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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)


     
    Registrars SnapNames Retracts Refund Offer
    posted by jon on Tuesday February 26 2002, @05:25AM

    Klaatu writes "Below you will find a chronology of recent outrageous behavior by SnapNames. Apologies in advance for its length, but it is important to include the full text from e-mails initiated by SnapNames to illustrate their foolish stance!"



    On 15 Feb 2002, SnapNames issued an e-mail to all of its customers, which read as follows...
     
    ---
    Dear SnapNames Customer,
     
    Please reply to this email with ACCEPT or REFUND in the subject line. You may receive this letter at both addresses you have stored with SnapNames. You only need to reply to one letter.
     
    We are writing to inform you that the domain name industry’s ever-evolving methodology for acquiring deleting domain names has changed once again. Accordingly, your SnapBack(tm) subscription may be affected, as described below. We send this notification to you pursuant to our agreement with you, which states, in part:
     
    You acknowledge that the Internet, domain name system, and the practice of registering, monitoring, and administering domain names are evolving, and therefore you agree that SnapNames may modify this Agreement, as well as any additional rules or policies that are or may be published by SnapNames, as necessary to comply with any other agreements that SnapNames is currently bound by or will be bound by in the future, as well as to adjust to changing business circumstances.
     
    The result of the industry’s recent changes is that domain names registered through SnapBack by SnapNames may or may not be registered through the registrar you initially chose during your order on our website. As before, we are unable to guarantee that your name will be registered at your preferred registrar. Instead, some names may be registered at registrar partners of SnapNames other than the one you chose as a preference during your order. Unlike in the past, your only option if you do not wish the name to remain at the acquiring registrar will be to wait the sixty days prescribed by ICANN before initiating any transfer of the domain name to your preferred registrar. At that point in time, we will be unable to initiate the transfer for you. However, as always, we, along with the registrar where your name is held, are willing to assist you.
     
    The registration agreements for our registrar partners are available to read through the links below. If your email client does not show live links, past the string into your browser.
     
    http://www.snapnames.com/nsiterms.html NSI/Verisign
    http://www.snapnames.com/namescoutterms.html Namescout
    http://bulkregister.com/agreement.phtml BulkRegister
    http://www.domainsatcost.ca/Terms_and_Conditions/COM_Terms.asp Domainsatcost.ca
    http://www.internic.ca/Terms_and_Conditions/COM_Terms.asp Internic.ca
    http://www.directi.com/docs/legalkits/customerdomcno.pdf Directi
    http://www.domainpeople.com/registration_agreement.html DomainPeople
     
    If you do not agree to these changes, you may request that your SnapBack(tm) subscription service be cancelled. In this case reply with REFUND in the subject line. If you still wish us to get the name for you under the terms listed reply with ACCEPT in the subject line. The refund can not be for names we already registered for you in the past, but only for current SnapBacks or exchange credits in your account. Please be patient for refund requests as they may take a few days to process. You should only request the refund if the registrar through which the name is acquired is more important than getting the name. You can always transfer it in 60 days if needed.
     
    As always, please do not hesitate to let our excellent Customer Service team know if you have any questions. We apologize for the necessity of this change but it is a requirement of ICANN policy at this time.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    SnapNames
    ---
     
    Customers that replied to this e-mail with "REFUND" received the following e-mail on 17 Feb 2002...
     
    ---
    Dear SnapNames Customer:
     
    Thank you for responding to our letter regarding ICANN-mandated deleting name registration rules. Due to the nature of the numerous questions we received about our prior notification, we wish to clarify it here. We must stress that deleting your SnapBack(TM) positions is not a necessary response to ICANN's mandate.
     
    Allow us to address here some of the follow-up questions:
     
    Q. Does this process update mean SnapBack will be less effective in acquiring the name(s) in which I'm interested?
     
    A. No. The process of acquiring domain names remains unchanged. If you still want the name(s), you should leave the SnapBack subscription(s) in place.
     
    Q. What specifically has been changed about the process involved in securing a registration?
     
    A. Only this: Now, we are no longer able to move a name between registrars within the first five days after acquisition; instead, transfer requests must be made by the registrant after at least 60 days have passed, per Registry regulations.
     
    Q. So if the acquired registration is made with my preferred registrar, do I need to do anything different?
     
    A. No, further action is not necessary.
     
    Q. If an acquired registration is made with a registrar other than the one I requested, what then?
     
    A. You have the following options:
     
    1. You may leave it with that registrar and manage it there.

    2. If you prefer to transfer the name to another registrar, you certainly may. Registry rules allow for a transfer request no sooner than 60 days following the registration. Simply ask your preferred registrar to initiate the transfer request.
     
    In addition, if you feel that you have been inconvenienced by not having your name registered at your preferred registrar, SnapNames will reimburse you for registrar transfer fees -- simply forward to our customer service group (support@snapnames.com) the invoice detailing the transfer fee for a reimbursement to your credit card.
     
