Why you shouldn’t register your domain with Network Solutions

There is no shortage of controversy and complaints about Network Solutions, but here is my advice to anyone thinking of doing business with them: think again.

Here’s why.

  • Their terms of service are questionable, if not downright misleading. Here is what the service agreement says in the section about country-specific domain names (I registered a .co.uk domain with them several years ago):

    No transfers or legal name changes are allowed for .am, .at, .be, .ch, .cz, .de, .es, .com.es, .nom.es, .org.es, .fm, .li, .mx, .com.mx, .co.nz, .net.nz, .org.nz, .pl, .ru .co.uk, .me.uk, or .org.uk country-specific domain name registrations, which includes, but is not limited to, CRA, RNCA, channel transfers, account consolidation by 2 or more users.

    (where RNCA is a “Registrant Name Change Agreement”, and CRA is not defined anywhere in the document!)

    The implication is that once you have registered one of these domains with Network Solutions, you are not permitted to change registrar or transfer ownership of the domain — and you are therefore stuck with Network Solutions, and with the domain, ad infinitum. This struck me as somewhat unfair, if not illegal.

    I wrote to Nominet, the .uk domain registry, to find out whether I was indeed locked in for ever as a result of failing to read the fine print when I registered my domain. The response:

    I believe the ‘transfers not permitted’ relates to transfers coming into Network Solutions.

    The American companies seem to be unable to accept .uk domain names in although they can register them directly. They should still be able to transfer the domain name out for you, however if they are unable to, you may do so by logging into your account with us and completing a ‘registrar change’ online.

    So the restriction appears to be only on transferring domains to Network Solutions, not away from them. And if they don’t cooperate, you can make the change unilaterally. Funny that they don’t say so in the agreement.

    Incidentally, there are other controversial bits in the service agreement too, like this, for people who buy hosting plans from Network Solutions:

    You agree that any domain name directory, sub-directory, file name or path that does not resolve to an active web page on your Website being hosted by Network Solutions, may be used by Network Solutions to place a “parking” page, “under construction” page, or other temporary page that may include promotions and advertisements for, and links to, Network Solutions’ Website, Network Solutions product and service offerings, third-party Websites, third-party product and service offerings, and/or Internet search engines.

    So, you buy a product on condition that your supplier can use it for their own marketing purposes. Nice!

  • Their administration interface is ghastly. Getting the simplest things done is a mission, not least because at every step of the way you are affronted with aggressive marketing of add-on products that you really have no interest in. Every time I log in, I have to decline several “special offers” before I can get to the control panel.
  • Their customer service is poor. They promise to respond to support requests within 24 hours, and they do. But the response I invariably get is along these lines:

    Thank you for contacting Network Solutions Customer Service Department. We are committed to creating the best Customer experience possible. One of the first ways we can demonstrate our commitment to this goal is to quickly and efficiently handle your recent request.

    With regard to your concern, we have forwarded your request to the appropriate department for immediate attention. Please allow 1-3 business days for the issue to be resolved.

    See how 24 hours has now turned into 1-3 business days?

  • Finally, their prices are far, far above the market average.

    I’m pretty sure that the majority of their customers are those (like me) that registered with them when Network Solutions was the only place you could go for this sort of thing. Thank goodness that has changed.