back to article 123-Reg customers outraged at automatic .UK domain registration

Customers of 123-Reg are experiencing a familiar feeling of annoyance, this time over a decision to automatically register them for .UK domains, which they will then have to pay for after two years. In a letter sent to customers, seen by The Register, the company said the domains will be available to manage from November 2017 …

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It strikes me that a lot of people moaning about "having to pay for these domain names in 2 years time" aren't aware of turning the automatic renewal off on these domain names.

"Rah rah rah I want to be annoyed about something and dammnit I'm gonna be annoyed about THIS!"

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...aren't aware of turning the automatic renewal off on these domain names.

I rather think 123-Reg might have thought of that, and maybe have disabled that ability for .uk registrations? I don't know, I'm not a 123-Reg customer, but it wouldn't surprise me if they had.

To me it seems a very cynical way of increasing .uk registrations, just to make the figures look good.

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Little to do with automatic renewal

You will have to pay for them and keep them if they are used in any way.

So if, for example, your web-host-cum-DNS registrar (if you made the fatal mistake to have them both in the same place) alias your existing .co.uk entries to uk and stuff them in a few search indexes. It takes only a small percentage of your customer base to start using them for most businesses to grudgingly pay the extortion racket.

In addition to that there is the obnoxious copyright racket - defend it or lose it. if you do not "defend" your copyright by paying all extortions you may have more difficult time defending it.

The only way to deal with the domain trading low life is to boycott any of their harebrained schemes.

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Why is there a need for the doubling of names by direct .uk registration in the first place? It's only for registrars to make money.

If there was a valid non-commercial reason then why not just register every .co.uk as its parallel .uk for free for the life of the .co.uk.

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

"You will have to pay for them and keep them if they are used in any way."

Can you point out where it says that? Because for as much as I've seen in the control panel there is no such wording to that effect. You will pay for them if they renew, obviously, but you can turn that off. Meaning, you won't pay for it.

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

"Can you point out where it says that?"

No, because it won't say it in the agreement. However, if people are using www.wolfetone.uk to reach your children's toy company's website, and you stop paying for it, and the following day it's picked up by an eye-wateringly hardcore vore porn website, then you might find that your brand takes a bit of a hit in the ensuing PR disaster.

Basically, no-one wanted .uk to exist in the first place, since .co.uk already did and we'd all bought the domain we needed. Every new TLD is another set of websites I need to spend money on every two years to avoid some random bastard squatting on the domain and setting up a parody site or something.

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

I'm going to charge you a million pound next year.

You can just turn it off in the control panel.

Oh, by the way, you'll find out about it from a IT news website.

What's the problem?

Now multiply by EVERY COMPANY YOU DEAL WITH and who has your card details, for EVERY PRODUCT THEY WANT TO PUSH. You going to log into them all? And when you miss one are you going to be to blame?

Or will you just tell them all to f*** off with that tactic because it's actually illegal?

No matter what contract, terms or anything else say, you cannot do this. It's against the law. In fact, under the law, such things could also be fraud / passing off if they involve a trademarked domain.

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Putting every other point aside, I've turned off the automatic renewal on all my 123-reg domains 3 times over the years. I have the screenshots. They automagically get turned back on.

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FIA

Putting every other point aside, I've turned off the automatic renewal on all my 123-reg domains 3 times over the years. I have the screenshots. They automagically get turned back on.

....then move them.

Rewarding bad behaviour with money doesn't make it stop.

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

> You will pay for them if they renew, obviously, but you can turn that off.

The thing is, under EU rules¹ vendors are not allowed to offer "samples" and try to charge for them latter unless returned or automatically sign you up to a service. In those cases, the customer is not liable and actually gets to keep the thing as if it were a gift.

Unfortunately not many customers (or companies!) are aware of this so it's just unnecessary aggravation and money wasted for everyone concerned at the end of the day.

¹ I do not recall the specific directive now and won't be searching it, and pointing to its transposition in my local civil code will likely not be useful.

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I was in the middle of moving them when the parent company borged the place I was moving them to (and have subsequently issued the same "offer" as 123-reg. I will be moving them again, 123-reg ones first.

