I did an earlier post about domain name scams. ILSCORP was really pushing the boundaries on marketing ethics.
On Monday of this week I received a letter from the Domain Registry of America about a domain name I registered for my mother-in-law a year or two ago. It is leaps and bounds better than the ILSCORP, but it still leaves me a little uncomfortable.
It uses the word "switch" in the 2nd sentence helping the reader understand that DRoA is not your current registrar. The text "This notice is not a bill" appears twice in the letter; it appears bolded the first time. They have a paragraph about our right to change registrar's when we renew, again emphasizing that they are not the current registrar. Pretty good, in my opinion.
The design of the document is built to pull your eye away from the informative text and focus your attention on other things. Three main sections get the attention: a section with the domain name & a "reply requested by" date, a section listing costs for different terms of registration, and a section listing prices on similar domains. It seems likely to me that a casual reader will simply see this as renewing their domain and never think about it being with a new provider.
The second "This notice is not a bill" is squished between larger and heavier fonts on the detachable portion to send in with your money. Not great.
The fine print on the back is almost comically small. It has to be 3 to 4 point font and is a grey color rather than a higher-contrast black. Again, it smells of design built to draw attention away from potentially important information for a consumer.
This letter seems to add customers to the Domain Registry of America through subtlety. True, there may be some existing domain registrar that doesn't warn its customers that their domain is expiring. The DRoA is then providing a meaningful service. But I'm guessing they mostly get customers because the folks don't realize that they are switching to someone new and maybe not getting the best deal (DRoA charges $25 for one year of registration...there are significantly less expensive registrars out there).
Customers benefit when there is more direct competition between providers on core issues. Customers then choose new companies based on a feature/price ratio that makes sense to them and companies that better meet needs get more customers.
I was just reading through a competitor's web site yesterday and saw where they had an add-on support package where their customers would be guaranteed a response to an email question within 48 hours. 48 hours?!? Maybe that's a big step up from a free email provider.
Needless to say, I believe we're a huge step up from a situation like that. And we're working on doing even more!