The Simple Web Domain Registrar Test

Here’s a simple test you can try to figure out which domain registrar you should use: Call them.

I was surprised and disappointed that I couldn’t even get a phone call answered at Registerfly.com. When I online-chatted with them, they were ignorant and unhelpful. Godaddy in contrast, answered their phone, spoke English and knew what they were talking about. I switched to GoDaddy that day.


I registered my broome.us domain via Registerfly.com 2 years ago. At the time, they accepted Paypal, I had a paypal balance collecting dust (and paltry interest) and figured I’d put it to good use. I remember the account-creation and domain registration process being clunky and hard to figure out. I emailed them and suggested they fix that. They just redesigned, and clearly, they’re after the domain-squatter business, not the single-domain guy business. It’s not much easier to use.

Registerfly.com no longer accepts Paypal, and renewal time was less than a month away. I got into an online chat with them about it, and they said “there’ve been issues with them not being trustworthy” (“them” being Paypal). “But we’re working on a new web site and we hope to resume accepting Paypal payments again soon.”

WTF? Paypal isn’t trustworthy? Red warning lights about my registrar started flashing.

I originally also bought their “ProtectFly” service. My name, address, etc. was hidden from view when anyone looked at the details of “broome.us”. It was nice. I like the option of retaining my privacy.

But at some point, that privacy protection vanished. No notice from Registerfly about it expiring. So I asked them about it during the same online chat. They couldn’t tell me why it was no longer in effect when I pre-paid for it, but I could renew it now if I wanted to pay again. More red warning lights.

It turns out, the authority for “.us” domain names declared that domain owner info must be public information. Fine… They make the rules. But Registerfly could’ve at least informed me. Could’ve known the answer when I asked about it. Could’ve offered me a pro-rated refund. Instead, they were silent until asked, and then just plain ignorant.

Now, with just weeks to go before my domain expired, I figured I’d transfer it to another registrar. GoDaddy, to be specific, on the recommendation of a co-worker – although Namecheap was also under consideration.

Because this is a “.us” domain, it can’t be transferred without an authorization code obtained from my current registrar. I can’t find that authorization code. It’s not mentioned on any page I can find, and searching for it doesn’t return any useful results. The online chat feature I liked was now gone. I created a support request on their website, but it went un-answered. In effect, I was stuck.

So I tried something I’ve never done: I called Registerfly. They promote a 24/7 phone number you can call to get tech support. Apparently however, 24/7 is some measure of how long you’ll have to wait to talk to someone… provided:

  1. You can get through… 40% of my tries met a busy signal. 25% met with never-ending rings.
  2. You can get a human. The rest of my attempts ran afoul of their voice menu system. Press 2 for technical support. Press 3 for a domain question. Transferring. Please hold. Your call is important to us. Really. Click. Not even a goodbye-kiss.

I finally got an email back from a support ticket I opened with them, days later. The authorization code I needed was buried in the details of one of the sub-sub pages of their account management system. I finally got out of there with my domain.

I’m not sure I’ll be any happier about GoDaddy’s user interface… it’s faster, and you can learn how to use it, but it’s not designed any better than Registerfly, imho.

  • Details are still hidden.
  • You have to know which series of menu choices leads where you want to get, in advance of seeing any information about it.
  • Page-regions are re-used for different information in different contexts, without significant changes in appearance.
  • It’s easy to get confused and frustrated.

The one thing that set them head-and-shoulders above Registerfly, though: GoDaddy answered the phone. Quickly. Helpfully. In American English. They also emailed me status updates as my domain transfer was occurring. The only thing I get from Registerfly.com is marketing spam. Every week. Even after I’m no longer a customer. I can’t find a way to turn it off.

My domain’s old expiration date finally came around. Now, when I transferred the domain it’s expiration was automatically extended by a year. I got the 1 year renewal I wanted, and a better host, in a single price comparable to a renewal. Yippee. I was free of the bad interface, non-Paypal accepting, non-phone-answering, non-responsive service I hated.

And then Registerfly started emailing me about renewing. They must be Eagles fans. “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

Not just one email. Not two. More than 10. I should’ve counted them all, but I got delete-happy about 2 days after my domain would’ve expired and I was still getting email about it. Leading up to that date, I got about 3 notices per day that my domain was going to expire and that I should renew it at Registerfly.

“Uh, guys? Have you noticed you don’t serve that name anymore? It’s been a couple weeks. Read up on that whois information.”

After the date passed I got notices that I could still renew it for the next 30 days.

“Guys… Really, check. You don’t have my business anymore. Even if I wanted to, there’s a 60 day restriction on me from moving the domain name again. You’re not getting it back. Quit bothering me.”

Oh look. Another Registerfly email in my inbox.

So far I’m quite happy with GoDaddy. They’re doing their job quietly and reliably. At least I know that I can get help if I call.

For that matter, I’m also extremely happy with my current web host: A Small Orange. They’re responsive and have great service and rates.

So remember this easy test for any web service you might consider paying for: Call them. If they can’t figure out how to work a phone, do you really want them handling your business?

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