I took a look at AOL’s My eAddress offering over two years ago. While I signed up for the free service I never really used it. The biggest hindrance for me was that AOL controlled the domain. So if AOL decided to discontinue the service there was no guarantee that I would keep the domain. I could be forced into changing my email addresses. While AOL isn’t discontinuing My eAddress they are restructuring it to remove that obstacle. Now they only offer a “Bring your own domain” option where you can use AOL My eAddress for email with a domain you already own. AOL will be releasing any domains that were registered through AOL My eAddress on December 31st. People who have a domain through AOL My eAddress have an opportunity to register the domain in their name before December 31st and maintain uninterrupted AOL My eAddress service. I received my email notification today.
If you want to keep the domain you need to register it with eNom using a link provided by AOL in the email. This link will provide special pricing and allow the email service to continue uninterrupted. According to the e-mail, prices for the transfer are $7.50 for .com and $5.50 for .net domains. I went through the process and transferred my domain. Because this is a company I never dealt with I used a temporary credit card number with a $25 limit which may have been a good call. The intro screen presented the special $5.50 price while the receipt indicated I was charged $10.99. In checking with the bank it appears the charge will be for $5.50 although at this point that’s just the amount held, not the actual charge. eNom pricing in general seems higher than other providers ($30/yr when it’s time for me to renew). Since the AOL e-mail is unclear whether the special pricing is for the transfer only or for future renewals (seems to be for the transfer only) I’ll probably transfer the domain in a couple of months.
In general AOL seems to be doing the right thing here, letting users keep their domain if they want it. While My eAddress itself is technically still free, the fact that you need to provide a domain means there is a cost involved. I’ve generally used the free Google Apps for Domains if I needed a email address for a domain but this brings along the whole GAFD suite along. AOL My eAddress provides a email only replacement and a web interface that can be used to open multiple mailboxes at the same time in the same logon session. (Although I haven’t tried opening multiple mailboxes across domains since I only have one domain.)
I’ll update this post once the domain transfer completes.
[Update Dec 7th] The transfer was completed this morning. Longer than the receipt page told me it would take but in line with other transfers. I also found a eNom faq that specified 5 calendar days for the transfer while the receipt said four. I was also billed the correct $5.50, not the $10.99 the receipt said. And one more problem with the receipt – the URL to check the status of the order was invalid. I had to copy the URL and past it into the browser then add www. to the beginning of the URL. Once I did that the order status status displayed fine. The Whois information also correctly reflects my ownership. The whois expiration date is Nov 25, 2009 which is the same date as when AOL owned the domain. It also correctly matches the eNom expiration date. The domain is set to auto renew.
The DNS settings point to AOL: for e-mail (click for full size):
While logging onto AOL e-mail the first time I was presented with a captcha request (you know – enter these letters). Every logon so far has also displayed the following error (click for full size):
When I click “Try Again” I go into the AOL web client just fine. I successfully sent e-mail to and from the AOL My eAddress account. I don’t have POP or anything other than web access set up so I’m unable to test that. I can’t say if the error message is related to the change or an completely unrelated problem.
Again, lot’s of talk about “special” pricing. There does seem to be a difference in what’s displayed when I’m logged on with the account that contains my AOL My eAddress domain and when I’m just a normal public browser. The difference isn’t always cheaper (guess “special” doesn’t have to mean cheaper) when logged on. I can’t say whether this is AOL specific or just because I have an account logged on.
Here’s the top of the eNom price list that I see when not logged onto my account (click for full size):
And here’s the eNom pricing when I’m logged on…
The common .com, .net and .org domains are cheaper when I’m logged onto my account, but others, such as .me, are more expensive. It’s all rather bizarre and I wonder if it’s due to bad coding or missed updates, such as my receipt displaying the wrong amount and URL. The URL is the same although is an active server page.
Personally, not a confidence builder for me and I won’t be bringing them any additional domains or services. Everything went fine so no complaints there. But their presentation is sloppy. I plan to transfer the domain before it renews if I don’t decide to dump it completely. From the press section it appears they came under new ownership in November so this may explain some of the discrepancies.
In conclusion, while I’m not recommending eNom, if you want your AOL My eAddress domain they’re your only choice. It’s not a bad choice since my experience was successful and relatively hassle free. Save all e-mails and make screen prints of everything in case you get charged the wrong amount instead of just being displayed the wrong amount.