Domainz will be contacting Melbourne-based Internet Name Group (ING) for an explanation over its aggressive mass mail-out marketing campaign targeting .nz domain name holders.
Warnings about the letters have come thick and fast today after ING sent out letters to the domain name holders asking for fees to register new internet suffixes for New Zealand websites. The letter promotes its "Pre-Registration" service for the new .biz and .info domain names at $250 per domain name.
Domainz CEO Dereck Locke says it is spam whether it was posted or emailed.
“We've received a number of complaints about it from our customers." He says Domainz has a policy that clearly outlaws this kind of mass mailing.
"We're seeking advice and will be contacting them for an explanation and if we feel they have done something wrong we will be reviewing their status."
Locke says the problem with the letter is the "implication" that if domain name holders don't act immediately they may lose their domain name, which is absurd.
"They're talking about something in the US with the .biz and .info names. We deal here with .nz and that's completely different."
But ING spokesman Mark Spektor defends the practice of posting out application forms.
"Yes, it's aggressive and yes, we knew it would be interpreted as spam if we emailed them out to people. That's why we posted them - that way the recipient can simply throw it away if they don't want to take part."
Spektor says ING has conducted research in New Zealand and concluded that around "80% of the market does not know about the pre-registration service" for .biz and .info domain names and that his company is simply filling that void.
He says there is nothing in the letter that would confuse readers into thinking it is an invoice. Local web hosting company iServe has been telling its customers today that they that if they have a .co.nz domain name and have received a letter from ING to be aware that they do not need to send any money to protect their domain name. "This is a cleverly worded marketing campaign, and seems to be working very well, with people reading this letter and feeling they need to protect their .nz domain by paying the $250 fee," iServe says in a statement.
If companies would like to register a .biz or .info domain name iServe suggests they do it via register.com where the charge is $US5 per domain name.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) has also fielded several calls from concerned members over the promotion. "We are advising New Zealand businesses to file the document in the rubbish," says EMA executive officer Garth Wyllie in a statement. "The Melbourne operation wants $250 to register the new suffixes though they can be obtained locally for $74," says Wyllie. He says the mail-out urges businesses to protect their domain name even though there's no risk to it, then asks recipients to respond within 48 hours. Once the money is paid, there is some doubt whether the registration will actually be made. "This smells of scare mongering. Companies can register their company names with the new suffixes, if they feel they need to, through their internet service provider which can usually act as an agent for the New Zealand Internet Registry. "Registering the new suffixes may provide protection in some cases though the law against passing off is clear and being enforced."
Wyllile says that internet and domain names should be considered like a telephone directory; whether you choose to list in one or more categories depends on the nature of your business.
The new international extensions of .biz and .info have been available for registration for some months.