Warning: Domains Australia Pty Ltd

It seems a domain scammer out there has caught the eye of auDA (the Australian domain name administrator).

I’ve received these dodgy letters from Domains Australia Pty Ltd before and ignored them. They send letters to owners of .au domains and offer to register the .net.au equivalent. The letter itself can be confusing and might be assumed to be a renewal notice, but the wording is clear enugh not to be able to get the company into trouble with the law.

The thing that has, however, caused consern is that they charge exorbitant amounts for the .net.au: $225. I charge $66 for .net.au domains and even MelbourneIT only charge $140!

And after charging the $225, it seems that some domains dfon’t even get registered! The other concern is that Domains Australia Pty Ltd offer a free MP3 player on some of these letters, which also have been reported to not materialise.

New Zealand Domain Registration Ltd, owned by the same guy, have sent out similar letters.

The full email I received:

You are receiving this email because your email address is listed as the registrant contact address for a .au domain name. Please do NOT reply to this email. auDA has become aware that Domains Australia Pty Ltd is sending letters and/or faxes to some domain name registrants offering to arrange registration of the net.au equivalent of the registrants com.au domain name for $225.

The letter is headed .DOMAIN NAME AVAILABLE. and some versions of it offer a free MP3 player with each registration.

auDA has received numerous complaints which indicate that; 1. despite the net.au name being paid for, it is NOT being registered and 2. registrants are NOT receiving the .free. MP3 player.

Based on the complaints received auDA is concerned that the letters may mislead people into believing that they are renewing their existing com.au domain name when in fact they are purchasing a new net.au name.

Further, consumers should be aware that $225 for a net.au domain name is significantly higher than prices charged by auDA accredited registrars and their resellers.

Domains Australia Pty Ltd is a company controlled by Blair Rafferty, the brother of Chesley Rafferty. It is NOT an auDA accredited registrar nor is it a reseller of an auDA accredited registrar.

auDA has previously successfully taken legal action against Chesley Rafferty and companies controlled by him under the Trade Practices Act.

If you have paid Domains Australia Pty Ltd and the domain name has not been registered or you have not received the .free. MP3 player and you wish to lodge a formal complaint, auDA advises that you immediately contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) either by lodging an electronic complaint at http://www.accc.gov.au/ or by faxing it to their Canberra office on (02) 6243 1199. Alternatively you may wish to contact your State based fair trading or consumer affairs office.

A similar mass mail out has also occurred in New Zealand. New Zealand Domain Registration Ltd, owned by Blair Rafferty, was recently exposed on a New Zealand television program Fair Go. To view this video please http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_windows_skin/816241.

For more information see http://www.auda.org.au.

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