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United Kingdom Businesses

British Domain Registrar Offers 'No Transfer Fees,' Charges Transfer Fee 77

Posted by timothy
from the oh-we-were-just-lying-in-wait dept.
First time accepted submitter RealSurreal (620564) writes "British web host 123-reg, which previously advertised 'no hidden transfer fees' has angered customers by introducing a £12 fee per domain for transfers out. Best of all, they didn't bother to tell anyone they were doing it relying instead on terms and conditions which say : '123-reg reserves the right to change, add, subtract or in way alter these Conditions without the prior consent of the Client.'"
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British Domain Registrar Offers 'No Transfer Fees,' Charges Transfer Fee

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  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:27AM (#46670209)

    Sign here to be bound by terms we can change any time.

    How can that be legal?

    • by hankwang (413283) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:42AM (#46670351) Homepage
      I believe that in the EU, consumers have a legal right to terminate a contract without additional costs, within 1 month if being informed of a change in the terms.
      • by allo (1728082)

        And in the USA you cannot? I would have thought, you will always be asked: terminate the contract or accept the new TOS.

        • by SeaFox (739806)

          You have to know about those terms changes, and companies aren't required to be real proactive about telling you in the U.S. They may simply send you an email saying "we've recently updated our terms and conditions" with a link to the current terms and conditions on the website, but no info on what was changed. So now you have to read through pages and pages of text looking for the new info, assuming you can even understand the legalese.

          The acceptance of terms is always simply continuing to use the service,

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            I suspect that even in the US a court would tend to take a negative view of such tactics.

            The problem is that it never goes to court. They'll charge you, and now you have to try to dispute the charge on your credit card bill. If you manage to dispute it successfully, then you'll get a negative letter in your credit history. If you fail, then you're out the money and you have to sue to get it back, or you could refuse to pay your credit card bill and again have a negative letter in your credit history.

            You

      • by Sun (104778)

        At least here (Israel, but it inherited most of its laws from English law), there are, broadly (IANAL) two kinds of contracts. Time limited contracts, where both sides are bound by it for the duration of the contract, and unlimited contracts. For the second type, each side may terminate the contract at any point, for whatever reason, resulting in no more sanctions than the other side not being bound by the contract any more.

        Since a domain registration contract is time bound, automatic exit is not guaranteed

        • by MrL0G1C (867445)

          "Since a domain registration contract is time bound, automatic exit is not guaranteed by law."

          What contract? A TOS is not a contract, a contract is a document agreed between two parties, signed by both parties and witnessed at the same time, THAT is a contract.

          • by Sun (104778)

            A contract is binding once two things happen:
            One party makes an offer
            and
            The other party accepts it.

            There is no requirement for anything to be signed. As long as the registrar can prove that the you accepted their offer (say, by paying), and that you knew what the terms were (say, because they were posted on the web site, and linked to from the page in which you paid), you have a contract.

            Now, obviously, in this case the terms were not available to you. Also, the advertisement is part of the registrar's offe

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          In the US a contract that involves some required length of service is not easily broken either. However, the thing about a contract is that neither party has the right to unilaterally change it. Adding a new fee to a contract (the cancellation fee) would certainly be considered a material change by a court, and that means that either the company would be forced to honor the original terms, or the contract would be completely void. A court is basically going to do whatever seems fair in such a situation.

          T

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      They are known as Tossers, and this sort of thing is called tossing customers off. Using the TOS to screw them.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        When a phone company does it we can refer to them as TOSPOTS.

    • Corporations and commerce are basically run by elementary school-yard rules. Essentially the CEO runs up, takes something belonging to you, and runs away yelling "Nally-nally-neener-cakes! I get what you make!". There are no take-backsies unless you are willing to call a teacher/lawyers and get engaged in a huge fuss.

      In fact, our modern system of commerce has become so efficient and automated that you do not even need to enter into a prior agreement or even a school in order for your property to "neener-cak

    • by ledow (319597)

      It's not.

      The problem is the overlap between basic consumer rights ("statutory rights"? Heard the phrase anywhere? Like every contract ever "not affecting them"? Actually, they can't be affected by contracts whether the contract says or not!) and contract law.

      Yes, you can sign away an awful lot. But you cannot be expected to be held to a contract held as "unfair" (which this one almost certainly would be). The problem is proving that can be expensive.

      Never forget that what you sign is only one part of w

      • by Kjella (173770)

        This is why I like our Consumer Ombudsman (CO)

        The CO considers cases upon complaints from consumers and traders, but will also at his own initiative look at marketing measures. Through negotiations with traders it is sought to arrive at voluntary arrangements. Failure to reach such a solution, the Consumer Ombudsman may submit the case to the Market Council which is a "court of law" in that field. (...) The CO and the Market Council have authority to issue decisions banning unlawful marketing and contract terms and conditions in standard contracts when deemed necessary in the interests of consumers.

        They have the power to issue:
        a) Bans of marketing activities or terms
        b) Requirements like including information on consumer rights
        c) Fines (one time or daily until activities cease)
        d) Rather hefty fines for violating a) or b)

        This is different from the Consumer Council which often helps mediate in individual consumer disputes, the CO goes after policies and offers. For example the "send a letter that looks like a bill" scam, if they issue a ban on your company an

    • As a net-connected consumer, it is assumed that you read the EULAs and terms for all the sites you visit and the software services you use, and that you go through this process again periodically (every few weeks) in case anything has changed.

