The Dumbest Response to a Domain Name Inquiry

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I have to share what I think is the dumbest response to a domain name inquiry that I have seen in a very long time. I asked about the price of a domain name that had a “for sale” message on its landing page, and here is the response I received:

“If you have to ask then you can’t afford it.”

Let that sink in for a second. I simply asked the domain owner for the price of his domain name, and this is the answer he gave me.

I think this is a pretty dumb response. First off, how is anyone going to know whether or not they can afford a domain name without the price? How else is someone suppose to get the price of the domain name without asking what the owner wants for it?

A buyer may be able to afford to pay 6 or 7 figures for a domain name, but being willing to pay that much depends on the purpose of the acquisition. Having the ability to pay a price for a domain name has little to do with whether they value the domain name at that price.

I can’t imagine going into my local Mercedes dealership, asking the price for their 2017 AMG SL65, and being told that if I have to ask I can’t afford it. That type of response would be considered disrespectful and unprofessional.

Maybe the domain owner was having a bad day. Maybe the domain owner assumed that I am a domain investor and wasn’t going to pay an end user price. Maybe the domain owner was hoping that the response would offend me and I would reply with a massive offer or some other response indicating I had the means to spend a lot of money for the domain name.

Whatever the case is, I found the response to be absurd, and I didn’t bother replying.

Now I am sure there will be people who think that this may have been his way of vetting people before wasting time, and he was successful. That may be an accurate assessment, but had I represented a third party (I never do) who was willing to pay 6 or 7 figures, the guy would have lost a deal. For many domain brokers, when given the chance to work with someone difficult or find another domain name for their client, many will simply look elsewhere.

If it were me and I didn’t think the person who inquired was qualified or I didn’t feel like dealing with the other party, I would have not responded.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps a better way to say the same thing would be more like
    “I am glad you asked but not sure if you really interested or can afford it. It would help if you can clarify for me the intended use of the domain and your offer. I will be glad to answer with a price.

    Elliot,I wonder if you have a standard response and it would have helped the readers if you’d included in the post.
    Best regards,
    Dr.Ev…

    • I don’t have a standard response. My company owns 500+/- domain names, and my response depends on the nature of the inquiry and my valuation of the domain name. Sorry I can’t help you with that.

  2. Horrible. I hope the owner was having a bad day. Understandable that he/she gets a lot of inquiries and has to vet them. But there are so many better ways to do it than by insulting a potential buyer.

  3. Wow, got a chuckle out of that one. Completely agree that it was a disrespectful response. Sort of a naive, gamey way of setting the tone for what he/she thought was a negotiation, i.e. make you want it more since it’s so unattainable. That won’t work.

  4. Maybe the domain owner was hoping that the response would offend me and I would reply with a massive offer or some other response indicating I had the means to spend a lot of money for the domain name.
    ^^^ very old trick ^^^

  5. This passive aggressive response suggests that the seller is unsure about his/her negotiation skills and tries to place the potential buyer at a disadvantage from the beginning.

    It might work with some buyers who don’t know much about pricing, which is precisely what the insecure seller would rather deal with. But it will drive away most buyers and therefore will lower the likelihood of a deal.

  6. Just for fun, I would have countered their response with something ridiculous to add to the humor of the situation.

    Maybe something like:

    “Thanks for your response! After reviewing your message I have taken the time to assess the value of your domain better and can now comfortably raise my offering price to: 1 Paperclip (Bent, but still works great), A slightly used coffee mug (It has the cutest picture of a cat on it), and a half eaten granola bar (It’s the good kind, with chocolate chips in it).

    I offer all these premium items to you in exchange for your domain.

    I know this is exciting news, so take your time to regain composure and contact me back so we can initiate the transaction.

    Thanks”

  7. I try to always be courteous with inquiries.

    What turns me off is when the inquirer begins to attack me for the “absurd price”? or when I’m accused of being “greedy”.

    But even if the offer is well below my expectations, I remain courteous if the offer is at least “reasonable”, even if only 1/10 of its value.

    Some years ago I received an initial offer of 10 K. I declined, but thanked the party for its offer.

    This offer went from 10 K to high 6 figures after 4 weeks of negotiations. & I decided to sell.

    These days these transactions seem to go faster, with brokers, etc.

