Network Solutions make things far more difficult than they need to

On the 16th of June 2011 I registered a .tel domain out of my general interest in wasting money on domain names.

I made the mistake of registering this with a company called Network Solutions for reasons I do not currently remember (though I suspect they were along the lines of "anyone but GoDaddy").

Aside from a kind of crufty (but workable) sign up process and management UI, this process went fine and the domain remained active for a year (though nearly completely useless as you cannot assign your own nameservers for .tel domains it would seem).

On the 4th of March 2012 I received an e-mail from Network Solutions informing me that they would charge my credit card "at some point ninety(90) days** prior to its expiration date."

So, I thought, I don't need this pointless domain any more, and, slightly miffed that they would automatically try and renew it for me, I logged in to the Network Solutions control panel to try and cancel the domain or at least disable auto renew and let it expire naturally.

What I discovered is that there is no no way to do this through the Network Solutions control panel. You have to phone their customer support to even so much as turn off auto-renew. This was my first sign that Network Solutions were not a pinnacle of honesty in the domain registrar world.

The (international and expensive) phone call that followed was only modestly arduous (and I did appreciate them calling me back on the phone number on the account in order to verify who I was), up until the end where instead of simply canceling the service I was informed a "customer service representative would contact me within 24 hours pending approval for cancellation". I told the phone operator that no approval would be necessary, I simply wanted to cancel the account, but they reassured me approval was necessary. At this point I thanked them and said goodbye.

10 or so hours later I received a rather curious e-mail with a couple of concerning statements:

With regard to your request to cancel your account, please be advised
that it is not possible to have the account cancelled or deleted from
our system because of historical information purposes. I have checked
your account and found that you do not have any active service on it.
However, if the system determined the inactivity of the account within
a certain amount of time, your Network Solutions account will be
automatically deleted.

If you have any other questions about this issue, please contact our
Support Center and refer to Service Request #1-555555555. A Specialist
will be happy to further assist you and ensure that we completely
resolve your issue as quickly as possible.

Thank you,

BERNADETH001 
Technical Support Specialist 
Network Solutions

(emphasis mine, of course)

I crafted a short reply back to "Bernadeth" outlining my disappointment with their policy of not allowing account deletion and to clarify that I did indeed have a .tel domain name registered.

It was when I received this ill-concieved bit of nonsense that my blood really began to boil:

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2012 06:17:05 -0500 (EST)
From: acknowledgement@networksolutions.com
To: michael@finch.am
Subject: Re: Network Solutions - Service Request # 1-555555555


This is an automatic reply to let you know that this is not an active e-mail
address. 

Please submit your request at http://www.networksolutions.com/help/email.jsp
and one of our Customer Support Representatives will investigate your inquiry
and respond to you within 1 business day. We value your business and look
forward to receiving your request.

Of course if you bother to actually visit their email.jsp page you'll find that it allows communications to be sent on one of these four excitingly irrelevant topics:

(typo theirs)

None of these says "your customer service is appalling and I'd like to talk to an actual human about a ticket I already have open", for a reason that is beyond me (less beyond me than why they can't simply let me e-mail a reply to my own ticket. Companies that pull this noreply@ nonsense drive me mad, but this is an especially egregious example). There isn't even a field for the ticket number so my odds of being able to amend an open ticket I suspect are around the nil mark.

At this point I figured the only way to sort this out would be to brave another phone call to Network Solutions support, in which I intended also to broach my dissatisfaction with the length and difficulty of this whole process, which should have been easy bordering on trivial like it is with even the worst of other registrars.

The phone operator was eventually able to confirm that the domain had indeed been canceled (how their internal processes can be so poor that this can happen before the person answering my ticket actually gets to the ticket is further beyond me...) and that I was unable to have my account deleted (as per their initial e-mail) and that he did not know how long it would take before the account was deleted due to inactivity. He was unable to produce a supervisor to further clarify these issues.


So Network Solutions, here are some take away points from this ordeal:

Maybe if you do these things it'll help you to stop looking so scummy.

--Michael Fincham <michael@finch.am> 2012-03-07

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