Don't host domains at GoDaddy if you do email marketing (who doesn't?)

A reader forwarded this GoDaddy message to me (I have anonymized it) asking for advice. Apparently GoDaddy is now charging for handling spam complaints and has a $200 “spam tax” for clients that do email marketing. If they receive spam complaints against you, they are claiming that they will hold your domain ransom unless you pay $75 to release it.

Basically, GoDaddy is saying that if you do email marketing or have affiliates that send emails linking to your site, they don’t want your business.

See below…

From: GoDaddy Abuse Department []
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2008


Thank you for contacting Go Daddy’s Abuse Department.

As the registrant of EXAMPLE.COM you are ultimately responsible for your domain name. Any email mail advertisement that is driving traffic to, or generating revenue for, your website or domain name is your responsibility. If your clients violate our anti spam policy they place your domain name in jeopardy.

You can view Go Daddy’s Anti-Spam policy by clicking on the “Anti-Spam Policy” link located on Go Daddy’s “Legal Agreement” page. Click the following link to access Go Daddy’s “Legal Agreements” page:

Please keep in mind that it is not our intention to cause anyone’s business to suffer and we do appreciate your response and cooperation. Because of your willingness to resolve this issue thus far, your services have not been interrupted, however this situation remains unresolved.

While we do consider you ultimately responsible for the use of your domain name, we understand you cannot guarantee that each and every client you provide services to will act responsibly. Because of this Go Daddy offers a solution that may be a better fit for your particular situation. We refer to this solution as our “Abuse Enforcement Program”.

If you intend to provide services to your clients that involve the use, or marketing of, your domain name, you must require your clients to abide by Go Daddy’s anti spam policy. These services include, but are not limited to, the following:

- Affiliate Advertising Programs (aka “clickthru” programs)
- Website Hosting/Email Services (free or paid)
- Multi-Level Marketing Programs
- Independent Contractor Programs

If you agree to the terms of the “Abuse Enforcement Program” outlined below, Go Daddy will accept, in good faith, your commitment as proof of your desire to correct this problem and enforce our anti-spam policy.

“Abuse Enforcement Program” terms are as follows:

1. Authorize to charge a $199 non-refundable administration fee* to the credit card on file for your account. This fee is used to cover the costs of responding to or “cleaning up” the outstanding spam complaints Go Daddy has received against your domain name so far.
2. Terminate the services you are providing to the organization circulating the mailing that has generated the complaints we have received.
3. Reply to this message with a statement that you will terminate the services of any future client that violates Go Daddy’s No Spam policy.
4. Provide both a primary contact and secondary contact email address.

In the future, Go Daddy will send a “warning notice” to these contact addresses if we receive additional spam complaints. If you respond to these “warning notices” within 5 days no action will be taken against you. This will allow you handle the problem on your end preventing any interruption of service to your clients that are not at fault. Go Daddy itself has a similar agreement with our upstream provider AT&T.

If this solution is not agreeable to you, or you are unable to comply with these terms, you can transfer your domain name to another registrar. We require that you pay a $75 administration fee before allowing you to proceed with your transfer. Again this fee used to offset the costs of “cleaning up” the outstanding spam complaints against your domain name.

You will need to provide the following in your reply:

1. A statement that you will initiate the transfer of your domain name to a new registrar within the next 24 hours.
2. Authorization for to charge a $75 administration fee* to the credit card on file for your account.
• You may want to log into your Go Daddy account and confirm that the card on file is valid and has not expired.
Please let us know what option you choose, thank you for your cooperation.

Abuse Department
24/7 Abuse Department Hotline: 480-624-2505

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21 Responses to “Don't host domains at GoDaddy if you do email marketing (who doesn't?)”

  1. Suresh Ramasubramanian
    June 16, 2008 at 8:54 am #

    Good for godaddy then.

    All the affiliate, clickthrough and get rich quick MLM schemes can shift to moniker or someone similar ..

  2. Joshua Baer
    June 16, 2008 at 9:10 am #

    The company that submitted this request creates surveys for legal associations. There are no get rich quick schemes or anything like that. The problem with GoDaddy's strategy is that they don't have the staff to investigate individual issues, and so they end up charging extra fees and causing grief for legitimate email marketers. If they could actually tell the good guys from the bad guys it might be okay, but the way they do it now is unfair. Fortunately there are plenty of other choices for where to host your domain.

    I'm really curious if they can actually hijack your domain like this and prevent you from transferring it when you never agreed to pay their extra ransom fees to begin with. Would ICANN have any issue with that?

  3. Suresh Ramasubramanian
    June 16, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    If you actually host the domain with them as well .. and you must remember they have a vanity hosting service.

    Godaddy is kind of a special case there.

  4. Stefan Pollard
    June 16, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    I don't know too much about registrars, but it seems to me these kinds of attempts to reduce spam are aimed at "ham" not "spam". Frankly, most "ham" comes from legitimate businesses with poor practices, but not true spammers (phishers, bot-nets, or outright evil practices).

    True spammers don't care about the fine cause they won't be around long enough and wouldn't pay it anyways. If you want to stop domain abuse by spammers you need a better tactic.

