Friday, August 08, 2008

Amazingly Bad Customer Service From GoDaddy Handled a Dispute

I have been in something of a running customer service dispute with since June. I have a small (400 domains), middling-quality domain portfolio that I manage with GoDaddy. Apart from registering the domains with GoDaddy, I also used their CashParking service to place ads on most of those domains. I had a couple of minor complaints with their CashParking service:
  1. they charge about $9 a month to place ads on the site;
  2. they charge an additional $10 a month to mail me a check (the checks were each less than $100, so this represented a large percentage of revenue);
However, those complaints were far overshadowed by one amazing benefit: every time I registered a new domain with GoDaddy, it would be placed into my CashParking account by default. That means that all the work was in discovering new domains, rather than configuring them.

So, at the end of the day, I was quite happy to continue working with GoDaddy.

However, all this came to a screeching halt in late June. I received an email from the CashParking team saying that my parking account had been irrevocably suspended. Sure enough, all of my parked domains were offline with a message saying that the site was unavailable. I called the CashParking team to find out what happened, and they said that they could not give me details -- but that pay-per-click traffic had been sent to one or more of my domains in violation of the terms of service, and therefore they were cancelling my CashParking account.

I found this frustrating, but I understood why they cancelled my account. First, for the record, I did not send pay-per-click ads to any of my parked domains. Nor did I encourage, suggest, allow, barter, trade or in any other way influence the placement of those ads. Nor am I aware of who did it. And if I could think of any more disclaimers, I would add them. I simply had nothing to do with whatever happened.

GoDaddy had a right to cancel my account, and I understand that they can't take my word that I had nothing to do with it. After all, someone (apparently) sent those ads -- and whoever sent that traffic apparently sent it without any financial incentive -- after all, they wouldn't make any money off of the traffic! Since GoDaddy displays Google ads, and Google doesn't allow arbitrage, GoDaddy had a responsibility to suspend my account.

Here's what makes me angry, though. GoDaddy removed all of my stats for the year that I hosted CashParking with them, and won't give them back! Because I did not keep regular backups (my mistake) I don't have a record of which domains get the most traffic, and what the eCPM is for all the domains. I can't calculate stats on how the length of a domain affects the amount of type-in traffic that it gets. I can't look at seasonality in traffic. I've sent emails, spoken with customer service reps, and even left a voice mail for a Cash Parking supervisor. (The voice mail has not been returned, the better part of a week later.) No dice.

To add insult to injury, GoDaddy just started showing parked ads on those domains again! Let me say that again -- they won't give me a revenue share for the ads, but they're now willing to show ads again as long as they can keep all the revenue!

One other cute little "feature" of the CashParking team canceling my account. They stop showing ads, but they don't stop the $9 / month billing!

GoDaddy -- I must say I am very disappointed in how you've handled this.