Ming the Mechanic:
Verisign sucks

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Verisign sucks2004-02-28 18:00
2 comments
by Flemming Funch

Verisign is one of more despicable and corrupt companies I can think of. They still have a bit of a monopoly position in that they maintain the central registries of .com and .net domains, amongst others. The domains can be sold by many other registrars, but Verisign maintains the central database. If that's all they did, even as badly as they typically do, it might be fine. But they keep coming up with clever business schemes for tricking people into registering domains with them rather than with competitors, or paying them ransom money for useless services.

One of my clients had a couple of domains names I had registered for her. When it came time to renew them she didn't get my messages because of an old e-mail address, so they expired. They were registered with OpenSRS, which is the registrar I'm a wholesale provider for, and which generally does a great job. They have very clear rules about what happens when a domain expires. After a few days it stops working in DNS, and after a 40 day grace period, it gets deleted. And that is how it works. The domain becomes unregistered after 40 days. After which I, or anybody else, should be able to go and re-register it.

But Verisign got the bright idea of offering a special "service" for domains that are deleted. It consists of that they don't actually delete the domain as instructed, but they offer the recent owner that for $80 they can re-instate it. Which is as well fairly cumbersome and takes 7 days. The period where this arrangement is in place should supposedly be a 30 day "Redemption" period (beyond when the domain should have been deleted) and a 6 day "Pending Delete" period. So, one could just wait till after that time and re-register the domain? Not even that, because Verisign doesn't even stick to their own guidelines. Like it has done for many years, it keeps the domains for much longer times, without any explanation as to why or how long. One of those domain has been two months in the Redemption period. Another has been a month in the Pending Delete period.

ICANN, the entity actually responsible for the whole domain system, is also being blamed for this. However, looking an their previous proposal, meant to help domain owners avoid losing their domain by forgetting to renew it, I realize that it is what my own register already had implemented, as had most others. I.e. if your domain expires, your domain will be on hold for about a month of grace period. Then it will be "pending deletion" for about a week or so after that, and then it will be gone. That's normal registrar practice. That Verisign then adds their own procedure on top of that is totally unnecessary and nothing more than a scam. Kind of like if the post office kept a letter sent to me and then offered me the service of paying $80 for receiving it sooner than in a couple of months.

There have been a string of other similar business practices from Verisign, or proposed future plans. Verisign and ICANN just got sued by a group of registrars for a planned scheme that involved selling already registered domain names by auction to other people, to "guarantee" that one would get the domain name if it expired. And at the same time sell insurance to the actual domain owner, to ensure that nobody else can get their domain.

And Verisign just sued ICANN for trying to hinder them from running the "Site Finder" scam they had started up last year. The idea was that whenever anybody mistyped a domain name address, and accidentally asked for a domain that didn't exist, they'd end up on Verisign's site which would offer to sell them that domain name. Remember, as a registrar Verisign is just one of many competitors, but they used their control of the underlying database to lead people to their own registration service, making them think it would be the "correct" path to follow.

Before that, they tried their luck by sending out phoney renewal notices for domains that weren't registered with them, just like several other unscrupulous companies were. I.e. you get a "renewal" notice in the mail, saying that your domain is expiring on such and such a date, and that if you pay now, it will be renewed and taken care of. Except for that the domain wasn't registered with them, so what they're really asking you to do is to *transfer* the domain to them from your current registrar. But many domain owners don't really understand the fine points of that, and renewing one's domain before it expires always sounds like a good idea.

Around that time too, another of their schemes was that they would automatically throw a wrench in the machinery whenever a domain was requested to be transferred to another registrar. Which is a standard function in the domain system. The receiving registrar checks with the owner of the domain that they really intend to transfer it, and then file the transfer instruction with the domain database, which should then be carried out in a day or two without incident. Instead, Verisign would automatically throw away all of the transfer requests, and not say anything to the owner of the domain, nor to the requesting registrar. And after a couple of weeks, the transfer would time out and fail without explanation. Only if the customer called Verisign and verbally instructed them to allow the transfer to go through would it actually happen. And talking to Verisign is a bit like getting through to the IRS. Plus that the actual customer is likely to have a hard time explaining what is going on to them, as it is naturally a bit technical.

Oh, there's a good deal more, but that's enough of a rant for now. But look at the Verisign Sucks page, as lots of other folks have had the exact same problems I describe here. Or go here or here. Lots of stories of fraud and deception.


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2 comments

6 Mar 2004 @ 19:56 by Natalie @82.35.43.94 : Verisign
Thanks for the useful info about Verisign, Ming. I didn't know all this. My domain name is registered with them and comes up for renewal in June, so I'm not going to re-register. Would I be able to transfer it before then to the company you mentioned? I'd appreciate your letting me know.
augustine DOT nda AT blueyonder DOT co DOT uk  



30 Apr 2008 @ 20:37 by Mike @65.190.143.137 : Verisign
Thank God for people like you. I will never use verisign and I'll will make sure others won't neither  


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