Forgot to renew your domain? Never mind, it did it itself
The Register.com road to customer retention
This morning (and indeed yesterday morning) The Register received a nice email from our doppelgangers at Register.com, telling us our registration of theregister.ws is about to expire (on October 16th, something of a loose definition of 'about') and that it'd be renewed via the automatic renewal program on September 27th. The what?
A little background here. We registered that domain a while back, probably while the balance of our minds was disturbed. We don't know why we did it, and we still can't think of what we could possibly want it for. But we're pretty sure it was more than a year ago, so we presume the pesky automated system has nailed us at least once already. The system will apparently charge the most recent credit card they have on file for the particular registration without there being any need for confirmation - you've already been opted in, and it's up to you to opt out.
But, erm, did it say that in the agreement you didn't read when you signed up in the first place? Well, depends. If you look here, down under Services Enrolled in Automatic Renewal it says "If the billing address provided by you is located in the United States and Canada, the following Services will be enrolled in Register.com's automatic renewal service (SafeRenew): .com, .net, .org, biz, .info, .name, .us and .tv domain name registrations; FirstStepPortal (URL forwarding); and electronic mail.
Well, the billing address is not in the US or Canada (we'll pass over the odd notion that it only applies to addresses located in the US and Canada), and .ws isn't in the list either. So we're enrolled when we oughtn't to be enrolled. Clerical error? How could we think otherwise? Nor could we even begin to dream that some people might think the email is just a renewal reminder, and assume the registration will lapse if they do nothing.
Never mind, so long as you're paying attention and read further down the reminder you can go to the relevant URL, log in and disable Saferenew. Can't remember your login and password? No, neither could we, but the reminder system seems to work fine.
Saferenew itself seems to have been introduced in financial 2000, as the Register.com annual report for that year says: "To strengthen our renewal efforts we are developing retention-based programs and have launched QuickRenew... and SafeRenew, our automatic renewal service." We trust it's doing splendidly for them, but we really think a retention-based program ought to be something that makes the customer want to stay because they're getting something extra, rather than an inertia-based system that makes them stay if they don't do anything about it. But hey, if you didn't know about Saferenew, you know now. ®