Network Solutions is using preemptive unannounced billing – a practice that most companies have abandoned because it’s perceived to be deceptive and manipulative.
Preemptive Unannounced Billing
Here’s how preemptive unannounced billing works.
- A customer purchases one or more website hosting packages, email services, and registers domain names.
- As is often the case, people sometimes purchase a service or domain they later decide not to develop.
- Given the long-service periods of a year or more, it’s understandable that they’d forget about it by renewal time.
- The customer is likely not aware that they had opted into an auto-renewal of all their services at the time of purchase.
- Prior to the time of renewal, the customer is billed without any advance notice, and receives a receipt notifying them of the charges. The subject line of the email states, “Your order is confirmed.”
Other Consumer Concerns
- Automatic Opt-In and Difficult Manual Opt-Out. It’s not possible to disable the auto renewal online. You must call Network Solutions and navigate their voice menu system, then verbally request that it be disabled.
- Excessive Fees. Network Solutions charges $36.99 per year for domain registration only. That doesn’t include hosting. The hosting is another $36 to $60 or more per year. By comparison, you can register a domain and get hosting for $18 a year from WordPress.com (for example), or from GoDaddy for $12 per year.
- Poor Online Support. Most tickets created online are responded to a day later with an email that says to call their support number.
Suggestions for Improvement
- It would be better for Network Solutions to send out a notice prior to charging the customer and give them an opportunity to decline renewal.
- Network Solutions should stop charging 100% higher fees than the going market rate.
The following are selected customer comments from the Network Solutions Yelp page. These comments reinforce and reflect the above mentioned concerns.
- “I found a $184 charge to my bank account by Network Solutions. I called and learned it was a 5 year renewal for a domain, at $30+ per year. I said it was too much and they refunded it which was cool. Then the CSR said they could give me a discount if I would stay. Listen to that carefully. They charged me more than the service is worth and hoped I would not notice. When I noticed they offered to charge me the correct price as if they were doing me a favor.” ~ Martin G., San Diego, CA (Yelp, 30 December 2013)
- “They charged my credit card 3 months ahead of time.” Kim H., Marietta, GA (Yelp, 20 March 2013)
- “I’ve been using Network Solutions for more than 12 years as the registrar of my domain name. I had my account set to auto renew. Today I got a billing notice of my 3-year renewal – $113.97, i.e. $37.99/year. It was $9.99/year!!!. What happened. So I called them. They said it was stated in my agreement that they could simply charge whatever they wanted. After stating they were they are the single most expensive domain name registrar on earth, they forwarded me to another person who instantly changed my charges from $37.99 to $9.99/year and promised me a refund of $84. Not sure if I will ever see this refund though. I looked at 12 years of billing and found that they: (1) Changed the auto renewal period from one year to three years without my permission. (2) Once they got away with #1, they upped my yearly costs from $9.99 to $27.99 to $34.99 to $37.99. I’m grateful they reduced my payments to a normal amount (so they say), but bottom line is they are sneaky bastards who hope you’ll never check your auto renewal bill.” Robert G., Honolulu, HI (Yelp, 9 October 2013)