I know what you're thinking.
You've searched across the web and saw nothing but glowing reviews about Namecheap. There'll not be a glowing review here, I assure you.
Disclaimer: it's entirely possible they changed at some point and I wasn't aware. But if that's the case, their changes are too aggressive and borderline "Nazi" (that's in quotes, so don't come at me). What they're TRYING to do is fine; there are friendlier ways to achieve the same outcome. If they want that smoke, they can contact me if they actually want to fix an easy problem. I'm a developer who specializes in process improvement and customer experience.
It doesn't actually matter. Customer service is largely a simple thing to do even when you're trying to avoid smoke and controversy.
Let's do this a bit differently, in case you have a small amount of time. I recommend NOT using Namecheap for domains unless you have no choice.
What Did Namecheap Do That Made You Not Recommend Them?
To answer this you have to understand how things should work. Follow me here.
I did a post about LinkedIn - highly recommend you read that, but in summary, the success of business (and I don't just mean money) is directly correlated to one main thing: serve your customer, not yourself, and stop relying on tools to make auto-decisions.
Going back to the McDonalds example: would anyone say that McDonalds is the "best" because of how much money they pull in? No. Not even. They're overexposed, they're oversaturated, they're everywhere, and for the most part (except in Nevada) they're blazing fast at what they do.
But if you compared the quality of what they serve against something like Carvers (midwest thing), you'd question why you could ever stomach McDonalds in the first place.
Carvers is SLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWW. Arguably, slower than In-N-Out, and unlike In-N-Out, you're always parked (you can't just wait at the window for your food...there should be law against that practice, but I digress). But with Carvers, their burgers are significantly better than In-N-Out, so the time they take pays off in the end.
So then begs the question: what is your priority?
If you just want it fast, right now, Jack In The Box and McDonalds are your go-to's. Nobody comes close - and that's why those two are raking in money when they do. Because in the modern society, speed is the priority over quality. People are willing to compromise on quality because they've been influenced to be impatient.
Think about it: why did text messages suddenly become a primary communication channel? It's because they're instant. Why bother with a phone call when you can just text back and forth? Which brings me to the next category...
McDonalds is not a quality burger. It isn't. It's "good enough" when you're hungry. I would argue that the Angus (Which they discontinued a long time ago) was fantastic. Other than that, it's to the point that the Filet-O-Fish will make me puke now despite eating copious of them as a kid, and the fries (though generally tasty) make me gag because they're not the ones made with tarrow like the old days.
Wendys is generally a "quality" burger, but not top quality. Same as Burger King.
The truth is, if you want quality, you're going to a full restaurant. Carvers doesn't qualify as "fast" food because it's not fast, but it's quality, same as Five Guys, same as Rallys/Checkers. The point though, at least in fast food, is you can't have Speed AND Quality - it doesn't exist. Which brings me to the third category...
Service is easy. It means, does the company treat you like you matter when you patronize them? This is the one category I have no choice but to give In-N-Out over many others: Despite terrible fries, generally slow service and unimpressive burgers, you never get treated like anything other than valuable.
Pretty much everyone that serves food in some form struggles with this one. Let me try to simplify: Is what you got, worth the money you paid for it? It's really just that. That's value. But it's subjective, which is why I left it for last.
Is a $6 Big Mac a good "value" to you? Maybe, if you like speed. Maybe not if you like quality. I remember when McDonalds was doing 2 for $5 on the Big Mac and it was actually BIG - as in, it was what the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese is now - and they were getting food out to you in less than 2 minutes tops, and they didn't need to park you. (as a side note, the whole "park them" didn't really become a thing until more started focusing on debit/credit over cash. Just sayin.)
Namecheap got three out of four right. In high school, that's a "C" grade.
Now, you might be okay with a "C". Maybe you were one of those kids who didn't care as long as you passed. Because back then, you just got a single credit for every passing grade regardless of how high. I get it.
I'm one where if a provider fails in a specific ONE of these, it's a complete fail, and I'm never going to recommend when they fail that one, because no business should ever fail in that one - that's by choice.
Now that you have the preface and how this works...let's bullet out why Namecheap fails at service by detailing the process step-by-step.
Why bother with Namecheap with so many registrars out there?
