I first heard about Pheenix.com in September of last year when they had a major coup and beat out the biggest players in the drop catching space to grab PetSitters.com. The domain had hundreds of back orders across NameJet, SnapNames and Pool so you know these services were really gunning for it. The domain ended up selling at auction for $23,383. I signed up for an account the same day, and started placing all my back orders for expiring domains there in addition to the other venues. What follows is my comprehensive review of the service.
At only $18.95 for a .com back order, you can’t afford not to throw your hat in the ring. Like the Big 3, it is free to place the back order and you only pay if Pheenix successfully catches the domain for you. If there are multiple back orders the domain is put up for a three day, private auction. The final price you pay is your winning bid plus the back order price, the cost of the back order is not included in your bid so keep that in mind. They have the best pricing of any serious drop catching service out there, and also go after .net, .tv, and .cc although the ccTLD back orders cost $58.95.
What I really like Pheenix for are those borderline names that I don’t want to pay $59 for at the larger services, but I don’t want to roll the dice and try to catch them by hand. I transfer my wins out to GoDaddy using $1.99 coupons which buys me an extra year on the registration, so at the end of the day you can have two years for a little over $20 which is basically just reg fee on average. If you use this strategy the actual service of catching the name is essentially free. I don’t think Pheenix expects anyone to renew with them because you have to send an email to process renewals. I’m not even sure what they charge for renewals as it isn’t posted on their site.
If you use PayPal as a payment method, you need to pre-fund your account for them to go after your back orders. However, if you have a credit card on file then you pay absolutely nothing out of pocket until you win a domain. The service is run by veteran domain investor Tan Tran who also founded FreshDrop.com (a service to help you find domains to back order), so you can be confident providing your credit card info.
Pheenix uses multiple registrar tags to catch expired domains, but the great thing about their service is that you manage all of your domains right from Pheenix.com. I hear a lot of complaints about SnapNames wins ending up at obscure registrars where it is difficult to transfer out. That is not an issue with Pheenix. The transfer out process is quick and easy, and they have active approval instead of having to wait 5-7 days, so you can complete a transfer out from start to finish in a matter of minutes.
They don’t offer more advanced domain management options like DNS, email etc. It is a nuts and bolts interface, all you can do is set your name servers, push the domain to another Pheenix account, transfer the domain out, or forward the domain to another URL. That’s really all you need though, and you can perform all of these operations in bulk which is nice. The site isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done.
For a smaller player in the drop catching space, they are surprisingly competitive. They regularly win quad premium LLLL.com domains, they sometimes catch CCC.com although not as frequently, and they have a decent success rate at everything else. You’re not wasting your time placing a back order with them like you are at places such as GoDaddy. Since I joined they caught some great ones including Voko.com which closed at $7,301, MPAL.com which ended at $3,055, Upstyle.com for $2,150, and ImageWorld.com for $1,631. Other decent Pheenix catches include StopSuffering.com, DietCamp.com, and BirthdayReminders.com. They aren’t quite at the same level as SnapNames and DropCatch.com, but they aren’t far off either.
As you can see, despite the service not having the large user bases of the Big 3, they still sometimes achieve high prices for the really nice domains. That said, there is still a chance to get a bargain for the mid-tier names. I’ve had auctions there for quad premium LLLL.com where there were as few as 11 other bidders. That would be unheard of at a place like NameJet.
Another nice feature of Pheenix is that they keep trying to catch the domain for six days after it drops. Domain tasting isn’t as prevalent these days, but it is nice to know that if someone deletes the domain name for a refund during the AGP (Add Grace Period), Pheenix will be there to snap it up for you. After six days Pheenix automatically deletes the back order from your account. This means you don’t have to waste time purging your account of missed catches like you do with the Big 3, or end up with a surprise a year or two later when you catch a domain you forgot you back ordered.
Domain investors often place a back order at all the major services just to cover their bases, and Pheenix should definitely be a part of that lineup.