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Domain reclassified as premium at Name.com & priced at 10x original renewal!

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Normally i set every domain to auto renewal and forget it. Randomly and once in a while will audit the account to see if there is any anomalies in renewal prices.

During this process in @name.com Name.com account found one of the domain marked as premium and renewal price has been set to more 10x the original renewal price. Original transfer/renewal prices is $69.99 and new renewal price is insane $736.25, no communication or anything, nada.

This domain is a .bond TLD and there is a similar discussion about another TLD here where is registrant just filed a ICANN complaint against the registrar/registry.

Filed a ticket and getting the same usual registry changed and we can't do anything about it.

I've asked to escalate and i'll update the thread.

Meanwhile If you're on auto renew, advise everyone to thoroughly go through your account.

This is getting ridiculous that registrars / registries can change status as premium and charge whatever they want without your consent while continuously OWNing and RENEWing the domain.
 
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Normally i set every domain to auto renewal and forget it. Randomly and once in a while will audit the account to see if there is any anomalies in renewal prices.

During this process in @name.com Name.com account found one of the domain marked as premium and renewal price has been set to more 10x the original renewal price. Original transfer/renewal prices is $69.99 and new renewal price is insane $736.25, no communication or anything, nada.

This domain is a .bond TLD and there is a similar discussion about another TLD here where is registrant just filed a ICANN complaint against the registrar/registry.
So you confirmed that this is a price increase done by the registry and not the registrar?
 
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This domain is a .bond TLD and there is a similar discussion about another TLD here where is registrant just filed a ICANN complaint against the registrar/registry.

That's me :)

To clarify, I did NOT file a complaint against any registrars. In fact, both Namecheap and Porkbun made a lot of effort to help me. Both provided me with information and statements that significantly improved the quality of my complaint against the registry.

Filed a ticket and getting the same usual registry changed and we can't do anything about it.

If the domain was reclassified by the registry, that's true. The registrars can't do anything without the registry agreeing.

This is getting ridiculous that registrars / registries can change status as premium and charge whatever they want without your consent while continuously OWNing and RENEWing the domain.

The registrars can't change the classification. Only the registries can. I'm 99% sure the registries hate it as much as us registrants because they operate on thin margins and a support incident to deal with pricing reclassification is going to dwarf any profit they're making on a non-premium domain.

I suspect, without any proof, a lot of the pricing shenanigans are at the behest of the registries even though they cause a lot of consumer confusion, but the support costs resulting from that confusion are externalized onto the registrars, so the registries don't care. I've been paying attention to pricing issues for almost 5 years and almost every time someone complains it's because they misunderstood what they originally bought or they were a victim of foreign currency (exchange rate) fluctuations.

Of note, I've noticed some registrars started adding warnings about billing currencies and foreign exchange rates since the registrant of forum.dev posted about a huge pricing change on Hacker News in 2022. I know both Namecheap and Porkbun show warnings when I checkout.

In terms of support costs for a pricing reclassification like mine, I went back and forth with Namecheap about a half a dozen times and some of the things I asked them to investigate were things like the historical classification of my domain. Those aren't 5 minute support incidents and probably required internal escalation. With Porkbun it was fewer interactions, but one of them also required internal escalation.

If the registrars end up interacting with ICANN as a result of my complaint, that's even more support costs. All in all, I wouldn't be surprised if the total support costs, to the registrars, end up being hundreds of dollars. And that's for a domain where they might be making $2 or $3 per year in markup (maybe less).

In my case, the registrars didn't do anything wrong and are eating a ton of support costs. In my opinion, most of the registrars are acting in good faith and I think their actions, like showing those foreign currency warnings, show that.

Meanwhile If you're on auto renew, advise everyone to thoroughly go through your account.

The problem I've run into with that is that pricing classifications are too opaque. Most registrants don't have access to anything that clearly shows the classification of a domain. I found the info needed to get API access at Namecheap, put $50 in my Namecheap account to meet the requirements, spent an entire afternoon to set up my logs, spent time checking the logs regularly, and spent 4-8 hours to interact with registrar support, read ICANN agreements, and prepare + file my complaint.

