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Register.com: Credit card fraud or convenience?

By Signal 11 in News
Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 02:48:29 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

Today, register.com charged my credit card for three domain name registrations. They did this without authorization from me. It is part of their "SafeRenewal(tm)" system, but it is anything but safe for the consumer. I have cancelled my credit card this afternoon from my bank, and am in the process of opening a fraud investigation. Click below for the details on this would-be e-commerce wonder.


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Register.com has a service called the "SafeRenew(tm) Automatic Renewal System". This service was not around last year when I purchased my three domains. After checking my log files, it appears Register.com sent several warning e-mails urging me to renew my domain prior to the expiration date (today). As I was not interested in renewing, I did not read these e-mails too closely - they never pointed to any live server, and have sat unused for the past year. I cannot say for certainty what the contents of those earlier e-mails were as they have since been deleted (if you have copies of such correspondence, please forward it to me at signal11@mediaone.net). A sample copy of what Register.com may be sending out is here. I receive about 10-15 pieces of junk e-mail from register.com each month which is irrelevant to my domain registrations. They also have no opt-out policy, thus they have won a special spot in my spam filters.

I was rather suprised to check my bank records today to find three $34.99 charges to my account which I had not authorized. Later, after checking my e-mail, I was suprised to find an e-mail from Register.com, who had taken it upon themselves to charge me over one hundred dollars for services I didn't want.

Here is the contents of that e-mail:

Subject: Renewal Confirmation - Thank You!

Signal 11,

The following domain name(s) have been successfully renewed by register.com's SafeRenew(tm) Automatic Renewal System, and your credit card has been charged for the renewal fee of $34.99 per name. A detailed receipt has been sent via email to signal11@mediaone.net

Domain Name(s):

[deleted]

You can continue to manage all aspects of your domain name, including renewing other domain names you have registered through register.com, using Domain Manager(tm), located at:

http://mydomain.register.com.

If you feel that this charge is in error or do not wish to renew the domain name(s) listed above, please contact register.com immediately in one of the following ways:

Contact a Customer Support Representative online by visiting:

http://www.register.com/sr_credit.cgi?[deleted]

Or call:
Toll free in the U.S. and Canada: (877) 209-1434 Outside the U.S. and Canada: +1 (212) 798-9277

All domain name registrations and renewals are subject to the terms and conditions of our Services Agreement, which can be found at:

http://www.register.com/service-agreement.cgi

Thank you for using register.com, the First Step on the Web(tm).

Customer Support
register.com, Inc.
http://www.register.com

Register.com was never authorized by me to debit my account. As the charges are still pending, I need to wait for them to clear (tomorrow) before I can file a formal complaint with my bank. In the meantime, I have done some research and apparently Register.com is aware of the problem, but has not fixed it. It has annoyed many people... one of whom posted Register.com's response to their inquiry here

Excerb: Prior to domain name expiration, Register.com sends out several emails informing registrants of an upcoming expiration and the opportunity to disable the automatic renewal feature if they so desire.

Such an 'opt-out' policy is reminiscent of pornography websites that "verify" your credit card to get onto the site and promise not to bill you if you come back after a certain amount of time to turn off the auto-debit feature. I find such maneuvers, from a consumer standpoint, to be reprehensible. Depending on what legal recourses are available to me, I may be filing a complaint with the State Attorney's office in Minnesota on monday. I do intend to contact Register.com monday as well, and will post an update to this story if necessary at that time.

I could provide additional information on the subject, but I feel all the important facts are now on the table, and would like to open discussion now to the kuro5hin readership...

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Display: Sort:
Register.com: Credit card fraud or convenience? | 47 comments (42 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
So... (2.72 / 22) (#1)
by GandalfGreyhame on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 08:01:51 PM EST

So, as far as I can tell, you're bitching because you didn't read their emails, didn't opt out, and never replied to their email saying that you didn't want to renew the domains. And, for the record, I've not once recieved a piece of spam from them.

Quit yer bitchin'.

-David

Look at it a different way. (4.33 / 3) (#27)
by mindstrm on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:11:06 AM EST

His original dealing with them was done and complete, bought and paid for.

This is as if you bought something at Radio Shack, and then a year later they sent you some more stuff and charged you for it, because in their flyers (Sent to all their past cusomters) it said "if you don't want to buy this stuff from us automatically, respond to this'.

It's illegal. You cannot force the sale of something onto someone.


