Godaddy grabs a valuable domain name from their customer because of invalid email and profits from it.

50 comments

There is a huge scandal developing about the behaviour of Godaddy.

The owner of FamilyAlbum.com was surprised to find that he no longer owned the domain, which had not expired.
Godaddy had received a complaint about invalid email address and sent an email to this invalid email address demanding the owner correct his invalid email address and predictably when no action was taken by the unaware domain owner (whose mailing address and phone number were correct!) godaddy grabbed the domain to itself and then either sold it for profit or kept it and with it valuable typein traffic.

Godaddy's explanations are vague and the domain still points to godaddy's inhouse domain parking program which makes godaddy a lot of money for each click and the domains new owner is hidden by godaddy service Domains by Proxy.

It seems to me that it would be common sense to try other contact methods instead of email when the whole basis for the godaddy complaint is an invalid email address!

If I would have any valuable domains at godaddy I would be transferring them away right about NOW to another registrar who cares about their customers and their customers business and domain property and is NOT trying to screw their customers for profit the first chance they get.

That this kind of a thing happened means that godaddy is prepared to destroy their customers business without a second thought for undeliverable email address even while phone number and mailing address are CORRECT!

Imagine your best earning website domain taken away on whim like this because of invalid email...

http://domainnamewire.com/2007/02/28/godaddy-responds-to-deletion-over-invalid-email-address/

http://domainnamewire.com/2007/02/27/godaddy-deletes-domain-name-for-inaccurate-email-address/

Comments

disregard - misread the post

disregard - misread the post

I hate the way they do that.

I hate the way they do that. Their customer service department needs to learn some customer service. We do not use them anymore after some well documented TW threads.

Very low practice, I

Very low practice, I wouldn't trust any domains at GoDaddy. I agree with the author this looks like a new hijacking technique to me?

Person tries e-mailing domain owner with Whois information and e-mail bounces. Person backorders domain and then sends complaint to GoDaddy. GoDaddy tries to contact only via e-mail, which bounces. Domain is canceled and given to person with backorder.

It's true, you do have to keep the WHOIS details up to date but this just stinks (esp. as you have still paid for the rental time). There should be a period where the domain is made inactive before being sold again.

There is a bigger problem here though. The fact that all the major registrars have started their own parking/ad systems. Let alone the action systems. Their integrity towards the customer is really under scrutiny since they can make more profit recycling the domain through these other channels.

It's a pity the bottom has fallen out of the domain market to such an extent that 'registering domains' is no longer a profitable business in itself.

back in 2005 they suspended

back in 2005 they suspended my main domain. ad to pay $200 to get it back and lost at least $4k in sales.
heard of another guy who paid nearly $3k to get his many domains back.

>back in 2005 they suspended

>back in 2005 they suspended my main domain

I like they way they reserve the right to suspend your entire portfolio as well!

Nice.

They need to read the ICANN rules.

(whose mailing address and phone number were correct!)

If that is true :

I received a WDRP notice, but my information is correct. Is any action required on my part to ensure my domain registration is not affected?

When sending WDRP notices, registrars are required to remind their customers that the provision of false Whois information can be grounds for cancellation of a domain name registration. If your information is correct, your domain name will not be cancelled and you do not need to take any action.

http://www.icann.org/whois/wdrp-registrant-faq.htm

Even if it is incorrect now, but was correct before, that is not the same as providing false information.

This is our Godaddy horror

This is our Godaddy horror story

http://www.threadwatch.org/node/3785

Bit of a conflict of interests here

The registrar should have to release the domain and should not be able to profit form the hijack. Godaddy is extremely nasty from my personal experience. NEVER REGISTER AT GODADDY. The 7$ registration fee is the tip of the iceberg!!!

How about A Dave Pasternik

How about A Dave Pasternik competition for "Godaddy". They deserve shite publicity.

Who do you suggest?

