For many years Network Solutions has been the place where my domain names are hosted. They were, in truth, a company that I trusted. Many internet hosters and registrars are cowboys, and it is nearly impossible to find good people. Once you have found them, you stick with them.
But my liking for Network Solutions has got rather frayed down the years, for various reasons, and, as I blogged two days ago, that trust evaporated on Monday after they started making difficulties about transferring Tertullian.org to another company.
There is a curious sequel to the story, however. Last night I received an email from someone at Network Solutions, telling me that their social media team had spotted my comment and handed it over to this person to address. She made use of the telephone number — without my permission — to call me. But for some reason she hadn’t reckoned on the time zone and so the call went to voicemail. Then I got an email.
Now I have no real animosity towards Network Solutions, so I thought that I would take that call. I was quite prepared to explain, as a customer, why all my domains were being transferred elsewhere one by one, and why I felt that the company was no longer on my trusted list. I do have rather good reasons, after all; and a sensible company would want to know them. This afternoon the call came through.
The call was a delight, as Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice might have said about the effusions of his pompous but foolish nephew, Mr. Collins. I didn’t get asked any of those questions. Rather the call was to help me “understand” why I was wrong to be annoyed at their failure to transfer my domain when I asked them to. Some of the explanations were most interesting, as they say.
Firstly I was told that Network Solutions really does intend to force all its customers to ring up when they want to leave. It really does. The reason given is that there is a great deal of domain name fraud going on, and fraudulent attempts to transfer out domains; and so the company wants to verify that the account holders really are behind the request, by checking personal details. That this gives their call centre the chance to give you the hard sell is not, apparently, the motive at all.
Secondly, apparently I was wrong that it is an utter pain to renew a domain. What I said, rather officiously — for I wasn’t asked to — that, when the company sends you an email asking you to renew a domain, and you click on the link, that what you expect is a minimum number of clicks thereafter to hand them your credit card details. What you get, instead, is a page full of irrelevant advertising. You hunt around for a link saying “ignore this and continue”, which you find off-screen at the bottom. With relief you click this, only to be presented with yet more rubbish. And you do the same, and get the same, getting more and more frustrated all the time. But apparently this is not a bad thing, as I had suggested. “I don’t agree”, she told me. Customers really do want to page through all this crap in order to give Network Solutions money. Lots of them are naive, I was told, know nothing about computers, and so are glad to buy a set of services at that point, even though they have owned the domain name for years. And anyway if I didn’t like all that very helpful material, there was a button on the top right to bypass all this.
Thirdly, the obligatory call to the call centre also gave Network Solutions the chance to improve its service, I was told. Keeping customers on the phone, at international call prices, is valuable to Network Solutions in order to obtain feedback. No doubt she would have told me that the customers forced to telephone would be positively thankful for the chance to contribute to this company’s business development in this way, but for some reason that was not said.
Silly me! How fortunate that I did not embarass myself further by explaining why I didn’t want to give their company any money any more. So that’s all right, then. Sadly I remembered that I had an urgent meeting at that point, and had to forgo further jewels of thought.
I think I will go off and do a bit of internet banking now. And no, I shan’t have to ring up someone to allow the bank to make sure that I am who I say I am before I transfer money.