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Domain reclassified as premium. I need advice.

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ryan87

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Hi. I own a domain that was non-premium when I registered it. It was non-premium when I renewed it last year. When I went to renew it today, I noticed it's reclassified as premium. I have ~4 years of daily logs for the classification (from Namecheap's APIs). I'm not confused. I understand how it works and, assuming it's not a mistake at Namecheap, my domain was reclassified without the registration lapsing and without my consent.

That violates section 2.10c of ICANN's baseline registry agreement [1] and, based on common knowledge, it shouldn't happen [2]. Does anyone here know of any tools I can use to check domain classifications (or have access to an API that's not Namecheap)? I'd like to know if the domain was reclassified by the registry (Uniregistry). I'll reach out to Namecheap, but I'd like to have the classification verified by a 3rd party first.

I previously renewed the domain on Feb 5, 2023 when it was classified as non-premium, so I doubt I accidentally consented to a change in classification. On April 12, 2023 it was considered non-premium:

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="false" PremiumRegistrationPrice="0" PremiumRenewalPrice="0" PremiumRestorePrice="0" PremiumTransferPrice="0" IcannFee="0" EapFee="0.0" />
  </CommandResponse>
  <Server>PHX01APIEXT01</Server>
  <GMTTimeDifference>--4:00</GMTTimeDifference>
  <ExecutionTime>0.39</ExecutionTime>
</ApiResponse>

On April 13, 2023 it was reclassified as premium:

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>PHX01APIEXT03</Server>
  <GMTTimeDifference>--4:00</GMTTimeDifference>
  <ExecutionTime>0.619</ExecutionTime>
</ApiResponse>

As of today, it's still classified as premium:

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="325.0000" PremiumRenewalPrice="28.6000" PremiumRestorePrice="39.0000" PremiumTransferPrice="28.6000" IcannFee="0" EapFee="0.0" />
  </CommandResponse>
  <Server>PHX01APIEXT01</Server>
  <GMTTimeDifference>--5:00</GMTTimeDifference>
  <ExecutionTime>0.616</ExecutionTime>
</ApiResponse>

1. itp.cdn.icann.org/en/files/registry-agreements/base-registry-agreement-21-01-2024-en.html#article2.10
2. domainnamewire.com/2022/06/24/can-registries-reclassify-your-domain-as-premium-before-renewal/
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
I guess I never said what kind of advice I'd like. I don't have anything super important on the domain and the premium renewal price is very close to the normal price. I'm worried that if I renew it I may be implicitly, or explicitly via ToS, agreeing to have the domain classified as premium.

I'm wondering what the best course of action is for me. I would love to complain to ICANN right away, but I assume the expected escalation path is registrar, registry, ICANN. Also, I can't spend a bunch of time (or money) on a complaint process.

Thoughts?
 
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Just reach out to Uniregistry customer support for an answer so you have something in writing in the first instance

Short answer is no they can't change the domain from non premium to premium renewal pricing, but they can raise the base prices of domains - if the domain renewal has only gone up a small amount then it could be they've done this and accidently reclassified it as premium.....If it was deliberate and you've been renewing for a few years tell them they can't do this and share the applicable ICANN section and see what they say to that
 
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It definitely looks like Uniregistry reclassified it. This is what I see from Gandi (note "type": "premium"):

JSON:
{
    "grid": "C",
    "currency": "EUR",
    "taxes": [
        {
            "name": "notax",
            "type": "service",
            "rate": 0
        }
    ],
    "products": [
        {
            "name": "****.help",
            "status": "unavailable",
            "process": "transfer",
            "taxes": [
                {
                    "name": "notax",
                    "type": "service",
                    "rate": 0
                }
            ],
            "prices": [
                {
                    "duration_unit": "y",
                    "min_duration": 1,
                    "max_duration": 1,
                    "price_before_taxes": 30.4,
                    "price_after_taxes": 30.4,
                    "type": "premium",
                    "discount": false
                }
            ],
            "periods": [
                {
                    "name": "golive",
                    "starts_at": "2014-11-25T16:00:00Z"
                }
            ]
        }
    ]
}

I have a month until it expires. I'll probably wait a few days to see if I get any more replies here. It seems like a slam dunk in terms of being reclassified in violation of section 2.10c, so I wonder if there's any value in a formal complaint process.

Does anyone know if ICANN has ever forced a registry to reclassify a domain back to non-premium? If not, would there be any value in pursuing the issue with the goal of creating some precedent? Is that even possible? Is it a waste of effort?
 
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If the domain name is important, you should renew it.
This is a normal case, I got a .sbs domain from normal price to premium price.
If you contact ICANN, the waiting time can be more than 1 week.
 
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Happened to me too for a stupid .science domain.
The lesson is that tlds that support the premium pricing policy should be avoided like the plague.
 
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I guess I never said what kind of advice I'd like. I don't have anything super important on the domain and the premium renewal price is very close to the normal price. I'm worried that if I renew it I may be implicitly, or explicitly via ToS, agreeing to have the domain classified as premium.

I'm wondering what the best course of action is for me. I would love to complain to ICANN right away, but I assume the expected escalation path is registrar, registry, ICANN. Also, I can't spend a bunch of time (or money) on a complaint process.

Thoughts?
Well, if Namecheap tells you the change to premium status was decided by Uniregistry, the company managing the domain registry, then you should get in touch with Uniregistry to get more information. Tell them exactly what part of the ICANN rules you think they didn't follow. If Uniregistry doesn't sort out the problem to your satisfaction, you have the option to make a formal complaint to ICANN. ICANN has a special office for complaints where you can report your concerns about what the registry has done that might not follow the rules.
 
