Company files class action lawsuit against GoDaddy over “Free” privacy service rebilling

Company says it should not have been charged to renew whois privacy services that were initially free.

[Updated with comment from GoDaddy.] A Florida company has initiated a lawsuit seeking class action status against domain name registrar GoDaddy for its practice of rebilling for whois proxy services that were initially offered for free.

WineStyles, Inc. took advantage of GoDaddy’s offer of free private registration when you register five or more domain names at a time. The company says that GoDaddy does not make it clear that the whois proxy services offered as “Domains By Proxy” will renew for a fee rather than for free.

The lawsuit (pdf) claims:

By suggesting that the value of “FREE” Private Registration was $9.99/yr, and that the “FREE” service had “NO LIMIT!”, GoDaddy represented that the “FREE” Private Registration services would be for the lifetime of the domain name, and Plaintiff (and on information and belief, the Class) believed this to be the case.

When the customer’s domains automatically renewed, proxy services were renewed at the full regular price (at the time $8.99, now $9.99), according to WineStyles.

The plaintiff states that none of the renewal notices sent to the company indicated that the privacy services would no longer be free upon renewal. It also alleges that disclaimers on the GoDaddy web site were inadequate:

Throughout the class period, GoDaddy provided wholly inadequate disclaimers on, which reiterated the “FREE” offer but never mentioned to Customers that the Private Registration service would be automatically renewed by GoDaddy at the full price applicable to single domain domain name purchases, instead of for “FREE”.

The proposed class is any GoDaddy customer from March 19, 2006 who registered 5 or more domains, received the “free” private registration, and then was charged a fee for the proxy services when they renewed.

I have reached out to Go Daddy for a comment and will update this story when I receive one.

Nima Kelly, Deputy General Counsel with Go Daddy Operating Company, LLC, issued the following statement regarding the suit:

We have not yet been served with a complaint in this matter and had not yet seen or heard such salacious accusations as those in the document Domain Name Wire shared with us. Should we receive proper service, we will certainly defend the case vigorously. While we typically don’t comment on the specifics of pending litigation, we can say that we’ve yet to see a meritorious complaint where words like ‘conspiracy’ and ‘unconscionable’ are used to describe our actions.


    • Victim of GoDADDY says

      Go daddy as an company is a big frod ,we are filing an complaint against them here in india for harassment & business loss ,credibility loss of our company as we decided to go for Godaddy hosting & these people screwed us completly

  1. Ron says

    Wine Styles is so lame, if the registration for was 1 year, the length of private registration is stated, they are so going to lose. Everytime I have used privacy, it states the length. That is what is wrong with America, SUE HAPPY!

  2. Louise says

    The case has merit if the registrant took screenshots showing the privacy was free for a life, or indicated such.

    Godaddy is fast about adjusting its modus operandi when accused. It might be GD inserts some disclaimers in a hurry to bolster its position.

  3. says

    interesting article I hope you do not have some impact to services offered by this company, many customers use their software tools and services.

  4. says

    GD wording of some services can be misleading. When something is stated to be “FREE”. It should come with a clear disclaimer that states the period it is for and how much it will be afterwards.

  5. Rimmy says

    Godaddy has used the same ole trick for years.. give it to them free and then rake them over the coals when they try and renew. It cost Godaddy NOTHING to offer the privacy service, all they’re doing is registering the domain under their info instead of yours.. why should I pay $9 a year for that? It cost as much to get privacy as the domain name costs!

  6. woowee says

    Woo GoDaddy will defend the case vigorously. Boy Im sure they are scared. Fact is Go Daddy is a shady company. Register a domain and if you don’t look out you have it for 5 years because they sneak in the 5 year tag. They do a lot of other sneaky things and I hope they get sued for those as well.

  7. says

    i was hosting with godaddy but a month back they took downmy site and emailed me things like we r trying to protect you against any fraudelent activities, so mail us your N.I.C ‘s scanned copy. i have mailed them so far but still my site is down and even i can not backup my data, they even don’t replying to support tickets, what they r doing is just forwarding the same autogenerated emails to me, can i file a law suit against them?

  8. says

    Now the free privacy deal seems to be gone. Couldn’t figure it out so you had to ruin it for everyone else?

    Thanks, Wine Styles. Thanks a lot. You just cost me 30 bucks. Should I sue you now?

  9. says

    I want to join your lawsuit. There are more “free” things that Godaddy charges for as well as other items that are fraudulent in their advertising. Contact me

  10. Kim says

    Any one else being slammed into multi-year renewals without permission or disclosure? I don’t know if other people have had this problem, although on the phone, the godaddy rep told me that they have had many other complaints about it. Godaddy’s site gives you the option of doing a one year renewal. BUT they don’t disclose that you will be renewed at YOUR ORIGINAL TERM and charged the full five years (in my case) renewal fee. I thought that by clicking the icon for one year renewal that would be all it takes. NO! Godaddy slams you into a five year renewal and then says fine, you can go to a one year renewal term, however, you will need to cancel your site, then see if any one is perched on it like a vulture waiting to pick it up. If you don’t renew quickly, they (or any other website reseller) can snap it up and resell it to you at an exorbitant rate. No thank you. Too much risk for my company, a well established firm in business for over 9 years. So I renewed, although their sneaky snarky slamming made me wonder if anyone else is interested in putting together a class action lawsuit to get these fees reduced and to stop these deceptive business practices. I don’t have time.

    • says

      I looked at the Terms of Service and it says auto renewals will be for the same term as the previous period. So if you have a five year registration with auto renew, it will be for 5 years.

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