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GoDaddy Pushes the Limits of Ethical Behavior, Too

With all the discussion of Network Solutions “stretching the envelope” of respectable behavior as a licensed, sanctioned and trusted domain name registrar, we shouldn’t let down our guard with respect to all registrars possible taking liberties with our data and trust. Just today I noticed yet another perversion of the registrar role, with GoDaddy.

I registered a few domains using an aging GoDaddy gift card a few days ago, and got the usual barrage of phone calls from GoDaddy’s sales department, allegedly “welcoming me to the GoDaddy family” and by-the-way letting me know they have ad-on products I might be interested in buying. I’m used to that; no, thanks. I had plenty of opportunity to choose to buy those add-ons when I struggled through the check out procedure.

But then something different happened. Instead of ignoring the call like I usually do, I decided to answer. Things have changed, apparently, and GoDaddy is stretching the envelope now, potentially abusing their rights as a registrar.

The salesman seemed put off that he didn’t have my actual name in his record (because I put a generic name in the name field of the whois record). I’m not sure if the sales guy has access to the financial records as well, because in this case it was a gift card, but I hope GoDaddy doesn’t give them credit card info. Anyway this salesman started with the “welcome to the GoDaddy family” spiel but he was seemingly frustrated that he didn’t know who he was selling to, and he told me so and asked for my name. I gave him my first name. He proceeded to ask me direct questions about whether or not I already had a website, had someone to build my website, etc.

I was quick to put him off as I have no time for the sales pitch stuff (and already regretted having answered the phone), but I stayed civil and informed him we were all good to go, no need for anything else. We said good bye but I could tell he was not pleased with the experience. And then I got the email:

******************************************
Please update your contact information
******************************************
Dear Domain Manager,

A member of our Outbound Support Team recently tried calling to personally welcome you to GoDaddy.com. UNFORTUNATELY, THE PHONE NUMBER WE CALLED APPEARS TO BE INCORRECT. For you to receive required updates, alerts and expiration notices, we must have the correct contact information. You can update your phone number in one of the following ways:

1) CALL OUR OUTBOUND SUPPORT TEAM at (480) 505-8859 and select option 1. A representative will be happy to assist you in updating your information.
2) ONLINE: Go to the GoDaddy.com home page, enter your log-in name (or customer number) and password, then click “Secure Login.” Then click “My Account,” which will take you to the Account Manager. Click on “Account Settings” to update your phone number(s).

We’re very excited to have you as a member of the GoDaddy.com family and will do our best to keep you satisfied. Our goal is to make sure you get the most out of your recent purchase and answer any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

GoDaddy.com
Outbound Support Team

P.S. Call the Outbound Support Team today at (480) 505-8859 to FIND OUT ABOUT OUR LATEST PHONE-IN-ONLY SPECIAL OFFERS!

Notice there is no mention of the actual domain in question. I use coded email addresses for my whois records so I know exactly which one prompted it. I checked the GoDaddy account after he called and the phone number is correct and does indeed work (it was probably the call I didn’t answer this morning, which would have gone to voicemail, but I can’t be 100% sure because the guy I did talk to didn’t say which domains he was calling about either).

Also notice the sales pitch at the end, telling me that same “outbound Support Team” phone number is the number to call to learn about the latest “phone in only special offers”. Also notice what I consider to be the serious tone of the email, which could technically be an official registrar-generated message that my whois information was not valid (potentially cause for losing the domain). If I have concern about my domains, how could I not call back? And if I do call back, will it just be a sales pitch? Oh, and by the way, when I registered the domain with GoDaddy, I oped out of all communications except the one that says:

Non-promotional notices that deal with changes to your domain(s), account or other services

I don’t need my registrar to pay sale people to call me pretending to be my registrar, intent on selling me useless (to me) add-on products and services after I explicitly asked them not to do so. Isn’t that abuse of registrar status and a violation of the telemarketing act?

Related issue: I was looking at GoDaddy’s web site and saw a profiled testimonial from Daryl Acumen, out of Orem, Utah. I followed that to find Daryl used to work at Verisign, and even had a Virginia vanity license plate that read “NETSOL”. On one of his websites I found this statement:

In the course of searching for a flag website, I discovered that theflag.net was available for registration (a strip club in Ohio had recently let the domain name lapse). Since I worked for the company that manages the domain name system, I decided to pick up theflag.net before some squatter or terrorist did.

which seems to demonstrate how an employee at a registrar enjoys access to domains we (the public) do not enjoy, and is able to buy them for personal ownership via that privilege. Just in case anyone wasn’t sure about that yet.

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24 Responses to “GoDaddy Pushes the Limits of Ethical Behavior, Too”

  1. Todd Mintz Says:

    I think I’ve finally met somebody who is harder on telemarketers than myself :.)

    Funny, I’ve never received telemarketing calls from GoDaddy depsite using them for a long time.

  2. Nebraska Says:

    I have received many of these kinds of calls from Godaddy. The most recent was just a few days ago. I have moved most of my domains to Moniker and have an uneasy feeling about the rest of my domains currently at Godaddy. There are just too many bad stories for me to ever feel comfortable.

