The registration process for the new .biz TLD is so convoluted that even professional registration companies have no idea what is going on. Not only that but it would appear the company behind the domain, NeuLevel, has completely failed to keep up with demand, making the entire process a shambles.
A number of people in the industry have approached The Register to express their displeasure and ask people to think twice before entering the .biz registration process. The system in place guarantees NeuLevel a maximised amount of non-returnable money before the domain actually goes live.
Visiting the NeuLevel Web site, you are heavily warned that there are "Just 45 days left to file claim". It says the .biz domain is "the first Internet domain dedicated solely to the needs of businesses around the world" and it claims to "ensure fairness and professionalism - every step of the way".
Hogwash, says a manager at a professional registration company who doesn't wish to be named. He has been instructed by a number of clients to protect their trademarks online and so has been attempting to get in first in the registration process. What he has found is an unprecedented poor level of service. Several cheques for $90 have been cashed but he had yet to receive a single confirmation or communication from the company.
NeuLevel announced it was open for business on 21 May. On the same day, he telephoned NeuLevel to ask for further information. He left a message but heard nothing. He called again the following day with the same result. Finally after another unreturned call on 25 May, and concerned that he may be missing the boat, he submitted several claims at $90 each.
It wasn't until 14 June that he looked closely at NeuLevel's small print and realised that the $90, far from reserving a domain for clients' trademarks, is little more than a lottery ticket. But more of that later. On the 19 June, he received an email from NeuLevel competitor Network Solutions saying that ".biz domain name requests has been overwhelming" and urging people to submit as many applications as possible because "the more applications you submit for a domain name the better your chances will likely be of registering that name".
It is now 22 June, and he has yet to receive a single phone call, email or letter from NeuLevel despite the fact that the cheques have been cashed.
If this sounds bad enough, NeuLevel approach to domain resolution has been described by one industry figure as "decision by committee gone mad". Claiming to make the process fair, NeuLevel has instituted a three-step process, each with its own rules and closing dates.
It has no less than four dispute resolution policies but despite this over-bureaucratic approach if two or more companies with legitimate trademark claims apply for the same domain, it would appear that NeuLevel plans to do the equivalent of pulling a name out a hat.
In fact, so convoluted is the approach that NeuLevel has given itself until 1 October before any sites go live at all - the final deadline for entries is two weeks earlier. The charge of $90 at the start of the process, with no guarantee of success and the three-step approach has led many to believe NeuLevel is simply maximising the amount of non-returnable money it receives before it allows puts .biz on the Internet.
The three-step approach is explained in great length of NeuLevel's Web site here.
It's not the most auspicious start for a new TLD, especially considering the enormous wait we have had to get this far. ®