[ Parent ]
However (4.75 / 4) (#33)
by GandalfGreyhame on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 08:39:42 PM EST

However, when you buy something from Radio Shack, you do not agree to a license/service agreement. If you cared to check their service agreement, you would see that it states, and I quote:

The administrative contact for a domain name will be notified at least thirty (30) days before a renewal fee is due. Unless you instruct us otherwise by contacting Customer Support, your gTLD domain name registration will be automatically renewed for a one-year registration term. .
Section 1.i 4th Paragraph

If Siggy is telling the truth, then this would have been a change to the agreement that was present when he registered the domain name. However, should you care to coninue to read, you will see:

You acknowledge that the Internet, domain name system and the practice of registering and administering domain names are evolving, and therefore you agree that register.com may modify this Agreement, as well as any additional rules or policies that are or may be published by register.com, as necessary to comply with register.com's ICANN agreement, or with any other agreements that register.com is currently bound by or will be bound by in the future, as well as to adjust to changing business circumstances. Your continued use of any domain name registered through register.com shall constitute your acceptance of this Agreement as well as additional rules or policies that are or may be published by register.com, each with the new modifications. If you do not agree to any of such changes, you may request that your domain name registration be cancelled or transferred to a different domain name registrar.
Section 7

But, you may say, he didn't read any of their emails! Tough shit. They notified him according to the terms of their agreement, which state

You agree that, unless other instructions are posted on the register.com's Web site, any notices required to be given under this Agreement will be deemed to have been given if delivered by email or fax, or sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by Federal Express or other recognized overnight delivery service to each of the parties in accordance with the most current contact information you have provided to us, and the contact information for register.com posted on the register.com Web site. All notices shall be effective upon receipt, except that email and fax notices shall be effective upon transmission.
Section 17

I cannot be sure that any of those clauses were there when he registered, however I am fairly certian that the clause about changing the agreement was in fact present. If nobody else cares to I will contact Register.com and ask them for a copy of their agreement circa the time of Siggy's registration, should he choose to provide me with that date.

Once again, in short, he's whining because he didn't read the fine print, and he now realizes he doesn't like what it contains. Thus, he chooses to bitch.

-David

[ Parent ]

Why should this even be an issue? (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by nstenz on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 01:17:18 AM EST

Once again, in short, he's whining because he didn't read the fine print, and he now realizes he doesn't like what it contains. Thus, he chooses to bitch.

Explain to me why these one-time transactions required a contract for anything other than the actual sale in the first place. He didn't plan to renew the domains, so why is there a service agreement? The only 'service' was registering some stupid names in DNS for a year. I agree that he got screwed over by the service agreement. However, I don't think there should be one to screw him over in the first place. He made the same dumb choice many of us do when dealing with stupid companies- but that doesn't make everything we put up with acceptable.

He might be over-reacting just a bit... but I'd be pissed too if it had happened to me. Just so everyone knows, Mavweb does the same thing with their domain hosting- they told me I could renew my account anytime, but the contract never said they'd renew it automatically... They also advertised $14.95/month rates and never stated that I'd automatically be charged for 3 months of service. I looked damn hard at that contract before clicking 'I agree' too...

[ Parent ]

Does it matter? (3.66 / 3) (#39)
by The Answer is 42 on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 01:32:40 AM EST

It doesn't matter why the contract is required. Its there, its plainly spelled out that you are agreeing to the contract by registering your domain names with them. If he (or you, or anybody) doesn't like that there's a contract attached to it, then don't use their service and find somebody else.

I can't comment on the other service you mention, as I've never used it. If however they do violate their contract or add things, then you may have a case. However, the agreement didn't screw Signal 11, Signal 11 screwed himself by not bothering to read it.

-The Ultimate Answer

[ Parent ]

Yes.. but.;l (none / 0) (#40)
by mindstrm on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 11:43:11 AM EST

Even still, that does not give them carte-blanche rights to put anything they want in the contract at a later date. They cannot say 'you must automatically renew for 10x the price.'. They can modify it as business needs require, or as the law requires, but to simply start auto-renewing things? No matter how you slice it, it's forcing a sale on someone.

[ Parent ]
aol... (3.28 / 7) (#2)
by rebelcool on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 08:04:33 PM EST

used to do this (heck, maybe they still do). I once got on there for about 5 minutes several years ago, disliked it and never got back on. They still charged the credit card i logged on with for service afterwards. Perfectly legal, because it was in the fine print i agreed to when i signed on.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Credit cards... (2.85 / 7) (#3)
by Cloudane on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 08:33:20 PM EST

I'm not really experienced with such things, so I may be wrong. But as far as I'm aware...

