Pelland Blog

Do Some Math, Then Get Real

November 17th, 2022

My company builds websites for the campground industry. A few years ago I reached out to the manager of a campground in a Northern state whose website would appear to be in desperate need of replacement. Its 14 year old website (nearly a century in either website or dog years!) was not mobile-friendly, had zero in terms of SEO (search engine optimization), was not ADA compliant (really an unknown issue at that time), had nothing but a phone number to call for reservations, did not even list the campground’s address, and had not been updated since it was built (still promoting that the park was the “newest” in its area.) After being asked to quote on a new website, the manager responded that my company’s services were “to rich” (sic) for his campground that was only open for a 5 month season.

I explained that most campgrounds in the Northern states were only open from late spring through early fall, hardly an operating calendar that was unique to his park. Based upon the weekly rates that are published on his website, if a new professionally designed website brought in only 15 new campers who would not have otherwise chosen to stay at his campground, he would have fully recovered his investment during a single season. That investment recovery would not even include the additional income generated by those guests’ purchases in his store, laundromat, game room, or fee-based added services. I went on to ask if his park was at full occupancy throughout its 5 month season, pointing out how the satellite image on Google Earth showed that his park had 48 sites – 35 pull-thrus and 13 back-ins – only 16 of which were occupied at the moment when that most recent image was captured.

I am referencing this campground’s website as simply an example of short-sighted thinking. The campground manager could have been dismissing the cost of Wi-Fi service, reservation software, upgraded electrical service, energy efficiency upgrades, a new line of store merchandise, a new dumping station or honey wagon, new rental boats, cabin or park model rentals, yurts or teepees, branded apparel, or replacements for the worn out and inefficient washers and dryers in his laundromat. Translated from the original Latin, the adage that “you have to spend money to make money” is nothing new, originally credited to the Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus a little over two millennia ago.

I can understand a short season factoring into a decision to purchase a motorcycle, snowmobile, speedboat, convertible automobile, or any other consumer good that represents an emotional want rather than a physical need. Those decisions all involve the purchase of personal goods, whereas an entirely different set of standards should apply when making well-informed business decisions.

I have always found it useful to make business decisions based upon the measurement of projected return on investment. This can apply to almost any purchase. Let me use Wi-Fi as an example, along with a few rounded numbers to simplify calculations. Let’s presume that you run a campground with 100 sites, that your average nightly site fee is $50.00, that the average guest stays two nights, you have an average occupancy rate of 50%, your season runs 150 days, and that 50% of your prospective campers demand Wi-Fi and will not stay at a park that does not offer high-speed Internet at sites. Let’s also presume that the cost of a new Wi-Fi installation at this small- to medium-sized park would be $7,500.00 (admittedly on the high side.) Although some parks charge for the service, and others offer tiered service levels, let’s presume that your park is going to treat Wi-Fi service as a utility that will be provided to its guests at no added charge as part of its overnight fee.

If the added service increases occupancy from 50% to just 60%, that means filling 10 otherwise empty campsites at $50.00 per night. Over the course of a 150 day season, this represents $7,500.00 in income, fully recovering the investment in the new Wi-Fi system, or an investment that is recouped in a single season. If your park is in a competitive market that allows it to charge for Wi-Fi service, the payback period may be even shorter. The same sort of calculations can be applied to an investment in upgraded electrical services, when your prospective guests are seeking out reliable 50-amp service when most of your sites are providing 20- or 30-amp service through rusty power pedestals with circuit breakers that trip open on a regular basis. In fact, when it comes to park utilities, problems with Wi-Fi, electrical service, roadways, water pressure and sewerage are just as likely to lead to an abbreviated stay as an obnoxious camper or barking dog on an adjacent site. The same claim may be made for restrooms or playgrounds in dire need of upgrades, a store with too many empty shelves, or a game room with too many “out of order” signs. Weaknesses in these areas can actually be driving away business, as well as inflicting harm on review sites.

When it comes to less tangible services such as a park’s website, reservation software, planned activities and advertising, it is still quite easy to calculate return on investment and to make informed decisions. In fact, these represent some of the best ways to spread the word about that new Wi-Fi or electrical service, essentially speeding the return on investment on those infrastructural improvements. Think twice – and perform some calculations – prior to dismissing a business investment out of hand. That “too costly” investment may be both easily recovered and the key to running your business more profitably than ever.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Ten Ways to Cut Expenses

October 7th, 2022

We are all feeling a financial pinch during these days of rampant global inflation. We feel it at the fuel pumps, the supermarkets, and just about everywhere. The price of a dozen ears of sweet corn at my local farm stands that cost $6.00 in recent years has jumped to $9.00 this year. In all probability, you have raised the prices of your campsites. As prices increase, incomes just cannot seem to keep up. While you are waiting for corporate buyers to come knocking at your door with the right offer, here are ten concrete tips for cutting your expenses and making inflation more bearable, in some instances for your household and in some instances for your business. Several of these involve rethinking old habits and finding new ways of doing things.

1) Cut the land lines. Are you still paying your local phone company for landline telephone service? If so, you are likely paying a substantial fee each month, when half of your incoming calls are probably from telemarketers and robocallers. If you have high-speed Internet service, there are several companies that sell telephone equipment that runs Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), with monthly fees for premium services that might be as little as $20.00 per month, including unlimited calling throughout North America. The service is reliable, your existing phone number(s) will port over to the new service, the sound is crystal clear, and it generally includes some highly effective call blocking features. Service providers include Ooma, RingCentral, Nextiva and Vonage, among others.

2) You have a fax machine? The technology behind the fax machine is as old as the hills, introduced by Western Union in the late 1940s, then adapted to use telephone lines by Xerox in 1964. During the 1980s, a fax machine was considered essential office equipment. Since then, it has become little more than an annoyance that presents unsolicited (and illegal) advertising from disreputable timeshare companies, cruise agents, and roofing contractors. If you still have one of these machines cluttering up a desk in your office, it is way past time to kiss it goodbye, saving the expense of paper, ink or toner, and perhaps a dedicated phone line. The same companies that provide VoIP telephone service include easy-to-use virtual fax features. If you receive a fax, it comes in as a PDF file that you can preview, then decide whether to print or delete.

