I generally don’t recommend or (as in this case) tell people to avoid a particular vendor. Generally, my comments are kept to tutorials and simple to complex configurations, or stories about my failures so that others might learn from me.In this case, I pretty much want to rip APlus.net a new one!
So here’s the story.
A year ago, I wanted to register utos.org as a domain which is currently used for Utah Open Source and its non-profit website. Anyway, I couldn’t find my current registrar Total Online Solutions interweb address anywhere and I needed to register this site. I’d just had the epiphany about how to help Open Source grow in Utah.
Problem was, I needed to register it now, so I hastily went down the list of possible registrars and didn’t want to go with the big guys, GoDaddy.com or NetworkSolutions, etc. After perusing the list for a short time, I came upon APlus.net. I’d heard of them before, and had thought that they might be a good fit, and of course, the price was right. So I signed up for the account and registered my domain, along with an alternate I ended up not using.
This is where my trouble began…
One week or so after I registered the site all was well. The dns was resolving and everything was working well. It could have been faster, but I wasn’t in the biggest of hurries to be honest. APlus.net did a fine job letting me delegate my domain. A few days later, I received a phone call:
“Hello”, I said.
“Hello, Mr. Savage?”, in broken English, “I am calling from APlus.net”.
“Well Mr. Savage, I am calling to check with you on your new domain purchases and want to make sure everything is to your satisfaction”
“Yes”, I said, a bit annoyed, “its fine”.
At this point I obviously wondered why I’d answered the phone, but since I thought they might give me a free year of registration or something, I stayed on the line.
“That’s great to hear Mr. Savage, is there anything we here at APlus.net can do for you?”
“No, I’m fine. Things are working well”
“Thank you Mr. Savage, have a nice day then”
I thought it odd, who’s ever heard of a salesman calling about a domain registration? I mean, how hard is it to delegate your domain and familiarize yourself with their tools. Everything was pretty straightforward. I brushed it off as no big deal, thinking that was just part of their service.
Two weeks later, I received a similar phone call. I won’t repeat it to you. I kindly thanked them and asked how many calls I was going to get. The man didn’t know.
A month went by before the next call came. Like I said, who calls to see if you are satisfied with your domain? I mean really? I was annoyed and asked the gentleman to have his office make sure not to call me again unless there was an emergency. He said he would and indeed, I’ve not received another call since.
But this is not why I am recommending you avoid APlus.net
My real problems started May 15, 2007. The day after I got the notice to renew my domain.
You see, I’d rediscovered my original registrar several months ago and had decided that I wanted all of my domains under one roof. So I set out to transfer it to TOSDomains.net. This is where the trouble started.
As it turns out, and many of you probably know, an EPP key is required to transfer a domain from one registrar to another. And so I contacted APlus.net to obtain this (what I thought would be randomized from previous experiences) EPP key. I was happily given an EPP key that was in fact, not random, but generated and based upon my password. I asked the gentleman about this and he said they regularly generate EPP keys this way. I took the code and proceeded to begin the transfer over to TOSDomains.
Three days later, I recieved an email stating that my transfer had failed due to an invalid EPP key. Knowing that the original EPP key looked fishy, I contacted TOSDomains to ask them about this and to have them re-initiate the transfer. They confirmed what I had thought about the EPP key, that its usually a bunch of random characters and not usually something so easily identifiable. But I went ahead and retried the transfer anyway.
Another failure. Surprise, surprise! At this point, I have approximately 15 days left on my domain registration. I’m betting at this point (if you’ve read this far) that you know what’s about to happen.
Sure enough, I contact APlus.net and am told that the EPP key I was given is indeed incorrect and they will generate me another one. After waiting about 5 minutes for the newly generated EPP key (which should take about 5 seconds), it was literally one keystroke different from my previous EPP key. Again, when I asked why it wasn’t random they stated that this is how they generate the EPP keys.
At this point, I am working on a support ticket over at TOSDomains, where I ask the folks there to resubmit my transfer request with this new EPP key. 5 days pass. I get a failure email. No surprise really.
I try one more time and then I give up, figuring that there’s nothing I can do. Then the real fun starts.
Last week, I started getting emails saying that I need to renew and they don’t have my credit card. So I call them again, mind you, I’ve already tried to transfer this domain 5 times at this point. I really just want it to work and feel that I shouldn’t have to renew my domain.
“Hi, I am a bit confused. I tried 5 times over the past month to transfer my domain to another registrar without success. Now I am getting notices in my email telling me its going to expire. I’d like to transfer it, but no matter what I try it fails. What can you do to help me?”
“Sir, I can regenerate the EPP key for you. The EPP key should let you transfer your domain.”
“Yes, I know all about this EPP key. Your going to provide me with a key that’s close to my password and its going to fail. I’d like to get this transfer done but its unlikely it will happen before my domain expires. I’d like you to extend my registration period so that I can transfer my domain.”
“Sir, the only thing you can do to extend your registration period is renew your domain. You’re domain is expired and on hold. I can’t take it off hold.”
This is where I start to get really upset!
I proceed to tell this man what I’ve tried, how its failed. He tells me again that he has no authority to authorize that charge. Of course he doesn’t its a whopping $8 charge. I continue down the path with him, informing him that I don’t see how I should have to renew my account just to transfer it when I’ve been trying for over a month to do just that.
I, of course repeat this to his manager, who also can do nothing for me. Boy I feel like a broken record explaining myself over and over. At one point I ask them why they even bother keeping records when people call in because they don’t ever read them. I get frustrated, mad, tired, defeated, angry and upset all at once. The guy relents and tells me its okay to try the transfer again…and of course, proceeds to give me the same EPP key for the 4th time!!!
Ah well, maybe they’ve fixed their system. So I contact TOSDomains and ask them to clear out my transfer so I can start from scratch. I get a response the following day stating that its been done. In the meantime, however, my domain has been shut off. No one can get to it now. Great!!
I’ve received two emails in the same timeframe stating that my credit card on file isn’t valid (because there isn’t one on file) and that the domain will be released in the next 5 days. Idle threats I am sure, but only if I can get this damned domain transfered. So last night, at 1am EDT, I make my last call to APlus.net
I won’t go into all of the details here. Suffice it to say, I did end up having to pay $8.17 to renew my domain so that it wouldn’t stay offline. I again talked with two different people who claimed they wanted to help me. I again received the same EPP key I’ve been given the past 5 times. And I spent a good 40 minutes on the phone trying to explain to people who barely speak English how I am not responsible for the domain transfer failing.
I’ve started the transfer over again. Who know’s what will happen this time. But there’s one thing I do know. And that is….
I’M NEVER DOING BUSINESS WITH APLUS.NET EVER AGAIN.
AND I’M GOING TO TELL ALL MY FRIENDS TO AVOID THEM AS WELL.
Maybe they’ll get someone else’s business, but they’re not getting mine or my friends if I have anything to say.