  3. Jamie Says:

    Speaking of liberties that the registrars take with newly registered domains…ever looked at some of the domains you registered but have not redirected? They are typically full of ads, but if you have not opted into whatever parking platform the registrar has then guess who gets all of whatever revenue comes from clicks on the ads?

    Granted, it’s probably not much on each individual domain, but aggregate that across their entire registrar’s inventory and it is likely a nice little sum of cash. It sort of feels like a class action lawsuit waiting to happen..

  4. Alex Says:

    Random question now that we are on the note of domain names. Unfortunately I do not own any domains that may receive “type in traffic,” but has the general volume of type in traffic going down with the Google’s proliferation.

    I noticed my girlfriend doesn’t even type in yahoo.com into the browser but rather types it into the Google. I imagine a lot of people are starting to forget that you can go directly to the website. If anyone has any empirical evidence that type in traffic is on the decline I would love to see it.

    Cheers

  5. Alex Says:

    Oh by the way google looks to have had a page rank update

  6. nuevojefe Says:

    Yep, same exact scenario happened to me. I let it go to vmail and got the email minutes later.

  7. Daryl Acumen Says:

    John,

    TheFlag.net was UNREGISTERED in September 2001 when I purchased it (the domain had dropped several months earlier). I did the domain lookup on the PUBLIC NetworkSolutions.com website and paid full price ($35). By definition, an UNREGISTERED domain is AVAILABLE to the public. The assertion that it’s not is ridiculous and shows an utter lack of understanding of the domain registration process by the author. The idea that an employee at a registrar has some “special” access to “mythical” domains that nobody else can see is absolutely stupid! I applaud you for publicly admitting your ignorance of the subject. That takes courage.

    I admire GoDaddy as a registrar. They are and have always been THE BEST!!! When I was at Network Solutions, I tried to convince my superiors to buy them out while they were still small. I correctly pointed out that at our then current attrition rates, Godaddy would surpass us in names-under-management by the end of Q3 2005. They did, right on schedule. Luckily by then I’d left Network Solutions for another job.

    Cheers and keep writing!

    Daryl Acumen
    (Former) Senior Business Analyst
    Network Solutions

    @Daryl: Um… thanks for the support at the end. As for the “ignorance of the author” bit, I stated quite clearly that your statements created an appearance of special access.  I’m certainly glad to hear that was not the case: thanks for clarifying. -=john

  8. Doug Says:

    For the past two days I have not been able to access the GoDaddy site. Are they down?!

  9. TR Says:

    Fact: You think GoDaddy is Bad? Beware of ****. They sold domains (that were NOT for sale) and that were paid up thru the year 2017.

    @TR I’ll have to leave that name *’d unless or until I have proof of your claims. My blog is not a tool for misdirection. Feel free to add more details, and identify yourself.

  10. john andrews Says:

    Someone claiming to work at GoDaddy posted a lengthy comment here, which I moved to moderation. There was no name, and nothing but “we rock” style claims that GoDaddy is great. Sorry, that sort of “conversation management” is lame and not tolerated.

    Feel free to try again, but stick to the issues and identify yourself.

  11. domainer Says:

    He was put off because having fake WhoIs info is against the law. Not just a Go Daddy policy but against ICANN regulations. Get a clue.

    @domainer:  Thanks for your valuable input (sarcasm). I have enough clues already, but thanks for the supportive recommendation.

    It’s not a “law” by the way, but a regulation imposed by a process governing body. It is also an abuse of process, which, since you may not know this, requires public commentary/feedback to be addressed. If we (the people) did not push back on regulations crafted by entities that profit from our inclusion in their processes, well, we’d live in a corporate tyranny.

    Whois is a system that enables select entities to profit from our inclusion (which, I note, includes domainers like yourself) at the expense of disinterested parties (us… who don’t get any of that profit, and do suffer consequences).

    Here’s a clue for you:  put a name behind your posts so we can at least assume you have some integrity, or stick to expressing your opinions and try to behave in a civil manner. The whois issue is important and deserves discussion.

  12. dave Says:

    Talk about pushing the envelope… you’re stretching a bit yourself here.

  13. NetGuy Says:

    It might not be against the law, but if you use false or fraudulent info in your domain registration, ICANN may yank your domain from you.

    I think you’re making too much of a big deal out of this. BTW, you can get a private domain listing if you want to stay anonymous.

  14. Swiftek Says:

    Re: The main point of this post…

    I agree 100% that Go Daddy does push the limits of ethical behavior to the point that they cannot be considered ethical any longer. The fact that I still use them speaks only to my desire for a lesser-of-all-evils while still using a large, well known host. I may be sadly mistaken for leaving my domains with them, but I’ve learned how to carefully navigate their maze-like websites and avoid too much junk from them. My clients on the other hand have a harder time of it.

    I work hard to save my clients money, so I offer to guide them through the process of getting their own domain name registered, etc. It’s an easy enough process once one learns how to side-step all the marketing junk in the Go Daddy checkout abortion, but it’s what happens afterwords that makes my blood boil. They get emails and phone calls telling them that they “need” privacy registration or “business registration” or “certified” this or that. It’s all useless junk that nobody needs, and private registrations are actually bad for legitimate normal business sites.