3) Are you overpaying for mobile service? Like everybody these days, you probably have mobile phone service from one of the major carriers such as AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. Check your next billing statement to see if you are paying for services that are either unused or that exceed your needs. For example, you might be paying for a plan that includes 20GB of monthly data transfer when you never use more than 2GB. Call your carrier and speak with a sales associate, explaining that you need to reduce your monthly billing, perhaps citing prices from a competitive company. They will reduce your monthly billing, but not without you taking the initiative to ask. For example, AT&T offers a 10% monthly discount if you are a military veteran.

4) Are you paying for satellite radio? When you buy a new vehicle, it generally comes with at least a month of trial service with Sirius XM. The company hopes that you will grow accustomed to its service and continue as a paid subscriber. I personally have thumb drives in my vehicles that I have pre-loaded with about 12,000 songs that play randomly and only include music and artists that I want to hear. If you are really hooked on satellite radio, let your service expire for two or three days without renewing. Then contact the service provider for a renewal discount. You will pay half price, but may have to repeat this routine every six months.

5) Do you ask for discounts? If you are over 50, you are no doubt an AARP member. When you make a purchase, ask if there is a discount associated with your membership. Five years ago, when buying a new vehicle (and already negotiating a serious discount), I asked the sales associate if there was an AARP discount. Much to my surprise (and his surprise!), there was an additional $3,000.00 taken off the price of that vehicle. There are also discounts associated with memberships in auto clubs, fraternal organizations, and your national and state campground associations such as ARVC.

6) Go solar! Although the incentives will vary from state to state, and the savings and cost-effectiveness will vary with your local utility rates, installing rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels is a no-brainer, even in northern latitudes. Lacking a really good southern exposure, surrounded by tall trees and in a region where the panels get covered with snow during the winter months, the 47 panels on the roofs of my own home save us approximately $1,200.00 per year by feeding power back into the grid through net metering. You can purchase your system outright, or there are companies that will install a system at no charge to you. In the latter instance, you are essentially leasing your roof space, with an agreement to purchase the power that is generated at a fraction of the fees that would be charged by your local utility, over the course of the 20-25 year lifespan of the system. The installer reaps the tax incentives and is also responsible for service and maintenance. In some instances, your system can tie into battery storage with a Tesla Powerwall® or similar system that will also serve as a short-term substitute for an expensive backup power generator.

7) Cut the cable. If you are paying your local cable services provider for TV, phone and high-speed Internet, even a bundled service might be highly overpriced. In most areas, cable service providers have a localized monopoly, with no incentive to be competitively priced. There are options. For example, T-Mobile has recently introduced 5G broadband Internet service for only $50.00 per month, which could represent quite a savings.

8) Go paperless. If you have monthly recurring payments, almost all companies will offer you a discount if you agree to paperless billing, saving them the expense of mailing paper statements. There will usually be an additional discount if you set up automatic payments.

9) Lower your interest rates. If you use a credit card, and particularly if you carry a balance from month to month, call the company and ask them to reduce the interest rate, lower any annual fee, or convert you to a more affordable card. Once again, they are not going to reduce their profit margins on your account unless you ask.

10) Lower your credit card processing fees. Your small business is probably running an ever-increasing volume of transactions through a credit card merchant services provider. Be sure that the fees are competitive or be willing to switch to another provider. There are companies such as Pennsylvania-based MCPS for Campgrounds that specialize in working with the campground industry and offer highly competitive rates.

Yes, times are a bit tough, but that is when it is time to think smart, break a few old habits, and consider new ways of doing things.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Consider Offering Customer Incentives

July 28th, 2022

It is no secret that, in general, campgrounds weathered the recent COVID-19 pandemic quite nicely. In fact, many park owners were able to raise prices in response to the combination of the low supply and higher than ever demand for campsites. While most of those customers, including many first-time campers, would like to continue their pursuit of the camping experience, another potential roadblock is now in play.

With the global economy teetering on recession, the biggest consumer headaches are skyrocketing mortgage rates, food costs and fuel costs, with fuel costs most directly impacting the desire to camp. According to a late June 2022 CBS News report, the people who purchased new RVs during the pandemic are not yet being dissuaded from engaging in their camping pursuits, though they are likely to seek refuges that are closer to home in order to trim their travel expenses. Another recent Associated Press report indicates that consumers are now facing what is referred to as “demand destruction” when it comes to filling their vehicles with gasoline or diesel at what are now all-time record high prices per gallon.

Particularly for campground owners with parks that have historically offered overnight stops for cross-country travelers, or parks that are adjacent to off-the-beaten-path tourist destinations, now might be a good time to consider taking preemptive actions to ensure a steady flow of business. According to Forbes Magazine, many companies are offering fuel incentives to their employees as they return to their office commutes after months of working from home. Why not rethink that strategy and offer minor subsidies to your customers who cannot reach you without filling their tanks? One of my suggestions is to look into the use of prepaid fuel cards as a customer incentive that will help campers to justify traveling that extra mile.

Gift Card Rewards

We are all familiar with gift cards, probably purchasing them as last-minute gifts for friends and relatives. Most are purchased for retail merchants at gift card kiosks in supermarkets, convenience stores, and shopping malls. What I am suggesting is the use of cards that are purchased in bulk, perhaps even customized with your business name or logo, that are specifically for use at the fuel pumps of a major oil company that has a station near your place of business.

Everybody responds to incentives, and there is no incentive as effective as a perceived rebate. Let’s say you have a Shell Oil station down the road. Depending upon your available inventory — and this ties in directly to dynamic pricing — you could offer a $20.00 Shell gift card to people who camp mid-week, camp on a historically slow weekend, or arrive on a Thursday night for an extended weekend. To be effective, the card must have a significant perceived value (I suggest $20.00), but that incentive can be much more effective than a corresponding drop in dynamic pricing. We all know that it costs much more than $20.00 to fill a vehicle with gasoline or diesel these days, but that incentive can go a long way toward having a camper choose your park over another, even if it means traveling that extra mile.

There are two types of bulk gift cards that may be purchased. So-called “open loop” gift cards are prepaid Visa or MasterCard cards that may be used anywhere. These, for a significant one-time fee, are the cards that can be customized with your business name or logo. What I am suggesting are “closed loop” gift cards that are specifically used at one business. There are also both digital and plastic gift cards, and my recommendation is the use of the plastic cards. Their tangibility gives them greater perceived value. Of course, you need to keep these stored in a secure location within your office, treating a stack of $20.00 gift cards the same way you would treat a stack of $20.00 bills.

