Network Solutions holding domains to ransom

January 9th, 2008 by

It appears that Network Solutions are immediately registering all domains searched for. In what I consider a highly shady move, Network Solutions have started immediately registering domain names when customers search for them via the Network Solutions website, and holding them for 4 days – effectively meaning that if you checked whether it was available using their domain search tools, you now have no choice but to buy it from them, locking out all other registrars.

I tested it by searching for which was previously untaken, and within minutes, they’d registered it – see a whois lookup for confirmation.

The net community has naturally responded strongly to this, with calls to boycott Network Solutions.

I’m shocked that they could have morals as low as this, no matter what excuses they try to offer they’re holding their customers to ransom, pure and simple.

It appears that Network Solutions are using the same loophole as "domain tasting" (the practice of registrants using the five-day “grace period” at the beginning of a domain registration for ICANN-regulated generic top-level domains to test the marketability of a domain name).

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# 10th January, 2008

It’s even worse than that. First of all, any Network Solutions customer can buy it from them, not just you, who searched for it. Secondly, because the domain is now in the system, as soon as it drops it can immediately be re-registered by drop-catchers, frontrunners and other such parasites of the domain industry. If you’ve had a good idea for a domain, and searched via Network Solutions’ site, it’s quite possible that random third parties will make money off it while having spent almost nothing, and you’ll never get the chance to buy it for yourself.

Stuart Johnston
# 10th January, 2008

Does it not cost Network Solutions money to register these domains?

David Precious
# 10th January, 2008


Nope, as I put in the post they use the same loophole as domain tasting to drop the domains within the 5 day “grace period” to avoid paying anything for them.

IMO the grace period should be abolished immediately, there’s no need for it and it simply allows all the bottom-feeding domain thieves to snap up thousands/millions of domains, keep any that happened to generate some traffic and drop the rest without paying for them.

Stuart Johnston
# 10th January, 2008

Thanks for the explination – there goes one idea down the pan…

I happen to agree about the grace period – it’s bad for the industry and it is against the whole concept of consumer choice. Whilst I knew this occured, I had no idea at the sheer scale of those doing it.

Fortunatley for us, Nominet seems to have taken on a policy to try and put a stop to this – it is just a matter of ‘if’ and ‘when’ for the others to follow suit I guess?

Stephen Waddington
# 10th January, 2008

This a cracking story. You should issue this as a comment to the trade media in the UK. UK2 could get a lot of press coverage by taking a leadership stance on this issue. You’re probably onto this already. I’m a UK2 customer and the MD of a tech PR agency. Give me a shout if you’re interested in talking. We used to do the PR for Fasthosts prior to its acquisition.

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