Australian businesses with .com.au suffixes to their domain names are being spammed with "misleading" .au licence renewals by contentious resellers.
Domain name holders are increasingly becoming the target of direct marketing campaigns by .com.au domain name resellers, that "remind" domain holders that their registrations are due for renewal.
However the practices of some of these resellers are questionable, according to industry sources, and risk investigation under the Trade Practices Act.
A spokesperson from auDA (.au Domain Administration), the self-regulatory body for the .au name space, said some resellers are querying the Aunic "whois" database (the central database of .au names) to determine what domain names are up for renewal. Then using the contact details from the database to issue renewal notices to domain name holders.
"They issue the notice so that it looks like it's actually an official advice, and that [the user] has to renew or lose the domain name," the spokesperson said. "They don't point out that there are actually 499 other companies out there that could renew the domain for the [user]."
Domain name reseller Internet Registrations Australia (IRA) has been attracting the ire of some domain holders due to its current "aggressive" marketing campaign, in which it offers a free .biz name to .com.au domain holders who register a new name or extend an existing name.
IRA denies that it sourced its direct marketing list from the Aunic database, but instead says that it obtained the list via a database company.
The marketing material consists of a brightly coloured pamphlet and an accompanying invoice-like letter stating that the company's records indicate the recipient is the holder of a particular domain name. Introducing itself as "official channel partners with the administrator of the .com.au namespace authorised to facilitate the registration/renewal of .com.au registrations", the company also outlines the importance of registering and renewing domain names before they expire.
A spokesperson for IRA said that the company had been contacted by some people who had "slightly misunderstood" the literature, but said that most recipients had had no problems. In fact, the spokesperson added that there were many people who "really love" the company's marketing and were grateful that the company had reminded them of the need to renew, as they would have otherwise forgotten.
Just last month another local reseller, Internet Names Group (ING), was suspended from selling .nz domains after it was accused of improperly using the .nz domain registry database. It was alleged ING had utilised the directory in "bad faith", resulting in a guerilla marketing campaign, implying that if domain name holders didn't act immediately, they would lose their domain name.