How to Purchase Bulk Gift Cards

The companies that specialize in selling bulk gift cards earn their income from fees that are paid by the merchants. Merchants can afford to absorb their fees because cards that are either unused or only partially redeemed can represent a major source of income. They also realize that somebody redeeming a $20.00 gift card is likely to make an additional purchase, another source of income. Most cards will also have an expiration date, so be sure to be aware of that timeframe both when purchasing bulk cards and when distributing them to your customers. The advantage to buying these cards in bulk is to circumvent the usual 20 card limit when purchasing gift cards at the retail level. In addition, though most cards are purchased at face value, some merchants may even provide small discount incentives, although others may charge a premium (best to be avoided) and some cards may be on back order due to high demand.

Two online merchants that sell bulk gift cards are PerfectGift.com and BlackhawkNetwork.com. When it comes to oil company gift cards, both of these merchants represent the following companies: 76, ARCO, BP/Amoco, Chevron, Circle K, Conoco, ExxonMobil, Gulf, Sheetz, Shell, Sinclair, Speedway, Sunoco, Texaco, and Wawa. In addition, Blackhawk represents Marathon and Phillips 66. There are other smaller bulk card merchants, such as GiftCardPartners.com which only represents Sheetz, Shell, Speedway, and Wawa.

Take This to the Next Level

If you decide to pursue this type of incentive program, try to arrange an expanded arrangement with your local merchant. A smart gas station operator will realize that it takes more than $20.00 to fill a tank on a motorhome or a big pickup truck, and that you are essentially sending them business. Your mutual customer is likely to purchase not only more fuel but items from a full range of convenience and food items that might be offered. This local merchant whose business you are promoting should be willing to display your brochures or rack cards on his counter, and he should be a prime prospect to advertise in your guest guides. In fact, if there is more than one brand of fuel available within easy reach of your business, the willingness to participate might dictate which brand you choose to associate with your business.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Starlink … Is it Right for You?

June 8th, 2022
Starlink Logo

You have no doubt heard about Starlink, the satellite-based high-speed Internet service from SpaceX. To say that Starlink is innovative and groundbreaking in every way imaginable would be quite an understatement. Primarily intended to provide broadband Internet to people in remote locations, Starlink differs from other satellite-based Internet service providers such as HughesNet. Unlike conventional satellite networks that use small numbers of enormous satellites in geosynchronous orbits over 22,000 miles into space, Starlink employs a “constellation” of 573 pound refrigerator-sized satellites in low Earth orbit at an operational altitude of only 340 miles. Based upon those orbital heights alone, the improvements in signal latency are tremendous.

At the time of this writing (late May of 2022), there are currently about 2,400 Starlink satellites in orbit, mostly operational and some on standby. SpaceX is launching another 50 or so into orbit about once a week, essentially as fast as they can be built. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has licensed SpaceX for 12,000 Starlink satellites, and international regulators are expected to license another 30,000, totaling the 42,000 satellites that SpaceX hopes to eventually deploy in its “megaconstellation”. Each of the satellites presents the connecting point between end users and fiber optic gateway ground stations that provide the Internet data that is being requested. The distance between an end user and the associated ground station also influences the overall connection speed and latency, and SpaceX is continually adding new ground stations while also introducing a new generation of Starlink satellites that will communicate directly with one another at the speed of light via laser, minimizing the number of ground stations needed.

In case you haven’t already guessed, I am a Starlink subscriber who is quite enthused with the service. Until recently, people waited up to a year for their Starlink equipment, but the service is readily available now. I am based in a heavily wooded, rural location in Western Massachusetts, and at any given time, I am connecting to one of anywhere from 6 to 12 satellites that are within view of my very carefully mounted antenna. Depending upon which satellite is connecting with my equipment (a fluid process that is constantly changing), my data might be coming from a ground station in Litchfield, CT; Lunenburg, VT; Beekmantown, NY; Lockport, NY; or even Sullivan, ME. It you really want to geek out and monitor your connections in real time, I highly recommend the third-party Starlink Coverage Tracker at starlink.sx.

Back to My Original Question

Is Starlink right for you? Maybe. Starlink is primarily designed to provide high-speed Internet service for people in rural and underserved areas. Until now, my only option was DSL (which I think is an acronym for “Darned SLow”) or paying Comcast $20,000.00 to extend the cable to my residence so I would then have the privilege of subscribing to their service. With Starlink, you are seamlessly connecting to a satellite within the constellation that is within reach of your antenna, so latency, download speeds and upload speeds will continually fluctuate but are roughly 20 times the speed of DSL. With our DSL phone lines now ported to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) through Ooma (for both my business and residential services), I was able to cancel our services with Verizon, effectively offsetting the Starlink subscription fee. Every service and device in our household that requires an Internet connection is running through Starlink, with bandwidth to spare.

The rule of thumb is that, if you have fiber optic or cable available, one of those would be your first choice. If not, Starlink will be your first choice. There are three options currently available.

Residential

I am subscribing to the residential service. The equipment consists of a rectangular antenna, a WiFi router and power supply, a 75 foot cable, and what I would consider a temporary mount. This equipment will currently cost you $599.00, plus $50.00 shipping. It is said that this is about a third of what the equipment costs to manufacture, and one of the things that I really like is that everything is marked “Made in the USA”. The antenna is really remarkable. It sets itself up, motorized to track satellites in real time, and it is heated and programmed to automatically melt snow and ice in the winter. Choosing the antenna location is accomplished through the Starlink phone app, which will also show you obstructions in real time, including any resulting loss of signal. I mentioned that the mount was temporary. There are a variety of heavy-duty permanent mounts available as accessories that can only be ordered after you already have your equipment. In my case, a roof pivot mount and flashing mount were another $101.00. You will probably also want the optional Ethernet adapter, which is another $25.00. I found that my desktop computer does not have a very good WiFi adapter, and using the Ethernet adapter (that I have attached to a gigabyte switch) made a BIG difference in connection speed. The recurring fee for residential service is $110.00 per month, with no data limits.

Business

There is a Starlink option for businesses, with faster Internet speeds and greater throughput that partially result from an antenna that is twice the size of the residential unit. It is intended for businesses and storefronts with up to 20 users at any given time, and multiple kits can be run through a single centralized account to increase that bandwidth. This option comes at a price. The equipment currently costs $2,500.00, and the monthly subscription fee is $500.00. Talk to your WiFi network provider to see if this is a viable option for your campground. As with all Starlink services, a clear view of the sky is essential.

