This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of CUSTOMER Magazine.
If you have ever registered a domain name you have no doubt been solicited by a number of companies you never heard of trying to renew your domain name. Lately I have noticed this trend has died down – no doubt because customers have wised up and realize if they registered with Network Solutions, GoDaddy or 1&1 (News - Alert) then they should pay that company only.
Recently a relative presented me with a document that looks a lot like an invoice from a company called DNS Services. The company’s logo looks very official – you might even make the point that the infinity symbol looks a bit like the NS logo preceding Network Solutions (News - Alert).
Putting that aside, if you aren’t technical or you aren’t reading carefully you may think this is a legitimate invoice. It isn’t. In fact the fine print says: “This is a solicitation for the order of goods or services, or both, and not a bill, invoice or statement of account due. You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer.”
Note that you are given a statement date and an account number as well as an amount in yellow highlighting yet this document is not a bill or invoice.
Moreover, this offer is for backup DNS services – something only a handful of websites would need – assuming they are hosting their sites at a reputable facility. This isn’t to take away from backup DNS providers that don’t use such questionable tactics – it’s just that companies that require backup DNS services know who they are, they certainly are very unlikely to need direct mail to get them to purchase.
And at the bottom right the text says: “Note: DNS Services is not affiliated with your current name services provider.”
For decades a common direct mail scam was to send invoices to companies for snow plowing services, which were never performed. Typically these were seasonal bills and companies didn’t scour them too carefully – it became easier to pay them than figure out if they were legitimate. In the past decade this scam seems to have diminished being replaced by useless directory listings leading you to believe they are the official Yellow Pages. A common ploy is sending a check, which you naturally sign and deposit and in doing so agree to purchase their online directory service. Lately these offers seem to have diminished as well.
There is a saying in the direct mail industry: If you want to know what is working, pay attention to the offers you get most often. If we start to see the backup DNS market ramp up their direct mail efforts, we’ll know that the business of duping unsuspecting businesses is doing quite well.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi