Update 1: Some interesting discussion is happening over at HackerNews
Update 2: Gandi.net now works around the NIC.at policy so you’re safe of buying .at domains there again.
Before renting an .at domain, make sure that you still own a FAX.
Let’s say you register for an .at domain at Gandi.net (greate registrar by the way). It will cost you 18 EUR for a year. Let’s say you don’t renew the domain. Usually the domain goes trough a grace period and is then freed to the public.
With .at domains, NIC.at will contact you by post with a 30 days notice. If you don’t sent them a FAX (!) as instructed on this page, your domain will automatically be renewed with them. And now that they don’t use a reseller anymore, the price will also have almost doubled at 30 EUR.
Even if I virtually sign a long legalese when renting the domain for the first time, I should be able to expect that they follow the industry standards. I just hope that getting the message out there will let other people know of their mispractice.
Tangentially, I would really like to know what are the costs of storing 1k in a database and answering to a couple of DNS queries. My hunch is that most of the cost is for paying the ICANN fees but this might not apply to ccTLDs.