from TBTF for 1999-08-16
TBTF Irregular Simon Whitaker <simon at netcetera dot org> saw the note in TBTF for 1999-08-16 about joker.com, the first domain-name registrar to compete on the basis of price. He went immediately to register a name.
This material is Copyright © 1999 by Simon Whitaker <simon at netcetera dot org>.
Firstly, I can't tell you how nice it is to register a .com without NetSol getting their grubby hands on my money. Ever since http://rs.internic.net/ went to the wall I've been waiting for an alternative.
After the silky smooth experience of www.networksolutions.com, www.joker.com takes a little getting used to. The interface is German by default, which is only to be expected, but clicking on the US and UK flags drops you into a translated version. (The English is a bit pidgin in places, but it's a million times better than my three words of German so I really have no right to complain.) The interface for registering a domain is easy enough to use, although it's very basic and a little rough around the edges -- some links don't work properly for example.
Two points to note. Firstly, if you're in Europe and not VAT-registered you'll pay value-added tax at 16% on top of your order. My domain cost DM 80 for the first two years, plus DM 12.80 VAT, making DM 92.80 for two years. The invoice give an approximate exchange rate of DM 2 ~ US$ 1 ~ Euro 1, which makes it US$ 46.40 / 2 yrs. for those of us who have to pay VAT, US$ 40 otherwise. (You can of course get a more accurate exchange rate online, e.g. here.) In any event a significant saving on NetSol rates.
My second point is that the documentation that gets emailed to you by Joker.com leaves a little to be desired. Apart from being a bit bare, it is exclusively in HTML format, which really niggles me. I choose not to enable HTML mail on my mail client. Most HTML mail arrives in dual format anyway, text and HTML, so I can just read the text version, but joker.com's email didn't provide the text-only portion, so I had to fire up my browser just to read the thing. In fact, it's this fairly ropey documentation, coupled with the fact that you have to enter your credit card details at point of purchase, which makes Joker.com less suitable for registering domains on behalf of third parties. If they want a slice of this presumably lucrative market, they'll have to provide idiot-proof documentation and separate the billing from the ordering process.
However, at the end of the day I just saved myself around 25 dollars on the cost of registering a domain, and so I'm happy. I'll be watching Joker.com with intense interest over the next few months. This is exciting stuff.
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