As someone who has used them for 5+ years and spent thousands of dollars (for dozens of domains and services) I can say that GoDaddy (henceforth “GD”) is the Wal-Mart of Internet hosts; only, one that lives up—and then some—to the hysterical denunciations its opponents levy against it.
Where to begin?
Well first off, GD’s debut on the scene—their initial “offering” to would-be customers—involved a suggestive Candice Miller’s enormous breasts. That ought to tell you the demo they’re shooting for.
But second, how about the fact that when you buy a service from GD, they have about three dozen checkboxes (better make sure none are pre-selected!) so that you have to opt out of buying its worthless services?
Or how about the awful site design, which not only looks like an extra-high Andy Warhol painting, but which at checkout is like the Internet equivalent of a Best Buy: “Now that you’re buying that $700 Dell laptop, would you like to buy Best Buy’s Accidental Damage ProtectionTM for $200? Or how about our preemptive Data Recovery ServiceTM plan? Then maybe the Extended WarrantyTM? Or how about 155 other useless ‘service’ upsells?” Not only does this reek of desperation; of a company trying to squeeze as much blood out of your rock as possible, but like Best Buy’s add-ons, it similarly preys on the technologically ignorant in hopes they can convert a $10 domain buy into a $100 shopping spree.
And how can anybody possibly like the fact that GD automatically puts all of your products on Auto-Renew? In other words, you’re getting charged for them this time next year unless you opt out.
From a user interface standpoint, GD’s services—email, storage, account information, etc.—are totally unusable. I hadn’t used GD for about a year when my dad started having trouble with them, and it took me probably 7 minutes to figure out how to access the account information I needed on the redesigned back-end. And getting back to the email etc., it’s laughable to think anyone would actually go to the trouble of logging into GD’s clients to use their web services—it is Web 1.0 all the way. More UI work and fewer boobs on TV, please.
Then, anybody’s who’s bought something from GD knows how INSANE their email reminders are. I don’t have the patience to look through my own email logs right now, but off the top of my head I believe GD will send you as many as 6-10 “friendly reminders” that your service is about to expire. Outrageously, I’ve gotten urgent warnings about domains set to expire several (i.e., more than 3) months in the future. But everybody can look forward to getting “90 Days Left!” reminders, then perhaps a 75, 45, 30, 15, 10, 5 and so on. I’m winging it there but honestly, I don’t think that’s far off. And if you’re like me and have two dozen domains or services with them that you purchased at different times, you’re getting somewhere in the neighborhood of an email a week (or more). It’s borderline harassment from a company YOU ARE PAYING. What’s more, even if you paid for several years of a service, they’ll still antagonize you with regular updates reminding you to extend those years even further. Too much is never enough for GD.
From what I can tell GD also anonymizes ownership of many of its un-owned domains so that WHOIS queries yield nothing unless they’re made from GD’s own site. Is this a traffic-boosting measure?
But the big kicker with GD is how difficult it can be to cancel the service. My dad paid $1500 for a premium domain, a purchase I oversaw. He bought 5 years of ownership and hosting on top of that but didn’t require any additional email addresses etc. Well the domain he bought was rendered obsolete when his eponymous company went out of business. That’s when the insane journey begins; one I largely oversaw.
Even though he’s purchased several years of service in advance, they’re still terrorizing him with “reminders” to give them more money. On his behalf I log in, and upon spending 7 minutes navigating the unusable UI I finally find the billing information. There I notice they’ve been charging him for perhaps a half-dozen services he doesn’t know he owns, and in any case wouldn’t know how to use (and to be fair, as I said nobody in their right mind would use GD’s HORRIBLE email etc. Web 1.0 services). I’m talking storage, FTP access, extra email accounts, domain anonymizer and privacy protection. My dad is trying to sell this domain, why would he try to keep the WHOIS details a secret? It would be like trying to sell a used car by paying to have your contact details removed from the Autotrader. Sure enough, his VISA was being charged the whole while; most recently, twice in 48 hours for around $50.
So I set about canceling these services, but there is no “cancel” button, only the option to turn off Auto-Renew. Fair enough. So I uncheck everything, but it doesn’t process. Turns out you have to select the correct checkboxes in the correct configuration like you’re Nic Cage in National Treasure 3 getting out the green half-glasses to solve the Riddle of the Sphynx (i.e., some choices require “extra” confirmation to cancel). I figure this out and get Auto-Renew turned off for all services except for two.
Those involve some kind of domain privacy protection, and they “need additional information” to process your decision to quit GD’s services. Among that information: everything but the kitchen sink. They wanted a full color scan of your driver’s license, domain protection login, phone number, email—everything. Whatever, I reluctantly submit it. About a day later I get a followup saying they now need a full-color scan of the business license associated with the company owning the domain, but that company is out of business so, now ticked off, we send them the new one. Another day later we get yet another followup, this time asking us to fill out a form in lieu of having the “proper” business license. By now we’re infuriated but we just want this thing to be over with so we want to sign the new document. I open it up and read it, and it’s asking my dad to relinquish all legal claims of ownership to the $1500 domain (and services) that he owns, and to further “support GoDaddy” in any of its own claims of ownership of those products and services.
We paid $1500 plus hosting and now, as a condition of turning off Auto-Renew for domain protection, you want us to hand over the product you sold us for $1500 with about 4 years left on the contract? I’m thinking this is a total mistake so, now apoplectic, I email them back clarifying what it is we want, and telling them we’re not handing over our $1500 domain as a condition of turning off Auto-Renew. As if we couldn’t get any angrier, they email us back with EXACTLY the same form email telling us to sign away our rights so they can process our request to turn off Auto-Renew for our domain’s “protection” service.
At the time of this writing (5/2012), the issue is still not resolved. GD will not turn off Auto-Renew, and so we have just canceled the card they were using. Try it now, GD.
The experience, which of course is still not over, has been like getting out of a gang.
Honest to God, avoid GoDaddy at all costs. Use ANYBODY else. It should have been clear right from the outset with the boobs commercials that they don’t respect the intelligence of their clientele, and they will treat you accordingly from beginning to end. Disregard this, and you have no right to be surprised when weird charges you don’t remember making start showing up on your VISA bill, when you’re getting terrorized with their spam emails, and when they refuse to honor their contracts—not even when their awful website induces a seizure.