One of the major flaws of credit cards, is that anyone *can* charge your card whenever they like, if you give them your number. You can't actually do anything about it legally, without very solid proof of fraud. With more secure systems (direct debit comes to mind) you can tell your bank "don't pay these people any more" and they won't.
Try telling that to a credit card company, and they'll say they "tough luck" unless you can prove it's fraud.

That's why I never use credit cards on the first place, no matter how many online products/services I miss out on.

Not really (4.42 / 7) (#8)
by eroberts00 on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 08:54:57 PM EST

This is not really accurate. While it is somewhat true that any merchant could theoretically charge your credit card, most processors require some additional piece of information to process a transaction. This could include either the information on the mag stripe if you buy something at a store, or the expiration date if you buy something on the phone or the Internet. It is exceedingly easy to contest a credit card charge if this information is not present. Don't believe that they will say "tough luck unless you can prove it's fraud." The process is heavily weighted in favor of the consumer and you are almost certain to not have to pay any charges that you did not make.

In response to Signal 11's problem, I would say that it is very likely that you will not have to pay for these charges, especially since Register.com will not be able to provide any proof that you authorized them.



[ Parent ]
Actually I've found the opposite! (3.66 / 6) (#9)
by SIGFPE on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 09:32:14 PM EST

Try telling that to a credit card company, and they'll say they "tough luck" unless you can prove it's fraud.
Actually I find credit companies only to eager to reimburse you in situations like this. In fact I've found them so eager that it was obvious that companies really don't care about any loss due to reimbursing you. The amount of extra money credit card companies can make by making purchases very easy far outweighs the loss due to fraud. Of course the customers pay a price - they need to read their bills carefully.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
credit card protections (4.42 / 7) (#12)
by Delirium on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:38:05 PM EST

I have had the exact opposite experience. Credit card companies are very eager to withold payment in cases of possible fraud, because due to US law they are the ones responsible for such fraud, not the cardholder. Debit cards and direct-debit on the other hand, give the bank no such incentive, as any money lost due to fraud is your problem, not the bank's.

I've had to use this a few times, and the credit card companies have been very prompt and helpful in all circumstances. They generally will immediately withhold payment as soon as you phone them, conduct an investigation, and then either proceed to pay the charge and bill you (if it's deemed that it was not fraudulent), or they'll inform the biller that they won't pay it.

In fact some people have complained that credit card companies are too eager to do this. For example some ISPs have written into their contracts things like "if you send spam, we will charge you $500 clean-up costs and terminate your account." Then when the ISP tries to charge $500 to the spammer's credit card, the spammer calls up his credit card company and them almost invariably refuse payment, because the charge was not explicitly authorized by the cardholder (in general you can only charge a credit card if you both have a legitimate debt from that person and explicit authorization from them to collect that debt via their credit card).

So anyway yeah, credit cards rock. They're safe too: if it gets stolen you're only responsible for the first $50 in charges in any circumstances, and you're not responsible for any charges made after you phone the credit card company to inform them it was stolen (so if you realize it right away, you owe $0. If you realize it 2 weeks later, you own $50 at most). Compare that to debit cards, where if you realize a few weeks after the fact that your card was stolen, you can be out up to the entire balance in your account.

[ Parent ]

Yup! (none / 0) (#42)
by ucblockhead on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 04:20:47 PM EST

I worked for a time for a few merchants and you are completely right about this. In any sort of credit card fraud situation, the merchant eats the loss, not the customer, and not the credit card issuer. The merchants have to put in a lot of effort to make sure that they have the paper trail to prove charges. Otherwise, they are out the charge.

In this particular case, I would be absolutely stunned and amazed if the credit card company sided with register.com.

Also, in situations like this, if the credit card company has to reverse charges, it charges the merchant. That's why it is always important to put the "well, I'll just call the credit card company and file a dispute" on the table, and that is why it is always important to get the credit card on the phone as soon as possible. They will help you.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Actually.. it's the other way around. (4.60 / 5) (#26)
by mindstrm on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:07:29 AM EST

The burden of proof is on the merchant to prove that you authorized them to make the transaction. You, as the cardholder, are the CUSTOMER of the credit card company, and they DO treat you as such. Anyone with the proper means CAN charge your card, and those same people also pay the penalties associated with cancelled transactions.

I have had charges refunded before, and I didn't have to 'prove' it was fraud; I simply stated that the transaction never occurred, and I never bought that stuff. The onus then goes to the merchant to prove otherwise. Barring something shipped to my house, or a signature, or other somewhat concrete evidence, they will have trouble doing so. This is why many online companies ask for address verification, or for the extra numbers on your card; it helps to show that it was you who actually authorized the transaction.

