Customers of 123-Reg are experiencing a familiar feeling of annoyance, this time over a decision to automatically register them for .UK domains, which they will then have to pay for after two years.
In a letter sent to customers, seen by The Register, the company said the domains will be available to manage from November 2017. "These domains are absolutely free of charge for 2 years," it said.
The .uk domain was launched by Nominet in 2014, but as one 123-Reg customer noted, it hasn’t performed well. "Very few in the industry other than Nominet and registrars wanted it," he said.
The .uk variants of .co.uk domains are reserved until 2019 and can only be registered by the owners of the .co.uk domains. So only The Register could register theregister.uk until 2019.
Nominet are running a promotion where .co.uk owners can register the corresponding .uk variant for two years for free. This is an attempt to bolster the registration rate, he said.
"123-Reg have taken it upon themselves to take this one step further and automatically register the .uk variant for their customers who hold .co.uk domains," he said.
"As far as ensuring competitors don’t get the domains instead, there are still two years left on the 'right to register' period.
"That's plenty of time for Nominet and registrars to communicate the supposed benefits of .uk domains to owners of .co.uk domains, and to give them easy paths to registration.
"This looks like a cynical attempt to both raise the rate of registration, and make money from the inevitable raft of auto-renewals from those who don’t realise this is happening," he said.
Another said: "They are going to give me .uk domains that match my already owned domains unless I opt out. Then they will charge me for them in two years' time! I have to opt out, but their website isn’t working as usual. I personally think that this is completely unacceptable, and a complete con!"
The company recently angered customers by its plans to hike prices by 20 per cent later this year.
That followed a number of gaffes at the company over several years, including reports of databases running over unsecured access links, websites and email services down due to multiple DDoS attacks, and services generally being unavailable due to a host of outages.
The Register has asked 123-Reg for a comment. ®