charge more for non-auto-renew domains. We've had auto-renew before, with GoDaddy, and that didn't end well as they renewed, charged for and would not refund charges for domains we did not want any more. So we don't auto-renew. NamesCo's control panel does not, so far as we can find, have a button to cancel a renewal of a domain we no longer want, making it inconvenient to deal with our roster of names.

Since NamesCo took over, we have had outages on sites, and we have had sites fall over so fundamentally that we have had to reinstall CMS platform software.

To compel us to pay an exit fee is tantamount to ransom. And we do not like it. We do not like it one little bit.

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