... and which registrar *is* trustworthy? I (very wisely, as it turned out) abandoned Register(Shite)Fly.com a year or two ago ... this kind of report makes me think it's time to move again. Any suggestions?

"Register(Shite)Fly.com"

"Register(Shite)Fly.com" come on man, all the spammers use them. What can you expect if you get cheap info domains for less than $1

For the most ethical, Tucows

For the most ethical/trustworthy, Tucows wins out every time. I've never had a problem that their compliance dept. hasn't been able to resolve fairly (we're a reseller). They go beyond the normal ICANN regulations to be fair, often working on the committees and boards themselves to get rules adjusted. However they do charge more than most which can be a problem.

I've never had nor heard of

I've never had nor heard of a problem with Moniker

Registerfly is

Registerfly is imploding:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/22/registerfly_ceo_lawsuit/

Moniker, Enom, Gandi, 123-reg - no problems.

"This could have all been avoided if...."

I have put on my flame proof vest, since I know I'm gonna get it for the following comment... but here it goes anyway.

There's a Woddy Woodpecker episode that always sticks out in my mind. It's the one where the announcer continually chimes in during the episode when Woody is in an avoidable predicament and says, "This could have all been avoided if ___ (fill in the blank with mistake Woody makes)." This could have all been avoided if people simply kept their domain info up to date (and if they set their domain names to automatically renew in cases of expired domains). It makes no sense to me that someone who owns a "valuable domain" would not take steps to ensure that their domain records both contact and billing are up-to-date.

It seems to me that it would be common sense to try other contact methods instead of email when the whole basis for the godaddy complaint is an invalid email address!

I think Domain Registrars should charge people for mailing notices in the same way that utility companies charge people for paper bills and mail handling fees. Would people pay for this service? My guess is no.

BTW: I have used GoDaddy and have never had a problem with them. In fact, I actually think they have the best Domain Registrar customer service second only to Enom (which interestingly enough was recently purchased by Demand Media) which I have used as well.

I think Domain Registrars

I think Domain Registrars should charge people for mailing notices in the same way that utility companies charge people for paper bills and mail handling fees. Would people pay for this service? My guess is no.

I agree with you on that Natasha. We sell/manage a lot of domains here and I only ring people up if they are *very* well known to me. With the current margins on domains, you can't telephone people. In fact on more than a few cases ringing someone in the US/UK has cost more than we get for the renewal.

It is people's responsibility to keep the domain up to date but the problem I see here is that the domain moved to the new owner with seemingly no downtime. If the domain was deleted they should have had the 40 days to reclaim it. Hopefully they would have noticed there was something wrong in that time frame.

The big thing to remember with domains though is that you never own them, you just rent them. Until people get that message they are always going to be lax on keeping control.

Nick, I agree that there

Nick, I agree that there should have been some sort of downtime. Without that downtime it looks looks to be (as you say), "a new hijacking technique" by those who backorder domains.

For the record, I've been

For the record, I've been with Godaddy for about 6 years now. I moved there to get one-screen control of a domains that were registered through multiple registrars and multiple accounts, but primarily NetSol. I have one domain, in particular, that is apparently "bogus transfer bait" and I have fended off no less than 4 very serious piracy transfer attempts. All but one, which happened about 5 months ago, were with registrars other than GoDaddy. I moved to GD on oilman's advice primarily because they were the first we'd found that could get decent domain locks in place.

Rule #1: Have your domain admin info squeeky clean and completely filled out. Yes, this means you're going to get a chunk of whois spam, but that's the price you pay to close a loophole.

Rule #2: The domain admin contact info has to be rock-solid. If you have serious money invested in your domains, consider how to set up and use an physical address, phone number, and email that will stand for a decade. You may not be able to go the distance, but that should be your target.

Rule #3: Pay them out for 10 years and lock them down.

Rule #4: Set your permanent admin email address with positive email filters at the TOP of the filter chain.

