WHMCS – Half Implementing Features since 2007

I’ve been using WHMCS as a billing and support platform for web hosting since 2007, for over 13 years now, and as near as I can tell WHMCS was founded in 2005. There have been issues over the years where there was unexpected behavior or unexpected changes during upgrades but every software vendor is going to roll out a bug here or there. Even companies with the best quality assurance and testing are bound to have something slip by – and I understand this.

While I do not and have not ever expected perfection and I do understand that bugs can happen sometimes feature implementation is just poor at best or processes are not well thought-out and planned. The most recent instance of this that has caused me problems is Premium Domain Support in WHMCS. This feature was added to WHMCS in version 7.1 which was released over 4 years ago.

What is Premium Domain Support you ask? Some domains are considered ‘premium’ in that they’re in some way unique or extraordinarily valuable. The domain “gift.shop” for example is a fantastic domain but it is Premium and should you choose to register it – it will cost thousands of dollars per year just for the registration. We’re not talking about buying it second-hand from a domain squatter but the direct price straight from the registrar.

I’ve always made sure that we offered domain registrations and transfers for the convenience of my clients. While you aren’t obligated to register or transfer domains to us to use our services – many do like to keep everything all in one place. We sell more domains than I originally ever expected us to sell and overall it has been a good experience for our clients.

Recently Premium Domain registrations and Transfers have become a problem for us. As it stands with WHMCS version 7.1, or newer, if you disable Premium Domain Registrations the domain lookup will still show them as available at the normal non-premium price. This is bad as our customers will see a Premium Domain available at a non-premium price. The result is that we cannot process the order as we can’t, for example, sell a domain that costs $18,000 for $35. I am sure that for our client this feels extremely misleading. The same issue exists for domain transfers, where a customer is moving a domain registration from another registrar to us.

Having Premium Domain Registration disabled is bad because of the misleading pricing and poor user experience. When we turn on this feature to avoid the poor experience of misleading pricing we open ourselves up to a half-baked poorly planned feature. WHMCS does not support Premium Domain Transfers. This means that whether or not we enable Premium Domain Registration if you choose to look up the cost to transfer a Premium Domain to us from another registrar you will experience the same issue outlined above if we have Premium Domain Registrations disabled. The transfer will show the non-premium price and this is misleading and a poor user experience.

Ok – so we can turn on Premium Domain Registrations to avoid the first issue and WHMCS does not support Premium Domain Transfers – so let’s turn that off. Oh wait – you can’t – at least not without a bit of custom code. Not only does WHMCS not support Premium Domain Transfers but they do not have any inbuilt feature to disable or block Premium Domain Transfers.

Have a premium domain registered somewhere that’s costing you $500 per year? If you look it up in our transfer tool it will show you the non-premium cost, often somewhere between $20 and $50 per year. You think, “That’s a great deal!” and you place the order only for us to have to let you know that we cannot transfer the domain for that amount. It’s a terrible experience.

In summary – if we disable Premium Domain registration all premium lookups, new registrations and transfers, will show as available at the non-premium cost – a very bad experience for our clients. If we enable Premium Domain registrations then premium lookups for new registrations will show the correct price but transfers will still show the incorrect and much lower price – another very bad experience for our clients. The worst part of this whole situation is that we cannot simply disable premium domains entirely to solve the issue and enabling it only enables it for new registrations while still showing incorrect and much lower pricing for registration transfers.

We, of course assuming this was some configuration issue on our end or some sort of oversight, reached out to WHMCS for support on this matter. To our surprise WHMCS confirmed that this is expected and that if we wanted to support premium domain transfers that we needed to submit a feature request.

Thanks for reaching out to WHMCS Support. Unfortunately, the functionality you’re looking for here is not something that is currently offered by WHMCS.

However I can see how supporting Premium Domains for transfers could be useful. Therefore I would encourage you to please submit a request to our feature requests tracker where other users can contribute to and vote on your idea. Ideas with the most votes and activity do get reviewed by our team.

WHMCS Support

To be completely straightforward I am shocked to see that WHMCS feels that only half-supporting Premium Domain Registrations and Transfers is normal. It is very surprising that they feel that showing non-premium pricing for Premium Domain Transfers is expected and that we should submit a feature request for them to complete this half-baked feature. Premium Domain registrations and transfers are not separate features that can be individually enabled or disabled in WHMCS. If we could simply disable premium domain transfers – that would be a simple solution. If we could disable premium domains entirely without showing misleading pricing – that would be another simple solution. While neither of these solutions is ideal – they are solutions none-the-less.

As it stands WHMCS has only half-implemented Premium Domain support and the end result is that it creates a poor experience for our clients. Due to WHMCS’ IonCube Encoded Closed-Source model altering this behavior is significantly more difficult although it may be possible. Ideally I will write some custom code that will enable premium domain transfers although it’s far more likely I’ll have to find a way to disable them in some way.

WHMCS does offer a hook called PremiumPriceOverride but just as the Premium Domain support is only half-baked – this hook does not trigger when a user looks up a premium domain for transfer, only for new registration.

I’ve seen WHMCS do a lot of silly things over the years – but only rolling out support for New Premium Domain Registration without supporting Premium Domain Transfers is absolutely near the top of the list and the first layer of this cake. Not providing the tools to disable Premium Domain Transfers, which WHMCS doesn’t support, is the second layer of the cake. WHMCS telling me to submit a feature request to fully implement Premium Domain Support is the icing on the cake.

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