The News South Wales Department of Fair Trading (DFT) is warning resellers to stay away from Internet-related direct marketing ploys, according to a department source. The warning comes in the light of another scam that has attracted the DFT's attention.
A spokesperson from the DFT said that an electronic form of "blowing" - demanding payment for an unordered entry in a directory - is beginning to emerge, and that the department has received several complaints.
The perpetrator this time was a business identified as Internet Services. The company, claiming to act as an agent of NetRegistry. Internet Services, sent out "300 or 400 faxes" that included a first and final warning notice that asked recipients to register and pay $199 for the privilege of "owning" a domain name using the model WWW.yourname.AU.COM. The faxes distributed were headed with: "Australia and New Zealand Domain Name Registry."
The domain address "au.com" is owned by NetRegistry, which itself is actively seeking resellers to offer its services to customers.
According to NetRegistry managing director Larry Bloch, the ploy adopted by the reseller in question is not one he condones. However, he did tell ARN: "We sell domain names in direct competition with the company that registers com.au sites."
"There's a lot of confusion about Internet addresses," he said.
"Internet addresses ending in .com are not necessarily domiciled in the US." Bloch said as a service provider NetRegistry allows companies to register their name, followed by com.au as long as it is available, and will redirect Internet traffic to their server of choice. The cost to customers is $199 plus $50 per year.
He added: "Resellers can earn a substantial margin by providing this service, but we do not condone the practise being used by Internet Services. We have instructed them to desist, suspended their reseller status, and will not be accepting registrations from them if it occurs again." Bloch said that he had managed to contact - and apologise to - several of the fax recipients who had complained to the DFT.
When contacted by ARN, Internet Services principal Michael Kain said after receiving some complaints about the fax being "a little harsh", it has stopped using it. "It wasn't getting the positive reaction we wanted," he said.