    What if they could charge fee's per/year and require retainers upfront to cover abuse fees. This makes domain tasting unprofitable, and not just a bill me later attempt that can be ignored. Somewhat painful to new business registrations, but not much more than interest checking account minimums at your bank.

  5. Steve Sobol
    June 16, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    This looks like a shoot-first, ask-later policy, which screws legitimate domain owners. Forget email marketers for a second. If someone forges your address on a spam run, you're screwed. And then if you transfer your domain after getting screwed, you get screwed again.

  6. Seth Breidbart
    June 16, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    Unsolicited Bulk Email is spam. It doesn't matter how "legitimate" the sender is. I've received spam from a number of companies that I considered legitimate before they spammed me.

    Ham is non-bulk, or solicited, email. It isn't a lesser form of spam.

    A "legitimate business with poor practices" is a spammer if those poor practices result in its sending unsolicited bulk email.

  7. Joshua Baer
    June 16, 2008 at 1:39 pm #

    The example that caused this was not UCE. It was a legal organization sending email to their own members. As Steve Scobol and Stefan Pollard pointed out, this type of policy hurts all the wrong people and doesn't stop spam.

    If GoDaddy actually investigated the complaints it might be different, but they just send out form letters when they receive complaints. Then when their customers respond trying to explain what's going on, they respond with another form letter.

    There are plenty of other choices for a registrar. If you send any emails at all from your website, you're probably better off using someone else.

  8. spamfighter
    June 16, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    For all the what if's, I'm prepared to put my money where my mouth is. I intedn to move all my domains TO Godaddy as a way of voicing my support to this new initiative, which i regard as a positive move

  9. Seth Breidbart
    June 17, 2008 at 8:26 am #

    Was the example that started this UBE? Spam needn't be commercial to be spam. I've gotten a lot of religious and political spam.

  10. Ken P
    June 19, 2008 at 9:16 am #

    Ok.. its really not difficult to spoof a domain. So if I send myself an email from and then complain to godaddy will they fine themselves? I'm assuming they are speaking of the return path domain vs the 'reply to' domain.

  11. Luke
    June 19, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    I think its great they are making an effort with the fight against spam but holding a domain randsome and charging a $200 "spam tax" is hardly justifiable.

  12. qthrul
    June 20, 2008 at 12:40 am #

    Let's hope their abuse department is slightly more sophisticated in terms of possible origins for complaints

    i.e. the lowly joe job

  13. Jeff Paul Scam
    February 18, 2009 at 1:05 am #

    I don't know too much about registrars, but it seems to me these kinds of attempts to reduce spam are aimed at "ham" not "spam".

  14. WhiteSites
    August 2, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    One way to protect your domain, is to setup an SPF record. This way if anyone trys to send email via your domain, other mail servers can do an SPF lookup to determine if the sending IP has permission to send this email. This and Reserve DNS are two must haves on any domain that sends email. However everything stated above makes me worry as I have a client that does bulk emails, 80K in one list. Of course when sending this many emails you are sure to get a couple that no longer want to be a subscriber, and get lazy and click the spam button. Don't want this to be an issue if we get a dedicated box with godaddy.

  15. Emarketing
    August 27, 2009 at 4:12 am #

    Thats ridiculous. Everyone should do marketing and drive traffic to their site, and lets be honest here, some customers can be difficult no matter what. So any complaint against you, whethere you are innocent or not is gonna cost you money. Doesnt sound just

  16. Andrew Bonar
    March 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    I have been telling my clients for as long as I can remember not to use GoDaddy for several reason.

    I have refused to logon to the GoDaddy interface on behalf of any client for over 3 years now. There are only a few mainstream companies I always veto getting involved with regardless of the arguments, GoDaddy is one.

    They have in my experience always had a shoot first ask questions later policy to email marketing, complaint handling etc

  17. Brian Brown, Ph.D.
    May 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    I cannot, for the life of me, see why anyone would have ANYTHING to do with godaddy or any of Bob Parson's other "front" companies, i.e, "Wild West Domains," etc.
    I concur with Andrew!
    What this godaddy policy is about is money. Godaddy wants to sell their "eMail Marketing" product. Parsons, Christine Jones, their lead attorney, and his companies are complete hypocrites!
    Another good example is their domain "privacy" product. It isn;t so private after all, when practically anyone can write to them and request registrant details and receive them.
    Remember that godaddy is run by money-grubbing accountants (like Parsons) and attorneys (like Jones). Its all a big marketing scam.
    I cannot feature any programmer worth his/her salt would even consider hosting at godaddy, anyway!
    Parsons, Jones and their ilk belong in prison!
    Brian Brown,
    BSEE, MBA, PhD

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    May 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

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  19. Reverse Internet
    June 7, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    I recently received a similar email from Godaddy. The domain in question wasn't sending out any email. It's a URL shortening service that someone used to cloak a link he then sent out in spam email.

    I set up this service years ago when I was just starting out in Internet business and didn't know any better than to use godaddy as both my registrar and hoster (a big no-no). Now years later it came back to bite me.

    I'm opting for the "$75 ransom" option and then moving this all other of my domains from godaddy, never to use their services again ever.

  20. James
    November 11, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    The company I work for uses dedicated servers for their web hosting. You can find the same quality services at

  21. John
    March 10, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Very interesting.