With a credit card, again, to restate what is in most every credit card contract: You are not responsible for charges you did not authorize to the card, period. That's what I've never understood about the paranoia of using your credit card online, it's not YOUR credit card, it's theirs.. it's a token to tell merchants you are extended credit.



[ Parent ]
Discussion not about Register.com (4.41 / 12) (#4)
by Signal 11 on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 08:33:29 PM EST

I'd like to point out quickly that while I'm certainly annoyed with Register.com, the discussion need not be limited to register.com - this kind of charging by companies (both e-commerce and not) is fairly common, and in some cases legal (who reads the fine print anyway).

The discussion I would like to see is on the ethical and legal ramifications of these automatic charging systems, which I believe are misleading. There is also something to be said for non-negotiable contracts - you cannot negotiate your contract (the fine print) with anyone these days, either you accept it and get the product, or not. The contract, in its original form, was a negotiated item. Amongst other business' it still is, however from business to individuals, such contracts are "take it or leave it" - there is no requirement that an unethical clause be questioned or removed, and no room for negotiation to get a different licensing agreement. As many businesses are fairly homogenious in their licensing (that is, they see a "good idea" and they all adopt it), and the fine print is continuing to lengthen on every product I purchase, all without the option to negotiate it, I feel there are definate ethical considerations here.

I do not believe the 'contract' I agreed to had such a provision for this automatic charging, or if it was, it was sufficiently vaguely worded to not be obvious to me. Another common trick is a clause which says something to the effect of 'we can modify this contract at any time without notice to you, and you agree to be bound by the new terms'. Essentially, they could "upgrade" the contract to sell your soul to Satan and if this clause is legally enforceable, you can kiss your eternal ass goodbye. If you believe in such things, of course.

So please, don't focus just on register.com in your discussions. Thank you.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

auto-payment plans are ok (4.25 / 4) (#11)
by Delirium on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:31:00 PM EST

I think they're fine as long as they're authorized. If I sign up for a domain name with the understanding that I will be billed for it once a year unless I cancel it, then it's perfectly okay if they charge me once a year. It's the same as my cable service - they charge my credit card $30-something each month without me explicitly authorizing it each time, unless I cancel my service.

The main problem here seems to be that they put you into such a plan without your prior authorization.

[ Parent ]

amusing... (4.14 / 14) (#10)
by radar bunny on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:09:11 PM EST

I think the most amusing thing is that if they hadn't charged your card and you wanted the domains, then you would be posting some story about how they unfairly took your domains away from you.

Beleive it or not, this is a convience that *most* people enjoy so they dont have services taken away from them. I have stuff in a public storage place and they do this for me --- so does my ISP, so does my cable company.

Maybe you sit around and register for domains that "sit unused" for over a year, but most people register for one or two and use them and don't want to loose them so they can appreciate a sevice like this. Also, as a register.com user, I can also comfirm what others have posted about not recieving any spam mail, so putting them in your spam filters sounds more like a personal problem.

Putting words in my mouth. (3.66 / 3) (#30)
by Signal 11 on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 11:48:16 AM EST

then you would be posting some story about how they unfairly took your domains away from you.

No.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

wtf? (4.00 / 3) (#32)
by CrayDrygu on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 05:09:37 PM EST

Mostly restating Sig11's reply to your post here, but why are you trying to put words into his mouth, especially when he clearly stated in the article that no, he wouldn't be complaining, because he wanted the domains to expire.

I have no doubt that there are people who would find this service useful. Those people can opt-in to the service. This should not be an opt-out service, especially since it involves taking money from people without their consent (this program was not in place when he registered, and not saying no is not the same as saying yes).

[ Parent ]

clear policy (4.40 / 10) (#13)
by ikarus on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 11:13:03 PM EST

i have several domains with register.com, and i too recieved the emails. i thought the email was clear, and i was told several times, that if i did not say otherwise they would renew my domains. i don't think they did anything dirty, and frankly, i like the fact that they will automatically renew my domains. you can also easily disable this feature on you account(s).

when you registered the domain, you agreed to a contract, and i'm sure within that contract it states the contract may change from time to time. it's pretty standard. i doubt it's fraud.

Terms can change.. (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by mindstrm on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:02:50 AM EST

but cannot change to such a degree that you are required to pay them more money where something was previously free.

