Avoid NET4India unless you already have gray hair
In this day and age of modern computing, Internet, CRM, TAT and many other buzzwords that define efficiency and customer satisfaction, it is rare to encounter a private sector company that makes you run pillar to post like Govt. Departments. Congratulations Net4India – You are up there with the worst examples of Indian bureaucracy.
A company for whom I provide IT Consultancy reserved 7 domains at Net4 a few years back and paid premium prices (this was before I was a consultant for them). Now that I am in charge, I wanna transfer the domains out to a registrar where it is easier to manage the domains.
What is wrong with Net4’s domain management system?
- Net4’s login IDs are either cryptic numbers or even more cryptic alphanumeric names automatically assigned by them. It’s a devil remembering them. Apparently they have not yet caught on to using email-IDs or Open-IDs as login IDs.
- Once logged in, the interface is inconsistent. Features like ‘Reopen ticket’ are visible in some pages and invisible in other related pages.
- Domain management is very painful. To change Name Server (NS) entries you are required to type both the domain names and the IPs. Come on! Net4 can very well resolve the IPs themselves instead of forcing customers to ‘Open Command Prompt’ and run a ‘ping’ on the name-server address.
- Requests for Auth Codes are an unending cycle of Trouble-tickets and angry emails. Unlike other registrars, Net4 does not reveal the Auth Code upon clicking the link. More on this later.
- Net4’s pricing is way off the mark. Net4 currently charges Rs. 689/- to register a .IN domain for 1 year. Mitsu.IN charges Rs. 589/- and even a US Based registrar like GoDaddy.com charges 694/- and throws in Free 1GB email.
The Domain Transfer Saga
What started on 1st of February is yet to end! Five of the Seven domains were expiring on Feb 15 and I wanted them transferred out. Generally transfers happen within 3-5 days of putting in request and thus I clicked on the ‘Request Auth Code’ button at Net4. The onscreen message declared that my request would be processed soon. I thought, maybe they will email the Auth Code to me like .IN Domain Registrars used to do in 2006.
A few days later when I still had not heard from Net4, my brow started to crease. I filed an issue with their Trouble Ticket (TT) system. A day later I get a nasty-gram from them. The message stated that since there were less than 60 days remaining to domain expiry, they would not be issuing the Auth Code for domain transfers. They also ambiguously stated that it is there in their fine print.
Needless to say my B.P. was off-the-charts at such high-handed behaviour. So I sat down to study the fine print. Turns out:
- Net4’s policy actually only forbids transfer-out of domains that have been registered in the previous 60 days. This is in line with prevalent policies.
- Net4’s policy on Transfer-Outs is non-existent. A para appears at the end of Transfer-In FAQ that does not mention anything about transfers being denied due to less than 60 days remaining for expiry.
- NIXI – The govt. body that administers the .IN domain too only forbids Transfer-outs for less than 60 days old domains. Transfer-outs are also forbidden in the event payment is due from domain owner to the registrar. In my case, the domains were fully paid up and there are no other pending transactions.
I opened another TT and wrote a strong message clearly highlighting the legal stand-point and Net4’s incorrect position. I wanted to attach all the documents that illustrated my points but could not since Net4 only allows attaching one document. When I clicked Submit, I got another nasty surprise. Turns out, Net4 only allows 1,000 characters in the message which grossly insufficient to frame replies that have legal standing. Technically too, even if the Web Server only allows 100 KB for ‘Post’, it is still 1,02,000 characters! Web hosting services like Godaddy allow 8,192 KB as post size (83,88,608 characters). Apparently Net4’s support staff can only digest 1,000 characters before they suffer from A.D.D.
One more TT later, they closed the thread saying the they had ‘Called & Spoken’ to the domain owner and cancelled the domain auth code requests as per his consent. When I called the domain owner, he told me that he only told Net4 to get in touch with me for all domain related issues.
Considering that less than 5 days were remaining for the domain expiry and the transfer attempt would fail even if I persisted with my request for domain transfer codes, I resigned and renewed the five domains at a princely Rs. 649/- per domain when every other Domain Registrar in the market charges only Rs. 549/- for domain renewals.
Congratulations NET4. You have just caused a legitimate business loss to your client.
Two of the Seven domains are expiring in April & November respectively. To minimize hassles with hooligans like Net4, I opted to obtain their Auth Codes and thus began yet another paragraph in this article.
After duly clicking the completely useless ‘Get Auth Code’ button, I put in a TT requesting Auth Codes for the two domains. A day later the resolution is that ‘we tried to contact you, however we could not get through’. This time they asked me for the phone number (mine was already mentioned in the TT and domain owner’s telephone & email are correctly mentioned in the Domain records. And they could not contact us? They did succeed previously when canceling an Auth Code request without authorization.
I bit down my frustration at having to deal with such a brain-dead company, wrote another TT asking them the auth-codes, the reason for the auth-codes and the specified the phone numbers. This time my client received emails containing the auth codes for the domains.
I logged into Mitsu.in, initiated and paid for the transfer of both domains only to get a message from Mitsu an hour later stating that the supplied auth code is incorrect. I can swear that I copied-pasted the Auth Codes from Net4’s email into Mitsu’s Domain Transfer Page correctly. Since I have been practicing Copy-Paste for the last 19 years (Starting with Windows 2.0), I am pretty good at it and cannot explain the wrong auth code.
Unless there is another explanation – Net4 sent me incorrect Auth Codes to stall the domain transfers yet again.
Another TT to Net4 and another day later, I get the same parrot message – “… we tried to contact you, however we could not get through hence we request you to kindly provide the contact number and kindly specify the reason for the authcode request …”
By fluke, I spotted a button to Re-Open my TT and chose to submit the required telephone number and reason. Yet another mistake. Turns out that posting a reply in re-open thread only allows for 100 characters as reply! Come On!! Even SMS messages allow 160 characters. In any case, I somehow managed to include the name and two phone numbers of my client and also the reason for the transfer in 100 characters. Phew!
The reply to my TT is that “… coordination is underway and we will be soon addressing your requirement …”
The saga continues … Half of my hairs which are still black are joining their white cousins.