I know how everything works. I knew what to look for and how to keep a "paper trail" for everything relevant. I've probably spent 10-15 hours, including logging and monitoring, to get to the point of having a decent complaint filed. Almost no one is going to put in that kind of effort because it doesn't (or didn't) make sense to make the kind of effort I did to mitigate a risk that isn't (or wasn't) supposed to exist.

I don't even think the registrars have good historical logs of the pricing classifications. Both Namecheap and Porkbun were able to definitively tell me the classification of my domain when I registered / renewed, but Namecheap wasn't super solid on exactly when my domain was reclassified. The timeframe they gave me was a range and didn't match what my logs from their API said. They probably don't see the need to log that info and I didn't expect them to have it. I suspect they estimated, but I don't know for sure and didn't want to burden support with investigating something that doesn't make a difference; it doesn't matter exactly when my domain was reclassified, only that is was reclassified while registered.

I've asked to escalate and i'll update the thread.

Make sure you have a solid understanding of the role played by the registrars vs the registries. The best you can expect from the registrar is to have them confirm the pricing classification changed during the registration period and, even though they're not obligated to as far as I know, to reach out to the registry on your behalf to ask for the pricing classification to be reverted.

If you have, or get, any documentation or info that definitively proves your domain was reclassified during the registration period, please post about it here. I think it's useful for everyone to understand how to get that info and what it should look like.
 
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The registrars can't change the classification. Only the registries can. I'm 99% sure the registries hate it as much as us registrants because they operate on thin margins and a support incident to deal with pricing reclassification is going to dwarf any profit they're making on a non-premium domain.
Well, the registrar that I moved virtually all of my domains from seemed to classify all their domains as "premium." And, instead of being registrants, those purchasing domains were only deemed "subscribers."

Over a year ago, I researched this, and one domain tutorial suggested avoiding registrars that only provide "subscriptions" to domain names. Allegedly the rights of the "domain subscribers" are more limited with those registrars.

So does your registrar also label you only as a "subscriber?" It still may be a registry issue, but that angle might be worth considering---even if for considering any options of changing to a different registrar.
 
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That's me :)

To clarify, I did NOT file a complaint against any registrars. In fact, both Namecheap and Porkbun made a lot of effort to help me. Both provided me with information and statements that significantly improved the quality of my complaint against the registry.



If the domain was reclassified by the registry, that's true. The registrars can't do anything without the registry agreeing.



The registrars can't change the classification. Only the registries can. I'm 99% sure the registries hate it as much as us registrants because they operate on thin margins and a support incident to deal with pricing reclassification is going to dwarf any profit they're making on a non-premium domain.

I suspect, without any proof, a lot of the pricing shenanigans are at the behest of the registries even though they cause a lot of consumer confusion, but the support costs resulting from that confusion are externalized onto the registrars, so the registries don't care. I've been paying attention to pricing issues for almost 5 years and almost every time someone complains it's because they misunderstood what they originally bought or they were a victim of foreign currency (exchange rate) fluctuations.

Of note, I've noticed some registrars started adding warnings about billing currencies and foreign exchange rates since the registrant of forum.dev posted about a huge pricing change on Hacker News in 2022. I know both Namecheap and Porkbun show warnings when I checkout.

In terms of support costs for a pricing reclassification like mine, I went back and forth with Namecheap about a half a dozen times and some of the things I asked them to investigate were things like the historical classification of my domain. Those aren't 5 minute support incidents and probably required internal escalation. With Porkbun it was fewer interactions, but one of them also required internal escalation.

If the registrars end up interacting with ICANN as a result of my complaint, that's even more support costs. All in all, I wouldn't be surprised if the total support costs, to the registrars, end up being hundreds of dollars. And that's for a domain where they might be making $2 or $3 per year in markup (maybe less).

In my case, the registrars didn't do anything wrong and are eating a ton of support costs. In my opinion, most of the registrars are acting in good faith and I think their actions, like showing those foreign currency warnings, show that.



The problem I've run into with that is that pricing classifications are too opaque. Most registrants don't have access to anything that clearly shows the classification of a domain. I found the info needed to get API access at Namecheap, put $50 in my Namecheap account to meet the requirements, spent an entire afternoon to set up my logs, spent time checking the logs regularly, and spent 4-8 hours to interact with registrar support, read ICANN agreements, and prepare + file my complaint.

