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GoDaddy drops Uniregistry domain names due to price hike

World’s largest domain name registrar will no longer carry Uniregistry’s top level domains.

GoDaddy has stopped selling Uniregistry top level domain names after Uniregistry announced a wholesale price hike effective this coming August.

This afternoon I tried to transfer a .click domain name to GoDaddy but got an error that the domain couldn’t be transferred. .Click is a Uniregistry domain. Further searches revealed that no Uniregistry domains are available on GoDaddy.

I reached out to GoDaddy. GM of Domains Mike McLaughlin stated:

We have stopped registering or transferring Uniregistry domain names into our system. The dramatic price hike Uniregistry announced left us no choice. Until we can assess the impact on our current and potential customers, we have stopped new registrations. 

GoDaddy works to deliver a great customer experience. We now have customers who will be paying up to 3,000 percent more for their renewal. That’s an extremely poor customer experience and does not reflect well on the domain name industry in general.

GoDaddy will continue to support our current customers who have Uniregistry registered domain names.”

I’ll be curious to see if other registrars follow GoDaddy’s lead. Ultimately, it’s the registrar that has to explain to customers why their website will cost substantially more to operate when the domain renews.

Uniregistry launched many of its domain names without distribution on GoDaddy, and this probably limited the success of Uniregistry’s initial launches. The two companies didn’t sign a registry-registrar agreement until June 2014.

Uniregistry is increasing the wholesale price of its domain names by up to 30 times (but mostly about 5x) beginning in August. This price increase will apply to existing and future registrations, although Uniregistry founder Frank Schilling says that discounts will be offered. (Listen to Schilling explain the price increases in this week’s DNW podcast.)

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    • Mark Thorpe

      The first shoe has dropped at Uniregistry. The other shoe could drop sooner, than later.
      Uniregistry could be ripe for a buyout. IMO

      But Frank has hundreds of thousands of .com domains in his portfolio, so he will survive. But his new gTLD customers will not.

      Like I have said many times before, the domain Industry needs to be regulated better!

      It’s a sad week in the domain Industry.

  1. Colin Campbell

    I think Frank Shilling and Uniregistry have a case to be made that niche TLDs need to have a higher price to survive. If possible it would have been ideal to allow all existing customers to renew at the lower price. Not certain how this would work with ICANN rules but should be something that is investigated.

    Mainstream gTLDs like .link, .shop, .web, .club need to be priced competitively with .com and .net if they intend to serve a broader market. I understand the concern domain investors may feel respect to backing a new gTLD. .CLUB put measures in place when we signed the RRA (Registry-Registrar-Agreement) with Godaddy and other registrars to limit the price increase to a maximum of 15% over 5 years or the rate of inflation. We introduced this self imposed limit to provide stability for investors, users, and domain holders.

    Colin Campbell, .CLUB

    • Mark Thorpe

      .Web is the only new gTLD that has any chance of going mainstream.

      .Club .Shop and .Store will be second tier, creating their own niche.

      .Link is not an attractive domain extension. Neither is .XYZ. IMO

      • Colin Campbell

        Cut from RRA for .CLUB:

        Fee Increase. Registry Operator reserves the right to increase the Fees set forth above prospectively upon six months advance notice to Registrar. During the five year period subsequent to the date that Registry Operator signs its Registry Agreement with ICANN, Registry Operator shall not increase any individual fee set forth in Exhibit E more than 15% or the U.S. Currency Inflation, whichever is greater.

    • Domo Sapiens

      I think that its a lame excuse, how on earth raising prices is going to increase demand, please.
      Mainstream gtlds…? seriously.
      There is NO Reseller market
      There is NO Public awareness
      There is NO development per-se (other than the ‘one hit wonders’)
      Domain confidence sinking pretty low…

      .WEB will be the good one…. right.
      “.Com Will Become Like AM Radio”… my arse.

      • Snoopy

        It doesn’t increase demand but the issue is what does the demand curve look like. In other words what % will drop after the price rise, that is the issue that registries will be pondering.

        Frank said in the interview “1000 applications and no uptake”, so it is about increasing revenue on what you have, rather than focusing on increase volume.