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Escalate to ICANN right away. They move, but slowly.

While you're at it, name and shame the registrar and registry (with proof) wherever you can.

Your past transaction would support it wasn't a premium when you registered it.

It could be an honest mistake by the registry, yet they could prevent these kind of issues with a couple lines of code.
 
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Reallocation of domains as premium or vice versa as regular can take place and I believe there is a notification requirement.

For the record, Uniregistry is no longer active and any TLDs it managed have been reallocated to various other registries. Depending on the TLD of the domain in question you should be able to address it with the appropriate registry.
 
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i also think theres a HUIGE gap between the communications registries send to registrars, and whats gets to customers..

everyone in the chain says it not us

but i belive at some point you were supposed to get a notice of chnage of tier, and some time to renew it at the old price..

question is if wasnt done right, who pays the reprocussion, lets unsaid but yes i encourage you to make a big deal and get answers, fo a time when it is big money.

if this TLD was redelegated, then some other rules may appy good luck
 
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The best rule is to just avoid registries with "premium" renewal schemes.

If they are reclassifying normal renewals as premiums, that is basically bait & switch.
It's a predatory cash grab.

I would file a complaint with ICANN in this specific situation.

Brad
 
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For the record, Uniregistry is no longer active and any TLDs it managed have been reallocated to various other registries. Depending on the TLD of the domain in question you should be able to address it with the appropriate registry.
Uniregistry is no longer around, but they were the company that initially suggested doing this and later backtracked.

https://domainnamewire.com/2017/04/03/uniregistry-backtracks-price-hike-existing-registrations/

Their price gouging though lead to their extensions being booted from GoDaddy to protect consumers.

I would address it with ICANN, who can address it with the registry. They have the ability to actually enforce the contract.

I am sure this is not an isolated case, and the registry needs to learn this type of practice is unacceptable.

Brad
 
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Escalate to ICANN right away. They move, but slowly.

While you're at it, name and shame the registrar and registry (with proof) wherever you can.

Your past transaction would support it wasn't a premium when you registered it.

It could be an honest mistake by the registry, yet they could prevent these kind of issues with a couple lines of code.
Love your enthusiasm here for advocacy of fair pricing!

This subject is very important. Our opening poster astutely picked up on this unwelcomed price increase now as a premium domain. And this seems to have happend without reasonable notice.

Undoubtedly, there are domain owners who have auto-renew on some domains that they deem of some value. Imagine if registrars systematically try increasing these renewal prices without sufficient notice. Those seemingly valuable domains could become a liability, and even unaffordable to renew.

ICANN does take time. In my experience, they have been excellent. What helps ICANN is providing the required documentation promptly, including screen shots and emails. They are no-nonsense about enforcing the registrar rules and regulations. They appear deeply commited to helping registrants who seek integrity and fairness with the registrars.
 
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The bottom line, is a .help worth any kind of premium?

I would vote "no".
 
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Happened to me too for a stupid .science domain.
The lesson is that tlds that support the premium pricing policy should be avoided like the plague.
Was this also with Namecheap?
 
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Hi. I own a domain that was non-premium when I registered it. It was non-premium when I renewed it last year. When I went to renew it today, I noticed it's reclassified as premium. I have ~4 years of daily logs for the classification (from Namecheap's APIs). I'm not confused. I understand how it works and, assuming it's not a mistake at Namecheap, my domain was reclassified without the registration lapsing and without my consent.

That violates section 2.10c of ICANN's baseline registry agreement [1] and, based on common knowledge, it shouldn't happen [2].

Would it be important to place this as a separate message in the Domain Industry News "Warnings and Alerts" thread?

Other Namecheap users may be unaware of this with their domains. Their prompt awareness may help them challenge the premium reclassifications before their renewals.

Also, there may be othter registrars that are quietly trying to do this as well. So at least an alert could help encourage vigilance for any similar unexpected renewal price increases
 
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The lesson is that tlds that support the premium pricing policy should be avoided like the plague.

Words of wisdom, and we should never financially support the devils who play this game.
 
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Would it be important to place this as a separate message in the Domain Industry News "Warnings and Alerts" thread?

Other Namecheap users may be unaware of this with their domains. Their prompt awareness may help them challenge the premium reclassifications before their renewals.

Also, there may be othter registrars that are quietly trying to do this as well. So at least an alert could help encourage vigilance for any similar unexpected renewal price increases

It's not the registrars. It's the registries. They are just passing along the bill.
 
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excellent thread, ty for starting it OP. :)
 
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i think if you're the original owner of the domain, you should be able to pay for the reg fee of the tld until you release the domain from your custody.
 
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i think if you're the original owner of the domain, you should be able to pay for the reg fee of the tld until you release the domain from your custody.
That's technically the rule of law, ICANN mentions about price changes here itp.cdn.icann.org/en/files/registry-agreements/base-registry-agreement-21-01-2024-en.html#article2.10 (shared by OP)

And as it should be there isn't mention of premium/non-premium in ICANN document.
 
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It's not the registrars. It's the registries. They are just passing along the bill.
Well, if it's not a permitted renewal price increase by a registry, isn't the registrar also complicit here?

Hopefully registrars have monitoring in place to block passing on registry price increases that are not in compliance with ICANN rules.
 
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