Network Solutions Registering Domains After Availability Lookup

Network Solutions

A friend tipped me off to a Domain State thread that warns you not to look up a domain name at Network Solutions. If you go to the Networks Solutions site and look up a domain name to see if it’s registered then Network Solutions, within seconds, will buy the domain name, causing you to have to go buy it from them.

Let me explain, using a specific example, exactly what Network Solutions is doing and what is wrong with what they’re doing.

First, I went to the home page and filled out their form to see if was available.

Network Solutions Home Page

According to Network Solutions, was available. See the screen capture below:

Network Solutions domain name available

(It is my contention that within seconds of my inquiring about the domain name Network Solutions automatically registered that domain name.)

But, my wife called me on my cell phone and I had to step away from my computer for a few minutes. A few minutes later, I realized that I could buy that same domain name for $6.99 over at another registrar and decided to go with them, rather than paying Network Solutions the $34.99 for the domain name. After all, I could think of a lot of things that I could spend the savings of $28 dollars on, mainly 3 other domain names.

alternative registrar whois search

Come to find out, Network Solutions had already purchased the domain name and I am forced to buy it from them. Not only did Network Solutions buy the domain name after I looked it up, they automatically put up a “domain parking page” on the site, telling me that I must buy it from them.

Network Solutions domain name registered

A domain lookup is absolutely not an agreement to buy.

Network Solutions may call this a service of theirs. Frankly, I would not call this a “service” or even a bad business practice–I would call it extortion. There are thousands of registrars out there, and we all have the right to register a domain name at any registrar. It’s called “fair competition”. If I check to see if a domain name is available at Network Solutions, I should not be required to purchase that domain name from them for $34.99. I should be able to go to another registrar and register it for $6.99 or even $14.99. A domain lookup is absolutely not an agreement to buy.

For the purpose of this blog post, I went ahead and bought the domain name anyway from Network Solutions. But, you might want to try it for yourself. Make up a domain name, see if it’s available at Network Solutions, and you’ll see that they register it immediately, locking you into buying it from them.

This practice of “domain tasting” or registering a domain name after someone looks it up to see if it’s available is completely unacceptable.

It’s called ethics. What do you think?

You can also find more about this here, lots of other sites are talking about it:
Search For Domains At Network solutions, Face Extortion
Network Solutions + Unethical go hand and hand
NSI Registers Every Domain Checked
Network Solutions’ Defensive Measure for Whois Searches
Network Solutions Front Running
Network Solutions Faces PR Nightmare Over Domain FrontRunning
NetworkSolutions Scandal: Hijacking User Domain Searches

As an alternative, you might try registering your domains at Godaddy or another registrar like Dotster:

Update: Network Solutions has responded to the front-running (front running) claim. Read their response in the comments below. There’s also a statement here at Circle ID.

Jay is also talking about it. He confirms that Network Solutions started doing this on December 16th. Why in the heck did it take people this long to realize what Network Solutions was doing? Network Solutions steals domain ideas; Confirmed!

Here are a few more people talking about Network Solutions:
Network Solutions steals domain ideas; Confirmed!
Network Solutions joins the namespace piracy business
Network Solutions steals creative domain name ideas
Network Solutions Stealing Domain Ideas!
Network Solutions Destroys Its Brand In One Fell Swoop
GoDaddy Coincidence?


  1. Liposuction in Dallas says

    That is absolutely ridiculous…I will make sure I never use them to look up a domain.

  2. search engine optimisation sydney says

    I assume they would keep it for 3 days then hand it back

  3. Warren Buffet Stock Picks says

    It’s been 8 months since this post was first published but it goes to show that on the Internet, this stuff is pretty much forever. I tested to see if Network Solutions was still front running and I was still able to register the domain after an hour of me searching for it. Still, what a way to sully your reputation.

  4. Coach Bags says

    It’s unbelievable such things can happen. In your view, what is the safest way to check the availability of a domain name, then? I think that others can copy what Network Solutions are doing, thus forcing you to buy from them.

  5. Designer Swimwear says

    This is crazy! I found this because I heard that Network Solutions did this, and I couldn’t believe that it was true. This exact thing happened to one of my business associates, and it just blows my mind that they would do this… they are supposed to be this huge legit company, and this is how they treat potential customers just to force them into doing business? wow

  6. Jan says

    Network Solutions another name for modern day pirates!
    I learned a lesson from NETWORK SOLUTIONS that cost me a bundle!
    I had a web site, that a lot of work and time went into. I had it on all my business cards and recently no one could find it. I had renewed it in November 08.
    Anyone that every used NSI knows they bill you constantly so when I was getting renewal notices I just deleted them as I knew my other 2 sites were recently renewed.
    Having been with the company for many years, upon renewing I assumed the whole package was renewed, never gave it a second thought. Come to find out, they only renewed the web site, with no domain name and then sold the domain name! WOW. They said they sent me renewal notices, etc. So if you deal with those crooks, be careful! They are the deluxe rip off artists. I tried everything to resolve it but they want $150.00 to buy back my own domain name! How ethical is that? I will shout their dishonesty from the roof tops and all the business I sent them will be getting a recall along with my canceling my sites as they come up for renewal.
    They are modern day, legal scam artist.

  7. Jack S. Hunter says

    Network Solutions is now charging $59 a year – just to register a domain. I came here after reading the nasty fine-print on their renewal notice. It says it’s due now, only the domain expires in 2011. Small print tells you that you must renew 59 days in advance. Hah Hah… Not my site. I use namerout/hostroute. My relative will be switching. What a bunch of weasels. Did they all go to Smelly Rodent University?