        • Domo Sapiens

          I am being over simplistic:
          There is low demand for a product and the cure to help pay for the bills is raising the price(s)?…
          short term fix?

          Surely that will help the demand ..right,: “pisssing off” your own customers/registrants

          Sounds to me like a Hail Mary pass!

          • Snoopy

            I think this is where the uniqueness issue comes into play and the fact that it can be costly and a financially risky to shift for the small number of endusers using it. There is some degree of “monopoly” in just about any tld once it has registrants. Lastly defensive registrants are going to be less price sensitive than domainers.

            Think of it like selling petrol, diamonds or tap water. If the price of those items goes up 100% will demand also fall by half? I doubt it.

            I think the numbers leaving those string will be well a truly offset by the cost increase, time will tell on that.

            I think that yes if there is low demand for a product then putting up price can help. Think about solid gold iPhone covers or customised ferraris, you’ve got to make a big margin to make up for the low volume.

    • AJ

      “If possible it would have been ideal to allow all existing customers to renew at the lower price.”

      I don’t get it. They have given the mandated 6 months advance warning and existing registrants CAN renew at current prices for up to 10 years. Your statement is flat out misinformation

      • Andrew Allemann

        It’s not misinformation. Donuts raised prices on some of its domain names but allowed existing customers to renew at the lower price. My understanding is that this is a pain for registrars, but probably a lot better than charging them so much more at renewal time.

  2. Bill Sweetman

    Kudos to GoDaddy for taking the high road and putting the customer (registrants) first. It will be fascinating to watch how this plays out over the coming year. Best wishes to everyone on all sides of the equation.

  3. Wilt

    It’s over. Franks delusions of grandeur have gotten the best of him. Spend spend spend on apple like promotional items and the money has to come from somewhere
    The end of uniregistry as a real player

  4. Leonard Holmes

    This is a fascinating development. My gut is siding with Frank against GoDaddy, but it will take some time to see how this plays out. I’m one of those guys who is sticking with dotcom.

  5. Garth

    Probably more a timely excuse to distance itself from a competitor.
    Uniregistry, as a registrar, is a far superior experience/product to GoDaddy.
    And a smaller team did it.

    • Peter

      No it’s not, not at all.

      The interface is harder to use, the scroll bar is maddening, and customer service has not always been a pleasant service, etc….

      On the other hand, GoDaddy is easy to use in almost all respects and they are much more customer friendly policy wise. Go read the terms of service of both.

    • 10,000 Names

      I’ve never been a customer of Uniregistry, but have been with Godaddy for 10+ years. Godaddy customer service in my opinion has always been exceptionally good, and I personally love the interface of godaddy.com. No complaints from me with Godaddy.

  6. Anticareer.com

    The problem is instead of looking at all his gTLDS as one business unit he is looking at them separately and he wants each single one to be profitable. Not very smart. You know why Costco sells rostisserie chicken for a loss and they do so intentionally, because it gets people in the door and it’s good word of mouth. They don’t need to make a profit on every single item. They just need make a profit across everything combined.

    Then you have guys like Trump who have each separate item as its own entity, and even if he makes billions on the majority of them he files bankruptcy on the ones who don’t do well even though he can damn well afford to cover those loses. Legal, yes, but a scumbag way to do business.

    • Snoopy

      When was the last time you bought a domain to try and sell it at loss? Costo might do this but selling domains at a loss won’t result in more revenue for a registry.

      I think other registries are going to have to go through the same process. For starters haven’t Donuts put every extension in its own shell company? Hmm wonder why that would be.

      Have a look,

      https://gtldresult.icann.org/applicationstatus/viewstatus

      It is hard to even find the donuts ones because it is all in random company names (look for the donuts email addresses on applications).

      I’d love to know a credible reason for Donut’s doing that other than being able to let individual extensions go bankrupt if need be.

      • Anticareer

        First, how much is he losing on a bad extension? We’re not talking millions, we’re talking tens of thousands.

