Although steps are being taken to curb some of the trading excesses spawned by the internet, there is a persistent practice that continues to be prevalent; that of dodgy domain name resellers.
Just about anyone can set themselves up as a domain name reseller. Certainly in the UK they don't even have to become a member of an accredited body such as Nominet, the .uk domain name registry.
Yet these companies love to erroneously affiliate themselves with various national registries and even the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the body that manages the internet addressing system.
If they do join Nominet, and many do since it only costs £400 initially and £100 annually there after, there are few checks or safeguards to make sure they are acting in their customers' interests.
By attaining pseudo respectability, they cold call or email prospective clients, no matter who their original hosting company is and use various ruses to try to get their targets to register domain names through them.
Top of the list tends to be "the mystery shopper" who they of course can't name but [cough] could be a rival company who wants to register a domain name very similar or with a different suffix.
Being a 'straight-up kinda' company, they feel they should warn you of the nefarious machinations of this rival and give you the chance to register the domain names first - but you only have half an hour to make up your mind don't forget.
Then don't forget the panic email that warns you, you are about to lose your domain name and need to re-register immediately - with them of course.
Or why not pre-register the latest suffix such as .eu to guarantee your domain name. The fact that pre-registering (especially with .eu, which can not be pre-registered in any circumstance) is pointless is something most people don't realise.
Additionally, if people want to register their domain name through another provider, sneaky release charges are levied on the unfortunate domain name holder.
Top this off with exorbitant prices and 10 years registration in advance - when most domain names such as .co.uk or .biz can only be registered two years at a time.
VNU has been highlighting this type of selling for over two years now and reported the actions of many of these companies to various bodies including the Office of Fair Trading, the police and Nominet.
Various slaps on the wrist have been administered and for using its name in vain, Nominet has managed to close down two companies.
But the practice continues and will do until the industry has the will to set up a code of practice and self-regulation to enforce it.
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