The above notwithstanding, I'm not a GoDaddy fanboy. I recognize that any company can go bad overnight, all it may take is one whiff of bad news from their accounting office and a corporation's moral resolve goes to hell in a handbasket. If this deal went as it is presented here and elsewhere, and it was my domain, one of the first things I'd do is write up all the details and present them to TheConsumerist.com. Sometimes, the only thing that stiffens corporate moral resolve is bad press and TheConsumerist is incredibly good at churning out bad press.

#5 reminder script

I'd forgotten this when posting the above, but when I went to check my email I had this in my inbox:

check

[eom]

I have a reminder script on the server that emails me once a month reminding me to test the special email address I've assigned for domain management. No telling what might happen to a config file or somesuch. No matter what, that email path from your registrar has to stay open.

Godaddy will do what

suits their best interests. I had one test domain that I hosted on GD. A few weeks before my prepaid hosting was set to renew, I initiated a transfer of the domain to Moniker. The next day CS called me to let me know that they tried to renew my hosting, but my credit card had expired and they didnt want my site to go down. I told him I hadnt updated the cc info because I knew I was moving the account.

GoDaddy will do what is best for them, and that does include picking up a phone and calling a client to make a measly $50.

FWIW, Moniker has been stellar.

eye of the beholder

>Moniker has been stellar.

Somebody cue Shoemoney on the above statement. As for me, I'm clearing out of the blast zone.

responses to alot of the good discussion going on.

Nick Wilsdon,

I disagree with your views on domain ownership.
People do own the domains they have registered but if they fail to pay the maintenance fees (domain renewals) then the domain will be taken away from them.
In my view this is a similar situation to condo/apartment owner refusing to pay their condo/apartment fees , if you do this then soon you won't be living in that condo/apartment.

Natasha Robinson and Nick Wilsdon,

While I agree with your views that in the current domain registrar pricing environment sending postal mail and calling every customer would be untenable, but I still think it should be made in situations such as this when a very valuable domain name is about to be grabbed from the domain owner because somebody complained that they have an invalid email address while the registration isn't expired.
Another option would be to freeze the domain until the invalid information is corrected in which case I'm sure the domain owner would notice at least in renewal time (hopefully).
I think that there is a marketplace for a domain registrar who has higher fees but provides premium protection for domains and I'm sad Tucows hasn't gone after this market more aggressively because they have the best rep.
Other good registrars are Enom, Moniker and Fabulous.

Nick Wilsdon,
(Sorry about commenting to you so much but you brought forward some really good points although I disagreed on one of them :)

That all the major registrars have started their own parking/ad systems and auction systems is indeed a huge problem because it creates an incentive for the registrars to be lax in reminding people about renewals and otherwise looking for the first little thing to take control of the customer's domain because they can earn hundreds of times their 1-2 dollars margin on renewals if they auction the domain or start parking it with ads.

idolw and MaxD,

Your stories are even more reason than this story to avoid Godaddy.
No other registrar I know of has these absurd fees goDaddy's abusive abuse department slaps on domains to transfer them out or to activate them after first disabling your domain and therefore your business on really light grounds.

rcjordan,

You made some really good suggestions, I will improve some of my practises based on the your advice.

Screwed by GoDaddy

Add me to the list of people screwed by GoDaddy. I actually had domains with them from 1999-2006 when a surprising event happened.

I sent 1) ONE email to MY EXISTING customers. These are people who BOUGHT directory listings from me over the years. On it, I mentioned 5 additional directories (4 of which were with GoDaddy).

I woke up one morning to discover my domains didn't respond. Instead they went to NS1.ABUSE-AND-SCUMBAG-SPAMMER-LOSER.COM or some such address. Shocked, I called GoDaddy, who preceeed to act like complete A-holes. They wanted either $200 per domain to "stay with them" or $75 for the right to transfer! It cost me $375 just to move $40 worth of domains to another registrar.

