You can learn from my mistakes...

or, why you don't want to order DNS service from Nikhilino Online Services (NOLS)

In August 2003, I decided it was finally time to get another DNS server for my personal domain names. Someone suggested that I check out NOLS, as their service is reportedly decent, and the prices are reasonable. Here's what went down:

August 29:
I went to the NOLS web page, and filled out the request form. A brief email exchange followed, and I paid for a year's worth of service for two domains ($15 each) via PayPal. I noticed some sort of fraud guarantee on PayPal's page, but didn't think to read it.
Later that day:
NOLS accepts payment immediately. I hear nothing from them for a week.
September 6:
I submitted a question via the feedback form, asking whether there was anything else I had to do on my end. The email reply: "What would you like your password to be?" Unsecured email isn't my first choice for sending passwords, so I sent a simple one.
September 9:
A virus wave hits, and the brilliant tech staff at my ISP decided to pull all computers off the network. We'll save that rant for another day. Needless to say, I was without DNS service, as well as email service to change my DNS records with the domain registrars.
Around September 11:
I sent a letter to NOLS telling them not to use my main email address, and providing an alternate.
September 16:
I sent a tirade to NOLS, explaining that I kind of expected some sort of information which my password would unlock, or some other hint of service on their part. I received this brilliant literary work via email:
Hello

We are sorry about the trouble. We thought that the details were emailed to you and that everything was okay.

Obviously that was not the case.

We are very sorry about this trouble.
Later:
I check around, and find out that yes, they did try and email me (at the wrong address) around the 12th of September (roughly a week after I sent my password). The mail bounced due to a server misconfiguration (which, incidentally, is why I provided an alternate email address in the first place).
September 17th:
Since this apology email did not directly address any of my concerns, I sent another copy of the earlier email, with a "please read the entire email" admonishment. The reply: "Not a problem. We can mail you a refund check." OK, I'm willing to give this a chance.
Sometime afterwards:
I remebered the PayPal fraud guarantee. I checked into it, and found out that it only applies to "tangible goods" and not services. Caveat emptor, I suppose.
October 19th:
I send another email asking about the status of the refund check. No reply as of October 24.
At this point, I'm writing this off as an uncharitable contribution. I don't expect to see a refund check. But I can't help thinking that if I had seen a web page like this while shopping for DNS providers, I wouldn't have bothered with NOLS in the first place.

-- Charles Lepple <ghz.cc!clepple>
Last updated: 24 October 2003