Starlink for RVs

Starlink for RVs became available on May 23, 2022. Up until now, subscriptions were for only one fixed location. This option allows use anywhere you travel where there is active coverage and an unobstructed view of the sky. Currently, that coverage is spotty in the Eastern United States, except for Northern New England and upstate New York. Active coverage is generally available in the Plains States and most of the interior West, with spotty coverage in parts of Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington. Keep in mind that Starlink is being rolled out to first serve remote areas where Internet access options are otherwise limited. Active coverage is generally available throughout Southern Canada and all of Mexico. Active coverage is expected throughout the rest of the United States, including Alaska, by some point in 2023. Starlink for RVs has the same equipment and cost as Starlink Residential, and the monthly subscription fee is currently $135.00 per month. The service can be paused and un-paused on a monthly basis to coincide with individual travel plans. For this to work effectively, you will want to choose to stay at open grassy campsites whenever possible rather than heavily wooded sites, since tree coverage will definitely degrade service. This plan also makes sense for people with a summer home in a remote location, but without excessive tree coverage. Bear in mind that this service cannot be used while you are driving down the road in your RV, although that type of mobile service is in the planning and regulatory approval stages.

In Summary

There are factors other than price and tree coverage to take into account when considering Starlink. Do you want to help make the world’s richest person (Elon Musk) even richer, or reward him for his genius? Other concerns include potentially negative impacts upon astronomy and concerns about orbital collisions and eventual re-entry into the atmosphere, but SpaceX is addressing those concerns. For example, these satellites have an onboard autonomous collision avoidance system and an onboard propulsion system that is designed to safely de-orbit each unit at end of life. Taking all of these factors into consideration, I am pleased with my experience so far.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Attract New Business or Turn It Away?

May 27th, 2022

On a recent trip to Pennsylvania, when I hope the prices of automotive fuel had reached their peak, I think everybody in America had become all too familiar with the term “pain at the pump.” To add insult to injury, all three of the vehicles that my wife and I own and drive are diesels. These turbo diesels are highly fuel-efficient, and we drove my car, which gets 45 miles per gallon on the highway. We saw diesel prices on the side of I-78 as high as $6.099 per gallon, and I considered myself lucky to fill up at $5.199 on the return trip, using a discount card at a convenience store chain in Scranton.

Even if the price of fuel settles a bit, two things are clear: One is that more and more campers will want to turn to either seasonal camping or incentives where they will be allowed to leave their campers on-site between weekends. The other is that campgrounds are going to be seeing more and more electric vehicles (EVs) as time goes on … and this time will be much sooner than expected. This is a market that smart campground owners will cater to, not discourage.

Few campgrounds prohibit pets because that would decimate their potential pool of campers. Instead, they allow pets and have appropriate rules and associated fees. On the same token, campgrounds should welcome drivers of EVs. I have seen some campgrounds that either foolishly prohibit EVs or charge fees that are far in excess of the actual electric usage costs of charging. On a pre-pandemic vacation in California, I rented a Tesla and went out of my way to favor restaurants and other businesses with charging stations.

If you are seeking to attract new campers, consider the statistics. According to the manufacturer, Tesla built and delivered nearly 1,000,000 vehicles in 2021, which represented an 87% increase in numbers over 2020. Compare that with only 726,000 Ford F-Series pickups, which are the best-selling vehicles in America. The Tesla Model Y and Model 3 are among the 20 top-selling vehicles in the United States today. You probably know that Ford will be introducing its 2022 F-150 Lightning within the coming days, an EV that is designed for towing a camper.

Can Your Park Handle the Load?

Before you think that EV charging is going to dim your lights and blow your circuit breakers, bear in mind that you have probably already upgraded your electrical infrastructure to accommodate big rigs with multiple air conditioning units that can draw tens of thousands of watts of power during the course of the day. When charging, a typical EV will consume a steady amount of power (unless it is plugged in at a Tesla Supercharger station) of about 7,000 watts and 32 amps. On the other hand, a single air conditioning unit in a big rig might use 3,200 watts and 27 amps at startup, then settling down to about 1,200 watts and 10 amps. Power hogs such as microwave ovens will consume their power in surges. If your park has 600-amp service and is already equipped with 50-amp pedestals, you or your electrician can do the math to determine how many EVs can be charging at any one time, along with what you can charge their owners for their use of the service and what they are willing to pay, keeping in mind that Tesla owners are used to paying 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt hour at conventional charging stations. Most EVs will charge overnight, when temperatures have cooled down and air conditioner and appliance usages are lower.

Your customer will either have the necessary NEMA 14-50 adapter for 240 volt level 2 charging or could buy one in your store, another potential profit point. Talk with your electrical products provider, but an EV and an RV can often coexist on a single 50-amp power pedestal. According to the RVIA, KOA is currently in the process of installing level 2 chargers at KOA parks across the United States and Canada, using power pedestals supplied by Jamestown Advanced Products. KOA’s decision was no doubt based in part upon its most recent study, which found that one out of five campers owns an EV, significantly higher than the statistics for non-campers and the general public.

Another option for getting on board is to see if your business qualifies for one or more free charging stations (valued at $500.00 each) from Tesla. The primary requirements are that your business has a significant volume of drive-in traffic and that you will be willing to provide the electrical work. This could accommodate customers who are not otherwise occupying a campsite with a 50-amp power pedestal – tenters, for example. If your park provides non-camping related services, such as a restaurant, swimming lake or miniature golf course, these charging stations definitely offer the potential of increasing your business revenue, both in charging fees and indirect sales. In fact, the navigation systems in Tesla vehicles will even guide drivers directly to your location. To see if you qualify, go here: https://www.tesla.com/charging-partners

It’s Time to Get on Board

Electric vehicles are not the latest pet rock. They are here to stay. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2021, includes $5 billion in funding to add a network of 500,000 new charging stations along our nation’s highways, with additional funding that is earmarked for rural locations. This will help to make EVs all the more practical and affordable to own and operate, with a target that EVs will account for 50% of new vehicle sales by 2030. Remember when some park owners balked at the thought of providing WiFi to their campers? They suddenly faced the realization that WiFi was the most sought-after amenity at campgrounds. Take the lead rather than being left behind when it comes to EV charging stations at your park!