There are indeed a lot of domain registrars. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them only support certain "mainstream" TLDs (top level domains) and not others. If you just need a .net/.com/.org/.info/etc., you can pretty much go anywhere, even your website host itself might offer it (likely through GoDaddy).
So for one that is rather exclusive or rare, your choices are a provider whose site appears like it was built back during AOL's heyday and doesn't look trustworthy to boot (it might be, but it's presentation), GoDaddy (who has had major scandals), or Namecheap (who has had major scandals). In other words, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't if you want one of these more obscure (but popular) TLDs.
Were there problems buying the domains?
Yes and no.
The actual purchase transaction was reasonably seamless. Although, people claimed crypto was a valid payment type, I saw no such (and no, I don't care to hear them say some excuse about the country of origin). In my case the transaction was large enough that I wouldn't have done the crypto route, but it would have upped the scorecard a bit to see it.
The problem is after you submit the transaction - it became crystal clear that they had an idea to build the service such that no human needed to intervene. Except, someone at some point had the not-so-brilliant idea that they would block access to your account after taking your money.
Basically, their equivalent of McDonalds parking you after taking your money (blocking access to your food).
They rely on email to communicate that there's an issue.
Look, I've got no problem with email. I love email. And in this case, email would be okay - except that they only give you 24 hours to respond.
This told me that these guys are stuck in the 90s. Because I know of NOBODY who is checking email constantly. Even I don't check email (at least not that email box) all the time, I check it when I know something's coming. In this case, there was no reason to suspect that they would do a block AND if they do a block there's no reason to expect a 24-hour time bomb approach. That's too aggressive and anti-customer.
The site will immediately let you in after payment but then block you when you come back later (which might not be immediately).
This is a technology / workflow failure. The correct process is:
- Receive a request
- Validate the request
- Redirect for additional information before fulfillment
- Fulfill unless there's a reason not to
This is also where GEICO and other companies fail. They don't do step 3. They fulfill the order, then back out, giving the customer a false sense of what happened. But in GEICO's case (as an example), they'll automatically send you your money back. Namecheap will keep the money (Just like being parked at McDonalds) until/unless you "ask" for it back and then won't guarantee you get it back.
What then happens? Customer does a chargeback because they are ENTITLED to get their money back if they don't get the service they paid for. That's what Namecheap doesn't understand and why they should AUTOMATICALLY refund the money if they don't like something. However, if they simply wait on fulfilling the order and getting whatever they want resolved (as in, DON'T charge the card yet), the issue is moot.
Chargebacks are expensive for companies; smart companies avoid that smoke by simply doing the right thing. And no, I don't want to hear them come back with an excuse of "we have a lot of satisfied customers blah blah blah".
I already know your response. "different amounts of money, doot doot doot!". See, the beauty of service is that it doesn't care how much money you spent, it cares about you as a customer that's keeping them in business.
That's why In-N-Out spiked in popularity and places like Sonic declined - because when Sonic mainstreamed the experience, went to full on technology and got rid of the girls in skirts on skates, it became just another fast food joint that nobody sees a point in going to over McDonalds. But I digress.
When Namecheap blocks you, the site throws a generic error designed to basically scare the customer into thinking they're being treated like a criminal. And yes, you're being treated like a criminal. Because some code somewhere in the application deemed you to be a criminal because of some arbitrary algorithm that some idiot gave it that was not well thought out. Here are some examples - and you should feel free to laugh:
- Transaction amount/size too high
- Questions about the name of the submitter
- Different computers accessing (despite it being the same IP and same physical region and despite only a few minutes having passed from when the account was created - this is because Namecheap doesn't understand that multiple people in a business might have different roles with shared access to the domain stuff.)
Could you imagine if Tesla said they refused to even let you back in to pick up your overpriced $70k car because they need to "verify" something despite happily taking your money?
Could you imagine the fall if X/Twitter suddenly announced that your username had to be your real name and couldn't be an alias, and if you already had an account over 10 years, they were going to block access to your account until you call them no more than 24 hours from the time of the email?
Could you imagine a world where you Amazon blocks you from using your Prime account benefits if you try to do it from your smart TV on the same network after signing up on your computer?
The answer is no to all of the above three. So why does Namecheap get a pass?
