I own a very small number of .com domain names, one of which is a very nice memorable English word with no particularly commercial overtones. I use it for a bunch of private servers that handle my news feeds and some other web-based stuff I've set up to make my life easier, all stuff that moving wouldn't be that hard. There is a web page there, but it is just a silly image acting as a placeholder.
Every so often someone offers to buy it. I am amenable, but no one has ever offered serious money — the offers usually top out at the very low four figures — so I have held on to it.
Today I got the most ridiculously low offer yet:
I am contacting you on behalf of a small web development firm with which I work.
We have just recently instigated a development plan whereby we are slowly but surely building a large network of simple, information based websites. The intention is to create a Wikipedia style encyclopaedia of information. The difference is however that rather than be located on one central domain, we intend to develop these sites on individual, keyword rich domains. Our aim is to create a network such that if you want information on 'Childrens Birthdays' for example, then you can simply type in childrensbirthdays.com and find all the information you need. At the moment search engines like Google provide an unnecessary middle man. We aim to make finding what you want even simpler than it already is!
We are contacting you with regards to the domain name [NiceWord].com. Having completed a check of the whois database we obtained your details as being the owner/administrator of said domain name. We are interested in purchasing this domain name from you as it is an ideal domain name for our development.
We would be prepared to offer you 50 USD for your domain name. If this is acceptable, please do let us know and we will provide information on how we may proceed. We do not consider ourselves naive or unknowledgeable, and appreciate that some domains are being used for other things than websites: email for example, and again we appreciate that you may simply not want to sell your domain. If this is the case we ask that you let us know such that we can pursue alternative domains.
Independent of your decision, I thank you for your time and wish you all the best. Thanks
I don't know if they are just fishing, hoping to find a deal, if the recession is much worse than I thought, if this a lo-ball opening bid, or what, but the initial offer was so low it almost makes me mad.
On reflection, the “Dear Sir/Madam” bit, given they claimed they looked me up on whois and the nice word isn't in fact all that suitable for a search engine — more the reverse — makes me suspect a form-letter-based attempt to grab (at absurdly low prices) single word domains that don't appear from the outside to be in use for much.
So my reply suggesting their offer is risible probably will not produce anything.
“Risible? No, we can’t afford more than $50.”
Domainers do this because it works. I’ve met a couple of domainers at industry conferences who built their books largely by purchasing domains from registrants who had no idea of the value. It strikes me as rather unseemly, but I am also much poorer than the domainers who do this….
If that’s what this message is, isn’t it fraud?