Why does this feel so much like a legal scam?
March 24, 2008 6:00 AM   Subscribe

Was I scammed by a domain name registrar? Should I legally be able to get my money back for unavailable domains despite not having read their terms & conditions?

A month ago, my friend and I pooled together and purchased numerous domain names from a small-time registrar in a top-level domain landrush (domains would all be released at once, multiple bidders would result in an auction). The idea was that if we were the sole bidders for any domains, they would be worth to us at least what we paid. Just today, the registrar notified us that (1) many of them are unavailable/invalid and we will only receive store credit for them. (2) Additionally, if we lose the auction for the domain, our registration fees would not be refunded at all. The registrar claims that these policies were stated in their Terms and Conditions; alas we did not click through to read them.

Do we have any legal ground (consumer rights?) for getting our money back? It seems like such a scam -- for domains in situation (1) I buy a product that is unavailable, and I only get store credit. In (2) they get to keep the domain registration fee from everyone who bought the domain which is only eventually registered once. It's like if I sell a $50 watch, but if there are multiple bidders, it goes to auction and I still keep all the $50s.

If I did a chargeback with my credit card, the bank would probably side with the company because I agreed to these terms during my purchase.

Other facts:
- The receipt shows the purchase of every single domain as "Domain Purchase: foo.com"
- This practice is divergent from the policies of the other major registrars in this landrush
- My account credit has even decreased, because they are based on the UK and credited in Pounds, which has devalued since. I didn't even know it was a UK company since the prices were in US dollars, and I made the purchase using a credit card.

Posting anonymously in case we decide to go to small claims court or something, and would not like this to be used as any sort of evidence.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (3 answers total)
The registrar claims that these policies were stated in their Terms and Conditions

Have you confirmed that this is true? And if it is, is it clearly stated?
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:42 AM on March 24, 2008

If you paid by credit card, is there anyway you can call them up and reverse the charges? Credit cards have some level of protection against scams I think (I've been lucky so my experience is limited). But I would check if there is a way for you to get your money back by circumventing the scammers entirely.
posted by nickerbocker at 8:24 AM on March 24, 2008

Did you really not read the terms and conditions? You may have real trouble if you failed to read them but accepted the conditions. Never sign anything or agree to anything involving money without perusing T&C to see what you are agreeing to.
posted by tomble at 8:44 PM on March 25, 2008

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