In today’s mail, I received an invoice for $289 for website services. Specifically, the invoice wanted payment for listing my apheus.com domain in their directory. Now let me begin by saying that I’m not going to pay this invoice. It has nothing to do with my domain registration or website. I don’t need this “service” and I doubt if any other legitimate business would need it either. In a nutshell, these types of services skirt along the lines of a scam.
Now of course the companies that offer these directory services would argue that they are providing a legitimate service to their clients. And it is true, they are actually delivering the service they promise – they are listing the domain in their directory. However, in most cases, these “invoices” are designed to trick domain owners into believing that they are renewing their domain. That is not the case.
If you look at the information contained in the invoice, it looks “official” by containing information pertaining to your domain. The letter I received was delivered to my office here in Plymouth and lists my domain name, a couple of nameservers, and details about my subscription. Most importantly, it contains a deadline – less than a month away. The invoice is trying to pressure me into paying as quickly as possible. For convenience, they’ve even included a validation code. It all looks legitimate, right?
Don’t Pay the “Invoice”
When visiting a client’s office a few months back, I noticed one of these “invoices” laying on his desk. I asked him a simple question: “You’re not going to pay this are you?” His answer shocked me. He proceeded to tell me that their company had been receiving these invoices for at least a decade and he was under the impression that he was renewing the domain. He wasn’t happy when I told him that the invoice had nothing to do with his domain. Thousands of dollars were wasted.
In just the last week, two other clients have received similar invoices from two different directory listing sites. What you need to do is read what’s written on the invoice. First, on the backside of the page, it says:
“All listings are final. We appreciate your business!”
I’m sure they do… And they are basically telling you that once you give them the money, they aren’t going to be returning a dime. It’s nice of them to warn you ahead of time.
If you actually take the time to read one of these “invoices,” you’ll notice that they do state that paying them will not renew your domain:
This website listing offer is provided to leading websites throughout the United States to enhance their Website exposure and expose them to new customers through our directory. We are not a domain registrar and we do not Register or Renew Domain Names.
The letter goes on to say:
THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.
And that’s how they get away with it. They tell you upfront that this isn’t an “invoice” and that you don’t have to pay them. They tell you that they are not renewing your domain and that they are not acting as a domain registrar. That makes it all legit, right? Technically, it does. But I’m still calling this a scam. It’s a cleverly worded one that I liken to an illusionist performing a card trick. It’s all right in front of you, but they’re using the art of distraction and hoping that you’ll send them the money and pay for something you don’t need.