National Internet registry Domainz has e-mailed the more than 500 former customers of 2Day Internet that it will bill direct in the wake of 2Day's withdrawl as a billing agent for the registry.
But the introductory message does not seem to address the complaints that 2Day managing director Peter Mott said led to his decision to cease acting as a billing agent for Domainz.
Mott's complaint was that if he could not contact some customers to collect name renewal fees from them by the 20th of each month, he was compelled by Domainz to either cancel the names on the day they fell due or pay for them himself - on pain of losing the entire month's volume discount.
2Day quit as a billing agent in the first month Domainz' new sterms applied, December, when it was denied a $2039 volume payment discount because it has been unable to collect from 13 of the 178 customers with accounts due by December 20. Payment from all but two customers was forwarded by December 31.
2Day's customers, who formerly paid an all-in$99 a year for registration a name service, must now be invoiced separately by 2Day ($48) and Domainz ($53), leaving plans outlined in last year's Domainz working paper looking shaky.
The working paper, which presaged the changes in Domainz' billing model last year, envisaged "a small number of established billing agents managing substantial numbers of customers" and "operating almost as partners of Domainz".
But none of the "big three" ISPs - Xtra, Clear Net and Ihug - want to act as billing agents and with the departure of 2Day, only a handful of ISPs, including Netlink, which has a small number of established corporate and government customers, and Iprolink remain.
Domainz CEO Patrick O'Brien, who sent the letter to the 2Day customers, is in Auckland today, conducting a workshop for interested parties.
In the message, O'Brien says that Domainz' new system recognised "service providers who act as billing agents for many name holders. Domainz is trialling a service and volume related incentive discount for the agents, on the condition that payment due is received by 20th of the month.
"This provides service providers with the opportunity to gain maximum benefit from our services for both themselves and just as importantly for their clients, in a manner that we believe does not disadvantage them."
The letter cites "media interest" following a letter from Mott to the customers affected in which "Domainz was accused of unfair business practices. It was perceived that our reduction in fees had the potential to erode margins of service providers who act as billing agents for many name holders.
"We do not believe this is the case. The incentives we offered to major name service providers were specifically designed to ensure there was a neutral impact on their margins."
Mott's letter last week to customers did not actually raise margins as a factor in its actions. It told customers it could not continue its billing relationship with Domainz "without placing 2Day at considerable risk financially and legally" over Domainz' stipulation that it cancel customers' names without furthrer notice.