Caveat Emptor Dominium

Ok, my apologies, the Latin is incorrect, but the idea is this: I have run into an important limitation of Google’s domain registration system. Buyer beware.

Lately, I have been using Google Apps to register domains. At $10 a year for new domains, which come with all the nifty Google applications, email and so on, it’s a really good deal. However, there appears to be a potentially crucial problem: you can’t sell or transfer the domains, as far as I can tell. I would love to hear that I am wrong on this, but the person helping me through Google’s support channel first told me to “enter the new credit card details in the Google Checkout account associated with the domain”. Uh, sorry, but I want to transfer the whole thing, lock, stock and barrel. After another round of email, I got this:

To assign a different Google Account to the subscription you’ll need to
modify your billing information by following the steps listed below:

  • Enable automatic renewals for your account.
  • When you receive email notification of the impending charge, visit the
    link to the ‘Ordering page.’ – Authorize a new purchase for your domain
    registration renewal. This will replace the old subscription and charge
    your new billing information on the subscription expiration date.
    Automatic renewals will also be enabled going forward.

If you don’t have automatic renewals enabled, your email notification
won’t include an ‘Ordering page’ link to change the Google Checkout
account and purchase or renew Google Apps. You must first enable
auto-renew to be sent this link.

I don’t want to have to wait for the email notification, though! The domain won’t be automatically renewed until sometime next spring.

Hopefully this is either an oversight on my part or something Google will fix soonish, as buying a domain name that you can’t sell or otherwise give to someone else is of very limited use for some things. No, I haven’t gone into business as a domain name speculator/squatter, the domain in question is, a site I registered for a friend a bit more than a year ago.

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