I had quite an unpleasant domain name registration experience with GoDaddy yesterday. I don't know if this is a new way for Go Daddy to cheat you and "steal" your money but at least it was the first time they attempted to pull this domain scam on me. I have been using GoDaddy.com for registering domain names for years and I haven't been so displeased by them as other people. The registrar usually tries to sell services you most probably do not want but once you've become accustomed to their methods, they are easy to be quickly omitted. So, until yesterday, I didn't mind to register generic top level domains there. Now, after they supported SOPA bill and my recent obnoxious discovery about them, I think it's time to reconsider using GoDaddy's domain registration services.
So, what's the story? Yesterday, I decided to register a .com domain name for a new website which I intended to create with a friend of mine. We liked a name and I incidentally checked if it was available for registration at EuroDNS (the registrar where I had registered some international domain names, mainly European and Asian). The domain look up at EuroDNS showed that this particular name is unoccupied. So, I went to GoDaddy.com and began the steps required for domain name registrations. What was my surprise when immediately upon entering the domain it showed that the name had been already taken but available for purchase at GoDaddy auctions for $499 USD. I repeated the search several times while trying to figure out what was the reason for this "unavailability" and all of my attempts at Go Daddy showed that the domain name was already registered.
I knew that EuroDNS sometimes displays wrong information about domain availability so I decided to check if the domain name is free at a couple of other domain registrars. I did the check and there was nothing wrong with EuroDNS this time, the domain appeared to be available for registration wherever I checked. Then I thought of another test. I went back to GoDaddy and instead of searching for [domain name].com, I made a search for [domain name].info. And as you might guess, now the .com version was listed as available and ready to be registered.
Obviously, GoDaddy's trick is pretty simple. When you make a domain name lookup at GoDaddy.com, sometimes, they decide to show an unregistered domain as already taken and listed for sale at GoDaddy's auctions. If this scam successfully misleads you, there are 2 options. If you really want this domain name, you'll have to pay tens if not hundreds of times bigger amount for it instead of the regular GoDaddy's domain name registration price. If the multiplied price is too high for you or you are not so much into this particular domain, I suppose Go Daddy assumes that you are just going to register another name with them and thus, they will still get (or keep) you as a customer.
The bad thing is, as nasty as GoDaddy's behavior is, the fraud could actually work quite often. In fact, if you haven't accidentally become aware a particular domain name is available for registration, chances are not very huge that you'll figure out Go Daddy is trying to cheat you. I hope this writing creates some awareness about the described GoDaddy scam scheme and if you think it could be helpful to your friends, just share the article with them.
A necessary addition
Because it appears there are a lot of people with a "headache" that have not other job but to accuse others, here are some further clarifications.
1) I did not write the above because GoDaddy "stole" the domain name from me. I successfully registered that name and I own it now. It has been available for registration for all of the time in question so I have not had any problems with its registration. It was available for registration at all other registrars and even at GoDaddy if I searched for the .info version instead of the .com version.
2) Actually, the whole problem described above lies in GoDaddy's implementation of their website and particularly the domain look up. Apparently, if a domain name has been listed for sale through their auctions (and has not been removed) they directly display it as already taken and they offer it to you at the auction price instead of making a check if the name hasn't become available at the time of the check. I don't know the reasons behind this implementation but it's hard to believe it's implemented this way unintentionally. Whether this is a scam depends on your definition of the word but definitely, it is not proper.