View Poll Results: Should we file a class action lawsuite against GoDaddy's unethical practice?

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  • Yes, and donate the fines received to charities

    5 41.67%
  • No, but we should move our domains to a more secure and ethical registrar

    6 50.00%
  • No, we are small guys, we need to live with these things

    1 8.33%
Results 1 to 25 of 25
  1. #1
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    GoDaddy.com Unethical Practice: Class Action Law-suite?
    Hello,

    I learned something really scary today, and wanted to run by the more experienced members of this forum before taking the next steps.

    Yesterday out of the blue I received an email from GoDaddy that I had sent spam from one of my email addresses, and asked me to prove that the email recipient had voluntarily registered into my mailing list.

    Since:
    1. I did not (and never have) sent any spam, and
    2. The domain name mentioned does not even have the email configured, and
    3. The web-site is not even fully built (it has some simple text with no outgoing links, nor any ads),

    I was baffled and replied to GoDaddy with the above info, asking them how they got the idea that I sent spam. They sent me an email from a gmail account by someone, sent to someone asking for a link exchange, and my domain name was mentioned in the email.

    I emailed back GoDaddy that I do not know that email address (neither sender, nor recipient), and have no idea why my domain was mentioned in the email. I asked for the IP address of the sender, so that I can at least check where it originated.

    Today, instead of providing any further info, GoDaddy sent me an extortion mail, giving me 2 choices:
    1. Admit that I spammed, promise them that it won't happen again, and pay the $199.
    2. If I do not like #1, I can take my domain name elsewhere - AFTER paying them $75 in "administrative fees".

    Has anyone else encountered this issue? This is totally absurd. Things are wrong at so many levels:
    1. How do they expect anyone to prove that he/she did not do it? All the evidence shows that the email did not originate from my account, plus the site is not even built, so there is no motive.
    2. There is a clear conflict of interest here. What incentive GoDaddy has to not charge this money? All they have to do is show an email containing your domain name, and they make $75-$199. There is no recourse to this: If they decide you have to pay regardless of any logic or evidence, you have no choice but to pay, else they will hold your domain name hostage until you pay.
    3. Even more scary is how easy this makes for any of your competitor to knock your site off the web, by simply sending an email with your domain name in it, and then complain to GoDaddy of receiving spam. And then unless you can prove to GoDaddy that the recipient had signed up for your mailing list, you pay $199 per incident, or they shutdown your site and do not let you transfer your domain out of their hold.

    This is unethical at best, and possibly illegal (I am no expert in law, but in our country here we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty).

    I am sure I am not the first one to run into this issue.
    - For the legal experts out here, is this a basis for a class action law-suite?
    - For the site owners who have domains with GoDaddy, are we leaving ourselves vulnerable to being locked out by anyone who can send an email with your domain name in the email?

    Is there something we can do as a group to have GoDaddy issue a public apology, and pay fines to a charity of our choice(plus lawyer costs)? (We want to make this a principle-based fight, so it cannot keep the money for ourselves).

    Thanks for your insights and inputs.

  2. #2
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    I would keep trying to get more information from GoDaddy. Certainly they have to do more to prove their case before hitting you up with a $199 fee? In what way was your domain name mentioned?
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  3. #3
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    The email that GoDaddy sent me was a link exchange request. The requester was requesting to place a link from my domain to the receiver's website, and in exchange offering to put a reciprocal link on 2 other sites (that I do not own). The other 2 sites listed appear to be directories.

    I did send all the info to GoDaddy, twice, but so far they do not even appear to be reading my messages. They have assumed that I am responsible for the spam, and the question in their mind is whether I should pay $199 to stay, or $75 to go.

    Searching Google, my guess is they have outsourced the department that handles the spam requests. If that is the case, this is further conflict of interest, as the outsourcers do not care whether you move the rest of your domains out of GoDaddy - as long as they get their cut from whatever they collect, they have no incentive to truthfully investigate the issue.

    I will wait for their reply tomorrow, and then will file a ticket from GoDaddy's regular ticket system; Maybe someone local at GoDaddy may see it an sanity would prevail.

  4. #4
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Good luck with it.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  5. #5
    Member KirkMcD's Avatar
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    You don't need to have actually sent the SPAM to be affected by it.

