The inevitable time came when I needed to buy a new domain name, so I did what I always do and started searching the web for discount coupons. In my experience, rarely is it necessary to pay full price for a domain name because so many registrars offer deep discounts for new registrations. You might have to search a bit for a coupon that works, but they’re out there.
Most of the time it’s easy to find a coupon in the three dollar range for a new .com, and more than occasionally I can find a $.99 coupon floating around to take care of my needs. The problem you run into over time is that most of the registrars only offer these deep discounts for new customers.
They are trying to lure new customers in by selling new domains at a loss, hoping to make money on up-sells and renewals later down the line. This means that for many registrars, you can only use this strategy once and then subsequently the coupons become ineligible and you have to move onto the next company.
So during my research I came across a coupon for Yahoo Small Business offering new .com domains for $1.99. I registered my domain (this domain- thediamondsky.com) and navigated through the usual up-sell attempts making sure that I hadn’t selected any unwanted up-sells inadvertently.
As you can tell I am thrifty with my domain purchases, and I don’t like to spend the extra money to purchase private domain registration either. To me the whole concept is pretty much a rip off. Most registrars charge around $10 per year just to keep your personal information like name, email, and address out of the public WHOIS directory.
I usually skirt the rules and save my money by manually changing the WHOIS registration in the domain control panel after securing the domain name. I also don’t have any intention of renewing the domain with that registrar at the end of its one-year term, so I turn off automatic renewals, which most registrars automatically turn on in the hopes that people will forget about it.
If I decide that I want to keep my domain after one year, I will transfer it to my registrar of choice at that time (currently namecheap). So let’s take a look at some of the problems I ran into with Yahoo domains:
The registration name is uneditable and shown publicly in WHOIS
The first bit of trouble I came across was when I tried to edit the WHOIS information in the Yahoo domain control panel. As you can see from the screenshot, the name of the registrant is an uneditable field. I could change the email and physical address, but my name was fixed and could not be changed. This was the first time I run across this situation in all of the registrars that I previously used.
After doing some research on Google, it became apparent that even those people who pay $.75 per month for private registration still have their name out there for all to see-it is not masked in any way. A few people had managed to get the registration name changed by sending a note to Yahoo customer support. I sent a note requesting this change early this morning but have still not gotten a reply on the matter.
This completely overrides any usefulness that the private registration offers in the first place. The reason why people pay extra money is because they don’t want their name publicly displayed. It makes no sense to me why Yahoo has their system set up this way.
In my research, I found that many people also had problems relating to this when they went to transfer their domains from Yahoo to another registrar. The process of transferring a domain requires that the new registrar send a confirmation email to the address listed on the public WHOIS records. People using Yahoo private registration were not getting the email forwarded to their private address, which should be the case. Even after repeated contacts to technical support, they could not resolve the issue.
So in effect, their domain was being held hostage. In order to transfer their domain, they were being required to make their personal information public, the same information they had been paying for months to keep private. Many people suspected that this was a cynical attempt by Yahoo Small Business to keep customers from going to competitors.
Update: Yahoo customer support responded to my request that they would update the uneditable field in my WHOIS registration for me. So I sent them the pen name that I use for my blogs. So, hopefully that problem is solved.
Auto-renewal can not be disabled in Yahoo domain manager
Another very disappointing part of this experience is that Yahoo makes it impossible to turn off the auto renewal feature for domains. In order to turn off auto renewal, you have to cancel the domain service which also cancels any domains that you have housed in that service. So in effect you lose access to the domain that you have already prepaid for.
On top of that, the rate that Yahoo charges to renew a domain at the end of its term is a ridiculous $34.95. If you wait too long before transferring it to another registrar, you are trapped in the unenviable position of either paying this exorbitant rate or losing your domain.
To me, this is just a cynical and shady business policy on the part of Yahoo. They lure in unsuspecting customers with the initial discount rate for the first year, and then lock them in for a ridiculous renewal price and make it very difficult for them to leave if they so choose. Upon inquiry, they told me that this policy is clearly laid out in their terms of service. I’m sure it is, but few people have the time to read all the fine print and this just doesn’t seem like the right way to go about things.
Credit card information cannot be deleted from Yahoo account
After reading many reports about Yahoo charging customers after they believed they had already canceled their service, I attempted to delete my credit card information from my Yahoo account. But I found that it couldn’t be deleted, and it can only be altered if another valid card number is entered. Yahoo places a small charge on the card in order to test whether it is valor not before allowing you to make any changes. Ugh.
After my bad experience with Yahoo Small Business, it became apparent that I needed to write a detailed blog post about it. I thought Go Daddy was the sleaziest registrar, but apparently I was wrong. Hopefully, it will save you some time and worry. There are just too many better options out there, so steer clear of Yahoo. That is my advice.
I keep all my domains housed at namecheap.com (full disclosure: that is my affiliate link) now, and I recommend them highly. First off, they offer free one year private registration for any new domain or transfer. And privacy only costs one or two dollars per year after that (depending on whether you use a coupon not), not the $10 that most other registrars charge.
Also, Namecheap doesn’t have all the ridiculous up sells that most of the other have. It doesn’t seem like it’s been designed by the head of the marketing department, if you will, like Go Daddy and so many others do. Don’t you get sick of all these companies trying to sell you useless crap when you just want a cheap domain name?
If you’ve had experience with Yahoo domains, please let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my assessment. I would love to hear if any of you have the same or different take on the situation.