Friday, 13 June 2014 08:51

With Melbourne IT, renewing a domain can be tricky

By

A Sydney-based technology manager claims the domain registrar Melbourne IT is indulging in deceptive practices to sell additional domains when one is trying to renew an existing one.

David M. Williams, the chief information officer at ResCo Services, told iTWire that he had been in the process of renewing the registration for the domain gnomic.com.au when he noticed something irregular.

Disclosure: Williams has been a regular columnist with iTWire in the past and writes an occasional piece for the website these days.

At the top of the renewal web page (seen below) were the details of gnomic.com.au, the period of renewal and the price. On the right was a button titled Continue.

Had Williams clicked on the button and gone on, as seemed the logical way to proceed, he would not have noticed that at the bottom section of the web page, the .net.au domain was also selected!

 

But being a nerd, he scrolled down to the bottom of the page (seen below), noticed the selection.

"I think it is disgraceful, and I think it is unethical," he said, when asked for his reaction.

Williams said the gnomic.com.au domain was first registered two decades ago. "Gnomic Exploration Services has existed for over 25 years providing specialised geological services within Australia and internationally," he said.

The bottom of the same web page. Note the .net.au domain is already selected."

I provide services to a company which has grown via acquisition and this business wholly acquired Gnomic in 2012, as well as other numerous other businesses. One challenge (of many) is managing the combined portfolio of domain names, so these have all been consolidated to a single Melbourne IT account.

"Thus while gnomic.com.au may have been registered elsewhere by someone else, it is now under a Melbourne IT account with a reasonable collection of other domains."

Asked what led him to choose Melbourne IT, Williams said three reasons came to mind.

"First, many years ago I used to work in academia, and at that time domains in Australia were administered through Melbourne University. Melbourne IT spun out of that and became - to the best of my knowledge - the first Australian domain registrar. It thus has a familiar name to those of us who were involved with the internet in Australia at the time.

"Second, it is entrenched amongst law firms. In my work with entrepreneurs buying companies they will often have a lawyer register a company and, as part of this, the lawyer will secure domain names and typically use Melbourne IT.

"Thirdly, and credit where it is due, Melbourne IT is a stable entity. Other domain registrars have come and gone but Melbourne IT seems a robust and safe custodian of domains. I feel there is little risk it is going to collapse.

"Thus, when it came time to choose a location for a consolidated single repository of domain names, Melbourne IT is what came to mind."

Williams said he had had enough of these type of tricks. Asked if he intended to switch domain registrars, he answered in the affirmative.

"I got to breaking point last year when implementing Office 365 and finding Melbourne IT's DNS service (at the time) did not provide support for SRV records. I called their so-called support line who kept telling me to write to help@melbourneit.com.au - but I never, ever got any response from that address ever," he said.

"I eventually tracked down a Melbourne IT staff member via a blog posting he made and he helped me albeit through hosting@melbourneit.com.au. At the time I asked how any mere mortal would ordinarily be able to get SRV records made, especially when the phone staff point to an email address which appears to be unmonitored and unused. I never got a response."

He said he would have switched all his domains at that time but it was a big job. "(After a while) my temper cooled. However, I'm going to move away. This time is the last straw."

iTWire sought a response from Melbourne IT but has not yet received one.

A spokesperson from auDA, the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au domain space, said auDA accredited registrars and their resellers were required to adhere to mandatory auDA policies and the industry code of practice -.au Domain Name Suppliers' Code of Practice (2004-04) - set out on the auDA website.

The code says in article 1.6 "Domain Name Suppliers are expected to develop and enforce a comprehensive Complaint handling process within their respective organisations..."

And Article 4.2 reads: "Subject to clause 4.4, Domain Name Suppliers must only:

a) register a Domain Name at the request of a Customer; and

b) renew a Domain Name:

(i) at the request of, or with the approval of, a Registrant; and

(ii) after obtaining confirmation from the Registrant that they continue to satisfy the Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open Second Level Domains in respect of the Domain Name."

The spokesperson added: "Registrants are able to lodge a formal compliant via our website, if they feel a registrar or their resellers have breached one of our policies or the Code."

Main image: Courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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