    Don’t even get me started on how bad Go Daddy technical support is. I could create an entire blog just based on “Go Daddy Support Nightmares”, and I’ve seriously considered it. Let’s just say that if you have a genuine problem with the Go Daddy system (very rare, thankfully), you’d do much better by simply throwing your own poop at the screen rather than have them doing it for you.

    Lately, it’s gotten so bad that I’m beginning to feel guilty for subjecting my clientele to such unsavory sales tactics and general malaise. With my domain-name/web-dev addiction, I hate to think of changing registrars/hosts, but it may nonetheless be in my future.

    Swiftek

  15. manoj m Says:

    As a customer i am totally let down by Godaddy. This so called great company have taken money from my credit card without my approval. What do you call somebody who picks from your wallet without even telling you? Godaddy uses an euphemism and calls it autorenewal. But the real world calls it by different names. So sad that big companies like these are setting bad examples for humanity as a whole. They are misusing the trust of the customer in giving their credit card number. Very bad Godaddy. Daddies are expected to show upright behaviour.

  16. PookahSF Says:

    I found this page by Googling a phone number. I answered. It was GoDaddy. Over the years, I’ve been migrating my domains over to another registar (Domain Discover). I still have one domain there, and it’s expiring. I was told that my domain was expiring in a week. Abruptly, I said, “Oh, thanks for the reminder. I’ll be taking care of that promptly!”.

    “Oh, well, you’re welcome…”

    *CLICK*

    I hung up before giving him a chance to upsell me on anything.

  17. Carla S Says:

    Our company has about a dozen or more websites, most registered via GoDaddy. After losing one non-GoDaddy domain to non-renewal (due to really old contact info), we checked all the domains, & the various contact info was all over the place. We are migrating all the domains to GoDaddy, & my boss had me update all the A/P Contact info to me, so I get the renewal notices (all set to non-auto).
    Got the renewal notice on several sites about a month ago, so set a reminder on Outlook for the day prior to the renewal date.
    Yesterday, got a call from someone claiming to be with GoDaddy. I heard a co-worker talking with them, & grabbed the call before it got trf’d to the boss (who barely understands anything having to do with computers).
    The caller was kind of rude, obviously put-off by not getting through to the boss, and started demanding a ‘call-in pin’. I have set-up a couple of the newer domains myself, but I do not recall having given any such code. So I told him, “If I do not know what the ‘call-in pin’ is, I can pretty much guarantee my boss won’t know. Besides, why do we need a ‘call-in pin’, when we didn’t ‘call in’? You called us.” Finally managed to get a call-back number from him, although he made it clear it was going to be a bother finding him, as they don’t have extensions. Like I care, as by then I was 80% sure it was just a ‘pester for an up-sell’ call, anyway.
    His whole attitude during the call was I was being a real bother, sort of like a snooty waiter at a silly see-&-be-seen restaurant.
    Glad I found your post; had never heard of these kinds of calls before, but now that I know they happen, I won’t worry about them anymore. And I will let everyone I know hear about them, too.

  18. Genevieve H. Says:

    I found this post while Googling a phone number. I am very annoyed that GoDaddy telemarketers would call me, as whenever I make any kind of purchase, I always select the “do not contact me about products” options. I bought a domain name through them recently, but if unsollicited up-sell calls is what I can expect from this company, it will be the last time. When they call again I will make sure to request that they remove my coordinates from their phone/marketing lists, and I will warn my friends not to do business with them.

  19. Genevieve H. Says:

    Update: in 24 hours I am up to two phone calls and an email from Go Daddy, the latest requesting all sorts of datamining information from me under the pretext of wanting to “keep me satisfied” as a customer.

    Here’s a hint, Go Daddy: hassling your new customers and trying to get all sorts of information out of them, when all they wanted was just to register a simple domain name, is not good business practice. I will never, -ever- do business with this company again, and I will tell everyone I know not to, either.

    I bought the added “Private registration” service to avoid being hounded by telemarketers and other unscrupulous parties. Silly me, I didn’t think I needed to protect myself from the company selling said privacy services!

  20. drossman Says:

    They always call me immediately after I do something to one of my domains on their web site. Auto tracking robo dialer POS.

  21. Michelle W. Says:

    I registered a new domain yesterday, and even paid for ‘Private registration’.

    I just received a call (

  22. Michelle W. Says:

    The call came from the number listed on this blog as GoDaddy’s ‘OUTBOUND SUPPORT TEAM’.
    Unknown NAME calls never get answered unless I recognise the number – no message was left.

    Just want to say THANKS for the heads-up on the marketing calls.
    In addition, armed with this information, I will reconsider registering any more domain names with GoDaddy.

  23. Chris Says:

    GoDaddy pisses me off. What a crappy registrar >

  24. Phillip Wells Says:

    Great post!! I just wish I had googled around BEFORE I bought several dozen domains. I thought the pricing, depending on how quick you add additional domains in the cart was a pain, but the calls are much more annoying! Any advice on where to go next time I need a domain?