Needless to say, I hate them with a passion.

I feel for you.That was a

SootleDir,

I feel for you.That was a horrible situation Godaddy put you into.

Godaddy shouldn't be trusted with any domains you use for business because they can really screw your ass big time by putting your business offline for a laughably small reason and branding you a scammer/spammer all the while ripping you of to the tune of hundreds off dollars to get your domains back online.
It seems Bob Parsons should really provide some attitude adjustment training to his 9-5 abusive abuse department.

just unsubscribed the email notifications about this thread.

I just unsubscribed the email notifications about the responses to this thread.
I didn't realize that posting this thread would cause this much discussion so When I checked my email I was like "What the..."
I'm happy for the lively discussion :)

In my view this is a similar

In my view this is a similar situation to condo/apartment owner refusing to pay their condo/apartment fees , if you do this then soon you won't be living in that condo/apartment.

Yep I see the same situation as renting. If I don't pay my rent, I loose my flat. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that one ;)

I still think it should be made in situations such as this when a very valuable domain name is about to be grabbed from the domain owner

But who works out what a 'valuable' domain is? I have clients who would go to pieces if they lost their company domain, even though they have little to no traffic.

I think you're right though there probably is a market for Domain Insurance - where you pay an extra fee each year and you know that the domain will be registered in_any_situation. You could get this though just by having a good relationship with your reseller/registrar.

Another option would be to freeze the domain until the invalid information is corrected in which case I'm sure the domain owner would notice at least in renewal time

That would seem the fairest way to approach the situation as technically the time has already been paid for.

I'm sad Tucows hasn't gone after this market more aggressively because they have the best rep

Tucows have had to chase the secondary domain market like everyone else but they have been quite good about it. They give users an extra 30 days onto the standard 40 in the case of auctioned domains. You pay an $80 retrieval fee but you should be able to get it back in that time.

I just unsubscribed the email notifications about the responses to this thread.

Yes I seem to get about 5 email alerts for the same comment ID? Had this happen a while ago on TW and now it seems to have come back :(

on oilman's advice

>> I moved to GD on oilman's advice primarily because they were the first we'd found that could get decent domain locks in place.

bingo - at that time (which was long ago ;)) that was exactly the reason we started using GD. I don't use them anymore and work solely with Moniker now but rc's tips are rock solid and will keep you well protected with any registrar.

Furthermore

I also should point out: I found out who the ONE 1) complaint was from.

When I called and asked, they told me that it was a "GoDaddy employee" who turned in the spam complaint. Haha!

I actually never spoke about this out of embarassment before but I've written up a detailed complaint in my blog today because now they've even went a step below. If they're actually "taking domains away" by deleting them, many people can be easily ruined.

It won't be long until a shooter stands on the GoDaddy grassy knoll if they continue to purposely screw people out of their businesses and work.

And on another note: is Bob Parson some sort of retard?

The scariest part of all

The scariest part of all registrars is they can virtually do anything they want. They can take your domain whenever they want under a bogus, trumped up charge. Heck, RegisterFly was stealing domains for years and no one could do anything about it. They also wouldn't let you transfer out.

I think this problem will get worse and worse and stories like this will become more prevelant. These companies work under a cloud of no rules whatsoever.

Cue Shoe

Always love to hear what Shoe has to say.

I am working on a big one..

go to www.ctyfrmr.tv

Infotapia.com response is coming soon.

http://i-newswire.com/goprint52194.html

Daft question time..

But is there a sensible reason why a domain should not just be left, until it expires and is not renewed, as long as it has been paid for?

Why are these strict controls even in place about contact info?

poison the well

>sensible reason why a domain should not just be left, until it expires and is not renewed, as long as it has been paid for?

There was a theory that said expired domains were tainted in the eyes of the search engines. So, if I'm going to let one go, that's what I do, just in case it works. Can't hurt to subscribe to the theory. No need to let what will become an obvious future competitor have any foothold.

