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Summary:

What if you found the perfect URL for your new online company, only to find out that the company that you used to check it bought it themselves to sell to you for an inflated price? Network Solutions has run afoul of bloggers, domain registry industry […]

What if you found the perfect URL for your new online company, only to find out that the company that you used to check it bought it themselves to sell to you for an inflated price?

Network Solutions has run afoul of bloggers, domain registry industry watchers and others in the last few days when it became clear that using its popular domain registry checking service automatically triggered a buy order from the Herndon, VA based company.

While promising to amend the practice Friday, checking a URL today such as bigyellowtimer.com at Network Solutions WHOIS page automatically locked you out from buying the domain elsewhere. If you wanted to buy bigyellowtimer.com tomorrow, your only option is through Network Solutions for $34.99 – over three times the price as compared to other popular domain registrars.

Network Solutions claims the practice is to prevent “front running” although others say it is exactly that practice.

“The domain name you want is available for registration only at Network Solutions because we want to make sure that our customers do not lose the domain name to disreputable individuals (or entities) that snatch up domains after a domain search has been made,” says a Network Solutions Tech Support article.

To thwart the efforts of these sneaky individuals, Network Solutions reserves unregistered domains for up to four days from the date they are searched on our Web site. This customer protection feature provides our customers the opportunity to register names at a later date without fear that the name will be registered by the “Front Runners.” If the domain you searched is available and one that you really want, we suggest that you register it immediately to ensure that you will not lose the name.

So is Network Solutions engaging in exactly the practice it says it’s trying to protect its customers from?

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By Bob Walsh

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  1. This may be a silly question … but why are people searching for open Domains on NetSol and then buying them someplace else? (And if they’re smart enough to know to not buy from NetSol in the first place, why are they now surprised to see NetSol doing something shady?)

    Or am I missing something?

  2. i encountered this just last week, and was completely dismayed at network solutions’ behavior. i feel fortunate that i was savvy enough to guess what they were up to, wait it out, and register the domain a few days later with my wonderful host (dreamhost).

    if they are going to have this policy, the honest thing to do would be to post about it on the page with the form, so that you know in advance what the consequences of hitting submit will be.

    however, i do think it is frontrunning and an evil practice, and am super disappointed to have had this type of interaction with that company. they will never get my business.

  3. Brian Carnell Monday, January 14, 2008

    “So is Network Solutions engaging in exactly the practice it says it’s trying to protect its customers from?”

    Yes.

    Any other questions?

  4. Rick: Basically most people like to “shop around” and see which registrar can give the most service at the lowest price. If they don’t know how shady NetSol is then they pop the domain in, check the services and cost, move to the next registrar and find out it’s locked down.

  5. Certainly unethical.

    Why else would they take this long to “announce” what they have been doing for over a year now!

    To answer:
    >> why are people searching for open Domains on NetSol and then buying them someplace else?

    Netsol has a unique feature that allows you to search for multiple addresses at one time to check availability. Which saves time and you’re looking for a good keyword rich domain in a competitive market.

    I used to point my clients there all the time to do their research then register the domain for 1/2 the price elsewhere.

  6. “is Network Solutions Evil?” Every transaction I have had with them has led me to believe they are untrustworthy. This situation just verifies that feeling.

    kathryn’s point (above) is a good one. If this practice is acceptable, it should have been made obvious up front. They should have been proud enough of it to want to make it obvious, right?

    The real question (and I do not have the answer) is:
    Is this practice legal, or does it violate their ICANN accreditation?

  7. Yes they are evil. The fact that they charge an arm and leg for a domain is just bad, then you add this on top of it and wow. I don’t expect this company to be around much longer.

    Network Solutions is no longer the number one domain registrar and will continue to lose customers. It screws everyone over and needs to go under so non-technical people won’t even go with them again.

  8. Way to infuriate potential customers and seal your own fate as a company…

    What did poor customer service do for Dell? They’re still trying to get out of the hole they put themselves in…

    And this is WAY beyond poor customer service — it’s borderline theft.

  9. Here is the Deal.

    I see it as an attempt at locking up a toll position that went to far!
    Info on toll positions can be found at
    http://www.sowpub.com

    They tried to secure a toll position to the objection of many and now they will try to recover at the dismay of a large segment of the net population.
    Jason

  10. Bob,

    I work for Network Solutions – I have asked internally for informaton on the domain bigyellowtimer.com

    “While promising to amend the practice Friday, checking a URL today such as bigyellowtimer.com at Network Solutions WHOIS page automatically locked you out from buying the domain elsewhere. ”

    We stopped reserving domains that were searched using our Whois service last Thursday.

    I will get back to you on this.
    We are reserving domain names searched for only at the NetworkSolutions.com Home Page. We have added customer notification of our protection measure on our homepage and domain product search page

    Thanks,

    Shashi

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