I know how everything works. I knew what to look for and how to keep a "paper trail" for everything relevant. I've probably spent 10-15 hours, including logging and monitoring, to get to the point of having a decent complaint filed. Almost no one is going to put in that kind of effort because it doesn't (or didn't) make sense to make the kind of effort I did to mitigate a risk that isn't (or wasn't) supposed to exist.

I don't even think the registrars have good historical logs of the pricing classifications. Both Namecheap and Porkbun were able to definitively tell me the classification of my domain when I registered / renewed, but Namecheap wasn't super solid on exactly when my domain was reclassified. The timeframe they gave me was a range and didn't match what my logs from their API said. They probably don't see the need to log that info and I didn't expect them to have it. I suspect they estimated, but I don't know for sure and didn't want to burden support with investigating something that doesn't make a difference; it doesn't matter exactly when my domain was reclassified, only that is was reclassified while registered.



Make sure you have a solid understanding of the role played by the registrars vs the registries. The best you can expect from the registrar is to have them confirm the pricing classification changed during the registration period and, even though they're not obligated to as far as I know, to reach out to the registry on your behalf to ask for the pricing classification to be reverted.

If you have, or get, any documentation or info that definitively proves your domain was reclassified during the registration period, please post about it here. I think it's useful for everyone to understand how to get that info and what it should look like.
Thanks @ryan87 for the details

1. in my case i don't see much help or interest from name.com, they're more interested in closing the ticket. that's why asked them to escalate to see if anybody higher understands the situation.

2. understood it's the registries made the change however we don't buy from registries and don't have any interaction with them. leaving margin aside, it's the responsibility of the registrars to act in the best interest of their customers when it is rightfully so, in this case they should work with registry to make them understand and resolve this.

3. in my case it is not via api, straight billing and the payment history has everything. i even shared them the receipt from previous registry (Epik) before it was transferred a while ago.
 
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Leaving everything aside, the bigger issue here is classifying a domain as PREMIUM and charging 10x or whatever every registry chooses while the domain is continuously renewed and owned by the same registrant.

If this becomes a reality, it is dangerous and the end of domain investment and the industry in general. Any domain or TLD in your account could become a target since new trends emerge everyday and any domain in your account could become hot keyword or term and will be marked as premium IMHO.
 
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If it was reclassified as a premium while being registered, escalate to ICANN.

keep in mind though, there are premiums being discounted for the first year, with higher renewal fees when renewal is due. totally legit as per ICANN.

Way back it was the wild west when it comes to domains, regarding ngtlds, that's still the case.

ICANN leaves them a lot of wiggle room. Which is a disgrace if you'd ask me.
 
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Well, the registrar that I moved virtually all of my domains from seemed to classify all their domains as "premium." And, instead of being registrants, those purchasing domains were only deemed "subscribers."

What!? I've never heard of that. Would you be willing to share registrar names or links to tutorials that reference it? That's a nasty trap for regular users that don't understand the subtle difference.

understood it's the registries made the change however we don't buy from registries and don't have any interaction with them. leaving margin aside, it's the responsibility of the registrars to act in the best interest of their customers when it is rightfully so, in this case they should work with registry to make them understand and resolve this.

I agree. The registrars are the only one in decent a position to advocate for registrants. I just wanted to point out that registrars are getting a raw deal too.

in my case it is not via api, straight billing and the payment history has everything. i even shared them the receipt from previous registry (Epik) before it was transferred a while ago.

It may be worth reaching out to Epik support to see if they'll confirm the pricing classification for you. That's what I did with Namecheap and Porkbun. It helps because having two registrars confirm the non-premium pricing classification demonstrates that it wasn't a mistake by a registrar. If both of them say it was non-premium, that's a really good indicator the registry had it listed as non-premium since the registry is the common denominator that everyone is using to get their pricing classification info.
 
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If it was reclassified as a premium while being registered, escalate to ICANN.

keep in mind though, there are premiums being discounted for the first year, with higher renewal fees when renewal is due. totally legit as per ICANN.

Way back it was the wild west when it comes to domains, regarding ngtlds, that's still the case.

ICANN leaves them a lot of wiggle room. Which is a disgrace if you'd ask me.
In this case it was not a hand reg, it was aftermarket purchase + immediate transfer fee/renewal paid for a year which was regular fee not a premium, so 100% sure doesn't fall into that category.
 