      Did you know: most people spend 4-5 hours reading terms and EULAs for every 2 hours of using their computers. It's just basic responsibility. It's called the free market, freely-entered-into contracts, meetings of the minds, equal footing, etc. It works grat.

      M

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Sign here to be bound by terms we can change any time.

      How can that be legal?

      It only becomes illegal when a court decides it is. And that requires someone to invest the time and money in taking the corporation, with their high-priced lawyers on retainer, to court. And the people who are effected by this rarely have the time or money to do that, they're too busy struggling to maintain their lives as they are.

    • by lev400 (1193967)
      I am appalled and outraged by this change. I will be getting my 30+ domains out from them after being a customer for 10+ years.
  • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:39AM (#46670313)
    "This change to our product is not directly customer impacting..."

    It's almost as if by transferring your domain away, you're no longer a customer!
  • Technically (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Livius (318358) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:39AM (#46670317)

    ...there are still no hidden transfer fees.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:46AM (#46670387)

    If your partner changes your contract in a way that is not exclusively beneficial to you, he not only has to inform you a few weeks before it becomes effective, you also have the right to terminate the contract immediately without any early cancellation fees applying.

    It sure helped to get some telcos off their bait and switch practice where they lured you in with incredible rates only to jack the price up once they got you tied down to that 2 years contract.

    • It sure helped to get some telcos off their bait and switch practice where they lured you in with incredible rates only to jack the price up once they got you tied down to that 2 years contract.

      Not really. They no longer try to jack up your rates, instead they tack on a new "service fee". So your bill still goes up, but by calling it a "surcharge", it's within the existing contract scope and does not invalidate the contract terms. AT&T did this recently [slashgear.com].

      • IIRC that "service fee" gets axed by courts in the meantime, too. I'd have to go look it up again, but I am rather sure that new malpractice already got tossed in a few countries, too.

  • They all seem to be slime balls. I suppose when money is flowing that type is attracted to the smell.
  • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @12:16PM (#46670637)

    It wasn't agreed to... so just transfer your domains out and refuse to pay.

    A registrar cannot decline to transfer your domain due to refusal to pay or due to a dispute [icann.org] over payment.

    The Registrar of Record must not refuse to release an "AuthInfo Code" to the Registered Name Holder solely because there is a dispute between the Registered Name Holder and the Registrar over payment. ....

    Instances when the requested change of Registrar may not be denied include, but are not limited to: Nonpayment for a pending or future registration period
    ....

    General payment defaults between Registrar and business partners / affiliates in cases where the Registered Name Holder for the domain in question has paid for the registration.

    ...

    The Registrar of Record has other mechanisms available to collect payment from the Registered Name Holder that are independent from the Transfer process. Hence, in the event of a dispute over payment, the Registrar of Record must not employ transfer processes as a mechanism to secure payment for services from a Registered Name Holder.

  • (I'm talking about changing terms of contract without the consent of the signatory)

    The fact that you clicked "I AGREE" with that clause in place mitigates any claim you might have against them.

    I have found such clauses in paper contracts; what I tend to do is put a line through them and initial next to the strikethrough, to indicate that I do not consent to such clauses. Covered. Yes, Virgin Media have/had such a clause, they also have/had a clause that said that the customer was still liable for service ch

    • by mrbester (200927)

      Bzzzt. Wrong. It breaches contract law and your consumer rights and they take precedence. Even if you "agree" your rights are still in place as not even you can sign them away. The option to "shop elsewhere" is irrelevant.

      As to your strikeouts, who cares? Those were unenforceable clauses in the first place and thus automatically null and void. If they get pissy about it the *entire contract* can be rendered null and void, meaning they would have to refund any and all monies already paid to them.

  • Consumer have strong rights in the UK, and they *can't* be waved, regardless of what a contract says.

    If a company pulls you in on a "no exit fee" promise & then silently changes the contract to renege on that on that promise, I reckon the ombudsman would have something to say about that.
    I have a couple of domains with 123-Reg, and if they try to extort this money when I transfer out (I noticed the other day that they've also substantially raised their prices), then I will be reporting them to the ombuds

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This really is simple in law though as with all law its a pain in the arse to fight, not expensive, not difficult but there is still a legal process to go through (hence the PITA).

      As has previously been said, you cannot sign your rights away (even if you want to). e.g. the UK Sales of Goods act says that "goods have to be of merchantable quality". You can sign a contract (as a consumer, not as a business they have different rights), which says that the goods can be a load of crap and you have no right to su

  • What's a good no-nonsense registrar for major TLDs? It doesn't have to be super cheap. I want to dump Network Solutions because they gave me an unsolicited domain (I had .com and .net; they gave me a useless .info) which they then expect me to pay to renew.

    I have about five domains. I want to avoid the "bulk" domain companies like GoDaddy.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      What's a good no-nonsense registrar for major TLDs? It doesn't have to be super cheap. I want to dump Network Solutions because they gave me an unsolicited domain (I had .com and .net; they gave me a useless .info) which they then expect me to pay to renew.

      What happens if you simply refuse to pay the renewal on the .info one and only pay the .com/.net ones?

  • First, there's no doubt that 123-reg have handled this badly, need to change their advertising and probably need to eat a few £10 fees and apologies. So I'm not totally defending them. However, I do wonder exactly how much 'service' people expect for the few pounds a year per domain that these 'budget registrars' charge. I'd guess that straightforward registrations are a loss leader for them, and they rely on selling 'cherished' domains, ads on 'parked' domains and hosting sales for actual profit.

    T

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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