Two Troubling Techniques This Time

Worse than double bubble even.

Welcome back to this week’s (and the final) edition of Friday illiterative lists!

Two business practices of pretty big-name companies came to my attention this week that I thought were too underhanded/sleazy not to be shared/copied.

#1. Sending something via FedEx Express Saver:

On Tuesday I had to FedEx some stuff from downtown Los Angeles to Chino. It’s only 36.5 miles so I figured, why not save a buck (or twenty?) and choose “Express Saver” .. it must be cheaper and it must get there in the same amount of time when we’re this close!

Their shipping algorithm knows something I don't.

Wrongo! I guess FedEx really doesn’t want to cannibalize their overnight delivery sales for packages that aren’t going so far. So much so that they will actually ship an envelope from LA to MEMPHIS on its way back to Chino!

For illustrative purposes only.

#2. Checking a domain’s availability via Network Solutions:

Now I didn’t do this. But a fair number of our customers must still remember way back when Network Solutions was the only registrar, and for some reason go to their site to check the availability of domains before attempting to register them with us.

BIG MISTAKE!

Not this pic again!

Since at least January 8th, any (non-gibberish) domain you decide to just CHECK availability for via their site, Network Solutions GOES AHEAD AND REGISTERS!

Although undoubtably sleazy, this maybe wouldn’t be sooo terrible if NetSol wasn’t still charging $35/year!

I’d actually thought about this a while ago. I thought, “If *I* were a good-for-nothing cyber-squatter, I’d set up a registrar, advertise insanely cheap rates, and then whenever anybody went to check or register a domain with me, I’d just register it for myself and then offer it to them for much more!”

But then I thought, “What about when people caught on? They’d come and check completely fake domains they never wanted, and then I’d be out the $7 a year for all these worthless domains!”

Of course, all this was way before ICANN’s Add Drop Grace Period (AGP) came into effect. The AGP provides registrars with a five-day grace period to delete a domain they’ve “mistakenly” registered and to get all their money back. The original purpose was to help people out when they make typos or when a registrar is the victim of fraud; noble enough goals.

In practice, the AGP has resulted in “Domain Tasting,” the numerous ill side-effects including:

  • Allowing Net S.O.L. to actually implement this practice at no financial risk.
  • Allowing the “Drop-Catching” business to thrive… currently 100% of expired .com/net domains are re-registered immediately by cyber-squaters and AdSense fiends.
  • Allowing these skuz-buckets to register hundreds of thousands of domains a day, testing their typo-traffic-potential, and then deleting hundreds of thousands that don’t make at least $7 a year.
  • Allowing these skuz-buckets to actually only require a domain to make 42 cents a year to be profitable… even the domains they intend to keep, they go ahead and delete every five days. And then immediately re-register. That way, they’re never out the $7/year.. they’re only out the interest they could be earning on the money they have to keep with Verisign in order to keep their zillions of domains in perpetual register/delete/re-register limbo!

  • In practice, the noble goals that the AGP hoped to solve are just not very big problems. If you’re a “legit” domain-registering entity and you typo a domain: you’re out a few bucks. It’s your fault, c’est la vie. If you’re a registrar and you’re being massively frauded every day (as we are), you quickly develop techniques to find and fight fraud and you prevent suspicious domains from even getting registered in the first place.

    The AGP as it is now hardly ever saves us any money from fraud, because the vast majority of bunk registrations we catch before we even submit them, and the rest we don’t catch until long after the five days have already passed!

    There is a bright side to all of this! Thanks primarily to Network Solutions’ ballsy new policy, ICANN decided last week to finally end Domain Tasting!

    Hooray! This is good news for the Internet, bad news for Google!

    Everybody, switch your search engine back to Yahoo. Right….. NOW!

    Good thing I sold all my Google yesterday and bought Yahoo!

    Was there some memo I missed?

    Good thing I wish I sold all my Google yesterday and bought Yahoo!