Because just like Amazon where there are certain types of products you can only get there, there are certain TLDs you can only get (effectively) from Namecheap. It's called a monopoly, and that's what entitles them to be abusive to the customer. Because other providers refuse to step up and compete with better service.
So what does Namecheap need to change to get an "A"?
It's simple. And I'll share it with a story about a company I once worked at: RedEnvelope (no longer exists as a company; owners failed to capitalize on a rocket ship launch and went bankrupt five years later). Online specialty gifts. Actually had a dedicated department for celebrity customers, and I heard Jermaine Jackson was one of them, but can't prove that.
When someone would submit an order, the system would automatically screen for suspicious or questionable things. An order would get "pended" if it saw something it didn't like, and a friendly message to the customer to give us a call or chat to complete the order. Mind you, this is at a time when Amazon was a fraction of what we now know it to be; RedEnvelope was ahead of the game with customer service by far (until they failed to innovate further).
When the customer would contact us, there was a brief IVR (the automated menu you know and love), but they'd get to a human always in less than 2 minutes. We'd do whatever verification we needed to do, then release the account with them on the phone and confirm they could get in. The most common causes for the block were usually something stupid, like their bank triggered a fraud alert because it was an account that was too new, or something.
I never had one where it was clearly fraudulent, because merchant providers are pretty slick at how they filter those out before we ever saw them. If there was a situation where a customer called and alleged a fraudulent transaction, we'd just refund it back to the bank. It wasn't worth the extra expense (and PR nightmare/loss of sentiment) of treating the customer like a criminal and having them do a chargeback.
The lesson: though RedEnvelope is no longer due to owner ineptitude, even now, a basic search across social media and forums will tell you that people miss that service. Not just the products, but the service. At the time, nobody came close. They didn't shut down because of a failure to produce, they shut down because they refused to innovate and compete in the other areas.
The owner tried to get it back in 2004 (just like John Schnatter with Papa Johns), but it was already too late for that. Same deal as Toys 'R' Us
That's the impression that Namecheap doesn't want. They're just pushing widgets in disregard of the customer.
The reason I don't recommend Namecheap is that they don't care about customers. They care about pushing widgets. And in that they do well - but I'm old school with it. I expect service to be the first thing you focus on and not ignore it. And no, the fluffy answers of "read the terms" is not acceptable. None of the competition does arbitrary, upfront, unfriendly blocking. Their tools are smart enough to intercept and friendly reply to the customer for more information at that point rather than fulfilling and blocking like Namecheap does.
In the event there's a question about the charge validity, if all you need is to confirm the transaction on the account, how about you set up Plaid so you can have your tool auto-query to verify the transaction? The customer would have to have access to the account to connect Plaid in the first place, and Plaid can grant you access to the transaction you seek, thus no need for arbitrary blocking or even human interaction beyond that point.
Barring that, why not just build a prompt into the tool that asks for the transaction code from the payment account and gives the customer more than 24 hours to go get it OR set up some way to reach the customer via a means in addition to email due to the urgency (how about IMMEDIATELY after they submit the order, right on the page, with a field asking for that data and auto-resolving the issue)?
How about you use Verified by Visa/Mastercard Securecode? Because the customer has to complete additional verification to submit what is then a 100% valid transaction?
How about you use Amazon Pay? Because the customer has to log into that account to authorize those payment sources. And no, "we accept PayPal" is not a valid answer because PayPal is another one that treats every customer like a criminal up front.
How about you use Visa's Click to Pay? Because the customer would have already jumped through the hoops necessary to authorize the card(s).
How about you accept checks/cashiers checks/money orders for orders? Because the customer would have had to send you that payment, you just pend the order until it clears, then release access?
How about you accept wire transfers? Because the customer would have had to go into their bank (or log into their account if they allow it) to initiate that transaction?
How about you accept Western Union/MoneyGram? Because the customer would have had to initiate that transaction and verify their identity at the terminal?
Namecheap's failure is EASY TO SOLVE. It's a symptom of limited payment options and overly aggressive "verification" with no thought put into how to make the experience easy for the customer. THEY DON'T TRUST CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS PROBABLY BECAUSE THEY DON'T TRUST THEIR MERCHANT. That's the problem. That's the only problem. It's easy to solve that problem - ADD OTHER PAYMENT OPTIONS YOU DO TRUST. Stop treating the customer like a criminal by default.