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"It strikes me that a lot of people moaning about "having to pay for these domain names in 2 years time" aren't aware of turning the automatic renewal off on these domain names."

LCN defaults to it turned off. I just registered my reserved .uk domains with them for free for 2 years. I get the choice though - they don't register them unless I say so!

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"Why is there a need for the doubling of names by direct .uk registration in the first place? It's only for registrars to make money."

No need to double - 2 years free gives you the time to switch to .uk without additional cost.

A straight .uk is better than the relatively pointless .co addition imo.

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Mushroom

Nominet is behind this

Given some of the comments below, it looks like this is some sort of "initiative" driven by Nominet to promote their latest fad TLD, since a large number of supposedly unrelated registrars all seem to be using uncannily similar spiels.

IMO these registrars are certainly in violation of the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act, the Data Protection Act, and probably more besides, but as the instigator of this criminal activity Nominet should also be held accountable.

Therein lies a fairly large problem, though, as Nominet seems to be a law unto itself, with basically no oversight whatsoever, much like the EPO.

Of course, referring to Nominet as though it's somehow a separate entity from the registrars it's supposed to regulate, belies the truth that it is in fact "controlled by a very small number of large internet registrars". So going after Nominet actually requires chasing the registrars that control it. And where does one go to complain about those registrars? You guessed it ... Nominet.

That's a nice little racket they have there.

Might be time to have a quick word with the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, and see if they can put this dog back on a leash.

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

"Oh, by the way, you'll find out about it from a IT news website."

Or you could read your emails.

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

A straight .uk is better than the relatively pointless .co addition imo.

True on the face of it and taken by itself; except that you'll lose everybody who has grown used to typing in .co.uk for the last two decades

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

I got 2 emails about it.

Both had links to "find out which domains".

Both links failed to work, and ended up timing out.

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

tsohost has done the same as i got an email too. i could opt out though before an october deadline (which i have done)

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If I provide some service - say product support, for example - through "myfantasticservices.co.uk", and my customers get into the habit of just typing "myfantasticservices.uk", then when the registration on the latter expires, I'm going to have a lot of pissed off customers. I might extend it just to avoid that.

That's why this is an underhanded move. It's an attempt to lock people in.

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"A straight .uk is better than the relatively pointless .co addition imo."

So what happens when a .org.uk and .co.uk both want the same .uk? Or a .ac.uk or .gov.uk etc etc etc?

It's the bare .uk that is the pointless addition/

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

@Chloe

I didn't bother trying the links at the time but this works (After you log in):

https://www.123-reg.co.uk/secure/cpanel/domain/preorders/uk

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"If I provide some service - say product support, for example - through "myfantasticservices.co.uk", and my customers get into the habit of just typing "myfantasticservices.uk", then when the registration on the latter expires, I'm going to have a lot of pissed off customers. I might extend it just to avoid that.

That's why this is an underhanded move. It's an attempt to lock people in."

While I agree, its also quite a cynical view to take, they have emailed with plenty of notice so that you can tell them NOT to do it.

To be fair the other registrar that I use actually phoned me and asked if I wanted them and I said yes (Ill note that they are actually £3 a year cheaper than 123 for uk domains too!)

Given the scenario you mention if they hadnt given the option you'd be a bit pissed off if you didn't buy it and someone set up a site advertising handy-Js on myfantasticservices.uk

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"A straight .uk is better than the relatively pointless .co addition imo."

But the .co has a specific purpose, it tells us that the site is intended for commerce (as with .com).

"No need to double - 2 years free gives you the time to switch to .uk without additional cost."

Could you send me a list of the .co.uk addresses that you have registered at the moment, I need to put them all on back order so in two years I can demonstrate why you actually need both! :)

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

"The only way to deal with the domain trading low life is to boycott any of their harebrained schemes."

Suing them for trademark infringement might be a better way (if your trademark is X, then claim they are infringing it by registering X.uk without your permission).

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"But the .co has a specific purpose, it tells us that the site is intended for commerce (as with .com)."