[ Parent ]
Yes.. but. (4.00 / 3) (#28)
by mindstrm on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:12:58 AM EST

It may have been clear; the point is, it's still reverse-marketing. I cannot just send mail to all my past clients saying 'if you don't want me to charge your credit card for my new service, you must respond to this mail saying so'. It's illegal.

If Sig11 didn't authorize the charges, then he'll get his money back, period.


[ Parent ]
Changable Contract (none / 0) (#44)
by mcherm on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 05:27:09 PM EST

As I understand it, the basic principle of contract law is that two parties voluntarily agree to give up certain goods and/or rights in an exchange they find mutually benefitial.

So, for instance, a contract signed with a gun to your head is invalid. A contract in which one party receives NO BENEFIT AT ALL is invalid (although it can be hard to prove this is the case). A contract which one party is incapable of understanding is invalid (isn't it?).

So first of all, I'd like to ask this... is a contract which one party HAS NEVER SEEN valid? Say it's written in invisible ink (and I know that... no fraud here) and I sign it. Does this contract have any validity? What if I'm given the *opportunity* to read it (they'll provide a translation of the paragraphs in Urdu if I ask, but if I sign without asking, then it's still binding).

My personal opinion is that you MUST be offered an opportunity to view the contract or it's not binding. If there was no opportunity to read the contract, then it's non-binding. If one party CHOOSES not to read it, then we enter a grey area where case-by-case judicial review (with some basic principles guiding the review) may be necessary. For instance, if the "secret" part of the contract can only be revealed through a 2-week process involving contacting the manufacturer's legal department, then that's really NOT enforcable. On the other hand, if the contract involves obscure technical terms that most laypeople couldn't understand, BUT the salespeople are trained to understand the terms and explain in plain language whenever any customer asks, then the contract is clearly enforcable.

Well, it may be a fruitful topic of debate on its own, but to get back to the original topic, let's posit that you accept my position: that contracts which are "secret" from one party are NOT enforcable, except if there are (genunine) opportunities to view them.

In that case, consider the entire class of contracts which contain the clause "Party A can modify this contract without notice, and Party B automatically accepts these changes." Absolutely ANYTHING could go in this changed version, and party A is not being allowed to see it (it's "secret"), so THIS IS NOT A VALID CONTRACT.

I prefer instead the kind of clause that banks tend to introduce in their contracts with customers: "If Party A wishes to make minor modifications this contract, then they will notify party B by [contact method]. Party B has [time period] in which to close their account [or otherwise drop original contract] after which the changed terms go into effect."



-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]

Credit card fraud? (3.33 / 3) (#16)
by ti dave on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 05:10:11 AM EST

It's really more like Credit Card Tyranny, or as I like to refer to it, Exploitation of the Ignorant.

How is this different than any other Crappy Sign-your-Rights-Away Contract?

I am of the firm opinion that Contracts shouldn't be altered by either party after the agreement is made, unless BOTH parties agree to the changes, in no uncertain terms.

Same goes for TOS and AUPs...If corps want to change terms mid-stream, get on the phone and verify that the customer agrees to the changes. No default renewals on anything!

ti_dave
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

Register.com customers (3.14 / 7) (#17)
by Floyd Tante on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 05:52:30 AM EST

Can go to https://secure.register.com/renewals/disable_saferenew/ to disable this system.

Amusingly, this is all very clearly spelled out in the emails which you never bothered to read.

-- Floyd

The emails he never read (3.00 / 3) (#20)
by Shadowlion on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 12:05:12 PM EST

It wasn't that he neglected to read them (or, as you phrased it, didn't bother to read), it's that he set up his spam filters to block all of Register.com's emails. Now, there /could/ be something said for not simply quarantining Register's emails, but I think that his filter system is hardly a unique thing.

[ Parent ]
Yes. but.. (4.50 / 4) (#24)
by mindstrm on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:01:54 AM EST

He is not required to read them. His deal with register.com was complete when he registered his domains for the required term. THe fact that they keep sending him emails is irrelevant; it is not up to him to read them. His dealing with them as a customer was complete. They cannot take past customers and just bill their credit cards for things without their permission, no matter what.

An analogy might be: Radio sSack sending you a bunch of new stuff and saying 'we billed your credit card for the new stuff we sent you because we thought you would like it. You should have read our junkmail that said you had to opt-out of this program'. It's not legal, period.



