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 GoDaddy.com, 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.