Time Warner / Road Runner Hijacking Tribune Company’s TVListings.com Typo?

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I am sure you’ve heard about the hypocrisy of companies like Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, and other Internet Service Providers who display an error page laden with pay per click links when a user types in a domain name that doesn’t exist. It really irks me when ISPs monetize typo domain names – even for trademarked terms, especially when some of them file UDRPs and lawsuits against companies who monetize their marks.

I was so annoyed by this practice that I opted out of the Road Runner service, so when I typo a domain name that doesn’t exist, I am suppose to be taken to an error page that says “Server Not Found.” See screenshot below of a page that doesn’t exist to see the generic error page I generally receive in Firefox (I get a similar error page with Safari, too).

Error Page

When I enter a domain name without the .com in my browser, Safari automatically enters the .com for me, and I am taken to that site if it exists or an error page similar to the one above if there is no website. With Firefox, if I enter a domain name without the .com it takes me to the website I intended, or if the page doesn’t exist, it takes me to a Google search results page. If I enter a typo domain name and there is no website, I am taken to a page that looks like the one above. I am never suppose to be taken to a Road Runner error page since I opted out of their service.

This morning, I wanted to check out television listings to see what football games would be on TV this afternoon. I was a bit lazy, so instead of entering TVListings.com, I simply entered “TVListings” into my browser, assuming I would be taken to TVListings.com, a website owned by the Tribune ¬†Company, since Safari is suppose to add the .com for me (same thing happens in Firefox which generally takes me to the closest website). To my surprise, I was taken to a Road Runner landing page (see screenshot below and click for larger image).

TVListings

Since I have opted out of the error page service, I don’t see how it’s okay for Road Runner to take me to their landing page instead of taking me to the page I intended to visit. I know Time Warner offers cable service, which I also have, so that’s probably their motivation for doing this. However, I don’t think this is right for them to take me to a page I didn’t intend to visit. They shouldn’t have one policy for some domain names and a different policy when they have a competing website.

10 COMMENTS

  1. My primary point is that when I enter any other term in my browser, say “football” for example, I am taken to football.com on Safari and NFL.com on Firefox. They are changing the rules for this one particular website.

    When I enter “TVListings” into my browser with Road Runner, instead of taking me to tvlistings.com in Safari or another top site in Firefox, both browsers take me to a Road Runner landing page.

  2. I bet there are more idiots out there who type TVListings into their browser thinking they are doing a search than there are smart fellas like you who just forget to put the .com on the end and meant to go to the Timewarner site.

    So I’d guess that RR thinks they are doing everyone a favor and sending these “searches” to a property of theirs that fits the bill for the “searchers intent” . . . They could excuse this away saying that the user was more likely just performing a search rather than looking to go to the .com. . . and you know what, with the people I’ve talked to over the last few weeks about search and browsing behaviour I’d bet they are probably right to guess most often these “typed in” terms are stupids thinking they are typing a search in to a google search box.

    Did you try other terms of things they sell ? I’d bet there’s more than just one.

    I’m guessing it’s less about jacking the .com owner and more about “search intent” and them trying to “fix” the problem of dumb users. In the end it just mucks things up even more and makes the internet more complicated for the clueless masses.

  3. Set up OpenDns that way you will have full control of the error page that you want to go to and its pretty helpful for DNS changes as well. You can prompt them to update their DNS cache “on the fly.”

  4. I hate it with a passion I’m use to just typing in the site name not having to enter the dot .com and like you’ve mentioned safari will attempt to complete that for you, if there isn’t a .com safari will even try .net .org

    I need to step my DNS and network game up and fix this.

    It’s easy to tell why TimeWarner does it tho for the adsense have notice how off there searches are. sometime the site i’m trying to get to won’t even be on there search page.

    it’s a big ol’e pile of bullshit I’m already paying for the internet i shouldn’t be inconvenienced like this. now if they where providing the internet for free then yeah cool i’d understand but making more money and tricking your customers is bullshit.

    now i have another pet peeve recently at my work the re-did the whole network we got a bad ass 40 TB server but however they set it up fucked up my workflow, our website wasn’t loading properly so I spent hours trying to figure out why. cause when i coded the site I didn’t add www. in front of the site name. very frustrating

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