As you may, or may not, know, OP-EZY hosts more than just sites on its and my blog’s domain name. Last year I registered a .com top-level domain name for a friend. Recently, I was greeted with this letter which came through via snail mail:
The company, calling themselves the Domain Renewal Group (Given quite a poor rating on Web of Trust) wrote to notify me that the domain I registered was about to expire, and that I need to pay £25 ($39.23 USD at the time of writing) to renew this domain.
This sounded a little odd, especially as my account with 1&1 is set to automatically renew expiring domains anyway, and their price is no-where near as much! On closer inspection, I can see that this company wanted me to switch to their service and let them handle the domain name renewal. Looking at the back of the letter, I found a little (ha!) bit of small print:
There are a couple of things about this letter that don’t make sense though. The company has a UK address, yet their contact number is a
“toll-free” US phone number (which would certainly not be free to call from a UK phone line) Canadian based phone number in Ontario (though their website gives a 1-866 number which would be toll-free, but not when calling from the UK!), and the letter itself is printed on US Letter sized paper (rather than the standard A4 size we use here). Finally, I had a quick look at their website, where, as mentioned before, my Web of Trust extension started showing warnings that the site is known to be unsafe.
A little bit of snooping through the site’s image folder pointed me to another site, probably run by the same company, Domain Hosting of America, which has a better WoT rating, but I guess not as much traffic, as well as DROA (Domain Registry of America) which also has a very bad WoT rating.
A bit of research shows many people have fallen for this scam, handed over their money, only for the company to let the domain expire anyway. Why? Well, for one, to switch domain providers, you need to contact your previous provider to get them to change the IPS Tag (or Registrar Tag) to your new registrar.
I’m guessing they make these letters look more like information letters from some kind of “board of domain names” rather than a private company in the hope that people will fall for the same and pay them money.
So yeah, this is just a bit of a heads up to hopefully make anyone reconsider paying the extortionate prices for this “service” this unethical company seem to be (not) providing.