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away

May 23rd, 2022

Just about any business has an online presence in order to survive these days. When you are on track with a domain name and a website, the related third rail is inevitably business email. Back in the Internet’s age of innocence, most of the companies that hosted websites (often small, local service providers) also hosted business email accounts that were associated with the website domain names. This allowed the owner of Tallest Oaks Campground to have an email address such as camp@tallestoakscampground.com.

Soon afterward, most small to medium sized website hosting service providers learned that hosting email was not only a headache but an intense migraine. Incoming spam attacks – or outgoing spam attacks, after a customer may have inadvertently installed a virus on his computer – could slow down or crash a server just as effectively as a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack upon a hosted website. It was time to find an email hosting services provider that was willing and capable of dealing with those risks.

I have always told people that “real businesses do not have email addresses that end in @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com, or @aol.com”, just like real businesses have physical addresses and not just a post office box. Most of the larger companies, such as GoDaddy, that provide domain name registration and website hosting services will also host business email – for a price. Oftentimes it will only be offered as part of a package that includes more profitable components such as website hosting itself. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the quality and reliability of service, many small businesses turned to Google for email hosting. The Gmail interface is intuitive and easy to use, and it is relatively easy to set up accounts to sync with popular third-party email clients such as Microsoft Outlook.

Either out of the goodness of its heart – remember that Google’s original motto was “Don’t be evil”, later modified to “Do the right thing” – or to get people accustomed to using its services, Google provided free hosting of small business email accounts until December of 2012. At that point, Google started charging for new business email accounts, but any existing accounts were grandfathered in to the free service. Well, earlier this year, Google announced that the grandfather arrangement would be ending this summer.

If you have been using this service, you have received email notifications as well as notices on your Gmail interface that read:

Act now and switch to Google Workspace
Your access to the G Suite legacy free edition will end soon. As a valued customer, you’re eligible to switch now to a new Google Workspace subscription and enjoy a special discount. Or, in the coming weeks, you’ll be able to join a waitlist for a no-cost option. If you take no action by June 1, 2022, we’ll automatically transition you to the recommended Google Workspace subscription.


Your access to the G Suite legacy free edition will end soon. As a valued customer, you’re eligible to switch now to a new Google Workspace subscription and enjoy a special discount. Or, in the coming weeks, you’ll be able to join a waitlist for a no-cost option. If you take no action by June 1, 2022, we’ll automatically transition you to the recommended Google Workspace subscription.

The Google Workspace edition that is the most similar to the previously free service is Business Starter. Other options include Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise editions, and Essentials editions. These all come bundled with added services that you probably neither need nor want but that help to justify the new expense. They all allow you to set up email accounts using your own domain, what they now call professional email.

Unless you make alternate arrangements or sign up for the less than clearly defined “waitlist”, you will be billed for the new service beginning on July 1, 2022. (As of this writing, Google is still yet to define this “waitlist”, but it may allow you to buy a bit of time. Speculation is that any free account may involve converting email addresses to @gmail accounts.) The Business Starter edition of Google Workspace will cost $6.00 per user per month; the Business Standard edition will be $12.00 per user per month; and the Business Plus edition will be $18.00 per user per month. Even if you transition to the least expensive Business Starter edition and have 6 employees with their own email accounts, you will be looking at a new expense of $432.00 per year.

All of these plans are less costly than comparable plans with Microsoft Office 365, but this is still a bitter pill to swallow. Alternatively, there are optional email hosting services available that provide everything that you need but without the added bells and whistles that come with Google Workspace at a fraction of the cost. One such company is Namecheap, where it’s fairly robust and most popular plan is just over $25.00 per year for 3 mailboxes, or an even more robust plan is less than $44.00 per year for 5 mailboxes. Of course, bargain email hosting plans are probably going to include popup ads, less than 99.99% reliability, and other compromises. You should also be aware that migrating email from one service provider to another can be a major task, even though many service providers claim that they will automate the process. Google is no doubt counting on these factors to help its subscribers to “grin and bear it” when it comes to the new expense.

My own company began setting up its new clients’ email hosting to run through the Rackspace mail servers a decade ago, when Google started charging for new accounts. This service is on a par with Google’s offerings and is affordable on a per-user basis under our enterprise contract, allowing us to provide the service at no charge to our website hosting clients. Individual plans with Rackspace Email Plus cost just under $48.00 per user per year, which is significantly less than the roughly equivalent Google Workspace Business Plus. At minimum, now is clearly the time to rethink whether individual employees need their own email accounts. I have previously made the argument against individual employee email accounts in this column, strictly on the basis of security risks, but now there is an additional cost to consider. At one point in time, most of us thought of email as something that was a free service, like over the air television, but somebody was paying the price. Eventually that “somebody” becomes the end users.

What’s next? Google recently announced that it will be discontinuing Universal Analytics and replacing it with Google Analytics 4. Unless you upgrade, the Google Analytics running on your website will stop processing new traffic on July 1, 2023. There will be better cross-platform tracking across web and app platforms, but I am willing to wager that pricing for the previously free service will be announced in the coming months.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Is it Time for Rebranding?

April 25th, 2022

Have you ever eaten a Chinese gooseberry? In their country of origin, the fruit’s original name translated into ‘macaque fruit’, in reference to the monkeys that found it particularly appealing. You probably do not recall ever eating one; however, you have probably eaten kiwifruit, and they are one and the same thing. Widely planted in New Zealand in the early part of the twentieth century, marketers adopted the name of the country’s iconic flightless bird with a similar color and shape to give the fruit a bit more name recognition and appeal. This fruit is now grown in many countries around the world, including the United States, and the ones in New Zealand have been distinctively branded as ‘Zespri’ in order to identify them as the “real thing”.

Kiwi Fruit

Here in the United States, the kiwifruit was popularized by Frieda Rapoport Caplan, the marketing genius and founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce who died at the age of 96 in early 2020. Frieda also introduced Americans to such specialty produce items as spaghetti squash, purple sweet potatoes, brown mushrooms, star fruits, and over 200 other fruits and vegetables that were never previously sold in conventional supermarkets. Ironically, she was allergic to kiwifruit.

How about Patagonian tooth fish? Have you dined on that at an upscale seafood restaurant recently? Yes, you probably have, except that it has been rebranded to appear on menus as Chilean Sea Bass. Sticking with restaurant analogies, you know that you will pay more for an order of Boeuf Bourguignon than an order of beef stew, and you are more likely to consider an appetizer of escargots rather than snails. It is all about branding and in some cases rebranding.

