Are 123-Reg Now Astroturfing?

July 30, 2010

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that about four months ago, I experienced problems with 123 Reg – the same problems that many other people have (and still do). I haven’t experienced problems since because, basically, I’ve switched to the excellent Dreamhost.

It’s been a while, so I had forgotten about it.

But then I woke up this morning, checked my mail, and found a pending comment on one of my posts. Here’s the handy email that WordPress sent to tell me about the comment:

Author : Romeo (IP: 195.224.160.13 , hns01-fw.internal.gxn.net)
E-mail : romeo@rtb.name
URL    :
Whois  : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=195.224.160.13
Comment:
I have domains with 123, before they get renewed I am sent a couple of email reminder letting me know that the domains will renew in x days. I have not paid with PayPal though. Did you cancel the domains with 123 before renewal?

I’m always suspicious when people comment about web stuff but don’t leave a URL – after all, why would you not want to promote your own personal site? That ‘internal.gxn.net’ looked a little weird too.

On further investigation, it seems that www.gxn.net redirects to corporate.webfusion.co.uk – the same people that own 123-Reg! GX Networks and 123-Reg are now basically the same company. And this ‘comment’ was sent from a web browser inside their private network.

Was this just a lone customer service rep acting badly, though? Well, it doesn’t appear so. Exactly 7 minutes after the comment was posted, I received an email from a 123-Reg/Webfusion “customer relationship manager” (in Comic Sans, no less):

Dear Daniel,

I understand you are having issues with an automatic domain name renewal I believe.

Please may you confirm if the domain name in question is “touchmybutter.com”, so I am able to investigate this further for you.

Please may you confirm a telephone number I can call you on to discuss this further.

Many Thanks

Anisha Lal

Customer Relationship Manager

Webfusion Limited.

Now, maybe Anisha is also Romeo, but perhaps there has been some corporate decision to try to remove these complaints that are beginning to appear all over the web. Either way, this seems downright stupid: 123 Reg, do you not know how the internet works? This stuff is pretty easy to spot.

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