  8. That is a very obnoxious reply however at least you got a reply. As a full-time domain buyer broker, I’d much rather get an obnoxious reply, which I can work with, than no reply at all. I also wish I’d kept a tally of exactly how many hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of domain deals were lost by domain owners who didn’t reply to me over the years! Don’t be that guy (or gal)!

    • What I find more obnoxious than that is a seller broker who doesn’t even reply when you submit domains that are even just as good or better than some they already list. Not even a peep to say they are not interested. Now that’s rude.

    • @ Bill Rhinesmith, I’m glad you liked my response. As regards your domain inventory, I’m a Buyer Broker, not a Seller Broker, so (no offense) I am not in the habit of looking at domainers inventory and I certainly don’t want domainers to send me domains unless I have specifically asked to be sent inventory. That is not how Buyer Brokers like myself work. If you own a domain that I am interested in on behalf of a client, I will find you and contact you. (Tip: make sure your whois info is correct.) Thanks, and I hope we will connect in the future when an opportunity presents itself.

    • Bill Sweetman, are the domains you are inquiring about for sale or are you contacting owner of names though the Whois even though there is no indication the owner wants to sell? I know I get tons of inquiries every week on my nnnn.com and lll.com names even though I am using them and they have content on them, I don’t feel that I need to respond to all emails that ask if the name is for sale. If someone wants to pay way over market value for a name because it fits there business model they will need to make the e-mail they send look a lot different then the hundred I have already received.

    • @ Joe Ray Great question. Most of the domains I pursue on behalf of clients are not listed for sale. That’s what makes my job challenging and exciting. Most of the domains are not owned by domainers, either. That’s both a blessing and a curse! Given the choice, I’d rather be dealing with a domainer because at least domainers have some sense of what fair market value is. The average Joe Public domain owner thinks every domain they own is worth $1M! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, as the saying goes…

  9. Surprisingly, I usully receive a response from sellers and most times, they are nice and easy to deal with, even if no sale occurs right away or not at all.
    I just try to keep it simple and to the point.

    I have also been lucky with domain transactions going smoothly when buying or selling a domain privately. Knock on wood.

  10. I second criticism of certain prominent brokers ..not bill sweetman..who dont even bother to acknowledge receipt of submissions of totally qualifying domains (eg..short…com ext..etc) submitted in response to requests for putative client wants..unprofessional..poor business practice..unfortunately encountered many times

  11. I once had an offer in low 3 figure and responded with a respectful no.

    In less than a month I closed the deal for 5 figures. It is important to be professional no matter what initial offer is.

    • I think the reply is a part of the “who blinks first” negotiation-narrative which is increasingly being adopted to avoid putting a price on your name. IMHO, it’s because the seller might not adequantely understand the value of his name or his market (Do correct if you disagree; I would learn something new). Or maybe just having a bad day like you said.

      PS: Dave Bhatia ji, nice to e-see you here!

  12. Should the price depend on who the buyer is?

    I am thinking about the iCloud .com story where a Swedish company bought it for cheap from a Korean Prof. and then flipped it to Apple for $4.5M.

  13. The most interesting aspect of this was the statement ” I asked about the price of a domain name that had a “for sale” message on its landing page.”

    If there’s a landing page, the owner should have responded with a price or at least an indication of his/her expectation. The name is for sale, not for auction. The seller is inviting contact, so to answer like that and kill any chance of a sale is a waste of opportunity.

    A property investment client of mine purchased an entire street of houses and when knocking the door of one house to enquire whether the owner would be interested in selling, he was told that the house was not for sale. His reply to this was, “you don’t know how much I’m going to offer.”

    He bought the house.

    It costs nothing to be courteous, but takes skill to be professional.

  14. Well, it’s his domain name so I guess he can respond however he wants to.

    Business is business and people all too often take responses like this to heart. I’m sure that he meant nothing personal by it.

    To simplify it, money talks and nothing else matters. I wouldn’t get hung up on a single person being difficult and rather do business with people that want to do business with me.

  15. haha
    I’ve had one of these before too.
    A long time ago — the guy told me I couldn’t afford it.

    Oh well – he was probably right 😀

  16. This is the reason “Maybe the domain owner assumed that I am a domain investor and wasn’t going to pay an end user price.” . Most buyers pretend to be a reseller and want to buy for lower prices. This creates too much frustration for the sellers. Think on the other side. When you start, you begin with a good offer honestly.

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