Not a daft question at all.

Not a daft question at all. ICANN adopted a policy in 2003 to regulate and control the accuracy of WHOIS information. AFAIK this was to combat internet fraud, cybersquatting and online piracy. Anonymous registration was seen as a barrier to tracking these people down.

Some 10-15% of the WHOIS database is estimated to hold inaccurate information - this measure was a move to clean this up.

I've been burned by them too, badly!!

I had a domain registered with foxlink.net. I was the name on the domain, but all the contact info was for my isp, foxlink.net. Foxlink was located in Orlando FL and they were wiped out by a hurricane a few years ago, and the business went under. All the domains in their godaddy account - many of which were not owned by foxlink at all - should have just been expired and released. Instead they kept them and auctioned them off for profit. I did attempt to get the domain transferred to me and got constant run-arounds from godaddy because I was not the account holder on the domain. They would not do anything for me period, even though it was an uncontrollable circumstance and there was no way to get the foxlink account login creds, or contact of any employee who might have had it, since the company went under. After a dozen phone calls and endless emails and correspondance with godaddy, they finally told me my best bet to get it was to wait for it to go up for auction.

It was me a ridiculous hassle to clamor to transfer everything I had to another domain.

DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH goDaddy!

further comment

I read through a lot of the other comments and a lot of people said tough - it's up to you to keep your info up to date, and you'd lose your apartment if you didn't pay your rent. read my above comment for a perfect example of where that example does not fit.

Yes knowing what I do now, I would have kept control on that domain to all my personal info instead of the hosts, but at the time I was a newbie, and I had been dealing with foxlink for several years, and they were excellent to deal with. I didn't have any reservations about working with them, or letting them control the domain. I'm sure there are plenty of people in that situation.

Domain Name Wire has updated the story

Domain Name Wire has updated the story:

http://domainnamewire.com/2007/03/02/an-update-on-godaddy-whois-issue-and-other-registrars-responses/

Basically Godaddy said screw you to the previous owner of familyalbum.com, they won't give the domain back even though their legal department at first considered it.
Familyalbum.com probably makes too much money for godaddy through their inhouse ppc parking program to give it back.
(and the supposed new registrant who hides behind godaddy's privacy protection also allegedly threatened to sue godaddy)

There are also some alternatives for domain registration listed who would not act like godaddy.
Use the alternatives if you have any domains at godaddy before Bob Parsons grabs your domains at the first opportunity.

I will tell this story to everybody I'm doing business with and also in every social situation where domains come up and I hope everybody who is outraged at the actions of godaddy.com will do the same.

Registration Problems

I'm not sure if this was a godaddy issue, but I tried to register a .eu name with them at the end of 2005. www.lolipop.eu (note misspelling of lollipop). After a long delay (4.5 months), they informed me that someone else had got it first. As of today, it's still parked.

Evil SOB

Maybe I'm just an evil SOB, but this problem looks like more fun than the USPS change of address card.

Time to look up all the whois information on all my competitors...

Is it MY FAULT if any of them didn't follow the rules?

>Time to look up all the

>Time to look up all the whois information on all my competitors...

With 10-15% of the WHOIS database inaccurate Bill, there's some serious money to be made out of this.

And yep - you're an evil SOB ;)

I like GoDaddy!

I've been with GoDaddy for years, and last year moved all 15 of my domains over to them. The move was smooth (well, as smooth as can be expected) and I had to call their Customer Service a number of times. They were knowledgable, helpful and actually fun to talk to!

I kinda doubt that the original story happened specifically to make GoDaddy more bucks... as far as I know, they're doing quite well and don't need to pull crap like that.

If you don't like 'em, move your stuff... there are other choices.

UPDATE 2/28/07: Here’s an

Quote:
UPDATE 2/28/07: Here’s an update from the (former) owner of FamilyAlbum.com. GoDaddy has offered to get the name back for him if he indemnifies GoDaddy from legal action by the new registrant.

