MelbourneIT was a prominent Domain Registrar in the ’90s. Now, they’re totally useless…

29 years ago, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote how Robert Elz from the University Of Melbourne made a phone call to America and asked the question, “Can we please have the internet in Australia?”

And at that moment, Australia and Australian Business became a whole lot less-isolated from the rest of the world.

MelbourneIT” (derived from Melbourne Information Technology International Pty Ltd) became a commercial subsidiary of The University of Melbourne. The initial objective of the company was not merely to register domains but to demonstrate the University’s strategic leadership in working with industry and government in selected areas of IT. Robert Elz, senior system administrator in the University of Melbourne’s Computer Science Department, was in charge of the registration process of the .au domain at that time.

MelbourneIT started charging for .com.au domain name registrations in November, 1996. Prices were generally $100 wholesale and $125 retail. They also introduced different pricing plans and different criteria for domain registration processes during that period.

After enjoying exclusive rights to sell .au domains for 5 years, MelbourneIT signed a license agreement with .au Domain Administration (auDA) on July 12th, 2001. It was reported that MelbourneIT‘s Chief Executive, Professor Peter Gerrand, claimed that the deal “extended MelbourneIT’s guarantee of exclusivity.” Later, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston announced that the claim was incorrect and that MelbourneIT’s monopoly on .au domains would not be extended.

Skip forward a few decades to the last day of 2019 and my experience with MelbourneIT has left me tearing my hair out.

Here’s the story.

My business partners and I purchased a one-word domain name for $10k on the 19th December, a few weeks ago.

The seller was easy to deal with, although it took some coaxing for him to sell the domain name. He overcharged for it, but it was something we really wanted, so we paid his invoice.

The seller had been using MelbourneIT as his domain registrar for years, he said. He insisted we use a MelbourneIT account to perform the transfer because it would make things so much easier.

I was hesitant, as I know MelbourneIT charge a heavy-premium for a simple Change Of Registrant (COR) and their entire support team is based OVERSEAS, with no local support that I’m aware of.

It took me 2 days to talk the seller into selling his domain name, that he didn’t want to sell.

It took MelbourneIT FIVE DAYS and cost $339 to perform the COR (Change Of Registrant). It cost me 4 hours of my life too. That I’ll never get back.

Three Support Tickets were raised and I had to ring their Phone Support number four times across two different days and I was on the phone for more than 30 minutes each time I rang.

What is most concerning about the bad-quality of service at MelbourneIT, is that when you finally get through to an overseas support person, they immediately ask you, “Can I please have your phone number in case the LINE DROPS OUT”.

And the line seems to drop out EVERY TIME THEY PLACE YOU ON HOLD.

I guess they’re hoping you’ll give up and leave them alone?

The line dropped out EVERY TIME I rang them, and they never bothered to call me back, so I had to phone them again and wait in line again… then, after finally getting someone NEW back on the phone, the new overseas call centre worker would ask, “What’s your phone number in case the line drops out again?”

I don’t mind paying a premium price for a premium service that is FAST and EASY, but in this case, my experience with MelbourneIT is that they are USELESS as a service for housing my domain names or performing any sort of domain name service and I’ll never be using them again.

5 thoughts on “MelbourneIT was a prominent Domain Registrar in the ’90s. Now, they’re totally useless…

  • Avatar
    December 31, 2019 at 5:08 am
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    Some thoughts for reflection for all:

    (1) It can be an anxious wait, waiting to finalise transfer on a name you really want. REVERSE THAT and think about how anxious an end user buyer is when they approach you about their dream domain name.

    This is why so many buyers start with a stupidly low offer. They think that by doing so they are not going to make a fuss about the domain. In reality it comes off as an insult to the domain owner and sets negotiations off on the wrong foot.

    (2) Both buyers and sellers of aftermarket .com.au and .net.au names should keep in mind that for many years (until recently), Melbourne IT’s fees were $220 odd for 2 years.

    So if the name in question has been registered continuously for eg. a decade or more, that’s quite an accumulation of holding costs. Say the name was first registered in 1999, that’s 20 years and perhaps $1,800 odd in notional holding costs.

    Buyers really need to know about the history of the internet to appreciate the value of high quality names that have been ‘not available’ for more than a decade. For many years, Melbourne IT was it and the fees were unavoidable.

    (3) End user buyers are often shocked and very grateful to learn that there are other good options besides Melbourne IT. This can sometimes help the buyer justify paying that extra $5,000 to meet your price.

    Simply ask how many .com.au and .net.au domain names are in their portfolio (commonly 6-12). Then work out the cost savings over 10 years if they switch to eg. VentraIP which has phenomenal service and charges less than $30 for 2 years reg. Uniregistry cheaper again.

    (4) End users need to understand there are many gravy trains out there, but paying a one-off premium for a generic domain name that many others want now and in the future (and that can be resold if not needed) is not one of them.

    Not compared to high reg fees.
    Not compared to the SEO rort.
    Not compared to the SEM honeypot.

    Not compared to social media marketing. eg. 36% of your revenues going straight to one company? Your business is toast if that company flounders? I don’t think so…

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  • Avatar
    December 31, 2019 at 6:13 am
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    Years ago, I had a business contact me as their web developer skipped the country the day their massive radio campaign was about to start.

    I was able to spend the day whipping up a new site and we needed the domain name delegated.

    On a Friday evening someone at Melbourne It gave me the auth code to my new clients domain name, instead of delegating to the new server, scary stuff.

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  • Ed Keay-Smith
    December 31, 2019 at 8:48 am
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    Rob, I feel your pain mate.

    The first com.au domain I ever registered which I still own, was ShortCourse.com.au back in around 1996 through Melbourne IT and from memory, I paid around $200 for 2 years reg. Owch!

    There were not that many options back then and they pretty much had a monopoly going.

    But over time their “service” cough, cough!, became worse and worse so when more options became available I switched registrars and saved a huge amount of money in the process.

    As a Digital Marketing Agency in Australia, we often are dealing with clients who still have their domain names and web hosting with Melbourne IT.

    As soon as they mention it I get a sickening feeling in my stomach as I know it is going to be a painful experience dealing with Melbourne IT for all of the reasons you mentioned.

    Run away, run away and run very fast! There are too many better service providers out there now with very competitive prices to match.

    I am glad it worked out for you in the end though mate. 👍😎

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  • tim connell
    December 31, 2019 at 12:57 pm
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    my first domain was in the year 2000, via MIT of course and it was reasonably simply to do.

    what i basically think AND i find this in many businesses is they just DON’T WANT that type of business anymore, no real profit just a pain for them so they charge heaps.

    i have just recently done this myself in november, i contacted @ 30% of my clients that really were costing me more then i made and said goodbye….find someone else. it gave them a few months to move to be fair but i am personally feeling SO MUCH better for the decision.

    just move on

    tim

  • Avatar
    January 14, 2020 at 12:50 pm
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    Four hours? You only wasted FOUR hours??? After Uber Global was sold to MIT under TPP Wholesale, I’ve wasted half of my working life over two years dealing with their insanity of a support system! I’ve seen a slight uptick in performance since TPP has been on-sold, but they have scarred me for life. Never again MIT. Never, ever, ever again.
    I’ve also had a client organise their COR with MIT directly only for it to NOT be processed as they had instructed, and 9 months later the client questions our system and billing because of MIT incompetence. I’m sure there are more stories…

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