Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tele Serve, high pressure 'alternative domain' sales, any why they make my blood boil.

I just got a very panicked phone call from one of my clients following a call she had just received from an urgent sounding chap at a company called Tele Serve (I think) telling them that someone was trying to register one of her companies domain names. This is a old con whereby a company rings you up to tell you that someone is trying to register a domain name that should probably belong to you, then surprise surprise they kindly offer to register the domain name for you to secure it, probably at a highly inflated rate.

I took great delight in calling this company back, and speaking to their representative Michael. He told me that his company had been informed by a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company that someone was trying to register a variation on my client's domain name. In this instance it was a fairly daft variation, and of course, my clients already own every domain they actually need, along with any relevant TLD variants (net, org etc). Why on earth was an SEO company registering a domain name? I asked Michael, and mentioned to him that the registering of a domain name is a process that takes about thirty seconds, and involves only the agent (Dotster or whoever) and the registrar (Nominet in the UK, ICANN in the USA), at no point will an agent look into whether the purchaser has legal grounds to register the domain name. Michael told me that there had been a problem with the other guy's credit card so they had called him up, and he told them he wanted to buy the domain names to redirect to an 'undisclosed' website. Michael assured me that the SEO company/ registrar won't set up the redirect until the other guys credit card had cleared. I asked Micheal why on earth a registrar would set up a redirect, as it's something done in DNS or by using something like a 301 redirect on a web server. He started to get a bit frustrated with me, and started repeating himself. I remained calm and told him that in ten years of being an Internet consultant I have never know a domain seller to ask a buyer why they wanted to buy a domain, and calmly expressed my surprise that said seller was so insistent about redirects? I pointed out that generally a domain seller will sell a domain to anyone, as I understand it the usage of purchased domains is quite frankly none of their business. I also asked how they would set up a redirect if this mystery third party wouldn't say where he wanted the domains redirected to! Again Michael mentioned the redirects, and I felt the time had come to put this madness to an end. I told Michael that in my experience the only reason anyone would share the information about alleged domain purchases was to sell said domains with the use of a little 'sauce'. Yes, I really did say sauce. Micheal was getting stressed, and tersely declared,
"Fine, if that's your attitude we'll let this person register your domains and you can sort it out with him in court."
Before I had a chance to let Micheal know I was having fun, he hung up on me.

High pressure domain sales craze me as they add to the general foggy confusion that most business people have regarding the legalities and practicalities of domain ownership and registration. They make genuine, transparent and honest Internet folk look bad.

If you are every in any doubt about your companies domain registrations or renewals please pick up the phone to your own IT staff, believe me, they'll appreciate it!


P.S.  If you want to register a domain name then I'd recommend reading this Go Daddy Review