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Prices, Gouging and Haggling for Internet Domains? 184

Posted by Cliff
from the let's-make-a-deal dept.
GregStevensLA asks: "I'm considering paying for a 'premium' domain name for a small web start-up I want to form. The company that currently holds the domain name is offering it for $1500, but they made it clear to me that they expect a counter-offer and are 'willing to make a deal.' I've never done this before, and I have no idea what a reasonable counter-offer is. If I say 'I can't go above $1000' am I being too easy? Should I try to push for lower than that? My understanding is that these prices are hugely inflated anyway (i.e. pure profit going to companies that probably scooped up the domains for free). In some sense, paying anything beyond a registration fee is gouging, in my opinion. I don't want to be conned... on the other hand, this is the reality of business, and I don't want to come across as amateurish. Does anyone have any advice for this new-comer to domain name purchasing?"
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Prices, Gouging and Haggling for Internet Domains?

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  • That's nothing (Score:5, Informative)

    by El Cubano (631386) <robertoNO@SPAMconnexer.com> on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @07:49PM (#15432323) Homepage

    The company that currently holds the domain name is offering it for $1500

    I recently received a solicitation for a church domain name. I am the webmaster for my church and another church in North or South Carolina (I forget where), no longer needs one of their domain names. The church I attend has the same name, but is located in another state. Basically, the guy said he wanted to offer us first dibs. When we inquired as to how much he wanted, he said that it had been "appraised" at up to $20,000. Though, he was very nice about it and said that he would give it to us for $8000. Sheesh. I recommended to our pastor that he ignore the request since we already have a well known and establishd domain.

  • .com is overrated (Score:4, Informative)

    by JanneM (7445) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @07:53PM (#15432341) Homepage
    For a small business, that's a serious chunk of money - too serious. You will end up in a "bidding war" with yourself as they try to suck as much cash out of you as possible. It really is overrated to have a .com adress in any case; if you like the name, look for name.us, name.org, name.net, name.whatever. A lot of countries have restrictions on their top-level domains (you need a business address in the country or similar), but there's a whole set of top-level country domains that are offered to any comers for their mnemonic value, like .tv if your business is related to broadcasting, for instance, or .nu, always popular in Scandinavia.

  • And then offer them $9- the cost of the domain at GoDaddy for one year, and make it clear that you're also willing to haggle. I wonder if they'll accept less than $750?
  • Don't do it! (Score:2, Informative)

    by jericho4.0 (565125) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @08:08PM (#15432411)
    This is not the reality of business, this is cybersquatting. Please don't give them a dime for their scam.
  • Re:Price Gouging (Score:3, Informative)

    by linvir (970218) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @08:33PM (#15432528)
    Get a decent browser [konqueror.org], and you'll be able to type "wp: price gouging" in the address bar and find these things out for yourself instead of starting a long, boring Slashdot discussion. From the resulting article [wikipedia.org]:
    Price gouging is a frequently pejorative reference to a seller's asking a price that is much higher than what is seen as 'fair' under the circumstances. In precise, legal usage, it is the name of a felony that obtains in some of the United States only during civil emergencies. In less precise usage, it can refer either to prices obtained by practices inconsistent with a competitive free market, or to windfall profits. In colloquial usage, it means simply that the speaker thinks the price too high, and it often degenerates into a term of demagoguery.
    Do not mod this post up. I know where you sleep.
  • Really, you cannot trust anyone who spouts about counter offers. Offer them $150, a good offensive play.

