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Clara Edberg — 12/02/20

Things to Keep in Mind Before Signing an Agreement with a Domain Provider!

Entering an agreement with a provider is not something you should do in a haste. But we can all relate to running out of time, and therefore basing our decisions on simplicity or low pricing, rather than on what the provider’s actual offer is and how we will be tied to said offer.

We often meet customers who have entered an agreement with another provider, who is now making it really difficult – next to impossible – to terminate the agreement without the client suffering sky-high costs and time-consuming work. This is of course something we at Dotkeeper want to counter, and therefore we offer short contract periods and good terms for companies who choose to be our clients. We want domain management to be simple and easy to understand.

In this post, we have gathered some advice for you who are considering entering an agreement with a domain provider: everything from what to consider before signing the agreement to how you actually solve the problems that may occur once you have entered a difficult-to-leave agreement with a provider.

To illustrate possible scenarios with providers that are difficult to leave, we will examplify two instances from customers who have chosen to switch from a previous provider to us.

Example 1:

Earlier this year, a customer decided to end their collaboration with their provider at the time, to move to us. When the customer decides to end the collaboration, the provider replies that the customer is tied to the contract on a biennial basis and that this is automatically updated every second year. While this is not wrong in any way, it is something that is important to let your customer know before they sign an agreement.

Example 2:

Some providers decide to cause problems and “put spokes in the wheels” when they lose a customer. When one of our customers was to end their agreement with their provider at the time, to move to us, that provider first tried claiming that the customer had a one year period of notice, and would therefore have to pay another annual fee for all of their domains. They were clearly informed in their agreement that all domains had a notice period of three months. The provider, however, tried to claim that the agreement itself was annual. It was obvious that this was an attempt to make the switch more difficult. They even went so far as to “refuse” to send the authorization codes and zone files until the agreement issue had been resolved.

 

  • Here, it is important that you as a customer, already when signing the agreement, know what the deal is the day you decide to terminate the agreement. It improves your chances of minimizing spending unnecessary time further down the road.

 

  • If you do not have the knowledge required to decode the terms of a signed agreement, it is recommended that you ask a collegue or lawyer, who is more knowledagble than you, for help. Understanding the agreement you enter is the alpha and omega of not tying yourself to something that is difficult to get out of.

 

  • As a customer, it is also good to check with several registries that the agreement is valid; it is not unusual for providers to claim that they have the right to deny a transfer request if the customer owes money or has an unpaid invoice. This goes against the rules that several registries (e.g. the Swedish Internet Foundation) demand that registrators comply with.

 

  • Does the agreement you are signing comply with the rules of the Swedish Internet Foundation? Check that the providers you are purchasing domain services from are not going against the Swedish Internet Foundation’s rules. The Swedish Internet Foundation runs a registry-business where they are responsible for the Swedish top level domain .se, as well as for running and administering the top level domain .nu. The Swedish Internet Foundation’s assignment is to ensure a strong and secure internet infrastructure. If your current provider does not comply with the rules of the Swedish Internet Foundation, you as a customer can dispute it.

 

  • If you, the customer, find that your invoices or other parts of the collaboration oppose the agreement you deem to have entered, do not shy away from contesting your invoices and standing up for your rights. It cannot be mentioned too often, but simply being observant already when you sign an agreement minimizes time-consuming work when you later need to contest your rights!

 

We have created a checklist that you should tick off before you sign an agreement in the future, so that you in preemtive purpose can ease the process when you possibly switch provider.

  1. Do a complete overhaul of all domain names you own and their related services (DNS, monitoring, TMCH, SSL, etc.)
  2. Check the agreement before you sign, consider how long cancellation period you have the right to and for how long you are tied to the provider.
  3. Involve all the relevant people at the company you work for, that is, Marketing, IT, Legal, and other people who are of interest to involve in a domain provider switch.
  4. Check the agreement with the withdrawing provider before you sign a new agreement, consider how long cancellation period you can expect.
  5. Ensure that your new provider is up to par with your needs and prerequisites.

 

With Dotkeeper, you will not get tied to extensive and complicated agreements. We offer good terms, so that you as our custmer can feel secure in your choice of a domain provider. If you want to know more about Dotkeeper and what we offer, you are more than welcome to contact us at hej@dotkeeper.com.