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What!? I've never heard of that. Would you be willing to share registrar names or links to tutorials that reference it? That's a nasty trap for regular users that don't understand the subtle difference.



I agree. The registrars are the only one in decent a position to advocate for registrants. I just wanted to point out that registrars are getting a raw deal too.



It may be worth reaching out to Epik support to see if they'll confirm the pricing classification for you. That's what I did with Namecheap and Porkbun. It helps because having two registrars confirm the non-premium pricing classification demonstrates that it wasn't a mistake by a registrar. If both of them say it was non-premium, that's a really good indicator the registry had it listed as non-premium since the registry is the common denominator that everyone is using to get their pricing classification info.
Epik receipt already confirms in separate lines aftermarket purchase + transfer/renewal fee and year later transferred to @name.com with the same transfer/renewal fee (again non-premium)
 
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Over a year ago, I researched this, and one domain tutorial suggested avoiding registrars that only provide "subscriptions" to domain names. Allegedly the rights of the "domain subscribers" are more limited with those registrars.

So does your registrar also label you only as a "subscriber?" It still may be a registry issue, but that angle might be worth considering---even if for considering any options of changing to a different registra


What!? I've never heard of that. Would you be willing to share registrar names or links to tutorials that reference it? That's a nasty trap for regular users that don't understand the subtle difference.

I'll see whether I can locate that website tutorial citing concerns about registrars that use "subscriptions" to domains rather than the usual "registrations" It almost seems like one is a "tenant" or "renter"of the domain, but it could in some case simply be semantics.

Like definitions for "premium," "subcriptions" for domains may need to be codified by ICANN to assist in protecting registrants. The one registrar that started using the "subscriptions" termnology was "GoDaddy." I believe Namecheap, Dynadot, and Hover do not use that term. However, I'm sure other NP members can chime in on this.

Perhaps others can chime in on this. @bismisoft, does Name.com declare registrants as "subscribers?"
 
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I hear ICANN can't do anything about it.
 
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I think it's illegal what Registry/ICANN and Registrars are doing, the domain first should drop to end it's registration contract cycle with the registrant, only then after it was dropped it can be reclassified as premium and to rise the registration/renewal price by Registry and therefore at Registrar side, not sure maybe I m wrong but they could be sued for this no matter what policy they have in place, those policies are only in place to scare everybody to do nothing, but we have rights on what we buy and own until we renew it.
So If I register a domain or buy an already registered domain which had one price at registration time, I enter into an established contract, which should end only after the domain is dropped out of contract cycle.

What you think @jberryhill I m right or wrong?

P.s. I understand that .COM, NET, ORG and others has an early % increase in price, but even with this no one will ever buy again 1000 of domains in the hope to win some lottery tickets and sustain further this gambling.
 
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Hi

not many keywords fit with .bond anyway, so what is the actual domain name?

unless it's james.bond or savings.bond, what else can they label as premium.

imo...
 
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If it was reclassified as a premium while being registered, escalate to ICANN.

I know for certain that a few of my .biz names were reclassified "premium" a few years after acquiring them (bought from other domainers) though, thankfully, as yet the renewal fees have not increased (other than minimally). However (as I mentioned in another thread) once dropped, the registration fee blows up significantly (in some cases high $xxx level at least).

What has happened in OP's case though is outrageous to say the least.

@DomainNature per your latest post
 
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What you think @jberryhill I m right or wrong?

No idea. I had not heard of this "reclassification during registration" tactic before. I'd have to spend time digging into it, and my time happens to be the only thing I sell for a living.

Just off the top of my head, it sounds like a sneaky end-run that someone dreamed up. It's been a while since I had a reason to curl up for an afternoon with the registry agreements, but as I recall, the standard registry agreement wasn't really written with the sorts of pricing models that registries use. For a general price increase across the board, there is a six month notice period, or something to that effect. But, sure, if a registry reclassifies all of its registered names into a new "premium" tier, that sounds like the kind of thing where someone has already spent more time reading the RA than I'm going to do this weekend, that's for sure.

I haven't checked whether .bond changed hands, but as I recall, the folks running it were pretty slimy to begin with. They ran premium promotions on both 007.bond and James.bond when one of the movies was released and acted like "7 and 'james' are just a number and a name" as if anyone couldn't see through their stupid excuse. Like most new TLD registries, revenues fell way short of expectations and so they are just trying to squeeze all the juice out of it they can.