    Someone squatted on centurix.com and I asked them how much. $5000 was the reply, so I said $100 is my best offer, if that's not enough then have fun with the domain. They accepted, I had the domain for 2 years and just let it lapse, the same company bought it again after I had it. Good luck to them, my current domain suits us much better.
  • Re:Don't Buy It (Score:4, Informative)

    by patio11 (857072) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @08:50PM (#15432598)
    Yep. Are you intending for your web site to be a destination location? Like, someone will log on and say "I want to go to Bob's web site now, www.bobswebsite.com"? Because the vast majority of home users do NOT have usage patterns like this and I'm guessing your users won't either. Back in the olden days of the Internet, when search engines were unknown or cruddy and Internet expertise was nil, somebody who wanted to try out that whole "buying books online" thing might actually type in www.books.com just to see if it worked. Then books.com, internet.com, business.com, nameofyourbusiness.com, etc were worth a lot of money. Now, most of your first-time leads are going to be coming in from search engines and they largely don't care about your domain name (helps to have a search term in the url, of course, but you can get that just as easily by naming yourself www.bobs-pc-shop.com instead of www.bobs-pc.com). Your returning customers will either remember the domain name (rather unlikely), go to their history tab (very unlikely), go to a bookmark they made (suprisingly likely, and a convinient "bookmark this site" button works wonders), or just do it the easy way and Google your business name again.

    Heck, I'm as atypical as a user can be and I've been finding myself Googling "Amazon" recently.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @08:56PM (#15432620) Homepage
    One of the more useful things to do in domain disputes is to get a trademark. If you do business or have a product named "Zowie", get a trademark on "Zowie". It's not that hard, it costs a few hundred dollars, and the process is entirely on line. Doesn't matter what category of product the trademark is under, or even if it's on the principal register. You can almost always get registration on the supplemental register, which means you can't keep others from using the name, but they can't keep you from using it either.

    Once you have a trademark on the domain that describes your stuff, you can make a cybersquatting complaint. If the domain owner is just parking the domain, under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy [icann.org] that's considered "use in bad faith". Then you send a letter to the domain owner, threatening a UDRP proceeding.

    (If it's a "private registration", the registrar will now "uncloak" the domain so fast your head will spin, because they don't want to be the party to a UDRP proceeding or lawsuit.)

    At this point, either the other side will offer to sell you the domain for less than a UDRP costs ($1000), or you go forward to a mandatory UDRP proceeding, which is an instant win when you have the trademark.

  • Re:Don't Buy It (Score:5, Informative)

    by patio11 (857072) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @09:21PM (#15432729)
    Both Google and MySpace are intended to be what my father the real-estate agent would call "destination locations" -- you go out with the specific intent to patronize one or two of them, the same way you go out with the specific intent to patronize your bank. This is why a bank generally does not stress overmuch about being on a corner. You can compare this to gas stations, which are NOT destinations (nobody says "Hmm, I think I'll hop in the car and drive over to that Shell station on 67th street next to the Burger King") -- their location is critically important to them. Almost every gas station you find will be built on a corner, for maximum visiblity and accessibility.

    In the Internet, things are almost completely reversed. If you're a destination, then you might well get accessed by the address bar (Amazon, Google, eBay, MySpace) -- its very important to you to have a punchy, memorable, very unambiguous (can't be mispelled or misremembered) name. If you're not a destination, you rely on people seeing you "from the road" as it were, and in today's internet "the road" is Google. Google doesn't care whether you have a maximally-punchy minimally-long domain name or not.

    I wouldn't write a 45 letter domain name for the heck of it, but you can feel free to not treat "six to eight characters terminated with .com, and exactly equivalent to your business name" as the gospel anymore. You're the expert on your own business, so you're best qualified to determine whether your users will see you as a destination location or not.

  • Well, no. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:14AM (#15433221) Homepage
    I've been looking at some UDRP decisions. [wipo.int] First, registration on the supplemental register is not considered to confer rights meaningful in a UDRP proceeding. You have to get on to the principal register.

    Second, priority is an issue. You need to have some rights in the name predating the acquisition of the domain by the current owner. Registering a trademark helps, but the history of its use may matter.

    Sorry about that.

  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:42AM (#15433322) Journal
    Exactly. Even more importantly don't let your domain name hamstring you. Most people nowadays use google for find websites, they rarly type them by hand anymore. So, offer these guy $100 (hell I payed almost that much from a registrar 10 years back) get a domain name that is close to this use it, get your google rank up and don't ever expect to get this name and these guys will eventually crawl back to you.

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