We have a few small updates to announce with respect to domain registration. There will be some small price changes, both up and down. We are also adding support for registering some of the new competitive gTLD’s. Finally, for those who choose our RespectMyPrivacy service, it will now be automatically prepaid (including the 10% prepayment discount) during all registrations and renewals.
Domain registration pricing changes
In the past, our system has always limited us to charging the exact same amount for a domain registration, regardless of TLD. But actually TLD prices vary widely, so that not only meant that we weren’t always able to give the best price, but also, a lot of higher-priced TLDs were simply not feasible to add. That limitation has been removed.
The main effect is that the prices for some TLD’s (biz, info, and org) will be going up a little, but prices for others (com, net, and name) will be going down a little. Here’s a quick table:
Across the entire portfolio of our members’ registered domain names, this is a net decrease in cost, largely because com is so much more popular than everything else. And those price decreases will be live today. However, we don’t want to spring price increases on people without notice, so those won’t take effect until January 1st. If you’ve got any of those, get your renewals in now!
This change will also let us track various “promotions” that some gTLDs run fairly often on new registrations. (Mainly biz, info, and org.) We’re not a huge fan of these “deals;” they never apply to transfers, renewals, or multiple-year registrations so it seems like they only exist to lure people in with artificially low first-year prices. But, still, if we can go get a lower price for our members, why wouldn’t we? For example, through the end of the year, new 1-year registrations in biz can be had for $3.49 and new 1-year registrations in org are $4.99. If that’s something you were going to do anyway, congratulations, we found you a few extra bucks.
We’re also adding support for three additional gTLDs: .click, .club, and .guru. This is sort of an experiment. Of the dozens of competitive gTLDs that have been introduced in the past year or so, we picked these three for two key reasons:
A) They were easy to implement.
B) According to registration statistics, they are relatively popular.
In principle, we’re huge fans of gTLD diversification. The .com TLD is kind of a lost cause. Not only is it getting pretty crowded, it is run by Verisign, and ICANN gave them a sweetheart contract that auto-renews into perpetuity and allows significant price increases at regular intervals that require no technical or business justification. Things are not going to improve over time in .com. GTLD diversification is really the only way to compete with that, by breaking the “.com = the Internet” default mindset. And they should be able to compete vigorously on price and quality.
In practice, that hasn’t worked out yet. Most of the new gTLDs have been backed by speculators who seem to be in a race to see how ridiculous they can be. True story: there is a .luxury TLD that is almost $500/year. With a few exceptions (.click seems pretty low-cost at $6.59), they’ve all got some idea of why they’re worth vastly more than regular domains. We think that with a few exceptions, they’re probably wrong about that. But it’ll take some time, possibly a couple of years, for the operators of most of those gTLD’s to figure out that they’re not one of the exceptions. Once that happens, we anticipate the cost level of competitive gTLD registrations will fall sharply; there’s no reason a general-purpose “domains for the rest of us” gTLD couldn’t operate profitably charging $5/year or less. But we’ve been wrong before, and the stakes to enter the gTLD game are a cool $500,000, so don’t hold your breath.
Still, we’re sticking our toes in the water to try to help things along. If this works out, we’ll rapidly add a lot more gTLD’s. Pretty much anything that’s not too much hassle and doesn’t make that weird “huhuhuh” laugh come out when we look at the price. Feel free to campaign for your favorite in the comments!
To avoid raising any hopes, I want to make clear that we still don’t have any immediate plans to support in-house registration of ccTLDs (e.g. .uk and .de). They present both legal and technical problems that simply don’t exist with the new gTLDS. We fiddle with .us from time to time, since the hassles there are only technical, but we were not able to add it for this update.
Expanding prepaid privacy
For most of our services, pay-per-day makes a lot of sense: they can be added and removed at any time. But pay-per-day privacy service isn’t a good fit for pay-per-year domains, and that occasionally leads to problems.
Sometimes, people register a domain with privacy and then forget about the privacy. Likewise, a lot of people are really confused because privacy service doesn’t go away when the domain expires. Instead, it hangs around for about 75 more days, until the deletion date, since that’s how long a domain’s information remains publicly visible. And, on top of those two things, privacy is the only service intentionally allowed to overdraft member accounts.
The interaction between these factors can (and, unfortunately, sometimes does) lead to what we could euphemistically call a bad member experience, and it’s one of a few specific things about our service that contribute to the creation of angry ex-members.
To combat that, we have long offered the option to prepay RespectMyPrivacy service on domains in exchange for a 10% discount. It generally doesn’t benefit us for people to pay in advance, which is why most services don’t offer that type of discount, but in this case, giving up that 10% is worth it to prevent the chance of overdrawn accounts and the occasional nasty comments about our character that sometimes result. But anecdotal reports indicate that relatively few people know about that option.
As a result, we’re automatically going to apply privacy prepayment, with the discount, during all future registrations and renewals of domains that use our privacy service. We will soon expand that to prepaying privacy on auto-renewals and transfers as well. If you have a domain that isn’t currently prepaid, nothing will change until you renew it. (But the option to log in and manually prepay is still there if you want to save the money.)
That’s similar to what other providers do. Less similar to what they do, privacy service will remain fully pro-rata refundable if you remove it from a domain or if you transfer the domain away prior to its deletion. So this is mostly a price cut and a convenience increase at the cost of a slight loss of flexibility that has limited utility and a nasty habit of blowing up in our faces. 🙂
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