Domain registrars hate registry exceptions


Registrars consider the cost of changes and number of customers impacted before implementing registry pricing exceptions.

The new top level domain name program has ushered in a new era of complexity for domain pricing. The biggest change has been multiple pricing tiers based on the domain. There was also complex variations for landrush. Now that domains have been out for a few years, we’re also seeing price changes and grandfathered pricing for some domain names.

For example, Donuts has changed the prices on a handful of domains and grandfathered existing registrations. Some registries, such as MMX, have dropped premium renewals but only on domains registered after certain dates. And Uniregistry recently jacked up the prices on many of its domains, but later agreed to grandfather existing registrations.

All of these changes create work for domain name registrars, and some of them are balking at the changes.

After dropping Uniregistry domain names in the wake of the price hike, GoDaddy now sells Uniregistry domain names but isn’t implementing grandfathering on the renewal of existing domains. I reached out to Godaddy to ask why. In a statement, SVP & GM, Domains Mike McLaughlin said:

GoDaddy is focused on improving our products and experiences for our customers. To break out pricing for certain customers would be non-trivial work. If we weren’t careful, we could have developers solely focused on the whims of registry for price changes or policy changes. Instead, we’re choosing to focus our energy on providing value-adds to our customers.

To avoid marketplace confusion, if a domain name is moving to a much higher price, GoDaddy will treat the names as the higher price. This makes the experience consistent for all customers.

On the other hand, GoDaddy appears to have implemented grandfathered pricing on Donuts domains. Basically, the company is looking at the amount of dev work required and the number of customers impacted to make decisions on which changes to implement. (Donuts’ price changes were not of the same order of magnitude as Uniregistry’s.)

Given the relatively low number of new top level domains being registered, registrars are being careful about upfront work to onboard new domains as well. You might recall that GoDaddy is offering .art domains but not the premium domains. At first, I thought this was just blowback to the ridiculous 3.5 million domains .art has marked as premium.

But an industry source gave me another reason that a registrar might not offer .art premium domains. It’s not just the number of premium domains. There are apparently around 700 price tiers in .art. We’re talking about a domain name with just over 10,000 registrations in the zone after over a month in general availability, yet it wants registrars to implement 700 price tiers for its domains.

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