Thinking of using 1and1 for domain transfers? Think again!

I'm a pretty frugal guy (ok, I'm a cheapass). So when it comes to paying money for domain registrations, I typically try to shop around at least once a year and try to find the best deal out there, without trying to compromise the quality of the service being provided. Because I own about about 12 domains, even a few dollars can add up when you think of the yearly costs for multiple domains.

One thing that you may or may not know about domains is that you can pay for multiple years with one registrar, then transfer the domain to another registrar, they add an additional year to your expiration date and they (typically) honor any additional years that you prepaid with your previous registrar.

About a year ago 1and1 was offering $5.99 registrations and transfers. I had also found a coupon code for some percentage off making it a deal that was too good to pass up. I did some research and found mostly complaints of people having issues transferring their domains away from 1and1 (which is a problem with any registrar because they all hate to lose the residual money). So, to fully take advantage of the deal, I moved most of my domains to 1and1; including some domains which were not supposed to expire for several years just to tack on an extra year for a decent price. Luckily, I had moved a single domain over a 2 months before the others to "test the waters", now I'm glad I did.

All was well until for about a year until I received a bill for that single domain I moved over to 1and1. This domain didn't expire until 14-Nov-2008, yet I was billed on 21-Aug-2008 for an additional year. I went round and round with Customer Support and finally got this out of them:

From: 1&1 Internet Support

If a customer has a domain which will expire until 2015 and he wants to transfer it to us, he will pay $x.xx (or whatever the price of the domain is) for the transfer and the domain will be registered until 2016 on the WHOIS.

However, he will still pay a fee every year because our system will not honor multiple year registrations. The expiry date will now be 2016 (increment 1 year from the original expiration date) but he will still pay $x.xx/year.

This is what we call a maintenance fee.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

After I received this information, I emailed Dreamhost to see what their policy was on domain transfers. This was Dreamhost's response (also, Dreamhost responded in under 5 minutes):

From: DreamHost Customer Support Team

Hello Brian,

No, no! If you have 5 years on a domain, we will not charge you every year! Thats insane!

We will only charge you if you renew the domain for another year. If you have 5 years on a domain, then it does not have to be renewed for 5 years.

Even Dreamhost feels this practice is crazy! So, once I found this out, I decided to move all of my domains that were originally transferred to 1and1 somewhere else sine they all had some period of time that 1and1 was not obeying since they were billing me from when I transferred and not from when the domains actually expired. I really wanted to move them to Dreamhost since I have received nothing but top notch service from them for my main domain and for their hosting services, but the fee of $9.95 is a bit steep (hopefully Dreamhost is listening and can get a bit more competitive here).

I ended up transferring (or, attempting to transfer - this is still on-going) these to Godaddy. I really don't like Godaddy since they have had their own issues (here, here, and here), but they at this point they can't be any worse than 1and1. I also was able to get a deal for transferring so many domains, so it came out to be about $6/domain (including privacy guard for the remainder of the time - including transferred time).

Bottom line: If you're going to transfer a domain to 1and1, be aware that they don't actually honor any additional years you've already paid on your domain. Your expiration date will be extended by 1 year, but you'll still end up paying a "maintainance fee" every year.

View Comments
See Older Posts...