Yes, I am blatantly stealing that title from Seinfeld, and I’m not even a Seinfeld fan. Despite that, it does fit perfectly into an issue we’ve been dealing with at Fixmycomputernow.com for years now. Website designers who are ripping off their clients, without the client ever knowing it. And yes I think ripping off is the right term.
Sound harsh? Ask yourself this: if you have your own website, are you sure that the domain name (that’s the actual address ie: fixmycomputernow.com) is owned by you? Think so? Then go check it. Go to http://www.whois.net and type in your domain name. You should get back a listing showing you who the admin for the domain is, and even who the technical contact is. Does your name, or company name show up anywhere on there? If the answer is no, you have a very serious problem.
According to the Internet (the weird, disembodied set of entities that govern domain names…don’t make me get into that), you don’t actually own that name. If it shows your designer, or some other company, they ACTUALLY own the name, no matter what you’ve paid them. If you have a falling out with them, or they forget to renew it, or make a mistake, you could lose access to everything from your website to your email and have virtually no recourse to get it back.
How does this happen? It’s something we see far too often, and actually consider it a rather odious business practice, even if there is a logic to it for designers. Quite often a company will contact design houses that offer all in one solutions. They register the domain, setup your website, email addresses, all of it…but when they do it (and charge the client for it), they don’t register the domain in their client’s name, but in their own. You paid for it, hell it might even be a domain that IS your own name, but you better be sure it was registered in your name. So why would someone do this? Read on McDuff!
Problem number two is the real issue. Quite often these design companies don’t hand over the login details for where your site and email are hosted. Their logic for this is simple. If you need a new email address, you have to call them and they can charge you for it. Simple enough and quite often that’s perfectly fine. You don’t want the hassle of doing it and are fine with paying someone to do it. The problem lies in what happens if you have a fallout with that company, or just decide its time for a change. What then?
We have a firm belief that a client should have access to everything. It’s your website, your emails, your server, your computers. You should have all usernames and passwords available (and secured of course) to you at all times. If we’re doing our job right, you’ll still come to us for help, but you should have the option of accessing anything that you own the rights to. Including being the Master of your own domain.
So go to that link above and check your site. If it doesn’t have your name attached to it, find out who registered your site and ask questions. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to do it for our clients after the fact.
And truthfully? I’m getting tired of having to do it! (now I’ll go back to my private grumbling about web designers)