Most of the money to be had in new TLDs has been in (a) losing the private contention auctions and getting paid not to run a registry or (b) getting into various domain name registration "blocking" programs and getting paid not to register names. I have nothing against someone with a business idea trying to make a go of it, but the various shenanigans involved in new TLDs are shameful. That said, I'm happy to see the royal court of "tld consultants" get their fingers into the pockets of dumb brand owners in the next round.
 
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I'll see whether I can locate that website tutorial citing concerns about registrars that use "subscriptions" to domains rather than the usual "registrations" It almost seems like one is a "tenant" or "renter"of the domain, but it could in some case simply be semantics.
As a preliminary update to researching domain "subscribers" vs. registrants:

1) If you purchase your name through a bundled service, the service, such as a webhosting company, may be the actual registrant. This may be dependent on which company you use and what service. You might instead only be leasing the domain from that company.
2) In the above case, it's unclear what appeal rights are available through ICANN and other regulatory authorities.
3) Keep in mind that noboday actually "owns" a domain. It seems that even an actual registrant "leases" a domain from the registry. ICANN does clearly spell out what the rights are in that scenario.

Note though that I''ll keep researching the issue of whether some registrars actually register specifically in their own name when someone buys on on their platform---even if not using a bundled plan. Is it possible that some folks are unwittingly only "renters," and unaware of this peculiar twist. After all, if privacy is on, how would you know the difference?
 
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I m worried because of such tactic, cause I m going to release soon a secret knowledge, and I m sure the registry will see the opportunity to make my domains and of others cost more to renew, but they are already premium but affordable to renew, If they make them super premium I will have to drop them and take care of the COM's or I will sue them and say, 'hey you repriced my domains after my secret knowledge I will use this in the court, until now they were simple premiums with low renewal fee' have at you my chaos. :xf.grin:

I have around 90 nGTL's, even as premiums some cost above 50 and 100 to renew per year, imagine them making to cost 10K or above for most important words in the world in such nGTLD's, you can go bankrupt in a year expecting when someone will come buy them from you. Even this can be used in a court I will say "they rysed the prices for my premiums in such a way so I go bankrupt and they take the domains from me" yes believe me I m prepared already.
 
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Additionally I will say "I even was not buying new clothes and shoes just to make sure I have enough money to renew my domains so one day I could sell them to recuperate the investments, but they took everything from me even the opportunity to eat well and sleep well" I m not joking I will take pics of my clothes with holes in them.
edit: forgot to add another truth "I did not even do repairs in my apartment for 30 years and when I had the chance I didn't do the needed renovations but invested all the money into domains to feed their registry and all the involved organs" I have allot of evidence.
Because of fear of not enough money I even did not go out to get into relationships to have a wife like other people and maybe make kids, they have everything but I have to be in solitude until today, grabbers.
 
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I m worried because of such tactic, cause I m going to release soon a secret knowledge, and I m sure the registry will see the opportunity to make my domains and of others cost more to renew,
Well, it's the internet, and your "secret knowledge" may already be out there or archived on the wayback. I'm searching to see if I can find some of the very enligtening websites when I researched concerns about this subject over the past several years. Basically, my choice was to stick with my ".coms" after understanding potential weaknesses with various TLDs.


Additionally I will say "I even was not buying new clothes and shoes just to make sure I have enough money to renew my domains so one day I could sell them to recuperate the investments,

My sympathies . Thank you for sharing that.

For registries and registrars, kindly remember that real people with real-life needs invested in your domain names. They had expectations possibly related to appraisals. Or perhaps even based on their experience with other extensions. They may have figured they could at least make a few bucks profit to pay for necessities.

Hopefully some registry owners would reconsider their price increases after they reflect on the human side of this--at least even if to pause on the increases for another year or so.
 
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I'll see whether I can locate that website tutorial citing concerns about registrars that use "subscriptions" to domains rather than the usual "registrations" It almost seems like one is a "tenant" or "renter"of the domain, but it could in some case simply be semantics.

