Just had a terrible experience with the domain name company 123 Reg which has cost me £235, considerable man hours, and much anguish.
It began when I logged on to Paypal three days ago to find that £344 had come straight out of the bank card I have registered with the account for personal purchases (ie not my business). I discovered it had gone to a company called 123 Reg (Webfusion Limited).
As I had not the slightest idea who they were I contacted Paypal, which initiated its disputes procedure. In the meantime I contacted 123 Reg and discovered that they held the domain names of my two work websites plus a whole host of other ones which my former partner had purchased two years ago.
Unbeknown to me she had given my Paypal account as some sort of back up behind the credit card she used to buy these domain names for 1-2 years. Because we have gone out separate ways the cards were no longer active - as was the business email account linked to the account.
So when 123 Reg started sending domain renewal notices to this email address I was completely unaware - worse still they were auto renewals with prices 30-40 per cent higher than the ones they used to get the original business in.
My former partner swears blind she had clicked for manual renewals but, as I have discovered via other forums, manual renewals have a habit of suddenly becoming auto renewals on 123 reg.
The upshot was that with the cancellation of the credit cards, warning notices being sent to an unused email address, and despite my never personally approving the use of my Paypal account - 123 Reg whacked through hundreds of pounds in charges for domain names I did not have the slightest interest in having.
I assumed - quite wrongly as it turned out - that it would be a simple case of explaining what had happened to 123 reg and that would be the end of it.
After speaking top three members of staff, who seemed reasonably sympathetic, I was put on to a man called Richard Winslow, the grandly titled Head of UK Hosting.
Mr Winslow, whose name appears on several forums insisting that the many instances of 123 Reg aggressively billing people are rare, wasn't the slightest bit interested in the fact that I hadn't personally given my permission for his company to drain my Paypal account.
In a series of emails and phone threats he told me that if I didn't pay they would suspend my two working websites - this despite both having been paid and having nothing to do with this particular dispute.
He further said that the company would appoint bailiffs to come round and demand the money if I did not pay.
I told him this was clearly blackmail and that I would take the case to county court to recover my money and he simply said to send the summons to the company's legal department. I sensed this was a normal day for Mr Winslow.
After learning that I was a journalist he offered a miserly discount and the proceeded to bill me a further £96 for Paypal's decision to return the original money to me. It added up to £235.36 and about three days of unpleasant worry.
The upside is that I have seen so many instances of 123 Reg behave in similarly appalling fashion with others that I have persuaded a producer at Channel 4 that it would make rather a good programme.
If anyone is interested in relating their experience with 123 Reg and going on camera please contact me through the site or via my work email of firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
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