        Second, you think by jacking up the prices he’s going to keep all those customers? He’ll lose customers to his store (Uniregistry) and he’ll lose positive word of mouth. How do domainers feel about all this? He’s going to lose people using Uniregistry as their registrar, he may even lose people using Domainnamesales as their sales platform. So yes, he should accept losing small amounts on some strings as long as he’s more then making up for it on other strings.

        He chose not to, that’s fine and it’s his decision, but the fallout is well deserved because consumers have the right to voice or act on a business’ decisions and that’s what people are doing.

        • Domo Sapiens

          and the employees work for free? from the overpaid Fat Cats to the bottom (weekend interns) add consulting fees of all kinds, including legal, technical, managment etc tec

          • Jane Doe

            If the answer is screwing your customers and risking your reputation to pay your workers then your business model needs a rethink because this is a short term solution with long term consequences you may not recover from.

        • Snoopy

          On the biggest increases he can afford to lose 97% of those new tld registrations. Think about it for a while.

  7. John

    “Pssssst, hey buddy, wanna’ buy a new TLD?”

    “It’s only $9.95 with a renewal fee of $9.95. You can’t beat those prices and smart and savvy investors are getting in now. This is one of those big internet moments, don’t miss it or you will be left in the dust.”

    Forward to today :

    Your domain renewal fee is now $300.

    I’m sorry but you’re going to have to pick up the bill along with the remaining registrants. It’s now $300 to renew your new TLD. You are just going to have to have some faith.

  8. JR

    GoDaddy made a smart move in the interest of their consumers. Good job.
    TLD-mania bubble is popping before our eyes. With brick & mortar at the tipping point in 2017, 2018 is going to be a great year for premium dot-Com names.

    Somewhere Howard Fellman, Rick Schwartz, and Mike Mann are choking themselves with laughter…

  9. Joseph Peterson

    Good call, GoDaddy!

    When registries abuse pre-existing customers by implementing sudden 31x price increases, who gets blamed? The registrar, of course. Customers who are surprised by an unexpectedly large bill are going to be furious with the company charging them – GoDaddy, in this case. At that point, it’s no use explaining the difference between registrar and registry. Customers are already angry, and to them this hair-splitting will sound like an excuse by GoDaddy to dodge responsibility – even though, as anyone can plainly see, the fault is entirely Uniregistry’s.

    For ANY registrar, that ought to be unacceptable. THEIR brand takes the hit. THEIR customer service department is blamed. They may lose the customer (with all the products and services that customer purchases) over a single incident. And this is precisely the sort of bad experience that causes some customers to go on the war path, badmouthing GoDaddy (or whatever registrar) to their acquaintances, to strangers in blog posts, in online reviews. People even launch gripe sites over this sort of thing. Any registry puts a registrar’s reputation at risk like this becomes, if not an outright pariah, then at least a large liability.

    Who polices price hikes from registries? ICANN won’t. Arguably because ICANN is in the pocket of registry operators and lobbyists. The federal government does put price caps on .COM. But only because .COM has a very large footprint. Small nTLD registries are unlikely to get attention from government regulators. Registries might self-regulate, but they gain so little public goodwill from this transparency that there’s little incentive to place limits on their own pricing.

    So who can deter or inhibit price hikes? Registrars. Registrars can enforce limitations when they agree to stock TLDs. It’s in the registrars’ self-interest to ensure price stability. Not only because it safeguard their customers and protects their corporate reputation. But also because low predictable pricing ensures a given registrar remains competitive if prices are raised elsewhere. For instance, if GoDaddy had locked down a €12 wholesale rate, then when Uniregistry raises the TLD’s price to €350 elsewhere, GoDaddy has a huge profit margin to play with while undercutting other registrars.

    If registrars step up to the plate, they can provide nTLD price stability – even if ICANN, government regulators, and registries themselves refuse to cap price increases. GoDaddy can do this by itself, actually. If GoDaddy negotiates strict limitations, then every other registrar will demand the same guaranteed low rate – purely for the sake of remaining competitive with GoDaddy.

    Ultimately price stability benefits the whole nTLD program. Consumers will flee otherwise. It’s important that registrars get tough in asking for long-term pricing guarantees. And if registries want ANY consumer trust at all, they’d better play along.

  10. Matt

    I’m not a fan of GoDaddy but I think that it’s great what they did. Did Uniregistry plan for this and the chance other registrars will follow suit?

    GoDaddy will be blamed by their customers if the don’t make the source of the hike clear. How can GoDaddy do business like this where their prices are hiked and they have to explain it to customers? They might as well push more stable TLDs and I don’t just mean .coms, some gtlds seem more stable.

    Also this is a signal to other registries what might happen if they push up their prices to a ridiculous level… might not make you more money after all if you get dropped by registrars.

  11. Ron

    You have to understand what Godaddy did was to protect it’s customers, one registry put them in harms way, Godaddy is protecting current, and future customers from getting screwed over, they know what’s up.

    This sends a huge statement. Uniregistry traffic is all domainers, they are buying that cheap 99 cent stuff, they hold it for a year, then drop on renewal. Godaddy has everything from billion dollar corps, to newbies who don’t have a clue.

    Goliath just woke up, and squashed this little bug

    Here is a interesting concept

    dot broker just reduced the standard price from 600$ to 30$

    The opposite of what uniregistry is doing, I don’t think anyone has a clue!

  12. William

    The idea of using new and creative domain endings will not go away because of these little market dramas.

    Good for GoDaddy to suspend but it’s only a suspension. Probably, they work this out.

    Everyone dancing on the deathbed of gtlds should pace themselves, the new names aren’t going away. They are just getting started.

    • Joseph Peterson

      @William,

      Agreed. nTLDs will survive Uniregistry shooting itself in the foot … and its customers in the back. Most companies have better sense than to pull a stunt like this – especially now, seeing the backlash against Uniregistry.

      In the short term, though, this Uniregistry debacle will repulse a lot of buyers. Regrettably, Uniregistry nTLDs won’t be the only new TLDs affected. I’ll bet every registrar sees a dip in renewal rates and new registrations for awhile as domainers react to this news.

      Added risk means added cost. But, beyond that, lack of trust will always hurt sales and customer retention. The nTLD program will continue to make progress, but there’s no denying this setback. Hopefully registrars can rally and impose some order on pricing. Then the nTLD program can resume forward motion.

      • Mark Thorpe

        It’s all about what have you shown me lately. Uniregistry has shown it’s true colors.
        Uniregistry has hurt the whole nTLD program and made registrars who sell nTLD’s, look bad.
        I feel bad for new gTLD registries like .club, who will be hurt by this.

        I am one of the few domainers who did not drink the Uniregistry or nTLD kool-aid.
        I do not have any domains registered at Uniregistrar/Uniregistry and never have, nor have I ever listed domains for sale there either.

    • Sergey

      Agree. I think this Uniregistry drama will result in more regulation which will make nTLD program stronger. All this anger and noise, while being fair, are not going to make nTLD program die but going to bring nTLD program success long term, as it will help nTLD program to get rid of its ugly renewal price hikes.

      • Mark Thorpe

        I have been saying the domain name Industry needs to be regulated better for a year now. No one listened.

        As usual, it takes a bad thing to happen like this, to get the Industry regulated better.
        Time will tell if it ever does get regulated better.

        • Snoopy

          Nobody really cares about new tlds, that is why registrants got hardly any protection in the first place. The whole Ntld scene is failing so why spend time regulating it?

          • Joseph Peterson

            @Snoopy,

            Come on, be fair. Although you plainly dislike the nTLDs, many people obviously do care about them:

            1. End users who’ve put them to use already.
            2. Domainers who’ve invested in them.
            3. Registry operators who applied to ICANN in order to run them.
            4. Employees at all those nTLD registries.
            5. Registrars that not only stock the nTLDS but who have adjusted their systems to accommodate them.

            People do care. Despise them if you like, but these stake holders aren’t foolish for protecting their own interests.

            “[W]hy spend time regulating it?”

            To paraphrase:

            Nobody really cares about [black lung], that is why [coal miners] got hardly any protection in the first place. The whole [coal mining] scene is failing so why spend time regulating it?

