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Unreasonable ccTLD Registry Price Increases!

It highly concerns me when domain registries controlling a certain Top-Level Domain (TLD) raise the wholesale prices they charge to registrars (domain retailers) without consultation to domain registrants (domain buyers).

When this happens, all the registrars will need to pay more to the registry for every domain which they register or renew for a customer. They will in turn raise their prices to cover the additional cost to them. Transferring the domains to a different registrar will not help, as all the registrars for that TLD will be forced to raise prices as they all have to pay more to the registry.

Don't think it hasn't happened before? A very good example of this happening is when the registry of .SC (Seychelles' country code TLD) raised the registration and renewal cost to registrars for a .SC domain from about $25/yr all the way to $75/yr (http://www.afilias-grs.info/public/policies/sc). Registrants who previously paid about $35/yr at their registrars (Dotster, I believe) for their .SC domain were then forced to pay upwards of $100/yr to renew it. Many registrants were forced to let their .SC domains expire and it dissuaded other people from registering .SC domains because they feared that the price would double, triple, again the next year.

Many ccTLDs, including .SC, have allowed anyone around the world to register domains in their extension, marketing it with secondary meanings like a TLD for "South Carolina" or "Source" in the case of .SC. There are other extensions like .TV (TLD for Tuvalu but marketed for Television), .WS (TLD for Samoa but marketed for WebSite), or .CC (TLD for Cocos Islands) that do this and attract many people around the world to register domains in those extensions.

So, it is not just people in the country of the ccTLD which are affected when registries raise their prices unreasonably but also people around the world who have registered domains in those ccTLDs for their websites.

I feel that unreasonable price increases at the registry level are very unjust to people who own any domains in that TLD. They will have no choice but to pay the renewal fee demanded by the registry or else, lose their domain. When they originally registered their domain in that TLD, they would have had no idea that they would have to pay a substantially increased cost the following year to keep their domain, their website. Many of these people would have had spent a lot of time and money creating and marketing a website on that domain name, completely in the expectation that they would only have to pay the nominal fee that they had paid to originally register the domain to keep it. If they cannot afford to pay the new renewal fee, they would lose not only the domain itself but any repeat visitors to their website, any brand recognition, and lose any backlinks and search engine rankings that they had worked so hard to build. Individuals, small businesses, organizations are hardest hit by these money grabs.

Worse, registrants are not consulted when the renewal fees for their ccTLD domain names are set to go up. The contracts with the registries for the management of these ccTLDs, which may include terms on registration/renewal pricing are more often than not negotiated behind closed doors.

My question to ICANN is if there are measures (i.e. policies) in place to protect ccTLD registrants from unreasonable increases at the registry level to their domain renewal fees. I feel that these unreasonable increases violate the spirit of the terms under which ICANN delegates the management of these ccTLDs to these registries.

Something needs to be done!

I have also posted about this issue on the ICANN "public participation" website. http://public.icann.org/en/node/1399 and sent ICANN the same message through their Contact Us form, but did not receive a meaningful response.

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Comments

Umm... By David A. Ulevitch  –  Sep 05, 2008 11:24 am PDT

This is how markets work.  If you are unsatisfied with their price increase you should have locked in your pricing with the registrar for an extended period of time.

If your registrar wouldn't do that, perhaps you shouldn't have given them your business or recognized the risk of prices increasing over time.

Multi-tier pricing and no, there are no contracts By Eric Brunner-Williams  –  Sep 05, 2008 1:09 pm PDT

Jackie,

So, it is not just people in the country of the ccTLD which are affected when registries raise their prices unreasonably but also people around the world who have registered domains in those ccTLDs for their websites.

There may be two (or more) pricing tiers and the price increase presented to a registrant in one class, e.g., "overseas", may not be presented to registrants in other classes, e.g., "domestic".

I don't track Afilias' properties, so that's just a guess on my part, knowing something about a few ccTLD operations.

My question to ICANN is if there are measures (i.e. policies) in place to protect ccTLD registrants from ...

The ccTLDs are not subject to the consensus polices to which gTLDs are subject, even where the back-end operators of one is also (or is primarily) the back-end operator of the other. Currently ICANN is fumbling about with cross-ownership, but it defines that as ownership by registrars of registries, not capture of ccTLDs by gTLD operators, which has been going on for quite a long time, see .bz vs .biz, circa 2002.

I feel that these unreasonable increases violate the spirit of the terms under which ICANN delegates the management of these ccTLDs to these registries.

Actually ICANN didn't delegate the ccTLDs, the IANA did, prior to the formation of the "New Entity" (aka "ICANN"). Your issue is with Afilias, or with VCS Pty Ltd.

I feel that unreasonable price increases at By Kio Boskden  –  Sep 06, 2008 8:15 am PDT

I feel that unreasonable price increases at the registry level are very unjust to people who own any domains in that TLD.

The situation for many - if not the vast majority - of TLDs is that they are only rented/leased to the registrant not owned. One notable exception is .INT.

My question to ICANN is if there are measures (i.e. policies) in place to protect ccTLD registrants from unreasonable increases at the registry level to their domain renewal fees.

No. However ccTLDs are often considered to be "infrastructure resources" and are regulated in one way or another by their countries.

Before taking out the big guns have a look at the regestry's charter. Lack or difficult access is in my few a strong indication for a fly-by-night opperation.

As some ccTLDs registry fees are a major slice of foreign investment for some smaller countries the exchange rates shouldn't be neglected. For example the Seychelles Rupee lost roughly 35% percent against the U.S. Dollar and 50% against the Euro in the last two years.

ICANN does not decide for ccTLD By Stephane Bortzmeyer  –  Sep 08, 2008 12:57 am PDT

Speaking from a ccTLD perspective, I do not see why the prices in such or such country should be regulated by an USAn corporation, working under a contract of the US government, instead of regulated by local authorities and mechanisms…

If you have a problem with the Seychelles registry, write to the governement / parliament / newspapers / local NGOs of Seychelles.

As Stephane suggested, it is the sole By Arun Vijayan  –  Aug 26, 2009 12:05 am PDT

As Stephane suggested, it is the sole discretion of the agency which holds the right to the registry. The prices are justified because they are not organized like Netsol and they do not get the sales volume. So the only way to survive is to keep the price tag up. Pretty bad for the buyers though.

Having said that there are some registrars who get more sales than anybody on ccTLDs and gives whopping discounts (for e.g., .im is $4.99 at some registrars)

Check out a detailed list of ccTLD registrars and prices if you are interested.

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