Users of 123 Reg caught out by catch-all redirect cut-off
Web hosting company tells users to pay up or shift off, but users say they weren't warned in time
Users of web hosting company 123 Reg are up in arms after it abruptly stopped supporting free email redirects and instead required customers to subscribe to a paid mailbox service or migrate to another service provider.
The issue seems to stem from 123 Reg introducing a new platform for email services, which according to some disgruntled customers, was "worse than the old one in every way."
One of the ways in which it was worse is that it did not support catch-all forwarding, in which any emails that cannot be matched to a specific email address on the system are forwarded to a designated email account.
This seems to affect anyone who has a domain hosted by 123 Reg, with catch-all forwarding simply disappearing unless customers set up a mailbox on each of their domains using the new system, at a cost of £28 ($35.90) per year for each domain.
We were alerted to this situation by a reader, who told us they received an email in April from 123 Reg stating that they would be migrating all email services to a new platform starting April 17, and that the new service would not support catch-all email redirects, which were supported free of charge by 123 Reg until that point.
"The only option to keep catch-all redirects was to set up a mailbox on the new system at a cost of £28 per year for each domain," said the reader, who asked not be identified.
Other 123 Reg customers expressed similar frustrations on social media.
One Reddit user complained: "I'm so annoyed that I literally just paid them £150 last week to renew my domain for the next 10 years. Now we're being told to pay £28/yr (per domain) to get a 'mailbox' just so that we can forward email to a gmail account."
But that wasn't the end of it. Despite 123 Reg saying in its email that customers would be given at least seven days' notice ahead of the migration, no such notice was given, our reader claimed.
"I decided (as did others from conversations on Twitter) that I would move my domain hosting to another provider, most of which still offer catch-all email redirect on a domain free of charge. However, I wasn't able to do that immediately," they explained.
"On the 9th June, I realized that I wasn't receiving the normal amount of emails on my domains. When I looked at the 123 Reg control panel for those domains, I found the catch-all email forwarders had been removed, but I had not been warned nor notified that this was being done. Fortunately, this was not an issue, but had it happened a week earlier when I was out of the country and relying on emails for information, it would have been major."
On Twitter, another user listed the same issue: "I am so angry with @123Reg right now for taking away catch-all email forwarding with no notice. On the plus side, my two domains are due for renewal very soon, so I won't be losing much by transferring to another domain registry as fast as possible."
Another said: "I'm also looking to move away from 123 Reg. They deleted my email forwarders without notice – it's my business emails! Cust[omer] service does not care and can't recover my forwarding email details. Anyone have experience with Google domains & transferring domains to Google?"
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And there is a further sting in the tail, as our reader claims that when they did attempt to migrate to another provider offering catch-all email redirect support, a technical glitch with the system at 123 Reg for Internet Provider Security (IPS) tag changes prevented this for several days.
"I found that the 123 Reg IPS tag update facility was not working, and it took days to move the domains out to another provider. I raised a support ticket to ask what was going on, and that took more than 48 hours to even get a response," the reader says.
Users on Twitter reported similar issues. "I'm having a hard time getting them to accept IPS tag changes on my *.uk domains, but I guess that service might be a bit 'busy' right now..." wrote one.
We tried to contact 123 Reg to hear its side of the story, but like many of its irate customers, found we were unable to do so. Fortunately, we had more success with GoDaddy, the parent company of 123 Reg, which sent us the following statement:
"In March 2023, 123 Reg made the decision to discontinue the free catch-all forwarders feature on mailboxes as part of our commitment to improving our products and services. Customers were contacted multiple times, beginning in March, advising them of these changes and steps they needed to take.
It added: "Whilst we understand this decision will be disappointing for some customers, our catch-all email forwarding was not performing to the level our customers need, or what we expect. So, we made the difficult decision to stop offering the service."
123 Reg said it will continue to support affected customers through the transition and advises them to raise a support ticket if they are experiencing issues.
It appears that many customers may have been caught out by the wording of the email that 123 Reg sent out to warn of the changes. It said the company would be switching mailboxes over to a new system. Many customers seem to have assumed this would not affect them, as they did not have a mailbox on their 123 Reg domains, but were simply using catch-all redirect to forward messages to a mailbox elsewhere.
This can be seen from the comments of one customer "of 16 years" giving 123 Reg a one-star review on Trustpilot: "Sure a few months ago I received some emails about how 123 Reg were changing their mail platform. I really didn't pay much attention as I didn't use their email system, I just had catchall forwarding set up. So when inbound emails started to be bounced back to the sender with 'no such account' I was really very taken aback."
In other words, this was perhaps an incidence of miscommunication rather than malice, and suggests that 123 Reg needs to be somewhat clearer in future with regards to notifying customers of how changes to its services might affect them. ®