I bought a domain to start a business a long time ago, unfortunately the business never came. Being that the domain was a great single-world (correctly spelled) and short .io domain, I figured someone might see value in having it. That is when I signed up for Sedo. I suppose at some point in the process I gave them a “Buy It Now” price. Right after I sold the domain to an individual, I logged in a year ago and thought I removed the listing, however apparently it was never removed.

Fast forward to a week ago, I logged into a personal email I hardly use for anything anymore and see an email from Sedo demanding $150 in transactions fees because they attempted to sell the domain name, without my consent, to a buyer through the “Buy It Now” functionality. The kicker was the threat to send the supposed debt I owe them to a collections agency only a few days after they sent me the bill.

This is not an statement solely to warn people of the dangers of just selling domains on “Buy It Now” networks like Sedo, but also explain why this is detrimental to both buyers and sellers and everyone on both sides of the marketplace should stop using their service until they reform their process.

Sedo has found a scenario in which they are able to charge hundreds of dollars for a process in which they do not actually need to render any services. The only beneficiary of this process is Sedo and the “Buy It Now” domain marketplaces. Both buyer and seller are hurt in the process. Buyers have their money collected by Sedo and held in escrow with the promise and understanding that they have just successfully purchased a domain, only to find out in a couple of days that in fact the original owner of the domain for sale has changed and they aren’t able to provide the domain they bought. Aside from losing in potential interest for the cash the buyer gives to Sedo, there are also more subtle issues with this process. What if there are two domains that the buyer is fretting over, however they go for the “Buy It Now” thinking that its a guarantee and lose out on the bids for a second domain? Not to mention the heartache that comes from dealing with Sedo to figure out what happened, or in some of the larger cases legal fees.

Sellers such as myself are at risk from almost no transparency around the service, hidden clauses in the the terms and conditions of the site and overall a terrible user experience. In my particular case, only after the fact did I realize that I did not receive any “transactional” emails regarding actions I performed in the marketplace such as listing the domain, setting a price, or removing a listing. I can only find the “forgot your password” email from over a year ago from when I thought I logged in to remove the listing. When conversing with Sedo about canceling the charges, the only response that I got when inquiring about why my listing wasn’t actually removed was to the tune of “We unfortunately can not tell you why it wasn’t remove because you never emailed support to confirm the listing was removed.”

I wouldn’t have wrote this article if it was just me having this issue, but upon researching I discovered that there are quite a few complaints on the Better Business Bureau’s site for very similar issues with their billing department that I faced.

Moral of the story, know the dangers ahead of time if you plan to use Sedo and the “Buy It Now” functionality. I would love a response from Sedo about how many of the domains in their network are actually still owned by the original owners. It should be extremely easy for them to verify. If it isn’t easy, then that means they have no problem operating with a very stale dataset. They have figured out a way to prosper off of such conditions at least.