Give Rebranding Careful Thought

There are many reasons for moving forward with name changes and rebranding. In some instances, it is time to move away from racial and ethnic stereotypes, the rationale behind the changes in the names of so many sports teams in recent years. Living in Massachusetts (admittedly one of the most politically correct states in the country) most of my life, I have seen the football team at the University of Massachusetts evolve from the UMass Redmen to the UMass Minutemen. Earlier in the school’s history, as a Land Grant college that was originally known as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, the football team was known as the Mass Aggies, so change is not something that is particularly new.

When you are ready, think forward. According to Wikipedia, when the Nissan Motor Company decided to rebrand its line of export automobiles from Datsun to Nissan, the transition took 3 years (1982-1984) at a cost in excess of $500 million in the United States alone. That would be about $1.4 billion today. Just changing the signage at 1,100 dealerships cost $30 million, and 5 years after the name change was completed, Datsun still had greater name recognition than Nissan. Just think how much money could have been saved had the Nissan name been used right from the start.

A Name Makes a Difference

Many people dreadfully fear the thought of changing their business name, always dwelling on the risks involved rather than focusing on the potential benefits. When it comes to campgrounds, let’s face it: nearly every campground that joins a franchise system or is purchased under a new corporate umbrella is likely to undergo a name change and a dramatic rebranding. Of course, those situations involve influxes of both financial and marketing support, but there are plenty of sound reasons to jump-start a park’s identity under other circumstances as well.

Particularly in instances of new ownership, the benefits of rebranding will often far outweigh the risks. In many instances, a park reflects the name of its original owners but does little else to create a unique identity. For example, years ago I worked with Len and Kay DeMerritt, the owners of Len-Kay Camping Area in New Hampshire. When Len and Kay retired and sold the park, it was wisely rebranded as Barrington Shores.

There are other instances, particularly in states like New York with hundreds of campgrounds, where there are two or more parks with either the same or very similar names. Campers, particularly first-time guests, can be understandably confused, sometimes making reservations at one park and showing up at another. Like the story of the Hatfields and the McCoys, far too often the owners in these situations are too stubborn to take corrective measures to end the confusion and move forward. If you are a new owner with little or no attachment to the original name, making the change definitely involves an easier decision. There might even be instances where a park’s name either says nothing or can literally scare business away. For example, who would want to swim in the water at someplace called “Leach Lake Campsites”?

I have recently helped the new owners of Camp America in South Dakota to successfully rebrand their park as Dakota Sunsets RV Park & Campground, the new owners of Whispering Pines RV Resort in Michigan to successfully rebrand their park as Starlight Campground & RV Park, and the new owners of “AAA RV Park” in Tennessee to successfully rebrand their park as Coyote View RV Park. In the first instance, the original owners probably had grand schemes of becoming the next nationwide campground franchise, and in the last instance the previous owners probably thought that their name would get them listed first in the yellow pages of their local telephone directory.

Due Diligence

If you are considering a name change and rebranding, there are a few preliminary steps to take:

  1. Consider potential names that are memorable, unique, and help to identify your park.
  2. Check to confirm that there is not already a park or other business with the same name or a similar name in your state or a nearby state. Use the online corporate identity search tools that can be found on the website of the office of the Secretary of State in your state. Rebranding is pointless if it causes confusion or could lead to a trademark infringement lawsuit.
  3. Confirm that your final name choice followed by .com is readily available, and then register that domain name and any .com variations.
  4. Hire a professional logo artist to make that new name visually distinctive.
  5. Be prepared to budget for marketing, signage, paint, employee shirts, and other incidental expenses.

Yes, there are costs involved, but the rewards can be substantial, both in short-term business and in the long-term value of your park to subsequent buyers.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Skiing and Camping: The Evolution of Two Industries

February 23rd, 2022

Back in 2015 I wrote about the corporatization that had taken place within the U.S. ski industry, with a not so subtle warning that the same thing could occur within the family campground industry. My article was inspired by my reading of “Downhill Slide: Why the Corporate Ski Industry Is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns, and the Environment”, a highly compelling 2003 exposé written by Hal Clifford, a former editor of Ski Magazine. In the book, Clifford documents the evolution of skiing from its roots in Scandinavia, through a growth spurt following the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid (New York), through the development of Sun Valley (Idaho) as the first destination ski resort back in 1935-1938, through the return of World War II’s 10th Mountain Division veterans, through another growth spurt following the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley (California), through the “industrial tourism” that it became in the 1990s – when 3 major companies then controlled 24% of ticket sales from coast to coast. According to the latest (December 2021) report from the National Ski Areas Association, there are today 10 owners of the bulk of the ski resorts in the United States. The largest of those, Vail Resorts, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and operates 37 ski resorts in 14 states plus Canada and Australia.

I have been working with the family camping industry since 1982, although I started my business in the New England ski industry back in 1980. With an intimate understanding of both industries, I believe that there are parallels between the downhill skiing and family camping industries and the corporatization that is taking place within both.

The “golden age” of skiing took place in the 1950s. In New England alone, there are 605 defunct ski areas (most operating in the 1950s) that are documented by the New England Lost Ski Areas Project. Most of these were “mom and pop” operations run on snowy hills, with rudimentary rope tows run by the likes of tractors or old Packard automobile engines. In some instances, former ski areas went on to be reinvented as family campgrounds. Over the next two decades, destination resorts made it more and more difficult for mom and pop ski areas to remain competitive. By 1975, there were only 745 ski areas operating in the entire United States, a number that would drop to 509 by the year 2000 and leveling off to 470 by the year 2020.

Lift Tickets Equate to Campsites

It is hard to believe, but it is a well-documented fact that most of the ski industry is no longer in the business of selling lift tickets. Currently, the price of a single peak-day lift ticket purchased at the ticket window at Steamboat (Colorado), one of 14 resorts owned and operated by Alterra Mountain Company, is now $279.00. That ticket’s counterpart at Big Sky (Montana), one of 10 resorts owned by Boyne USA, Inc., is $225.00 plus another $45.00 if you want to ride the aerial tram. Even at these prices that only the super-rich can afford to pay, those tickets do not begin to cover the expenses of the improvements that customers have grown to expect.