That was it's intended purpose for sure. But it's often used for other things and it's scarcely necessary.

I suspect in the long term the convenience from say "Tesco.uk" versus "Tesco.co.uk" will win out for general use - but of course large brands will still register both.

As to my own .co.uk I use them to access my nas and Exchange server, so .uk is an instant win of 3 fewer characters to type in on the rare occasional I'm not using an app or a shortcut!

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Re: Little to do with automatic renewal

"True on the face of it and taken by itself; except that you'll lose everybody who has grown used to typing in .co.uk for the last two decades"

If you just switched it over with an existing commercial site that relies on search engines / shortcuts / consumer memory, yes sure that wouldn't be good. But no one sane would do that - you would likely forward the old address to the new address and over time potentially transition to .uk once your traffic figures to the old site drop to tiny. 2 Years is probably enough for most sites to transition - if you actually care about the cost of registering both versions.

For corporate / personal - you can just choose to transition at your convenience - and going forward I would have thought for new sites the shorter url version would be commonly preferred. However that's just based on my preference...

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"So what happens when a .org.uk and .co.uk both want the same .uk? Or a .ac.uk or .gov.uk etc etc etc?"

For now it's existing .co.uk owners that gets first call on the corresponding .uk - and they are reserved for a while.

Going forwards I imagine it will be the same as happens now with .com. First to register will get it initially, and if other parties want it then the one with the most money or a valid trademark claim generally ends up with it.

I expect s.co.uk and f.co.uk etc. are worth rather more now!

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Cynical revenue raising attempt, luckily I saw the email and disabled the .UK registrations in Control Panel. These kind of tricks hardly make punters think better of 123-reg.

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Someone thinking better of 123? They need to share whatever they are smoking.

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Thumb Up

Thanks for the reminder. I've just done the same.

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Joke

... but surely they will not make anyone think worse of them ? I mean, surely that's impossible ?

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"think better"

I got the email - there website was crawling and throwing certificate errors something about connection resets. Eventually I try and fail to log in which after a while I find in some emails I ignored is caused by my completely random 24 character mixed case alphanumeric password being considered insecure by the asshats and been invalidated. The asshats send me a link by email where I can enter a new password with no other verification required. Adding a $ to the end of my existing password I can now log in and continue to wait at least 30 seconds for every page load.

Sadly it doesn't get any better. I only use this domain for email and have an email account with 1&1. The domain registration is up for renewal in a couple of months so I thought it a good time to move it to 1&1. I investigate moving it to 1&1 and can't and can't find a price either. After 15 minutes on the phone to 1&1 support I am told I can't transfer the domain because it is registered with then as an external domain for the email account and I would have to remove the domain which will delete the accounts and all emails associated with it then transfer the domain and set it all up again (and do without email for however long that takes). Their support still couldn't tell me what the domain charges would be either.

So if I really want to move it from 123 where is cheap and competent?

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"So if I really want to move it from 123 where is cheap and competent"

This is a tough one, because after much research on who to move to, I hadn't even finished a lengthy and painful migration from 123-reg to TSOhost, and they go and borg TSOhost too. Chances of that happening again are high.

Also 123-reg are competent (brilliant IMHO) at a tech support level, it's just their policies that suck arse.

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"So if I really want to move it from 123 where is cheap and competent?"

Gandi get my vote - bit of a learning curve on the way their systems work, but good value, decent visibility of options with sane defaults, tech support has been a bit dismissive of my misunderstandings, but prompt and effective nonetheless.

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Interesting point here. 123-reg support have been genuinely utterly fabulous throughout my many years with them (latterly with far fewer domains). Including patiently explaining when I -or a customer I'm assisting - has royally ballsed up.

It's a real shame the company is run by idiots.

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Maybe they did you a favour?

Cynical, possibly. But if you do actually trade on a .co.uk site, customers etc, are you happy to let the .uk doppleganger go to someone else? Like who? Just maybe, despite themselves, 123 have done you a favour of sorts. The real charlatans are those who created .uk - for what purpose?

