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How to Lose My Business – Lose My Trust

My Supersonic Googling Skills

They have me over a barrel, and I just hate it when that happens.

My lead-ins tend toward the long side, but this will eventually morph into a message about customer service and about honest and fair dealings.  I see parallels to our business, but I will mostly leave you to draw your own.

Back in the stone ages, I secured my first domain name. In those days, Network Solutions was the only choice. At least, I thought they were my only choice. You see, I had yet to fully hone my current day, awe-inspiring Googling skills. So my research consisted of polling my neighbor, Fred. While I had just spent the entire month of 1999 looking for a parking place at the mall, Fred had successfully filled all of his Christmas gift orders on Overstock.com in one glorious afternoon of wine tasting from the comfort of his back yard patio table. His geek credentials spoke for themselves.

Sign me up!

Me: “Where can I buy a domain name?”

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Fred: “I don’t know. Hey, look at this Allen wrench set I just scored!”

OK, Fred wasn’t much help, but the nice man who was teaching the class on the importance of having a web site was. He was so helpful, in fact, that he signed me up on the spot for KrisBerg.net. “Everybody is searching for your name. It is therefore critical if you are to achieve your long-term goals of representing everybody in the purchase and sale of their homes that you buy yourname dot whatever is available lest they are unable to find your name. That will be $99.” I couldn’t whip my checkbook out fast enough.

Oooh, I’ll take four!

A year later when my name came up for renewal, imagine my surprise. Only $35? Thank you, Network Solutions. At that price, I’ll take four. And I did.

I have gotten smarter over the years. I had to. These days I tend to accumulate domain names like I do shoes, in both cases the vast majority of which I will never wear, but I have learned that GoDaddy charges a quarter of what I was previously paying. The problem is that my earliest secured URLs, including a couple that are kind of important (like SanDiegoHomeBlog.com) are still parked at Network Solutions. When a few of the not so important ones came up for renewal, ones I greedily reserved simply so no one else could, I decided it was time to move them.  That’s when I found myself staying at the Hotel California. I had checked in but it seems checking out would be somewhat more challenging.

I went to their web site where I was treated to pages upon pages of simple instructions on how to move a domain to this provider. So I narrowed my search. “Transfer domain from” brought me right back to the same happy pages about moving domains to, not away, from this place, with each page reminding me about their superior service. So I called. And I navigated the hierarchy at the gates of call forwarding hell, six deep at last count, to be met by a testy woman who took me through the ten simple steps online to complete my order, clearly disgusted that I was unable to visualize their secret site map without help.

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And then came the zinger…

“Why are you moving your domains?” she challenged. “Because you are expensive” I confessed. “We know times are tough so, if you renew with us today, I will give you the unpublished annual rate of $8.95” she said, digging deep for her best BFF tone.  “Then why am I paying $35 a year for the other ten sites parked with you?” I asked.  “I can give you the same rate on those – if you renew today!” Now, I’m suspicious. “And what happens a year from now? Am I back to the rack rate?” Back to testy mode, she informed, “You can renew for up to nine years to lock in this rate. Up to you.”

Needless to say, the domains are in transit. Of course, this trip will take a week or more, because like returning the deposit check to the buyer who cancels escrow, there really isn’t any great desire at this point to make things easy. I’m being punished. And my important, live domains are still being held hostage. I can’t afford a dark blog or website for a week. Or can I? If the published rates went up to $350 tomorrow, I would be somewhat stuck. Or would I?

The path of least resistance only goes so far…

I promised to let you draw your own parallels, but I’ll go first.  As a consumer, I cling to the familiar and to the path of least resistance, but only to a point. This company which once had a monopoly on their product is becoming antiquated yet, rather than adapt and offer their clients a better, more competitive service, they cling to the notion that their world is still flat and that their audience is captive. The audience is not.

Secondly, the whole triple-secret cost structure reminded me of something Russell Shaw once wrote about the way we treat our fees. It was something along the lines of this: Decide what you are worth, establish the fee below which you would be willing to walk, and stand by it. His remarks were more about the importance of our resolve where our value is concerned, but having seen the waffling from the consumer’s point of view, I find anything less than full resolve to be dishonest. While I may have scored a temporary win, the “company” has lost my trust and my respect. In the process, they have lost my future business.

