Are you flushing away your money when you renew your domain name?
You may receive an official-looking document from “Domain Registry of Canada” in the mail advising you that your domain-name registration is due to expire “in the next few months”.
It could be true, or your registration might have just been renewed and you might think the notification is a mistake or your registry is just getting a jump on its renewals.
But take a closer look at the letter, with its red maple leaf and formal-seeming name and the relatively exorbitant fees charged ($40 per year as opposed to the more routine $9.95, say), and actually attempt to read the legally absolving ultra-fine print on the back, and you’ll see that this missive with the appearance of an invoice is actually closer to a "domain slamming" attempt.
(Domain slamming refers to a practice whereby a company sends out potentially misleading advertisements sometimes disguised as invoices that claim you have to make a payment to retain ownership of a name; in effect, you are actually transferring to a different registry.)
If you plump for the letter's "best value" five-year registration plan, it will only cost you $160.
The company, which lists its Canadian address as a post-office box in Markham, Ontario, and which does business under similar names in other international jurisdictions, has been around for years and seems to have refined its pitch legally to the point that it can safely rely on consumers’ indifference, carelessness, or outright laziness to continue its activities in a profitable fashion.
As domain-name lawyer Zak Muscovitch told ITBusiness.ca in a September 2010 article after Domain Registry of Canada sued the Canadian Internet Registration Authority for $10 million after CIRA denied the company recertification: “This [the DROC letter] is very crafty and well-written. It expressly informs the reader that it’s a solicitation for services and talks about a transfer…It may be these guys are not doing anything wrong at all and a case of people not reading this closely enough.”
If you Google "Domain Registry of", you will find numerous articles, warnings, posts, and complaints about the company and how it conducts business, but its practices don’t appear to be illegal.
Locally, the Better Business Bureau gives the Domain Registry of Canada a letter rating of F, on a scale from F to A+. This rating is based on the fact that the BBB has received 16 complaints filed against DROC in the past three years and the company has not responded to 11 of those complaints.
The company is not accredited with the BBB; no businesses are obligated to seek such accreditation.
So, caveat emptor and all that.