Finally rid of Network Solutions

After 26 years of being a customer without any major issues other than being overcharged, it’s odd that the end of my customer relationship comes with such a strong sense of relief and freedom.

I registered my first domain (this one) in 1997 and my second one only shortly after. At the time, there weren’t a lot of options around. Actually, the only option for most was the semi-official Internic. Since then, of course, there’s been many and different kinds of revisions to how domain name assignments have been handled. Internic itself was replaced, and the domain registration was contracted to Network Solutions, and later to a myriad of different registrars. Through all these changes, I decided to just stay with Network Solutions simply because I viewed it as trustworthy and reliable, while I heard lots of stories, including of losing their domains from friends. This was despite the fact that I knew I was increasingly paying a higher premium for this basic service.

An unwelcome gift

Fast forward to June 2022, and while I’m off travelling, Network Solutions sends me a mail. They’ve decided to give me a glorious gift. A domain loosely similar to my primary domain, using an obscure and presumably cheap TLD. Hidden far down in the message, they note that if I don’t want this domain that I didn’t request, I would have to let them know within 7 days. It was summer, I was travelling and only skimmed through my mail. This was around the time of renewal for my other domains, which I had already paid for, but they were still spamming me about, so I assumed it was related to these.

Shortly after, this new domain showed up in my account. I got annoyed. No, I got angry. A domain isn’t just any product; this isn’t like giving you a free tube of toothpaste on the way out of the store. A domain is something that comes with possible implications both in association if people look at which domains are registered to you, but more dangerously, a domain can land you in trademark and copyright disputes. So simply automatically attaching a domain to you with a shrouded opt-out possibility is dodgy. Heck, I’d say it’s pretty close to a scam. After all, the obvious motivation for this is to hope you don’t pay attention and automatically renew it once the first year has passed.

The escape

Any remaining trust in Network Solutions was immediately lost. I started looking for a better and cheaper registrar. That wasn’t hard, and I immediately proceeded to move my two domains to the new provider. As a bonus, I got access to a number of innovative and useful features. For free.

Next, I contacted Network Solutions to cancel my account, including the unwanted domain. Then things got really bad. And Network Solutions turned me from a customer who was annoyed and moved away but could possibly come back if the situation changed to someone that was so fed up and genuinely disgusted with them that I will never consider coming back. Or use them in any professional capacity where I have a say.

First of all, dealing with Network Solutions customer care is not easy. They really want you to call them on the phone (I’m not paying for transatlantic calls for support) but reluctantly offer a chat service with significant limitations. I get through on chat and tell them I want the domain deleted and my account closed.

The empire strikes back

They’re sorry, but they can’t delete a domain registered to me; I’ll have to let it expire. WTH… OK, at least remove my credit card info, so I don’t get charged with renewal by “accident”, then. They’re sorry, but they can’t remove the last method of payment from an account with an active product. Well, at least I get them to remove all sorts of renewal and automatic functions. Then I have to wait… for nearly a year…

As soon as the domain expires, I’m back with chat to have the domain deleted from my account. The chat agents don’t have permission for this, so they have to refer it to “admins”, and I need to send a confirmation reply to an e-mail. The mail reply-to is to the wrong address. I only notice by chance.

Finally, the domain is gone; I log in and can delete my credit card info. Then contact them again to have the account deleted. I don’t want unused accounts hanging around; they’re a security risk. No, they can’t do that. I have to call (on the phone, transatlantic) their customer loyalty team for this. I explain how this is unacceptable. Then they suddenly come up with a URL to a support site while stressing that this is ONLY to be used by non-US customers. I file a ticket.

Someone gets back to me and tells me they can’t delete the account. It will be deleted automatically after “a period of inactivity”. They can’t tell me what the period is. They can’t tell me if trying to log in to see if it has been deleted will count as activity and resetting the countdown to the unknown time.

And so I’ve decided to leave it there. But I’m so pissed off. It’s quite amazing how easily a company managed to turn me from an indifferent, overpaying, loyal customer for nearly 30 years to a very annoyed ex-customer with a strong feeling of having been exploited and attempted scammed.

Good riddance!

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