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Customer Service How Not To

Before I begin, let me just say that this example is taken from GoDaddy.com. I’ve used them in the past, I will use them again in the future, but this particular incident did put some heavy doubts into my mind as to what type of company they are.

At least a year or two ago, maybe more, I tried the GoDaddy’s domain name backordering service. It’s a pretty simple service, it allows you to try to pick up domains that are about to expire (that is domains that were once registered and that are now about to come back on the free market). At the time, I knew that the big services for picking up expired/deleted domains were Pool.com, NameWinner.com, and another one that I can’t offhand recall. In any case, GoDaddy’s domain backordering service uses one registrar to try to pick up expiring domains whereas these other services use many different registrars combined together to keep pounding away hoping to get the domain at just the second it expires (it’s first come first serve). As you can imagine, the success rate of highly sought after expired domains is much more likely with services like Pool or NameWinner than with GoDaddy.

So why did I decide to use GoDaddy? Because the other services start auctions if more than one person tries to get the name, with the domain eventually going to the highest bidder. As you can imagine, some highly sought after domains can quickly go for large sums of money. What GoDaddy offers is you get it or you don’t (no auctions), but for one low price, under $20. So the odds are very low, but the so is the price. Almost like buying a lotery ticket. So I figured why not try it out.

As well, they advertise on their website:

“If you don’t get the name, you don’t lose – just re-assign to another name.”

Not a bad deal. So if they can’t get it, you just keep trying with other domains. Well after several unsuccessful expired domain attempts, this got rather tedious and annoying. It could very well be that I was trying to constantly pick up popular expiring domain names. But either way this got annoying after a while. So what do you think your next reaction is going to be? Let’s get a refund since they can’t deliver the service they promised. Rather than keep trying for other domains that they don’t seem to be able to get, let’s just get our cash and move on. After all, they seem to offer a very nice guarantee: “If you don’t get the name, you don’t lose – just re-assign to another name.” suggesting that they would offer a refund.

But wait, there’s no mention of a refund… Actually if you look on their website, there’s no mention of any type of refund anywhere. It turns out this is a non-refundable service! But here’s the kicker, no where is it mentioned that this is a non-refundable purchase. On the contrary it seems to suggest that they have the best intentions for you by their guarantee, but the reality is that it’s a non-refundable purchase with no notification. I even took the time recently to try to dig up this non-refundable condition. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I looked in the FAQ, the Help sections, everywhere. Nothing. No mention of it anywhere. I’m sure it’s there somewhere, but it’s obviously not easy to find by any means! If any of you find it, please let me know in the comments, I’d be very appreciative.

Moving on, why is this bad customer service? Because they intentionally give their customer the perception that they’re out looking for their best interest by offering a great guarantee, but with the exception that if they can’t deliver their service it’s non-refundable. So now what am I to do with this money I spent? I know it’s not a lot of money, but it can quickly add up. Now the only way I can use this money is to buy an already expired domain (one that no one is interested in) for $20 where it should have only cost me $9, almost double the price of purchasing a regular domain because they couldn’t deliver what they promised!

This really annoys me. This is not a way to treat your customers. If it wasn’t for the fact that they are one of the largest registrars, if not the largest, and that I have many domains already setup there, I would have seriously considered moving. Actually I seriously did! It’s amazing how simple small interactions with your customers can have such large ripple affects. For a measly $20 they almost lost thousands of dollars of business! I can’t ever imagining taking this type of gamble with my LandlordMax customers. It just doesn’t make business sense to me…

And yes I’ve registered that many domains over the last few years as I tried and learned many things.

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  •     Jason Hoekstra
    · August 26th, 2006  · 3:36 am  · Permalink

    I’ve used this service in the past. I also did not get the domains that I was looking for. Each time, the domain owner re-registered the domain, so it was never released back to the market.

    At the end of my attempts to procure nearly expired domains, I also stopped using the service. However, I was not disappointed with the service and did not expect to get my money back. When you buy the DomainAlert Pro service, you are buying exactly that — a service. You are buying into their automated domain monitoring solution, which includes the cost of purchasing the domain should it become available. Furthermore, the service isn’t bound to a single domain – you may change the desired domain at any time.

    I don’t understand the complaint. This is a well defined service with a well defined purpose. The service did exactly what it told you it would, although the outcome did not turn in your favor. They do not promise that you will own every domain that you sign up for. They do not promise a money back guarantee. In fact, they provide a very comprehensive FAQ section describing exactly what the service is, what it will do for you and all sorts of information on how domain name registration works. On top of all of that, they provide a 24×7 phone number for sales questions.

    I use GoDaddy personally, for my business and for my customers. I’ve used a variety of their services and haven’t experienced any dissatisfactions with customer service. They’ve always been very reliable at a great price.

    I believe your complaint of “bad customer service” is unfounded. They told you what you were going to get and you got it. No fault, no foul.

  •     Steph
    · August 27th, 2006  · 11:29 am  · Permalink

    Hi Jason,

    I agree with you on many factors. Yes it is a service. Yes, they don’t promise they can deliver, that’s very understandable considering the odds. Yes, they promise they will let you try with other domains until you eventually succeed. And yes, they mention nothing either way about a return, which normally means you can get a refund if something goes wrong.

    So now what happens if they don’t eventually succeed? Then shouldn’t they eventually give you your hard earned money back? There is no mention anywhere that if they don’t ever succeed they won’t give you your money back. Nor is there any mention that this is a final sale!

    Let’s look at an analogy. I promise you I’ll try to fix your computer if I can. You’ll give me $20 now and if I can’t fix it, I’ll keep trying with different computers.

    Now let’s say I know next to nothing about computers (ver low odds of providing this service) and I can only fix one very specific problem, but I don’t tell you that, and once you pay me you can’t get your money back ever.

    So you bring me your first computer, and all I can fix is if the keyboard is unplugged. I check in 1 second and realize this isn’t it, so I can’t fix it. I give you back your computer saying I can’t, I’ll try to fix your next computer.

    We now go through this process a dozen times…

    At some point you no longer want to deal with me because I can’t really help you. Since I haven’t really done anything to earn the $20, you ask for it back instead of continually trying to bring me computers that I “might” be able to fix. I say no, because I did exactly as I said. I’d try to fix your computer but if I couldn’t, I’d try to fix the next one, until I eventually could fix one of your computers.

    If I was you in this case, I’d be annoyed! This is exactly what’s happening with the GoDaddy Back Domain Ordering Service.

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