The costs of operations and improvements in the ski industry are simply astounding. Back in the year 2000, a Poma detachable quad chairlift would cost just under $3 million to install, plus another 15% for site preparation. Then it would cost about $14,000 per month for the electricity to turn the lift. At the same time, an 8-place gondola carrying passengers only 2,200 ft. would cost about $6 million, with a monthly electric bill of approximately $20,000. The newest state-of-the-art chairlift is the 8-person Kancamagus 8 chairlift that just opened at Loon Mountain (New Hampshire). Although its cost has not been disclosed, it is certain to have far surpassed the $8,000,000 cost of the 6-person Bluebird Express when it was installed at Mount Snow (Vermont) a decade ago.

Then there are snowmaking costs. The air compressors to run a bank of snow guns cost at least $250,000 each, and basic snow guns cost about $5,000 each. Newer fan-driven snow machines cost about $35,000 each and have built-in air compressors. Either way, the electricity to make the snow might cost a large resort $1,000,000 per season. It is no wonder that many ski resorts have been investing in the installation of mountain-top wind turbines to offset their energy consumption. In Downhill Slide, Clifford cites an interview with the general manager of Sugarbush Resort (Vermont), who said at the time that his snowmaking costs were $1,000 per acre per inch, with a monthly electric bill of $300,000 to $400,000. For all of this money, whether skiers and snowboarders actually demanded the industry improvements, or whether they simply got caught up in the competitive one-upmanship of corporate skiing, the industry has changed.

In the ski industry, the profit center is now real estate development, with million dollar building lots for second homes, condominiums for every middle-to-upper income level, fractional ownership, absentee homeowners, and artificial “ski villages” that are designed to keep all of the dollars spent in the resort’s pockets. People who were once attracted to authentic ski towns and their ambiance have found those towns displaced by the new manufactured village concept, with bars, restaurants, shops and hotels all designed to capitalize upon that now lost romantic notion of the ski towns of yesteryear.

Yes, there are many parallels between what is happening in the ski industry and the family camping industry in North America, both based upon classic outdoor experiences. Any campground owner is intimately familiar with the costs of improvements, repairs and maintenance, utilities, mortgage interest, insurance, advertising, wages, licensing and entertainment. When your campers are expecting something new and exciting, a new spray park might cost $1,000,000, and a full-sized waterpark might cost $10,000,000 or more. It takes a lot of camper nights and other sources of revenue to recoup those costs even when amortized over the expected lifespan of the improvements. The bottom line is that there are forces that are driving up the price of camping and that profits cannot be based solely upon campsite fees. There is a strong demand for campgrounds as investment properties these days, with parks being bought and sold at a lightning pace, and most of those sales going from mom and pop operations to corporate ownership groups. One such group identifies itself as an investment firm that generates “long term wealth and cash flow while protecting investor capital”, a bit of a departure from friendly camping with mom and pop. Based upon what has taken place in the ski industry, the overall experience for camping consumers might improve, at the expense of losing its personal appeal and affordability. Is it a good evolution for the industry? I doubt it, but time will tell.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

A Fresh Perspective on Facebook

December 13th, 2021

It’s been nearly a year since I first wrote on the topic of Facebook in a column where I advised readers that “It’s Okay to Be Antisocial”. I am far from either a prophet or a clairvoyant, but the warnings that I sounded have proven to be true, and those who may have dismissed my advice may seem mighty foolish in hindsight. My advice today more than ever is, not to use Facebook more cautiously, but to abandon the platform in its entirety, with that same advice applying to most other so-called social media as well.

Yes, it was not that long ago that I was presenting seminars and writing how social media advertising – Facebook, in particular – was the greatest new development since the Internet itself. Five years ago, I was offering suggestions on how to beat Facebook at its own game, using guerilla marketing techniques on the platform. Sure, we all recognized that the intrusions into our personal privacy were a bit creepy, but the ability to reach targeted marketing prospects seemed to be worth the compromise.

In the beginning, Facebook (originally called Facemash) seemed to represent little more than an awkward attempt by nerdy Harvard undergrads with a lack of actual social skills to meet young women at neighboring colleges. When you think about it, even that original concept exploited the personal privacy of its users. For years, most people were baffled by the company’s continual growth while it failed to show even a penny in profits prior to 2009; however, it did not take long for Facebook to evolve into a money making machine that would be built upon ever-increasing exploitations of personal privacy.

On a personal level, I stopped using Facebook in its entirety in early September of 2020. I actually experienced what I would describe as a 7 to 10 day period of withdrawal, missing the ability to stay in daily touch with countless friends both old and new, but my sense of newly discovered freedom afterward was absolutely refreshing. Over the course of the 10 years or so when I remained active on the platform, I would often joke about how Facebook would “coincidentally” show me advertising that was related to one of my recent posts or comments. When I, along with millions of other people, started using ad blockers, Facebook started showing paid posts in lieu of paid advertising. These paid posts represent advertising content that is being disguised as editorial content, even when that advertising originates with foreign governments or domestic terrorists and clearly represents content that Facebook knows to be untrue.

Facebook’s business model is designed to amass huge profits by intentionally sowing discord among its subscribers. Simply put, the greater the controversy, the greater the profits. Regardless of where a person falls within an increasingly polarized political spectrum, Facebook will show that person paid content that pours fuel on the fire while demonizing those with opposing viewpoints. Whereas media outlets such as Fox News and CNN play to their specific audience demographics, and as such will never reach more than half of a divided population, Facebook profits by selectively appealing to the entire demographic spectrum and taking money from literally anybody who wants to influence them. It is the essence of the company’s algorithms, as has been only partially exposed in recent whistleblower releases of internal documents.

By being fed a one-sided diet that is often based upon disinformation, subscribers’ opinions and beliefs are reinforced in a manner that continually enhances the polarization. Varying opinions regarding the coronavirus pandemic, vaccines, and mask mandates have earned Facebook a fortune in profits. In fact, in a statement released the day prior to this writing, Facebook announced that its revenues increased by 35% to $29 billion in July through September 2021, while profits rose 17% to $9.2 billion as compared to the same time period in the previous year. It should not require an insurrectionist attack upon the U.S. Capitol for reasonable people to understand that these escalating profits represent a rapidly accelerating downward spiral for the platform’s users.

Where do you see your business fitting into this scenario?