    It's in the terms you agreed to when you purchased your domain from them.
    See #6 : http://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/agreements.asp
    and http://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/legal_...geid=SPAM_EULA

    Many people don't recommened GoDaddy, just for this reason.
    Last edited by Haiko de Poel, Jr.; September 24th, 2009 at 11:23 AM. Reason: fiked linky #1

  6. #6
    Member BrettSaver's Avatar
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    Well, I have to say, it does seem pretty unfair. But keep in mind, in order to file a class action lawsuit, you do need to establish a "class" in the first place. So you might want to start by looking around to see if you can establish that this is an unfair practice that has impacted a significant amount of GoDaddy's customers.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorkingClass
    The email that GoDaddy sent me was a link exchange request. The requester was requesting to place a link from my domain to the receiver's website, and in exchange offering to put a reciprocal link on 2 other sites (that I do not own). The other 2 sites listed appear to be directories.
    Are you sure that even qualifies as Spam under the CAN-SPAM Act? Whether you sent it or not, a link exchange request sounds like a legitimate reason for contacting another site... you're not even selling anything. I would look into that first.

    $199 to stay and $75 to go? With those policies, I think the choice is obvious. Bye.

    If you do get charged, you could always try to move your domain to another registrar, then contest the charge with your credit card company. I think it would then be the burden of GoDaddy to prove that it was actually SPAM and that you were responsible.

  8. #8
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    By the way, I received this email from them today:
    Go Daddy Wins CJYou Peoples Choice Award

    For the second year in a row, the Commission Junction community has named the Go Daddy affiliate program as their favorite! LOL

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the replies, I appreciate the advice.

    I believe the issue is much bigger here, it is not just $75/$199 one time extortion fee for something I did not do. In addition to the conflict of interest etc noted, the issue is whether our domains are secure at GoDaddy. If anyone wants to knock your site down, all he/she has to do is send a spam from a gmail address with your link in it, and then GoDaddy will take it from there to punish you.

    Googling around I see horror stories noting GoDaddy asking people to pay $199 per incident! So if someone sends 1000 emails with your domain named mentioned in them, the fine will be $199,000? Most website owners do not have that kind of money laying around to pay GoDaddy to get their domain names back.

    BrettSaver, to follow up on your question, can GoDaddy be subpoenaed to provide the names of the people from whom they collected this fine from? Obviously some of these people would be spammers, but there has to be a whole lot of people who did not spam, but had no choice to pay up. Can a subpoena be issues before actually filing the suite? I fell passionate about this issue, so I will be willing to pay a few hundred dollars out of my pocket if that can lead to GoDaddy apologizing publicly to those they may have wronged, stop the unethical practices, and pay the court determined fine to charities.

  10. #10
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Please post the email asking for the $199 and any relevant correspondence (remove your email addy of course)
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  11. #11
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    Here it is: (A funny freudian slip here: Their department is named "Spam and Abuse Department". Seems like they take their job seriously )

    Not related to this but also interesting: According to the email below, if you purchase an ad in a reputable, legitamately run newsletter, since the recipient did not approve receiving emails with your domain name directly to you, you are still subject to be called a spammer.

    Anyway, the extortion demand is at the bottom of the email.

    ===== Contents from GoDaddy'e emails to me on this issue ====
    Thank you for contacting Go Daddy's Spam and Abuse Department.

    Go Daddy has a strict anti-spam policy, as the registrant of <<Domain Name Deleted> you are ultimately responsible for the use of your domain name, any email mail advertisement that is driving traffic to, or creating revenue for, your website or domain name is your responsibility. This also applies to the actions of any party generating this traffic or revenue on your behalf. This includes, but is not limited to, 3rd party marketers, business partners, mailing list providers and affiliates.

    Go Daddy defines spam as a mailing sent to recipients, as an advertisement or otherwise, without first obtaining prior confirmed consent from the recipients before sending the mailing in question. Prior consent must be given to you directly from the recipients of your mailing for the specific domain name that you are advertising.

    Go Daddy does not consider consent to be transferable. For example, simply purchasing, renting, or leasing an "opt-in" list from another company does not constitute proof of opt-in or prior consent. If you or another company are sending mailings advertising your domain name or website to individuals that have not requested this information from you directly, it is our opinion that you are spamming these individuals.

    You can view Go Daddy's Anti-Spam policy by clicking on the "Anti-Spam Policy" link located on Go Daddy's "Legal Agreement" page. Click the following link to access Go Daddy's "Legal Agreements" page: https://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/agreements.asp.