[ Parent ]
The new registrars really push it (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by thunderbee on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 09:45:57 AM EST

they are on top of my spam list, and generally do behave in inacceptable ways.
I urge you to try gandi.
They're non profit. Things are simple and honest with them. I (my company) now registrers all domains with them, and slowly move our older domains from netsol over to them.
Its simple, fast, cheap and efficient. They don't try to get you to "pre-register" some new top-level domains with no guarantee whatsoever that you'll someday get what you pay for. And they're ICANN accredited of course.

The other side of the problem (4.00 / 6) (#19)
by Paul Johnson on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 10:25:31 AM EST

I've seen the other side of this. My employer is a large multinational company with a .com website. A few years ago this went down suddenly. It turned out that Network Solutions (the only people you could get to do this then) had sent a single email notifying us that the 2-year fee for our domain name was due. Unfortunately the nominated individual had left in the meantime and it had not occured to anyone to notify Network Solutions of this. When their email bounced they cancelled our domain registration, and our website became unreachable.

This sort of thing can do a company a lot of damage. So automatic renewals have a distinct advantage. But on the other hand I can quite see the original posters complaint, given that spam is being sent through the same channel as important notifications. I'd suggest changing registrars.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

Call them up.. (4.80 / 5) (#21)
by DeadBaby on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 02:13:51 PM EST

And explain and they'll take the charge off in less than 30 seconds. Customer reps know these things are scams and are often very willing to correct the problem.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
Business no longer practices business (4.00 / 4) (#22)
by turtleshadow on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 12:20:31 AM EST

Unfortunately on both sides of the fence consumer and producer the basic tenents of business are being forgotten in the rush to make money

Most technological companies know about as much on paying the electric bill as paying for the domain name.
I mean the work typically goes to the least paid, least "important" person in the company and they have no clue as to why they do what they do and it often halts a company dead when done wrong.

  • Get the duty to the "right" person
    When a former director was on a cost cutting spree his secretary decided to disconnect all the conference room phone lines with our provider -- Savings!! -- except that it took 2x the cost to reactivate them after being publically embarrased in front of customers. After this blunder all "IT" billing now gets routed to the CIOs area beyond the fifedoms of Directors. Dead project get billing stopped. We'd had a few sub-contractors send in a few "bills" for dead projects that had to be disputed. If they went to the local Director they'd have been paid.
  • Insist on Sending no SPAM and Accepting no SPAM with the transaction
    Secondly electronic reciepts & invoices while gaining popularity are being exploited and soon the Fed will have to step in. Our staff was caught not only printing out but keeping the 2-3 page invoices sent to use that only 1 page was the actual receipt the rest was advert/promo.
    A few angry calls from the Head Honchos to the vendors on taking our business elsewhere and why its a waste to sell high ticket server item stuff to non I/T clerical staff cleared that up.

    You say not a problem? It's our [the buyer] toner, paper, time, cabinets ... that get wasted not theirs [the seller]. We prosocute junk faxes as well.
    Until Business agrees what is an invoice only mail address -- no SPAM allowed --commercial enterprise will "miss" electronic reciepts/invoices and both parties will spend more sorting the whole thing out.
  • Ensure you know who you open your wallet up to and when that wallet will be open.
    On a few occasions in a former job the automatic payment system really burned us and also gave us grace. The situation was the facility rent check. When things cleared the bank to soon/too late our banker who was more friendly to us than the building owner was happy to provide ample assistance for the resolution. We were accused of missing payments (bank timestamps & records helped). We were sucked dry early during the retail season (we ensured the bank now won't release funds early even though they are there to our landlord)

    OK so you say this all doesnt apply its all Brick & morter stuff... I say thats the exact point it should. Its business and business has no room for sloppiness or improper practices.
  • Email should always route to the right person
  • No SPAM in the transaction
  • Regular Payments should be scheduled and treated as a "contract" no matter how little the sum.

    Turtleshadow

  • You should have no problems sorting this out. (3.75 / 4) (#23)
    by mindstrm on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 09:59:22 AM EST

    I would surmise that this is illegal. A company cannot, without your express permission, start charging you for something you didn't ask for.

    I can recall a cable company doing this; they added a bunch of new channels, and then a few months later started billing everyone extra fees unless they had called in to 'cancel' the new service. It was taken to court and deemed illegal; I froget the proper term for it. You cannot 'reverse-market' stuff to people.


    What register.com should have done (3.50 / 2) (#29)
    by spiv on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 11:23:39 AM EST

    In general, I agree that it is bad practise for a company to charge a credit card beyond what was originally agreed to.

    On the other hand, automatic renewal of domain names is a useful and in may cases desirable feature.

