Buyer Beware: Cloudflare Registrar Prices will Increase

We love Cloudflare (we’re a paying customer), but need to point out a strong concern over Cloudflare Registrar.

To wit:

There’s a major conflict between Cloudflare’s sales pitch (CSP) for their Registrar service and the actual Domain Registration Agreement (DRA). Prices can be jacked-up anytime, without warning or consent. It appears to me the DRA needs to be updated to reflect what’s in the CSP.

Per Cloudflare’s Sales Pitch:

From the price side it’s even simpler: we promise to never charge you anything more than the wholesale price each TLD charges . That’s true the first year and it’s true every subsequent year. If you register your domain with Cloudflare Registrar you’ll always pay the wholesale price with no markup.

Per Cloudflare’s Domain Registration Agreement, Section 3.3:

Price Changes . Cloudflare expressly reserves the right to change or modify its prices and fees for the Registrar Services at any time, and such changes or modifications shall be posted online at Cloudflare.com and effective immediately without need for further notice to you. If you have purchased or obtained Registrar Services for a period of months or years, changes or modifications in prices and fees shall be effective when the Registrar Services in question come up for renewal.

So, based on the above, we’ll transfer our domain to Cloudflare Registrar after the Domain Registration Agreement is updated to reflect their advertised goodwill. Similarly, we encourage Cloudflare to add a “Revision Level” to their DRA for record purposes.

Last, lets not forget the good 'ol adage from Legal: “Always read the fine print before signing anything.”

Cheers!

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I’m pretty sure this is for situations regarding non-Cloudflare fees changing. If a situation out of their control comes up where they need to increase prices: For example, say if they re-contract with a TLD registry, the icaan fee is increased by a few cents, or an extra fee is charged based on country or something unexpected like that, they don’t want to be obligated to operate at a loss for each domain registration.

Now this isn’t stated in the domain agreement, so they very well could for any reason start charging a CF fee, but that would be pretty bad for PR and would likely lose customers in the long-run if they go back on their price promise.

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The wholesale prices of domains change frequently – and usually in the upward direction.

For example:

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Yep, that’s the point. Rewording the DRA should solve the problem and any concerns clients may have.

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Perhaps that’s the intent of the DRA. We read it several times. The wording is not quite there yet. Cheers!

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This also brings up another point: It could be useful to be able to manually renew for multiple years, simply to lock-in current pricing before prices change.

Heh… @thedaveCA we’re having enough challenges getting a single year addition working in the transfer. :smiley: I do agree however it would be nice… I think I can guess at a couple of the internal gating factors, so I would think this would probably happen sometime in Q1. :crossed_fingers:

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No rush at all, until a registry announces a price increase :smile:

In all honesty, I would rank user initiated renewals as fairly low on my
personal priority list, the price increases have rarely made a
significant impact to my livelihood.

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@cs-cf: Any chance your Legal department can review the above and perhaps update Cloudflare’s Domain Registration Agreement (DRA) to reflect Cloudflare’s promise using proper lingo? If acceptable, a 1Q19 release date would be nice!

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To my way of thinking (as a domain reseller from the early 2000s through to now) Cloudflare does need to make it clear to users that pricing can and will change. At this point Cloudflare is losing money (based on R&D, legal, customer service, negotiations with other TLDs, etc), but hopefully makes that up in sales (and let’s be honest, customer lock-in).

If this business model turns out to not be sustainable, that would be unfortunate, but since the DRA only lives as long as a domain does, Cloudflare could alter the DRA and you could choose to either agree to the new terms (and new pricing) or not renew your domains with Cloudflare.

As a customer, I don’t care about potential future price increases because should Cloudflare price themselves out of the market I can transfer my domains elsewhere just as easily as I moved them here. It’s a minor hassle, but one we can quantify in dollars: Is the dollars saved by moving worth my manhours to move the domain(s)? If yes, then I’ll move, if not then I’ll stay and pay.

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That may be the case if you simply look at ICANN’s fee history. Unfortunately, the current DRA language confirms Cloudflare can raise their Registrar rates just like many other hosting companies like GoDaddy. All that we are asking is for CF to revise the DRA language to reflect CF’s promise. Consumer protectionism is key to everyone’s financial survival, not just Cloudflare’s. Cheers!

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Agreeing with @thedaveCA, Cloudflare have got to cover themselves legally for ‘unforseen circumstances’

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@thedaveCA,

Another option is for Cloudflare to amend their promise and say “Oops, we messed up. Take it or leave it.” Ha.

IMHO, Cloudflare is here to stay. Nothing but good things to say about them. If they have any concerns over “survivability,” then here’s a proven, tested sales opportunity they’re currently missing: Offer the free service for a trial period (say, 6-months). After that, require the “freeloaders” to switch to their Pro plan (or above) or bust. It’s that simple. If implemented, their bottom line will skyrocket.

And people would very quickly cotton on and they would get far fewer long-term customers! Their current plans encourage low level users who may stay on the free plan for years but are likely to upgrade / add features to their plan in the future.

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Has this been tested by Cloudflare? When we started using Cloudflare (free plan), it only took us 3 months to realize switching to Pro and above was the way to go.

No idea if CF have tested it, I would not have started using Cloudflare if the free plan was not available and I know plenty of others who wouldn’t either.

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Heh… I appreciate the concern for our long term viability. But our primary mission is to build a better internet. Not that Cloudflare doesn’t want to make money but there are lots of things we do which aren’t specifically motivated by financial gain (even if it may have that as a secondary effect).

Even where we offer ‘premium’ features I think overall the long term trend is those features become available to lower tier plans (often for free). Matthew simply won’t allow us to release features like filter based firewall rules and not make at least some version of it available to everyone.

I’m obviously just speaking for myself and not Cloudflare as a whole, but our free customers are a immensely valuable. I have a number of Enterprise customers who short-listed Cloudflare when looking at solutions because someone at the company used us on their personal website (often for free). I’ve also seen great suggestions/ feedback/ bug reports from free customers which help us improve the product.

Passed along your feedback re: legal terms to the PM for Registrar as well.

Cheers!

Chris

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Not suggesting the free plan be eliminated, simply offer it for a limited time (trial period). All highly-profitable businesses we know follow this business model. Cheers!

@cs-cf,

Thanks, Chris. Personally, I appreciate your input. CF rocks (and you). Keep up the good work.

Cheers,

Craig

If anyone is not satisfied they can always transfer out of Cloudflare.
Fact is that some registrars are selling domains below wholesale prices, and in some countries price dumping is illegal, and Governments could shut them down.
The cost to maintain a registrar is not that big, for Cloudflare it is a marketing cost.
Registering a domain with CF increases the chance of new customers and upgrade plan chances.
So far they are transferring domains in, but the time for registering will come.

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