Like definitions for "premium," "subcriptions" for domains may need to be codified by ICANN to assist in protecting registrants. The one registrar that started using the "subscriptions" termnology was "GoDaddy." I believe Namecheap, Dynadot, and Hover do not use that term. However, I'm sure other NP members can chime in on this.

Perhaps others can chime in on this. @bismisoft, does Name.com declare registrants as "subscribers?"

Never heard of this subscriber term related to registrar before, got curious and checked their agreement, I don't see any mention of it. It is always called out as registrants.

Only place where subscriber comes into play in the agreement is with SSL certificate subscriptions, which makes sense.
 
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Never heard of this subscriber term related to registrar before, got curious and checked their agreement, I don't see any mention of it. It is always called out as registrants.

Only place where subscriber comes into play in the agreement is with SSL certificate subscriptions, which makes sense.
Excellent. So if a registrant has the right to challenge this with ICANN, sounds like you shouldn't have any problem doing so.
 
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If you purchase your name through a bundled service, the service, such as a webhosting company, may be the actual registrant.

That's common in the small business space. Many small businesses deal with small website design and hosting companies and their website designer ends up being the registrant of their domain. I've seen it a lot, but don't recall it ever being intentionally malicious. From what I've seen it's always a case of everyone involved not understanding the risks of doing things that way.

After all, if privacy is on, how would you know the difference?

I noticed that was a potential issue a couple of years ago when I was transferring a .ca between registrars. The whois info didn't update properly and ended up public. However, I wasn't listed as the registrant. The original (losing) registrar was.

CIRA (the .ca registry) has a good solution for it. When the registrant or admin contact changes on your domain, they send you an email telling you the new info. It's helped me catch issues.

For example, I recently transferred a couple .ca domains to Porkbun and ended up with full whois privacy instead of redacted whois privacy. With the former, CIRA is given a registrant name of "Whois Privacy". With the latter, CIRA is given my name as the registrant, but redacts it from publicly accessible whois records. In my opinion, you always want the latter, so I switched to redacted privacy. Without those emails I probably wouldn't have noticed.

However, you need to know to expect those emails and emails confirming the initial registration. If you're never listed as the registrant, you don't get those emails and probably don't know you need to be watching for them.

But, sure, if a registry reclassifies all of its registered names into a new "premium" tier, that sounds like the kind of thing where someone has already spent more time reading the RA than I'm going to do this weekend, that's for sure.

They might be able to classify all domains into a new premium tier, but they still need to keep the pricing uniform unless registrants have explictly agreed to discriminatory pricing, so there's no benefit over simply increasing the price of non-premium domains.

From the RA (emphasis added):

For the purposes of determining Renewal Pricing, the price for each domain registration renewal must be identical to the price of all other domain name registration renewals in place at the time of such renewal, and such price must take into account universal application of any refunds, rebates, discounts, product tying or other programs in place at the time of renewal. The foregoing requirements of this Section 2.10(c) shall not apply for (i) purposes of determining Renewal Pricing if the registrar has provided Registry Operator with documentation that demonstrates that the applicable registrant expressly agreed in its registration agreement with registrar to higher Renewal Pricing at the time of the initial registration of the domain name following clear and conspicuous disclosure of such Renewal Pricing to such registrant, and (ii) discounted Renewal Pricing pursuant to a Qualified Marketing Program (as defined below).

So the only way the registry is supposed to be allowed to charge a price that differs from the non-premium, uniform price is if the registrant agreed when they registered the domain. I read that part tonight because I had to renew my domain with the premium tag attached and was trying to find out if I could be inadvertantly agreeing to discriminatory pricing by renewing it.

As far as I interpret everything, there's no provision that would allow them to switch to discriminatory pricing after the initial registration. IE: You can't agree to discriminatory pricing during a renewal (not advice, just my opinion).

Additionally:

The parties acknowledge that the purpose of this Section 2.10(c) is to prohibit abusive and/or discriminatory Renewal Pricing practices imposed by Registry Operator without the written consent of the applicable registrant at the time of the initial registration of the domain and this Section 2.10(c) will be interpreted broadly to prohibit such practices.

but as I recall, the standard registry agreement wasn't really written with the sorts of pricing models that registries use

Yes, you're right, the registry agreement doesn't talk about premium pricing or pricing tiers at all, so it all comes down to the identical pricing requirement.

