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Domain registration ain’t what it used to be.

Let’s review. Step one when building a Web site: Get your domain name. Go to Network Solutions’ Web site and register your domain name. Wait 24 to 48 hours. Check to see if your domain name has been registered. No. Now pick up the phone and call them. The salesperson will want you to speak first with tech support to discover the problem with your online registration. Wait on hold for an hour for tech support (a speakerphone comes in handy about now, but don’t leave the room). The tech support person has no idea what happened, and transfers you back to sales. The sales rep takes your order over the phone and says to wait another 24 to 48 hours for implementation. Two days later you need to call again, as your domain name still comes up as unregistered in WHOIS. Another hour on hold and you realize that Network Solutions has no idea what they are doing and you begin to wonder how large a kickback was required to secure its current contract.

Yes, this recently happened to me as I tried to secure a new .tv domain through Network Solutions. I know that dot tv has its own Web site, but rather than register with another Domain Registrar, I chose to attempt to acquire my domain through Network Solutions, where up until now I have performed most of my previous registrations. It does say on its homepage that it can now secure .tv domains.

And yes I know that I recently ranted about Network Solutions and thought the frustration was out of my system until this last three-hour on-hold episode.

I am constantly amazed at the level of ineptitude demonstrated by Network Solutions. I really had no idea it could get any worse since my last report. Network Solutions now seems completely incapable of fulfilling its basic function–registering domains.

How did we get to such a low point in such a short time? When I began registering domains, I dealt directly with InterNIC. It used a very reliable e-mail system called Hostmaster through which one could register a domain by 5:00 p.m. EST and have it take effect the next morning. Today the registration process is officially spread out between many “Registrars” who compete on the open-market. As Network Solutions co-developed many of the original processes with InterNIC, it commanded the largest share of the domain registration business for .com, .net, and .org top-level domains (TLDs). And though it claims to be able to register .tv domains, don’t believe it. Go to dot tv.

In the end, that’s what I did. I registered online, and my domain was active 12 hours later. It worked, as it should. But, as a diligent reader you correctly point out that I have only accounted for two of my three hours on hold with Network Solutions. You are correct. The last hour with Network Solutions was spent trying to get my credit card credited for the charges of my two attempts, which in all aspects of the transaction except for billing were unsuccessful. If Network Solutions would like to try to account for its dwindling customer service or basic service, I would love to hear from them. It has a lot of explaining to do to the online community for its current level of disservice.

Garth Gillespie is architect and chief technologist for ComputerUser.com.

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