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Beware of NetSol (NetworkSolutions.com)


netsol.png

A friend tipped me off to a Domain State thread that warns you not to look up a domain name at Network Solutions. If you go to the Networks Solutions site and look up a domain name to see if it’s registered then Network Solutions, within seconds, will buy the domain name, causing you to have to go buy it from them.

Let me explain, using a specific example, exactly what Network Solutions is doing and what is wrong with what they’re doing.

First, I went to the NetworkSolutions.com home page and filled out their form to see if RonPaulIsGod.com was available. According to Network Solutions, RonPaulIsGod.com was available. (It is my contention that within seconds of my inquiring about the RonPaulisGod.com domain name Network Solutions automatically registered that domain name.)

But, my friend called me on my cell phone and I had to step away from my computer for a few minutes. A few minutes later, I realized that I could buy that same domain name for $6.99 over at another registrar and decided to go with them, rather than paying Network Solutions the $34.99 for the domain name. After all, I could think of a lot of things that I could spend the savings of $28 dollars on, mainly 3 other domain names.

Then I come to find out, Network Solutions had already purchased the domain name and I am forced to buy it from them. Not only did Network Solutions buy the domain name after I looked it up, they automatically put up a “domain parking page” on the site, telling me that I must buy it from them.

Network Solutions may call this a service of theirs. Frankly, I would not call this a “service” or even a bad business practice–I would call it extortion. There are thousands of registrars out there, and we all have the right to register a domain name at any registrar. It’s called “fair competition”. If I check to see if a domain name is available at Network Solutions, I should not be required to purchase that domain name from them for $34.99. I should be able to go to another registrar and register it for $6.99 or even $14.99. A domain lookup is absolutely not an agreement to buy.

You might want to try it for yourself. Make up a domain name, see if it’s available at Network Solutions, and you’ll see that they register it immediately, locking you into buying it from them.

This practice of “domain tasting” or registering a domain name after someone looks it up to see if it’s available is completely unacceptable.

It’s called ethics. What do you think?

You can also find more about this here, lots of other sites are talking about it:

As an alternative, you might try registering your domains at Godaddy or Dotster.

Update: Network Solutions has responded to the front-running (front running) claim. Read their response in the comments below. There’s also a statement here at Circle ID.

Update: Quote from Susan Wade, who heads PR for Network Solutions.

“This is a customer protection measure to protect customers from frontrunners,” said Wade. “After four days, we release the domain.” According to Wade, Network Solutions instituted this program as a test over the past few weeks. I asked if Network Solutions is actually acting as a frontrunner by doing this and she said there’s a distinction. First, they are not monetizing the domains. Second, they have no intention of keeping the domains. All domains are released after the four day period.

Update: Let’s have some fun:

#!/bin/bash
CHARLIST=abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
CHARLEN=${#CHARLIST}
for i in $(seq 50); do
C=0
DOM=""
# 32 chars is the 640k of this script
let "L = $RANDOM % 28 + 4"
while [ $C -lt $L ]
do
P=$((RANDOM % CHARLEN))
CHAR=${CHARLIST:P:1}
DOM="$DOM$CHAR"
let "C = $C + 1"
done
echo `whois -h whois.networksolutions.com $DOM.com`
sleep 2
done

…and in Perl:

#!/usr/bin/perl
$count = $ARGV[0] || 8;
@charlist = (A .. Z, a .. z, 0 .. 9);
while (1) {
my $domain = "";
foreach $i (1 .. $count) {
$word = `dd bs=1 count=4 if=/dev/random 2> /dev/null`;
$number = unpack I1, $word;
$number = $number / 2**32;
$number *= scalar @charlist;
$number = int $number;
$domain .= $charlist[$number];
}
print `whois -h whois.networksolutions.com $domain.com`;
sleep 2;
}

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5 Responses to “Beware of NetSol (NetworkSolutions.com)”

  1. Tom Turner says:

    What if I write a script to run whois queries against 100 million randomly composed domain names built from dictionary words. If the name isn’t there, I wait a bit then see if its available for registration. If the name is now owned by Network Solutions, just run a whois query every 4 or 5 days.

    In theory, this would make NS spend their money holding on to names that no one bought from them.

    I don’t know if this is legal, but it is certainly is as ethical as what NetSol is doing.

  2. sKyZ says:

    Who cares if you made a script to query NSI with every domain name possible? You know what that means? If you ever want to register a domain name that gets searched [or anyone for that matter] with your stupid program, guess what?! You now have to register it with NSI.

    Thanks for the code to drive NSI’s sales through the roof!

  3. admin says:

    @SKYZ:
    You know their temporary lease on the domain only lasts 4 days right?

  4. Lakesha Wojcik says:

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