    The obvious thing would be for register.com to do have done this in an "opt-in" fashion. They should not have changed the behaviour of existing account, but instead emailed people to let them know of the new service that was available. This way they still make the service available, without surprising customers. If someone doesn't read the mail, they miss out on the new feature, instead of getting charged against their will.

    If they want to allow new sign-ups to have this on by default, that's okay, so long as it is stated up-front. It's the surprising existing customers that is the problem.

    I've no idea over the legality of their actions, I'm just commenting on their customer service. They probably assumed that most customers want to keep their domains indefinitely, and thought they were doing something their customers wanted.

    -Spiv.



    So who do you use to register domains? (3.00 / 1) (#31)
    by warpeightbot on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 03:44:55 PM EST

    Well, now we know not to use register.com (my bad, I just dropped them a nastygram telling them to blast everything they ever knew about me and shove it) (I didn't want the domain anymore anyway, having lost DSL) and that NSI is just Wrong, so the question then becomes:

    Who is a good registrar? There was one in there somewhere that was a non-profit, but I think I'd like more options....

    Thanks, gang, I know you'll come up with something....

    Suggestion. (3.50 / 2) (#34)
    by static on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 09:24:01 PM EST

    I use INWW and am happy with their service. The only kicker is that they are physically in Melborne, Australia. OTOH, their telephone service is very good.

    Wade

    [ Parent ]

    Dotster.com (2.66 / 3) (#35)
    by brunes69 on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:29:15 PM EST

    Dotster.com is the service I use, its very cheap and has excellent customer feedback.

    ---There is no Spoon---
    [ Parent ]
    Register.com (2.66 / 3) (#37)
    by The Answer is 42 on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 12:14:25 AM EST

    I use Register.com for a couple domains. I've not once gotten a piece of spam from them. Unlike others, I also read the fine print and understood the service agreement before giving them my credit card number.

    -42

    [ Parent ]

    This is what I received from register.com... (4.50 / 4) (#36)
    by infinitey on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:55:57 PM EST

    Hi, this is my first time posting. I also received e-mails from register.com for a few domains that were expiring soon. I receive some spam from them too, but I make it a habit to sift through my junk mail by reading the relevant and "appropriate" sender e-mail addresses and topics. I think it is better than filtering them out, although more time consuming... Anyway, here is one e-mail I received from them almost verbatim.

    ---

    Dear register.com Subscriber,

    The domain name(s) listed below will expire on:
    [date].

    Register.com offers the following renewal features:

    1-Quick Renew, the easy renewal feature you can use at any time
    or
    2-SafeRenew(tm), our Automatic Renewal Service. The domain
    names below may be enrolled in this feature. See
    below for more information.

    In order to protect your online identity, it is recommended that
    you renew your domain name(s) now using our easy Quick Renew
    feature. Click on the link(s) below or copy and paste
    the appropriate link (which may be broken into two lines) into
    the Address or Location field of your Web browser for each
    domain name you would like to renew:

    ****************************************************************
    Expiration Date: [date]

    [domain]

    [URL to renew domain]

    ****************************************************************

    The domains above are enrolled in SafeRenew Automatic Renewal
    Service. This means that upon expiration, we will automatically
    renew these domain name(s) and charge the credit card on file
    for the domain name(s) for one additional year of registration at
    $34.99 per name. This service will ensure
    that these domain names are secured in the registry for one
    additional year from the current expiration date.

    To verify that your billing and credit card information is current,
    please log into Domain Manager at http://mydomain.register.com
    and click on the Billing Contact link.

    If you do not wish to use register.com's SafeRenew Automatic
    Renewal Service, you may either renew your name(s) now through
    Quick Renew, or visit the following URL to log in to
    disable the service:

    [URL]

    Questions? For more information on renewing your
    domain name(s) through register.com, please visit:

    [URL]

    To contact a Customer Support representative online,
    please visit:

    [URL]

    Or call:
    Toll free in the U.S. and Canada: (877) 209-1434
    Outside the U.S. and Canada: +1 (212) 798-9277

    All domain name registrations and renewals are subject to the
    terms and conditions of our Services Agreement, which can be
    found at:

    [URL]

    Thank you for using register.com, the First Step on the Web(tm).

    Customer Support
    register.com, inc.
    http://www.register.com


    - Copy and Pasting Instructions -

    Highlight the URL with your cursor. Once you have highlighted
    the URL, hit CTRL + C (for Mac "Open Apple" + C) to copy the
    highlighted area.

