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'Domain slamming' hits Web sites

November 7, 2002

An aggressive marketing tactic known as "domain slamming" is confusing many e-business owners, causing some to unwittingly switch Internet service providers and risk bringing their on-line operations to a halt, according to Mark Jeftovic, co-founder and president of Toronto-based easyDNS Technologies Inc.

The term is borrowed from an aggressive tactic used by upstart phone carriers that persuade subscribers to transfer their service without realizing they are doing so.

It's a trend that is prompting ISPs to warn clients to read invoices carefully before paying the annual fees for registering their Web sites.

Mr. Jeftovic's company is in the business of registering domain names -- the names used to identify Web sites -- and the company also provides services that direct traffic to client Web sites by interpreting the numerical codes that identify each site.

It is a confusing and complicated business for anyone who is not steeped in the technology that underlies the Internet and the complicated procedures involved in registering the ownership of domain names.

And it is because it is so complicated and confusing that some Web site owners are being led astray, Mr. Jefovic says.

He says many of his customers have received letters in the mail that they thought were invoices. The letters advised them to pay their annual fees or risk having access to their domain name frozen. Some customers assumed that this was an official notice and paid the fees, not realizing that they were sending their payment to a different registrar than the one they originally signed up with and were, in effect, transferring to a new service provider.

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