Looks like regular business to me. Everybody needs to cover their asses, and if GoDaddy is offering to undo the "mistake" in exchange for indemnity, that's better than it could have been. It becomes a fight between prior lessee and loophole exploiter.

The follow up :

Quote:
Thank you for your message. After further review with our Legal Department, it does not appear that we are able to assist you with this issue. Since the name was cancelled following ICANN standards and the name is now registered to another party, you will need to contact the current registrant regarding the domain name.

suggests they even started to work it out... and discovered they had followed the rules. It would not be possible to indemnify them even if you wanted to try.

Now let's see if they fix the real problem... the process that enabled the hijack.

>fix the real problem Not

>fix the real problem

Not sure of the exact ICANN rules, but surely an easy fix would be if a domain were to be cancelled for incorrect WHOIS info, then it should go through the normal Redemption cycle rather than being made immediately available to other third parties. Then the registrant would very quickly realise something was amiss, assuming the domain was a live site, which would then give them the opportunity to correct the error. If no correction were made within the redemption cycle, then the domain becomes available again as per normal.

Perhaps a tweaking of standard perating proceedures is needed here.

the exact ICANN rules

I emailed Paul Karkas, Compliance Officer OpenSRS/Tucows and got some clarification on the actual ICANN rules for Registrars/Resellers.

There is nothing mandating that they delete a domain name for incorrect WHOIS information.

http://www.icann.org/announcements/advisory-03apr03.htm

Subsection 3.7.7.2 of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement does not require a registrar to cancel a registration in the event a customer fails to respond within 15 days. The accreditation agreement's approach of requiring the registrar to retain the right to cancel if the customer fails to respond in 15 days, but not requiring the registrar to exercise that right is intended to give the registrar the flexibility to use good judgment to determine what action should be taken upon a customer's failure to respond to an inquiry about a Whois inaccuracy.

Tucows policy is to leave the domain name suspended for the duration of the registration period. It would then go through the usual waiting period before being bought by a backorder/auction customer.

Basically this is GoDaddy company policy. They are using their own 'good judgment' in how they want to treat their customers.

You can read the full letter on my blog but that gives you the executive summary. You're right though John, once they had resold the domain they couldn't go back without opening themselves to liability.

NoDaddy

I recently read about the fiasco with Fyodor and seclists.org which prompted him to create a site called NoDaddy located here:
http://nodaddy.com
It might be helpful for all you folks who are having problems or want to vent about GoDaddy.

Cause to Pause

I have over 140 domains with GoDaddy and have found them to be OK. As long as I have my contact info intact I should be OK but after reading the horror stories here I may have to re-evaluate.

about 125 domains

I've found registrar issues to be about the same as hosting, many times the move fixes one problem yet exposes a new one. Between the super-big-dog-A-list registars like Tucows and Godaddy, who has the most bullet-proof locking and Policy & Procedure in place? Here, I'm thinking I want a spelled-out warranty to protect me from a malicious transfer if I have my mailing address intact. Frankly, the registrar cannot count on either the phone or email as certain to get through. Aside: Who uses a phone? For crap's sake, it's 2007! The one I use for registration is valid, but the odds of anyone ever hearing it ring are remote. Email: ISP filtering alone makes that risky.

Stolen domain by godaddy.com!

On Apr 11, 2007 I bought the domain .... (Edited ... please don't publish personal contact details here on TW. I'd suggest people message you if they're interested in hearing more)

Can anyone convince me that godaddy.com doesn't steal domains?!?

Another thing I find

Another thing I find unacceptable about GoDaddy's business practices is their fake 301 domain forwarding feature. Check the server headers for a domain you've set to "Permanently Move (301)" and you'll quickly realize just how shady they can be. I used to love Godaddy until I did. Now, I could honestly care less if they went bankrupt today.

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