    Because you have not provided this proof you are in violation of your registration agreement and Go Daddy's Anti-Spam policy.
    Your options are as follows:
    ----- Option #1: Discontinue unauthorized mailing practices.
    If you wish to remain a Go Daddy customer you must reply to this message with the following:
    1. A statement that you will no longer send email advertisements or promotional mailings to any individual that you cannot confirm has previously requested this information from you or your company.
    2. Authorization for GoDaddy.com to charge the credit card on file for your account a $199 non-refundable abuse fee (you may want to log into your Go Daddy account and confirm that the card on file is valid and has not expired).
    Go Daddy will then continue to monitor this situation. If after you commit to ceasing this activity it is determined that this problem persists, your domain name may be immediately redirected and your service suspended. We realize additional complaints resulting from the mailing that generated the complaints we have already received may come in. We will of course consider this, and contact you before taking action.
    ------ Option #2: Transfer your domain name to another registrar.
    If option #1 is not agreeable to you, or you are unable to abide by these spam policies, you will need to transfer your domain name to another registrar. To do this you will need to reply to this message with the following information:
    1. A statement that you will initiate the transfer of your domain name to a new registrar within the next 48 hours.
    2. Authorization for GoDaddy.com to charge the credit card on file for your account a $75 administration fee.
    Go Daddy requires you to pay a this fee so that can close the spam review regarding your domain name, and clean up the unresolved spam complaints we have received.
    ****** PLEASE NOTE ******
    A response from you regarding this situation is required.
    We require that you make a decision choosing one of the two options outlined above within the next 48 hours. If we receive a reply that does not indicate a clear choice or we do not receive a response within the next 48 hours, your domain name will be redirected and your service will be suspended.

    Sincerely,
    Spam and Abuse Department
    GoDaddy.com

  12. #12
    Member BrettSaver's Avatar
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    Gone, Daddy, Gone
    To be honest, I really don't know all of the logistics. I have been involved in a couple of class action lawsuits, but it was always as a part of a rather large class (i.e. former employers who abused labor laws). My inclination would be to say that GoDaddy can probably afford some pretty decent legal aid. On the other hand, class action attorneys (to the best of my knowledge) typically work for a percentage of the settlement. So I would guess that if you can establish a large enough class and have a decent case, you might be able to find someone to represent you and your class. I think if you seriously want to persue it, you should try to track down other people who may have been in a similar situation. I would say affiliate marketing forums are a good start. Not sure how successful you might be in trying to get a subpoena at this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by WorkingClass
    BrettSaver, to follow up on your question, can GoDaddy be subpoenaed to provide the names of the people from whom they collected this fine from? Obviously some of these people would be spammers, but there has to be a whole lot of people who did not spam, but had no choice to pay up. Can a subpoena be issues before actually filing the suite? I fell passionate about this issue, so I will be willing to pay a few hundred dollars out of my pocket if that can lead to GoDaddy apologizing publicly to those they may have wronged, stop the unethical practices, and pay the court determined fine to charities.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorkingClass
    Yesterday out of the blue I received an email from GoDaddy that I had sent spam from one of my email addresses, and asked me to prove that the email recipient had voluntarily registered into my mailing list.

    Since:
    1. I did not (and never have) sent any spam, and
    2. The domain name mentioned does not even have the email configured, and
    3. The web-site is not even fully built (it has some simple text with no outgoing links, nor any ads),
    If it's not an active site for you yet, I find it hard to believe a competitor or user would be interested in getting you in trouble. Maye the domain name was previously registered? If so, maybe it was an old email that someone only now decided to complain about? Maybe the company that had the domain name before you still had an ongoing contract with a link exchange broker? If that's the case, that the name was registered before you, tell GoDaddy the situation an that it was likely the previous owner.

    Also, for clarification, are you hosting with GoDaddy or did you just register the name with GoDaddy?

  14. #14
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    Hi bigcrinoid,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I checked this out. I had registered this domain late last year, just by a regular search for availability at GoDaddy. It does not appear that someone else owned it.

    I do not believe it is any competetor doing this in my case. I am not that famous (yet)! . But this is a valid concern for others who may have made enough name for themselves and their domains.

    I have actually never done any link exchange, ever. So I have no therories who could be behind this. Possibly someone mistyped my domain while trying to send link requests for his domain.

    While this is going on, I would move my other domains out of Go Daddy to a more secure, ethical and reliable registrar. Does anyone have recommendation for a registrar? (Turns out this would be cheaper as well, as Go Daddy charges money for private registration in addition to domain registration. I understand most other registrars offer free privacy).

  15. #15
    Newbie Timewarp's Avatar
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    Name.com seems reputable with good prices and free privacy.
    I don't spam but after this fiasco I may move my active sites domains from GD to Name.com where I already have a few.

  16. #16
    I like traffic lights
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    2 things you need to do.

    1. Complain to icann.org

    2. When you notice they don't lift a finger (because Godaddy is the middleman for more Registrant's tax payments to ICANN than any other Registrar) remove all your domains from Godaddy and make sure all your friends do too.

  17. #17
    CPA Network Rep Essociate's Avatar
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    it seems like Godaddy has a perverse incentive to receive spoofs of its customers domains. they need to take corrective action to stop holding customers hostage. this is the first time i have heard of this happening.