          • Snoopy

            Joseph,

            There has been no uptake of new tlds. To protect the tiny number of endusers using it is a pointless excercise because of the small numbers involved, those people will want to shift eventually anyway because the product being sold is flawed. It doesn’t need price increases to derail ntlds, they were already derailed and headed for the same place as .mobi, .biz and .cc

            Domainers are better off having a massive price increase now rather than than getting a whole lot of increases years later. They won’t see it like that today because they are too “invested” in the space. Better to cut the cord today and call it a $2,000 loss than do it in 5 years with a $4,000 loss.

            As you say Icann, registries and registrar care, but that is only in terms of wringing out as much money as possible for as long as possible. They know they aren’t exactly selling the world’s best product here if you catch my drift. It is a flawed product where the main target market is domainers and defensive registrants.

  13. Gabe

    Thank God the new extensions I’ve invested in haven’t been underperforming Phew! . . . and I don’t think anybody should be laughing. Don’t be a child. Most of us knew not all the new extensions would be winners. A bunch of em’ will eventually fade away. Don’t be that annoying “I told you so moron”

    • Mark Thorpe

      Maybe Uniregistrar and Frank’s 400k .com portfolio, but not the registry Uniregistry itself.
      Uniregistry could be sold separate to a different company though. Time will tell.

  14. Tom

    Frank was overly bullish the market proved him wrong when that happens in any other market you suck it up and take the loss and move on, that’s part of the game you don’t pass on the cost of your bad idea to someone else.

    There is an angle for domainers find all the exisiting holders of these new extensions that have just been bent over and given the nasty and offer them a solid .com alternative for around the same price or less as one year’s renewal of their new shiny gtld (legalised theft) and $10 dollars a years renewal and let the customer and market decide for themselves.

    • Jill

      Companies pass their losses on to customers all the time.

      Sometimes its so small of an increase that you’re not aware of it.

      In my neck of the woods, peach and strawberry crops were destroyed by frost this past week. You can bet the prices will be increased even though our foolish US gov pays these farmers BILLIONS subsidies regardless if they yield or not.

      Gas prices go up, almost all food goes up. Whether this is opportunity or not is not the question right now – the fact is that consumers are the ones who are hit with the bill.

      Corn was being used for fuel, prices went up for everything made with corn.

      This is a fact of business.

      Rarely ever do you see a business eating the cost of mistakes or misfortunes. Its we the consumers who fund it all…. if we wish to.

      Dont like the price increases, dont buy the product. Its still a free market. It will correct on its own. 🙂

      • Joseph Peterson

        @Jill,

        There’s a difference between

        (A) raising prices on a product nobody has bought yet

        and

        (B) raising prices on captive customers who are already (to some extent) locked into a subscription.

        Particularly when the company induced people to subscribe by promising not to raise prices.

  15. Registernuke

    Having price hikes in any industry is understandable and is just an eventuality. Sometimes increases are necessary in order to be profitable. That’s reasonable. However a price hike such as this which is around 3,000%, just in my personal opinion, is exorbitant and just too much. Current owners with a business purely based off of one if these TLDs are basically held ransom.

  16. Jeff Schneider

    Hello Andrew,

    You had an excellent Remark over at Domain Incite. as follows:

    This is my BLOCKED AND CENSORED REPLY at Kevin Murphys Domain Incite:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 15, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Hello Andrew,
    Your comment = ” It’s the end users that registered domains at GoDaddy and built websites on them that will be hard to explain this to.”
    Go-Daddys injection of new TLDs into The S.E.M. Platform will eventually cause disaster for Go-daddy. To count on the S.E.M. Platform for strategically gaining any upper hand is totally counter-intuitive. Jas 3/15/17

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger) (Former Rockefeller IBEC Marketing Analyst/Strategist) (Licensed CBOE Commodity Hedge Strategist) (Domain Master http://www.UseBiz.com)

  17. Kyle Giarratano

    Go Daddy is the greatest registrar on the face on the earth. Web. com is a Mickey Mouse organization. Web. com CEO David Brown is a clown and a empty suit. He could not run a hot dog stand.

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