Network Solutions Scam

As if you needed another reason to avoid the high-handed, high-priced offerings at Network Solutions (NetSol), here’s another quirky NetSol scam masquerading as a service.

Catherine Palmiere is the President of Adam Personnel and Adam Temporary Services, one of New York City’s premiere employment agencies and staffing services. Catherine asked me to register a new domain name for her company and point it to the Temps page on her primary website. She suggested www.adamtemporaryservices.com and www.adamtemps.com.

We decided on the latter, which I promptly checked for availability. To my surprise, it was taken. Looking further, I noticed it had been "taken" just moments before her email to me. Wow, what a coincidence. But wait, lighting struck twice! The other domain, too, was taken. And guess who had ’em both: Network Solutions, LLC. Both were "registered" for one year, with nameservers set to reserveddomainname.com.

NetSol puppet

It turns out the domains are actually available, but with a catch. The domain records say "This Domain is available at NetworkSolutions.com, 13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300, HERNDON, VA 20171 US." You can’t directly register these domains with another registrar, say GoDaddy or Tucows, unless you fork over fees to a go-between or domain name broker. But you can register them directly at NetSol — and pay their inflated fees.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, what happened here was that Cathy at Adam had checked availability for these domains on the NetSol website and NetSol immediately registered the names. Since Cathy has a NetSol account and was logged in when she checked availability, this sort of made sense. She’s their customer and reserving the names for her made sure she’d have them available.

But wait. NetSol will also let me — or you or anybody — register those names, as long as we do it through NetSol. So maybe the preemptive, protective reservations weren’t for Cathy’s benefit, but for NetSol’s. To test this, I used a no-cookies PC to check the availability on the NetSol website (without logging in, of course) of a silly domain name, viz. cranberryham.com. I don’t know if cranberry ham is Kosher or not, but I do know that (a) I’m not a NetSol client, (b) I researched the domain first elsewhere, and found "no registered match", then checked at NetSol, and (c) as of today, it’s now reserved by them for a year*! And that ain’t Kosher for sure.

The problem here is simple. It’s called conflict of interest. The company which issues domain names — in the public’s interest — shouldn’t be allowed to register, reserve or otherwise control any names other than the ones it needs for its own website and email. It’s time to get the fox out of the henhouse. And let the cranberries propagate without grafting or layering.

* Although the record shows an expiry one year after the creation date, the "registration," is probably set to expire in five days. After all, NetSol is tricky, not stupid. Registrars can create a registration, then delete it within five days at no cost. The five-day grace period was designed to allow them to fix mistakes without penalty. The scam is they’re using it to penalize clients!

P.S. Others have discovered and commented on this Networks Solution scam as well.


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