Questionable business practices by VeriSign

Let me start from the beginning…  Prior to the formation of ICANN in 1998, Network Solutions (owned by VeriSign) was the place to purchase top level domains. These days, the industry is open to competition, with players like GoDaddy and eNom blasting them out of the market in terms of quanity of domains on their platform. This seems to have resulted in Network Solutions resorting to questionable business practices to acquire new registrations in this fiercely competative market. So I’d never heard of ‘Domain name front running’ until today. Let me explain with an example…

18:03: I search for ‘Domain Name Registration’ in Google and find a link to Network Solutions’ site

18:05: I search for ‘questionable-business-practices.com’ on the Network Solutions site

18:06: I see the domain name is available… 

Great, I think to myself. Now let me just check I can’t get it cheaper anywhere else… so I head over to another domain name registration company and search for the exact same domain name. Here’s what I get: 

Strange, very strange, I think to myself.  I just looked this up two minutes ago and it was available

18:09: I head back to Network Solutions and search for the domain again… surely somebody couldn’t have registered it that quickly.

18:10: Surely enough, the domain is still available… but for $34.99 per year! Wow that’s expensive… I’m sure I can get it for like $8.95 a year on GoDaddy. Let me just go to checkout so you know I’m not making this up… 

Normally I wouldn’t bother about something like this, but having had first hand experience in the domain name and hosting industry, I couldn’t let this one go… Yes, it’s a competative industry and margins on domain name registrations for resellers are low, which is why I thought Network Solutions would have known better than to employ a technique like this. Having been a customer of them in the past, I am thourghly disappointed.  Illegal? Maybe, but despite this article at The Register published Feb 26th, they are still doing it…

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