    If for some reason you elect neither option above and wish to forfeit/remove your SnapBack back-order(s), SnapNames will refund your subscription fee.
     
    We apologize for having to contact you again, but we want to ensure that you are fully informed of your options and that your preference is clearly specified. Accordingly, please reply to this mail ONLY if, after fully understanding your options, you still want TO request a refund. Please reply from an email address in your SnapNames account (so we can recognize you).
     
    If we receive no further reply, we will leave your SnapBack subscription safely in place and attempt to secure your wanted registrations.
     
    Thank you for your time and again, our apologies for this inconvenience.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    SnapNames
    ---
     
    Customers that replied to this e-mail confirmed their desire to be refunded, and they expected this offer to be honored by SnapNames.
     
    However, on 25 Feb 2002, SnapNames issued the following two e-mails, back-to-back, retracting their refund offers of 15 Feb and 17 Feb 2002...
     
    --- Dear SnapNames Customer:
     
    A few days ago we sent you a note explaining how ICANN policy now required us to change the way we secure domain name back-orders for you. At the same time, we offered to refund your subscription fee if we could not find adequate technical solutions to accommodate those changes. (The changes meant that SnapNames was not allowed to immediately transfer domain names we acquired for you to your preferred registrar. Due to the complexities involved, until recently we had usually been able to honor such transfers, though they have never been guaranteed.)
     
    SnapNames is pleased to say that we have taken the steps necessary to accommodate ICANN’s policies while continuing to register back-ordered names on your behalf with equal effectiveness. While we are precluded from performing immediate transfers, if your name is initially registered by one of our registrar partners other than the one you chose as your preference, a transfer can be made to any registrar if your request is made 60 or more days after the initial registration.

    As a result, SnapNames will not be processing refund requests for SnapBack™ back-orders based on this process update. Accordingly, your exclusive SnapBack position on these names has been preserved, and we will continue to provide unparalleled domain name acquisition and monitoring services to you.
     
    Please do not hesitate to contact our first-rate Customer Service team with any questions. Thank you again for your business.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    SnapNames
    ---
    Dear SnapNames Customer:
     
    A few days ago we sent you a note explaining that ICANN policy changes mandated an update to the way we secure domain name back-orders for you; further, we offered to refund your subscription fee if we could not find adequate technical solutions to accommodate those changes. (The industry change meant, essentially, that we were no longer permitted to even try to perform immediate transfers of domain names from the registrars that acquired them to your preferred registrar; however, due to the complexities involved in the process, we were careful to note that industry regulation has never permitted guarantees of such transfers.)
     
    SnapNames is pleased to announce that we have taken the steps necessary to accommodate ICANN’s policies while continuing to register back-ordered names on your behalf with equal effectiveness. While we are precluded from performing immediate transfers, if your name is initially registered by one of our registrar partners other than the one you chose as your preference, a transfer can be made to any registrar if your request is made 60 or more days after the initial registration.
     
    Our Terms and Conditions have always made clear that customers’ names are not guaranteed to end up at their preferred registrar (industry rules and regulations do not permit such a guarantee).
     
    As a result, we will not be processing refund requests for SnapBack™ orders. As compensation for any inconvenience caused, our previous offer still stands to pay for the reasonable costs of transferring your name to your original registrar of choice. Sixty days after your name’s registration via SnapBack (this is an industry-required waiting period), simply contact your preferred registrar, request that they transfer the name in, and send us a copy of the invoice for the transfer cost.
     
    We apologize for any inconvenience that the regulatory policy may have caused you--though it was outside our control, we believe it's important for SnapNames and all of its registrar network partners to compply fully with regulatory advisories.
     
    Please do not hesitate to contact our first-rate Customer Service team with any questions. Thank you again for your business.
     
    Sincerely yours,
     
    SnapNames
    ---
     
    Please note the difference in language between the first two and last two e-mails. The first two indicate that customers may request a refund if they disagree with the new Terms and Conditions. The last two e-mails indicate that refund offers were conditional upon SnapNames efforts to find an alternative solution.
     
    Customers, like myself, who chose a refund on 15 Feb 2002, and then purchased a similar service from a SnapNames competitor, are now paying twice for the monitoring of a single domain name. E-mails to SnapNames, explaining this situation (which they alone have created by retracting the refund offer) have resulted in robotic, textbook replies that only regurgitate their e-mails of 25 Feb 2002. They steadfastly refuse to issue refunds for any reason, regardless of their initial, legally-binding refund offer.
     
    This action by SnapNames is a clear violation of consumer law. Companies simply cannot withdraw a customer-confirmed refund offer 10 days after the fact without liability for related expenses their customers have incurred. Their actions are irresponsible, arrogant, unethical and unprofessional. An investigation, resulting in forcing SnapNames to honor their initial refund offer to those customers who chose it, is absolutely imperative!

     
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