When I renewed my domain tonight, I wanted to document the price difference and it's nearly impossible.

I can query several registrar APIs for registration prices and transfer prices, but I can only query Namecheap's API for the renewal price on my domain and I can't query Namecheap's API to get a renewal price for any non-premium domains, even if they're in my account.

To make it even more difficult, both registration prices and transfer prices are almost always promotional prices and everything varies between registrars. There's nowhere for me to look up registry pricing or any kind of pricing that's consistent enough for me to get anything that I can use for comparison.

And, to make things even worse, Namecheap doesn't list the renewal price when you search for or register a domain, at least a .help domain. As of right now, if I register a .help domain I get a promo price of $3.80 USD and it tells me the retail registration price is $27.98 USD. However, they never mention the renewal price thoughout the entire registration process. I know that because I registered another .help domain tonight.

I spent 2 hours trying to figure out what the non-premium renewal pricing was for .help before giving up, registering, and renewing another .help domain just to get a receipt. It's the only way I could come up with to show the non-premium renewal pricing (tonight) differs from the premium renewal price I was charged (tonight).

It was useful though because my receipts match what Namecheap told me a couple weeks ago:

Meanwhile, let us share additional details with you. The current renewal price for this premium domain name is $28.78 ($28.60 is the renewal price+$0.18 ICANN fee). The attached price for your domain is lower than the usual renewal price for .HELP domains $30.16 ($29.98+$0.18 ICANN fee) due to the premium status.

Even though it's lower, that price is not identical and the non-uniform price is a result of the premium status according to Namecheap. I'm realizing that complaining to ICANN about reclassification might not have been the correct approach, but at least I have the receipts to follow up by disputing the non-uniform pricing.

Ultimately, registrants make the distinction between premium and non-premium with the assumption that a premium domain may be more expensive and that non-premium domain will always benefit from uniform pricing. At least that's my expectation and I want the premium tag removed from my domain.

I posted this in the thread I started, but I also have logs from the Namecheap API showing the renewal price was significantly increased for a period of time.

XML:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<ApiResponse Status="OK" xmlns="[link removed]">
  <Errors />
  <Warnings />
  <RequestedCommand>namecheap.domains.check</RequestedCommand>
  <CommandResponse Type="namecheap.domains.check">
    <DomainCheckResult Domain="****.help" Available="false" ErrorNo="0" Description="" IsPremiumName="true" PremiumRegistrationPrice="1180.0000" PremiumRenewalPrice="1180.0000" PremiumRestorePrice="35.4000" PremiumTransferPrice="1180.0000" IcannFee="0" EapFee="0.0" />
  </CommandResponse>
  <Server>PHX01APIEXT04</Server>
  <GMTTimeDifference>--4:00</GMTTimeDifference>
  <ExecutionTime>0.603</ExecutionTime>
</ApiResponse>

To me, that's a clear indication the registries aren't following the uniform pricing requirements in the RA. Judging by what I've experienced, I wouldn't be surprised to find out other registrants have been victims of rule-breaking price discrimination and simply don't have the proof, know-how, and time needed to pursue the issue.

Even if, or especially if, my ICANN complaint doesn't succeed in getting the premium tag removed from my domain, I think I've done a good job of demonstrating registries can, and do, reclassify domains during the registration period. It's something all registrars need to start tracking and paying attention to.
 
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It's a shame more and more of these cases keep surfacing. We've dealt with a few just this year, in all of those we were able to get the registry to properly honor the original non-premium price and refund any previous renewals that were at the wrong price.

To pass some advice, if your registrar is not going to bat for you, I would recommend contacting the registry directly as they're the ones that created the issue to begin with. For .bond, that would be ShortDot.

I'll be honest, I think most of these issues are more technical mishaps than purposefully malicious. Registries have been reevaluating their tiers and moving domains from one to the other, in all cases I've seen it's been explicit that currently active domains would remain at legacy tiers until deleted, but errors can still happen. Also there's been a lot of shifts in backend providers lately, and in the past, we've seen that result in premium or reserved lists getting mishandled. Specifically, .help moved from CentralNic to Tucows backend a few weeks ago and maybe is part of the issue here.

Malicious or not, an ICANN complaint is probably still a good follow up as this is in breach of 2.10(c), and registries should be held accountable for inaction on errors like this.
 
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