    Open an Internet browser window and click in the Address or
    Location field. Hit CTRL + V (for Mac "Open Apple" + V) to paste
    the URL into the address field. If necessary, repeat this
    process with the second line of the URL. Please be sure to
    delete spaces if there are any in the URL - otherwise
    you will not be able to connect to the proper page.

    Once you have entered and looked over the URL, hit the 'Enter'
    or 'Return' key on your keyboard. The Web page displayed will
    allow you to renew your domain name(s).

    Notification ID: [number]

    ---

    It may be hard to argue with them, but I must admit, I almost missed the SafeRenew part, assuming that it was just another annoying renew notice. Good luck.

    -infinitey

    Credit Card Charges & Resolution (4.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Elkor on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 12:38:28 PM EST

    The magic words for Credit card conflicts are "I would like to dispute this charge."

    These words to your Credit Card co. (CCco) will immediately start an investigation. The charges will be credited back to your account for a period of 90 days. The company then contacts the vendor that made the charge and asks for verification of the transaction (signed carbons, further proof, etc). If they don't get this proof within the 90 days, the credit becomes permanent. The Credit Card Companies also keep track of the number of disputed charges a vendor has had. This in turn affects the vendor's credit rating.

    These words also work well with the vendor, since they are fined for making fraudulent charges that are successfully contested. (Think of it like a returned check fee). If they are the ones to issue the credit, not the CCco then they avoid the fine and bad mark on the credit rating.

    Just a few weeks ago I had a hotel that I stayed at last November charge me over $100 for a room stay in March. I immediately called my credit card company and disputed the charge. Since the hotel couldn't provide a signed check-in receipt, the credit stood.

    One thing I am thinking about doing is changing credit cards every year, or getting my CCco to issue me a new number. This would prevent people from billing me again later because of an "implementation of a new and exciting feature!"

    Or, I will find two CCcos that will let me deactivate an account for a year and I will alteranate.

    Regards,
    Elkor

    "I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
    -Margo Eve
    what might the long term affects be? (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by coffee17 on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 01:20:47 PM EST

    Or, I will find two CCcos that will let me deactivate an account for a year and I will alteranate.

    This will probably reflect poorly on your credit record, but I'm not postive. Certainly you could probably do that easily, but if you ever wanted to get a "real" loan from a bank for a car/home they'll regard that as suspicious.

    Not that everyone needs a new SUV or home, but it might be worth looking into how this might affect you later. I know that the opening date of each account is listed on my credit cards, but while there is an entry for "account number" I think that might be an internal contraption, because one of my cards was issued a new number after leaving it behind when moving, and while there is a seperate entry; the "open date" is the same date as my original card. So you might want to see if you can just get a company to reissue you new numbers yearly or so, instead of actually opening and closing accounts; and you would especially want to stay away from opening and closing accounts with a different company each year, as it will look questionable.

    -coffee


    [ Parent ]

    Reissuing versus opening anew (none / 0) (#46)
    by Elkor on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 05:44:08 PM EST

    Yes, you are correct. Reissuing would definitely be prefferable to opening new accounts with different companies. That was my first thought, but if enough people start doing this, the companies might object.

    Hence the idea of finding a company that would let me "deactivate the card" for a year so that no new charges would be processed against it. The likelihood of a company coming back 2 years later and charging me for services is less likely than one trying to get me 4-6 mos later (as in the case of the hotel chain). This would probably be the best of both worlds for both myself and the CCco.

    Regards,
    Elkor
    "I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
    -Margo Eve
    [ Parent ]
    whatever happened to internet cards? (none / 0) (#47)
    by coffee17 on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 07:42:10 PM EST

    I remember hearing about some company thinking up some scheme for disposable credit card numbers... this would seem to be a great scheme to me. Maybe have a few accounts which can be setup to be multiple use things (it's convenient to have one card with an ISP for monthly billing), and have disposable numbers for others, so not only is one pretected from purposeful additional billing, but also from accidental (I think I genuinely was accidentally billed twice once) double billing. However, to do this practically would require a larger number sampling size which wouldn't lend well to memorization... Hmmm, I wonder what would be a good way to work something like this out...

    -coffee


    [ Parent ]

    Use American Express Private Payments (none / 0) (#43)
    by cod on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 05:12:46 PM EST

    It generates a one time use card number that bills back to your card. So the merchant never sees your real card number and the one time number won't work again if somebody tries to use it. There is a windows client - or you can do it from their web site. I would assume the other major credit cards have a similar service...

    I'm not an employee or otherwise affiliated with Amex - I just like the Private Payments service.

    Register.com: Credit card fraud or convenience? | 47 comments (42 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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