name dos and don’ts
Alan Zisman (c) 2009 First published in Business
February 17-23, 2009; issue 1008
High Tech Office column
At its most basic, in order to
have a webpage online, you need two things: one is the right to use
your chosen domain name – “biv.com,” “zisman.ca,” etc.; the other is a
place to store it on a web server connected to the Internet.
or your business may have its own web server. If not, there are lots of
companies that would be happy to host your website for a monthly fee.
Domain names ultimately come from various national organizations: the
Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) manages the .ca domain;
the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the
ultimate authority for .com addresses. But you can’t deal with CIRA or
ICANN directly. Instead, you must register your domain name through a
domain registrar – a company that contacts the appropriate agency on
your behalf, getting you the rights to that domain name for a limited
period of time.
I’ve got a number of domain names registered,
and because they expire at different dates throughout the year, I’m in
regular contact with my registrar: Vancouver-based NetNation, which
also hosts my various websites.
So I was surprised recently to
receive what looked like an invoice from someone called the Domain
Registry of Canada. The “Domain Name Expiration Notice” pointed out
that registration for one of the domains I manage is due to expire in
mid-June. It promised me “best savings” if I reply in the next few
weeks: $40 to register the domain for a year, $70 for two years and
$160 for five years for savings of $40. Sounds like a deal, especially
if I register for multiple years.
Instead, I logged into
NetNation. On its website, I could renew that same domain name for
$9.95 per year. Renewing for five years would cost $49.75 – saving
$110.25 compared with the “best value” price promised as Domain
Registry of Canada’s “best savings.”
Needless to say, I didn’t
follow up on the offer in the letter. I did, however, ask CIRA what it
knew about the company. CIRA’s chairman, Paul Anderson, referred me to
the website of the Competition Bureau of Canada, where there is a June
2004 press release noting that a company then known as the Internet
Registry of Canada (IROC) had been fined and issued a five-year
prohibition order under the misleading representation provisions of
Canada’s Competition Act.
The company had been accused of
targeting more than 73,000 businesses and non-profits with letters
“designed to mislead recipients into believing they were existing
customers of IROC’s domain name registration service.”
name on my letter was similar but different, and its letter was careful
to point out “this notice is not a bill,” rather, it is “an easy means
of payment should you decide to switch ... to the Domain Registry of
Nevertheless, it’s too easy to miss that and assume the letter is one
more of the many invoices that most of us receive.
of us have received misleading e-mail messages. Hopefully we’ve learned
that just because we read something on a computer screen it’s not
automatically true. Traditional mail offers – like the Domain Registry
of Canada’s “best savings” that are up to 400% higher than what I’m
paying for domain registration – might also not be worth the paper
they’re printed on. •