Let us be clear that Facebook advertising is not a bargain. In the early days, businesses would pay to advertise on the platform in order to get users to “like” their page and then see their posts. Soon afterward, advertisers needed to pay Facebook so that even people who had already “liked” their page could actually see their posts. Think about it. If you continue to play along, you are paying Facebook an ever-increasing sum of money so you can reach not new customers but your existing customers. Why would anybody pay to do that when there are countless alternate means of reaching your customer base at a far lesser cost? Any why would anybody do this at a time when most campgrounds have experienced unprecedented occupancy levels and can barely keep up with the demand for campsites? In the campground industry, some of the same people who willingly pour money into Facebook advertising question the rationale for offering Good Sam and similar discounts that they feel cut into thin profit margins. Depending upon your available inventory, I would suggest engaging in dynamic pricing or offering customer incentives rather than feeding Facebook’s coffers. After all, your customers who use Facebook can still promote your campground, and even Facebook will admit that direct end user engagement is far more effective than paid advertising. Yes, Facebook and the other social media may be capable of sending you customers, but it is simply not worth the price. Should you decide to continue to pay to play, what is the percentage of your profit margin and what is the threshold for return on investment where you will finally decide that it is time to kick the habit? The costs to participate will only continue to escalate, as Facebook rolls out its next generation of social interaction, the so-called “metaverse” that is based upon 3-D virtual reality and the use of its Oculus VR headsets. There are people who will argue that you will have to be there as well, but I will argue that they are wrong and that Dr. Frankenstein’s monster is out of control. The Federal Trade Commission has wisely proposed the breakup of Facebook, a process that is long overdue. In the meantime, it is your decision as a small business owner to decide whether or not to continue financing a business model that you may agree is inherently exploitive and basically wrong.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Don’t Get Caught by the US Domain Authority Scam!

September 27th, 2021

It has been nearly a decade since I wrote about a scam that was circulating by a company that called itself Domain Registry of America. Their modus operandi was to send out bulk mailings to domain name registrants like you and me, after harvesting our names, addresses, and domain names from public registry records. The letters looked official, exploiting the American flag and warning that you were ready to lose your domain name unless you took immediate action by paying them a “renewal” fee. Many people failed to read the fine print, panicked, and paid the fees. In other instances, company accountants handled accounts payable, failed to recognize the scam, and paid the fees – always without reading the fine print. If 1 or 2% of the people who received these solicitations panicked and made payments, these thieves made an absolute fortune

The fine print was buried at the bottom or on a second page of the letter, had nothing to do with protecting your rights, and had everything to do with protecting the interests of the perpetrators. Basically, the fine print said that this was not an invoice, that it was a solicitation for goods or services, and that by paying the fee you were authorizing your domain name registration to be transferred to Domain Registry of America. You paid the nonrefundable fee, whether or not the company was successful at transferring your domain name registration away from its current registrar. If you have wisely locked your domain, which would prevent its transfer, you would have nonetheless lost the fee that you had paid. Should you realize your error after the fact and demand a refund, or ask your credit card provider to charge back the fee, Domain Registry of America would be willing to sell your domain name back to you for an added fee of $200.00. Additional fine print stipulated that, if you attempted to sue them, you would be responsible for payment of all of their legal expenses.

The parent company was Brandon Gray Internet Services (dba NameJuice.com). Though the letters from Domain Registry of America had a return address in Buffalo, New York, the company’s offices were actually located over the border in Markham, Ontario. The scam was so successful that there were international variations such as Domain Registry of Australia, Domain Registry of Canada, Domain Registry of Europe, Domain Renewal Group, and Liberty Names of America (where the letters would exploit the Statue of Liberty instead of the American flag.) In December of 2003, a United States District Court order on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission prohibited Domain Registry of America from engaging in these practices, but that failed to stop them. Today, the NameJuice.com website is still live, hosted on the company’s own servers, and the DROA.com website of Domain Registry of America now opens a suspiciously similar site that is operating under the Domain Registry Services name.

Very similar scams (often involving email rather than more expensive bulk mail) include one where the recipient is warned as some sort of “courtesy” that somebody has inquired into registering the .CN, .HK or .TW (the country codes for the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, respectively) version of your domain name and thereby jeopardizing your online presence. They then offer to sell you these versions of your domain name, along with a laundry list of other worthless variations – for an annual fee. First of all, unless your business has an internationally recognized brand name – such as Microsoft – nobody is interested in wasting money registering alternate versions of your .COM domain name, nobody has inquired about doing so, nobody would legitimately warn you, and these thieves are looking out for nothing but your money and your credit card number.

Another similar scam is the yet another that looks like a domain name registration renewal invoice, also preying upon the common fear of losing one’s domain name. It is actually a “warning” that some sort of non-existent SEO (search engine optimization) services are ready to expire, which will result in Google dropping your website from its search engine listings. One that is currently making the rounds comes in the mail and says it is from a company called United States Domain Authority, operating out of a post office box in North Carolina. The letters look both official and urgent, and they once again exploit the American flag to add to their credibility among the naïve. The “notice” says that it is for an “Annual Website Domain Listing” at an annual price of $289.00. Basically, you would be paying this fee for an essentially worthless listing on its own usdomainauthority.com website. The fine print reads that “This website listing offer is provided to leading websites throughout the United States to enhance their Website exposure and expose them to new customers through our directory. We are not a domain registrar and we do not Register or Renew Domain Names.” It continues, “THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.” The company is covering the legal requirements, though ethics, decency, and honesty are tossed aside. Fortunately for them, many people do not take the time to read.

This mailing from United States Domain Authority encourages payments by return mail or credit card online, asking that checks be made payable to “Domain Authority”. It lists a Web address of usdomainauthority.com, a domain name that was registered with GoDaddy on March 12, 2021. In other words, this outfit is selling $289.00 directory listings on a website that has barely been in existence long enough to be recognized itself.

Why do you get these letters, emails, and junk faxes? Simply put, because there are thieves in this world. When you register a domain name, your contact information is publicly accessible unless you pay for a so-called “private registration” … an additional $5.00 or $10.00 annual fee with most registrars. If you are capable of detecting scams, save that annual fee and let these people waste their money on postage; otherwise, you may want to pay for a private registration, where your contact information cannot be readily harvested. It is also important to always keep your domain name registration in “locked” status until such time as you might want to voluntarily transfer to another registrar. Most importantly, if you receive one of these solicitations, rather than just throwing it away, try to do your part to help put these people out of business by forwarding a copy of the correspondence to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the office of your state attorney general. There have been instances in the past where several state attorneys general have banded together and have gone after people like this.

Now if we could only stop the TV commercials with Joe Namath selling Medicare supplements, Pat Boone selling walk-in bathtubs, and Marie Osmond selling weight-loss products …

This post was written by Peter Pelland