  18. #18
    Newbie yuri21's Avatar
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    GoDaddy? Bah... I've long heard very very bad things about them. Some people recommend enom but that can be expensive. Then there're those who suggest registrars like Dotster, Namecheap, Sibername, etc., etc.

    My suggestion is to dig up all the dirt like "registrar, scam", "registrar, hostage", etc. and find something that you like, that you find reputable and which is suitable in terms of pricing and quality.

  19. #19
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    Godaddy needs to stick with the domain registration business and get the heck out of the nosy big brother business.

  20. #20
    Member Anat's Avatar
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    If you have a bunch of domain names with them, try getting an exec rep to handle your account. I have one and she's great with resolving all sorts of issues.

    As for legal advice - I highly suggest consulting a lawyer. I doubt anyone on a public forum can or should dispense legal advice.

  21. #21
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    OK, here is an update on where things are with this saga.

    After I confronted Godaddy with the facts and insisted to send me the actual email of the supposed complaint against my site, and the email headers along with the IP addresses, they backed off with the following email message:
    "We will consider this issue closed. However, we would like to make you aware of some issues regarding your domain. You are responsible for the domain and the uses of it. We are unable to safeguard your domain from being used in these types of mailings. If we should receive future reports like this, we will of course contact you before taking any action."

    To that I responded, noting that I was not looking for a "Not Guilty" verdict, but an innocent verdict. And in addition, I would like to go after the person responsible for the accusation so that I can get to the bottom of it.

    It's been 5 weeks since then. And for a company that used to send daily emails threatening to pay the ransom within 24 hours when $200 was to be made, when it came to supporting the rule-following, paying customer, they did not even bother to respond. Just sent them another email that this does not look good for their intentions.

    Since I did not actually pay the fine, I am probably not eligible to particpate in a class-action, but I still plan to spend time contacting them, hoping that GoDaddy will stop this unethical practice. I will post here if there is any significant update.

    BTW, Thanks for all your comments so far on this issue.

  22. #22
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    Godaddy dubious business practises
    I can concur with all I read about GoDaddy. Guess what? I bought my first domain name with the "number 1" just to be on the safe side. After some disappointment with the way I was treated as customer (straight refund on PayPal), I quickly checked the transfer/auth. codes for moving to another registrar (ELB) and filed for transfer. It never materialized but worst, my domain is not available for purchase, it has been acquired by.... GoDaddy. They cheat the whole system, ICCAN, database, customers. I could not believe my eyes.
    Last edited by ashton; July 13th, 2010 at 05:10 AM.

  23. #23
    Newbie Attorney Jaffe's Avatar
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    I read this string with great interest. It is a perfect example of what I do for a living every day.

    As an Internet attorney I often represent clients who come up against the Spam and Abuse departments of Internet companies like GoDaddy, Yahoo, eBay, AOL, MS, etc.

    Like here, my client's first contact from the Internet giant is an email informing them that the S&A dept has made a determination that the client is guilty of some violation - a determination made without first conducting an investigation that includes contacting the client for their side of the story.

    Further, like here, they either don't read the email explanation the client sends, or don't respond to the client's request for further information. The attitude of the S&A dept is that they are doing righteous work, saving the Internet from bad people, and that anyone they have swept up in their net is not only guilty, but a liar, and they need not listen to what they have to say.

    Finally, good luck trying to institute a dialouge with a human being - most of the large internet sites purposely do not have a customer service phone number, only an email address.

    This is the first time I had seen GoDaddy's pay to stay or pay to leave scenario. I thought it a bit too clever on GoDaddy's part and understood why they backed off in this particular circumstance. Your persistance certainly paid off!

    In conclusion - These types of fights occur often with many of the suppliers Internet marketers need to conduct their web related business; be it domain names, merchant accounts, web hosters or others. The supplier will take the stance that you are guilty until proven innocent and suspend your services while you attempt to jump through their hoops to get your services reinstated. No matter how moral and legal you are in conducting your business, this same type of misunderstanding can happen to you.

    I always recommend that my clients have redundant services in place before this type of scenario happens to them. While it is time consuming and expensive to have redundant services in place, it beats being out of business when your primary service goes down -- which happens for not just this reason, but other reasons as well.

  24. #24
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    Godaddy dubious business practises
    Just saw a movie of relevance for that topic: Falling Down (Shumaker, Michael Douglas, 1993). Defend our consumers rights!

  25. #25
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ashton View Post
    Just saw a movie of relevance for that topic: Falling Down (Shumaker, Michael Douglas, 1993). Defend our consumers rights!
    Might be a tad bit extreme, but I understand the sentiment.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

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