Beware – Domain Renewal Group scam domain name expiration notice

Posted on February 28th, 2011

There was an interesting find in my letterbox today – a scam ‘Domain Name Expiration Notice’ from a company called Domain Renewal Group, seeking to have me renew one of my domains (wordpresschix.org) to them – for the bargain price of four times what it cost me originally!

This letter looks so authentic that less-savvy people could easily be fooled – in fact, unless you were really skilled in domains and registration, it would be difficult to pick it up as a scam;

Image of the scam domain name expiration notice

Because the domain is not in the .au namespace, auDA does not have any authority over the registrar. I emailed Public Interest Registry, the registrar for the .org TLD to let them know, and also let auDA know in case they wish to raise a consumer alert.

I also emailed Domain Renewal Group themselves, and threatened to report them to the ACCC (the enclosed self-addressed envelope – not reply paid! – has the address 189 Queen Street, Suite 209 Melbourne 3000 on it – so they obviously have an Australian base of operations) if they did not cease their operation;

To whom it may concern,

I recently received a letter addressed to me concerning the domain
WordPressChix.org

This letter constituted an unsolicited domain name expiration notice, and
is considered a scam. Because the namespace '.org' is not maintained by
auDA, the Australian domain authority, I have raised my concerns with the
Public Interest Registry (PIR), the official registrar for the .org TLD,
in writing.

I would like DROA to undertake the following:

1. A written apology via return email for your actions to me personally
2. A written undertaking via return email that you will cease these
operations in Australia no later than 14th March 2011

Failure to respond to this email with 14 (fourteen) days with the above
will result in a formal complaint being raised with the Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission (www.accc.gov.au).

Please note I will also be using social media channels to inform other
Australian webmasters of your unethical tactics.

You may also wish to know that you're garnering a very unfavourable
reputation within Australia;
http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1040704

Regards,
Kathy Reid

Member, Linux Users of Victoria
Member, Linux Users of Australia
Board member, PHPWomen
@KathyReid on Twitter

We’ll see what happens!
(to be continued…)

Observation: wording tricks on Baskin Robbins price display

Posted on August 8th, 2010

A friend and I went out for ice cream at Baskin Robbins last night before catching a movie. While there, an interesting observation was made. Usually on a price display board, portions or servings are listed in ascending order of size;

  • Small portion $x
  • Regular portion $y
  • Large portion $z

At Baskin Robbins however they use two marketing tricks I hadn’t noticed before. Firstly, regular serves are not called ‘regular’. They’re called ‘popular’. Keep in mind that for many products on offer, Baskin Robbins offers only ‘popular’ and ‘small’ serves. One therefore assumes that this trick is intended to convey a sense of unpopularity or undesirability around ordering the ‘small’ serve. If you buy it, you’re not socially acceptable. Sneaky.

The second trick plays on the ability of our brain to ‘fill in’ anticipated information. Based on the example of ‘small, regular, large’ above, if the options were presented in this order, what do you think the missing piece would be?

  • Regular serve $x
  • Large serve $y
  • [unknown serve] $z

Most people ‘fill in’ the unknown element based on pattern recognition – and will state that the unknown serve is ‘extra large’ or ‘jumbo’ – something to that effect. However, Baskin Robbins uses this against us. Where do you think the ‘small’ serve is positioned? :-) That’s right – at the bottom of the list!

  • Popular serve $x
  • Large serve $y
  • Small serve $z

In reality your brain will generally ignore the ‘Small’ option – and make you choose between ‘Popular’ and ‘Large.

Perhaps a psychology major can explain why?

Response to complaint from Woolworths Wish Gift Card

Posted on August 10th, 2008

As a follow up from the artice where I complained about a Woolworths Wish Gift Card that had expired, there is some good news!

This is the response from Woolworths Wish Gift Card customer service;

Dear Kathy,

I am writing in response to the correspondence you submitted via the
WISH Gift Card website on Friday 01st August 2008, in regards to the
funds on your expired Gift Card.

Please note that all WISH Gift Cards expire 12 months from the date of
purchase. This is stated in the terms and conditions printed both on the
back of your Card and on the cardboard carrier which the Cards are
attached to. Full terms and conditions are available from
WISHgiftcard.com.au

As a gesture of good will I have reactivated your Gift Card. The new
expiry date is 04th September 2008.

Please ensure that you use your Card prior to the new expiry date as no
further extensions will be offered.

Regards
[name removed for privacy]
Group Financial Services

Well, this is a partially positive outcome – at least now I get access to the funds that were still left on the card. But this doesn’t address the bigger issues of;

Gift cards expiring after a period of time (in this case 12 months). The value of money over time – or net present value – means that a gift card actually depreciates in value as soon as it’s bought. After 12 months, a $100 card will really only give you $95 worth of purchasing power. Sure, this doesn’t seem like a lot of money for one card, but multiply this by hundreds of thousands of Wish Gift Cards issued annually and the value soon starts to add up – in favour of Woolworths!

Card not showing the expiry date. In my case, the assistant who issued the card did not print the expiry date on the card – so how was I know it was to expire?

My advice – if you get a gift card, use it as soon as you can – and if you can avoid Wish Gift Cards, do so!

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