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Written By

Kris Berg is Broker/Owner of San Diego Castles Realty. She is the perpetrator of the San Diego Home Blog, a locally-focused real estate blog, and in her spare time enjoys fencing, luge, and kittens.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Mark Eckenrode

    December 11, 2008 at 11:03 am

    you’ve probably stumbled across websites that have automated that whole damn process, too. you go to leave the site and a “real” fake chat window pops up with a fake operator “wait! why don’t you try us for only $X?”

    i can’t stand this form of marketing.

  2. Clint Miller

    December 11, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Man, Im with Mark…I hate that fake pop-up chat window thing. Irritates me that people assume Im that damn dumb. I may be that dumb…but dont ASSUME I am…LOL

  3. Vance Shutes

    December 11, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Kris,

    I consider myself fortunate to have learned long ago that your best customers can become your best salespersons, if you treat them exceedingly well. While your 10 domains parked at NS may not put you in their “top ten” of best customers, just think of the goodwill they may have garnered had they treated you like their #1 customer, from the start? Instead, they get this article from you. It’s good for you, and sad for them.

  4. Deborah Madey

    December 11, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I just moved a number of domains…or rather they are in transit. I finally plan on using some of them. I didn’t need to move them to host them. The time I have been spending in this direction caused me to realize how much I was overpaying for wharehousing these domains. As a result of the ordered domain registration move, I will save about $200.

    Now, however I finally use these domains better be worth all the wharehousing fees I have been paying for them. How does that go? Write good stuff?!

  5. George McCumiskey

    December 11, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I quite by researching although I’ve overpaid for many things found domain purchase for $10 each. Of course I never used 2 of them and paid for hosting service I haven’t used yet on the new host server. One thing I ask first and foremost is “When I’m in need, will you walk me through a procedure on the phone. And so far I always get pleasant peeps. Not always knowing much more than I do – but at least presenting the wrong information in a pleasant way. Hey it does matter to me.

  6. Shashi Bellamkonda at Network Solutions

    December 11, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Kris,

    I work for Network Solutions. I am going to present this feedback within the company. We believe our customer views are very important and we encourage all employees to read the feedback that comes in to us. I stopped by to say thank you for your post and we are trying to reach our customers in every possible channel ( quite a gigantic task 🙂 ) if you would like to add anyhting further please feel to email me at smedia at network solutions .com

    Thanks,

    Shashi Bellamkonda

  7. Elaine Reese

    December 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Like you, I bought my first (and primary) domain name back in ’98 with Network Solutions. I really hate paying their exhorbitant rate, but am afraid to have my web site down while going through the transfer. All the new ones are with GoDaddy. Not going to give NS any more money than I have to.

  8. Russell Shaw

    December 12, 2008 at 1:30 am

    I have moved many domains FROM Network Solutions. It was non-stop HELL. They have an email sent (from some other company that they also own) that is confusing and misleading. If you do not respond to it in a very timely manner the whole process starts over. Transferring TO NS is a snap. Leaving is almost impossible. Not quite, though. The idea of charging everyone who doesn’t leave high prices and offer low prices (as opposed to them getting nothing now) only to those who are leaving is just a great way to do business. Okay, it isn’t. 🙂 Great post, Kris!

  9. Matthew Hardy

    December 12, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Moved from NS to Godaddy years ago. NS made it a pain – Godaddy made it all better!

  10. Missy Caulk

    December 12, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Kris, I am in the same boat, but my domain name since 99 is with dot earth. Ever heard of them?
    No?

    Me either…

    I have tried changing several names to godaddy. My main one was in transit, I was assured it would go through and then my whole site went down over Christmas until after the first of the year.

    It was hell.

    I gave up and renewed 10 years and just called it a day.

    Same thing happened with another site. It is a bloody mess.

    Some customer service, easy in and hard to get out.

  11. Vicki Moore

    December 14, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    I just move several myself. What a p in the h – as I used to say as a kid. I think I’ve done it so many times I actually know how now – at least for a couple of weeks until I don’t need it anymore and I completely forget or they change the process.

    We HAVE to talk more about those fake operator things. OMG! The things I’ve said to them!

  12. linsey

    December 28, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I recently called to cancel a service with a milk delivery company. I loved the convenience of having the service but noticed that it had become significantly more expensive than buying in the store. When I called to cancel, I was offered a deep discount.

    That doesn’t feel like a great service, it instead left me feeling taken advantage of. You said it – loss of trust. I’m at a loss to understand this kind of thinking.

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