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Re: Maybe they did you a favour?

I investigate moving it to 1&1 and can't and can't find a price either.

I always keep domain registry and the working bit (website/email etc) separate because it's easier to move hosts then. Having to move hosts AND extract the domain makes it all complicated and time-consuming. Separate domains, you just change the nameservers to your new hosts and you're back in the game immediately.

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"Also 123-reg are competent (brilliant IMHO) at a tech support level, it's just their policies that suck arse."

They deleted TWO of my virtual servers along with THOUSANDS of others last year by mistake... So Im going to disagree with you there!

On the other hand Ive been with them for about ten years and thats the only real issue Ive had so I stuck with them - I spent a lot of time shopping round and couldn't find anyone to beat them on price for what I get/need from them.

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How much

I have been a customer of theirs for 18 years but am seriously looking for somewhere else after their repeated price hikes. .co.uk now £23.98 for two years.

Have never bought a .uk name by accident though. Even for free.

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Re: How much

".co.uk now £23.98 for two years."

A quick look shows £8.95 for 2 years at LCN.

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Re: How much

I've been offered all the .uk's for the domains I have.

Including the .co.uk's that have expired 3 months ago and are no longer in use/paid for.

Interesting "You let this domain expire! But we want to register the .uk version of it for you for free"

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Anonymous Coward

It's a crowded market, vote with your feet.

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On the plus side, at least you won't be claim-jumped of you do want your .uk domain.

I have a [surname].org.uk domain, and fancied having the [surname].uk domain (according to the rules .org.uk has second dibs on .uk domains after .co.uk) but it seems to have been registered by a non-UK company operating a "domains for resale" business (http://www.amazingdomains.co.uk/) in contravention of the rules for .uk domains.

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ACZ

Or did the .co.uk domain owner register the .uk and then transfer it?

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@ACZ

I thought of this, and I'm going to contact them to find out; even if this is the case, registering a .uk domain purely in the hope of reselling it is in contravention of Nominet's rules, so it can be challenged through their Dispute Resolution Service.

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[surname].org.uk domain

Not at all related, but I have just had a spendid idea. I shall buy moietys.org and just put a picture of my penis on here. That'll save me loads of time when texting/applying for jobs/etc.

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Down with this sort of thing

"Here, we've reserved you some products you didn't ask for and will charge your card details you gave us for a totally different purchase automatically unless you tell us not to!" - is this even legal? I dunno, but I've asked Trading Standards to have a peek, FWIW.

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Re: Down with this sort of thing

I tried forwarding the mail from them to Trading Standards, interestingly it stayed in my outbox all day, refusing to transmit, while other mail was fine. Just sent it with no problem from a different email account - one that isn't hosted by 123-Reg.

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Re: Down with this sort of thing

"Here, we've reserved you some products you didn't ask for and will charge your card details you gave us for a totally different purchase automatically unless you tell us not to!" - is this even legal? I dunno, but I've asked Trading Standards to have a peek, FWIW"

Not quite..

"We are going to reserve you some products related to others that you already own, let us know within x weeks if you dont want us to do this, if you change your mind you have TWO YEARS to opt out"

Ill bet trading standards will be all over it...

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Re: Down with this sort of thing

""Here, we've reserved you some products you didn't ask for and will charge your card details you gave us for a totally different purchase automatically unless you tell us not to!" - is this even legal?"

It's not legal / enforceable as I understand it - unless there are very specific terms in your contract allowing for this - which seems unlikely. I'm sure they will be aware that it's potentially naughty, so I would hope that if you complained about any resulting charges - even a long time afterwards they would refund them without issue. They likely have taken a calculated risk to make a lot more via inertia of those that keep them, or don't notice!

I don't really have an issue with them registering the domains automatically, but then automatically renewing them at a cost is definitely not OK without specific permission.

As it's a technology company someone there must have read this article - if they were not asked for comment - and I would expect an innocent mistake to be immediately reacted to with an apology / comment, and corrective action taken. Therefore as it currently stands it appears intended. If I were a customer it would likely make me consider if I wanted to remain one,

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