Is SnapNames.com up to something different or new? Or shady perhaps?
Historically I have successfully “snapped” back domains for nearly a decade. Using SnapNames.
I would simply enter domain names into their system–names I want that were now owned by someone else, a process SnapNames calls “backordering.” And if the owner of the name fails to renew when it expires–bing, batter, boom–the domain name is then mine!
Automatic Snap Backs
This would happen automatically, and I would not need to monitor it, so it was a pretty sweet deal to sit back and get an e-mail notification that I acquired a name I wanted.
This is how I got the domain jdwebdesign.com (a domain name that some people go to instead of jdwebsolutions.com when trying to reach me, because we used to be called, “JDWeb Design.” I would have people call me in a panic, “JD, your site is for sell, for $2,000!” I would have to let them know that I never owned that domain name. But, now I do. I actually took acquiring the name as a “sign” to continue with my freelance business. I was tempted to throw in the towel the day I won the auction. In comes the alert, “Congratulations, you own jdwebsolutions.com.” Pretty cool). I also use the service to make sure clients do not lose their names. As a safeguard. So that if they forget to renew (despite my reminders), I can usually help them get the name back if they lose it.
$49 well spent
In fact, that happened to my hubby. Twice. We did not renew two of his domain names (long story), and they entered into redemption mode. This was back in the day when redemption mode costs more than now.
So I used SnapNames to catch his domains at the bargain price of $49 smacker-roos each.
(SnapNames today costs $69. Well, to be precise, $69 is the least auction amount required, and I only recall one occasion that I had to pay higher than the minimum auction amount to snap a name back.)
Still, not a bad price for winning an domain name in an auction.
Yes, I am aware that SnapNames.com is a Web.com company (which is a Network Solutions company–or the back in the day “registrar gods” as I like to call them–when they were the only registrar company in the marketplace, or at least, the first). And I know about the shilling or up selling by __, former Vice President back in 2009.
Since those news worthy issues (read: shenanigans), the company has been sold at least twice. And since I’ve used their service successfully up until last summer, I have not been concerned in the least.
But now, something has changed.
In the last few weeks, SnapNames has purchased most of my bulk ordered domain names. Slowly. One by one.
Each time this occurs, I get an e-mail that looks like:
The full e-mail
The full text of the e-mail (for those who may have received similar e-mails are are Googling around) says,
“Good news! Domain names you have ordered are now available for immediate purchase at SnapNames. Please note that these domains are not in auction, but are offered on a first come, first serve basis at a fixed ‘Buy It Now’ price.
Domain Name Buy It Now Price
Please click on a domain name above to go to SnapNames to purchase the domain name, or go to www.snapnames.com and search for the domain name directly.”
Due to potential high demand by other interested parties, SnapNames cannot guarantee that these names will be available for long. In the event it is already sold, the domain name will appear as available for backorder when clicking on the link above.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you..”
Coincidence? Maybe. But I think not.
What Good News?
And while their e-mail tell me it is “good news,” is it?
How is SnapNames owning a domain name a backordered from them “good news”?
How is it that SnapNames is scooping up the domain names I wanted, the very names I back-ordered through them for $69 (that’s the minimum amount they automatically charge my credit card if I “win” the auction.
Then they had the nerve to send me an e-mail and offer to sell me the domain name–at an astronomical price tag? That is, if you consider $4950 an astronomical price for something I normally get for $69 in auction.
Yes, they are selling one of my back-ordered names for nearly $5K. Really, SnapNames?
What is going on?
Is SnapNames is suddenly doing auctions differently? Doesn’t the word “order” in “back-order” no longer have any meaning to them?
I’m full of questions. And wonderments. But mostly questions.
I searched through all of my of e-mails for communications from SnapNames to see if they notified their customers of any changes to their policies or processes.
All I found was a few copies of the “Good News” e-mail you see above. I received three total for all three of my back-ordered names that they now own. All within three weeks.
I did not even get notified of the auction taking place. Why? Could it be there was never an auction? And they just snapped my name?
I entered the name(s) in their system for them to win them for me. Not for them to buy them and then send me e-mails trying to get me to pay big for them. SnapNames is supposed to acquire expiring domain names and selling them to the highest bidder, keeping a percentage for itself of course. Which is how they make business.
But what if someone backorders a super high profile domain name?and then sells them to the highest bidder, keeping a percentage for itself.”
It just seems highly unlikely that all three of those names just all happen to be on the domain market at the same time. It’s possible, but the odds are extremely low. And even if they all were released into the ICANN system as available domain names to purchase, why in the world did SnapNames acquire it and not honor my back-order auction amount of $69?
I hope I don’t get more “Good news” e-mails from SnapNames this month, but I have a feeling this is a trend.
So maybe I’ll go delete all other back-ordered names with them. While I am not loosing anything financially, seems like (very suddenly) that I am being robbed of the opportunity to have first crack of owning the names I backorder and tell them about; names they know I want. So in some sense, this is probably why they try to then sell it to me at the inflated rate.
I mean, doesn’t that sound shady? I hope I am very wrong about this.
Other Backorder Services
Fortunately there are other backorder services out there like these:
GoDaddy offers backorder services, but I still refuse to recommend GoDaddy for anything (I’ll link to a blog post I wrote on the reasons why I do not).
Back to SnapNames, I was actually so successful using their service in the past that I rarely bulk ordered my names with other name catchers on the market. However, diversifying your backorder services makes a lot of sense.
If you backorder the same name with multiple backorder services, it increases your odds that you will either acquire it and become the new owner, or to loose it if you are already the owner.
Initially I thought that to be my downfall here, that I could have avoided what happened by backordering girlztalk.com for example with multiple companies (that is a name I used to own by the way, when I ran an online women’s ministry that featured a popular weekly chat room).
Alas, it would not have mattered, if there was no auction. SnapNames is the owner, not any of those other companies. SnapNames won the name & left me out in the cold. And that is NOT good news as their e-mail claims.
If anyone has experienced the same thing or knows what is going on, feel free to comment.