The advertising watchdog has ordered the Domain Registry of Europe (DROE) to stop issuing mail shots that "look like bills".
In a ruling published today against the domain registry outfit, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints that the mailings "misleadingly exaggerated the importance and status of the content".
It also said that the content of the letters was "distressing and intimidating to recipients".
The direct mailings in question featured an image of the European Union flag next to the words "Domain Registry of Europe" and "IMPORTANT NOTICE".
Said the letters: "We understand that your domain name XXXX expires on XXXX. We recommend you renew your domain name at least 30 days prior to its expiration to avoid any 'Registrar Lock'.
"Should your current registrar lock your domain name you will be unable to renew your domain name at what are likely to be the new lower prices offered by our firm. Renew today to avoid being forced to pay higher prices.
Failure to renew your Domain name...may result in a loss of your online identity, which may make it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you on the Web...Deregulation of Domain name registration now allows the consumer the choice of their registrar...You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below, unless you accept this offer...This notice is not a bill, rather an easy means of payment should you decide to register or renew your domain(s) with us."
The ASA was unconvinced by the defence put forward by the DROE and ordered the company to withdraw the mailing.
Anyone who receives further misleading direct mailings from the DROE should contact the ASA.
In August The Register reported that the ASA was investigating the DROE over concerns that their mail shots "looked like bills". ®