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Transferring Domains from Uncooperative Registrar? 90

An anonymous reader asks: "What do you do when your registrar hangs you out to dry? I have a domain that was registered with a registrar that no longer exists. The original registrar was bought out by another, who is a reseller for a third registrar. After the buyout they never got my domain to work properly with their billing system, with the result that I cannot transfer the domain (they say they cannot release registrar-lock) and cannot renew it via their online system, meaning that I have to call them on the phone. Several weeks ago, my registrar took my renewal payment for two years, and charged my credit card, but never renewed the domain. They expired it and redirected the web accesses to their parking page, which consists of spam links. I've emailed and called them several times since, with the result that they no longer answer my email or phone calls. I can't find any clear documentation at ICANN about this, as it all seems to be geared toward transfers from uncooperative web hosts or copyright holders. Do I have any recourse in this case, or am I simply screwed?"
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Transferring Domains from Uncooperative Registrar?

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  • contact ICANN (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @06:50PM (#16616780) Homepage
    Give them documentation for the credit card charge and for your prior ownership; hopefully they'll restore your ownership and yank that registrar's license.
  • Get a lawyer (Score:5, Informative)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:07PM (#16617026)

    I don't think ICANN will offer you much recourse, and you may need to take legal action. Hence I say, hire a real lawyer to advise you properly.

    In my estimation, you will probably be needing to contact them by sending a letter through certified mail, include a notice of their breach of the agreement, and demand they cooperate with your transfer of registration to alternative registrar, include the details.

    Put them on official notice ASAP, spell out the details of how they are breaking your agreement to renew the domain, and what you demand of them immediately, and in the future, so they cannot claim ignorance, or that they "never received the message".

    And be prepared to sue the registrar, if they won't make you whole. Bottom line: by expiring your domain, they fail to honor an agreement. By interfering with the proper transfer of your domain, they are injuring you.

  • by Banner ( 17158 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:17PM (#16617158) Journal
    A friend of mine went through something like this. He registered his domains under his internet nickname, but paid under his real name. Now they won't allow him to do anything unless he comes up with a legal ID that has his nickname on it. They don't care that he was paying with his legal name for the last X years.

    So he's waiting for the domain to expire so he can pick it up under his real name. The registar (godaddy) refuses to help at all and he feels a lawyer is a waste of money. So for now he's stuck waiting because godaddy puts all expired domains up for auction for a period of days (registars should NOT be allowed to auction expired domains, conflict of interest - especially when they're causing the expiration).

    I suspect many of the people out there who are currently parking domains and putting them up for auction are probably the registars, because it doesn't appear that they have to pay to register open domains, so why not speculate if it's free?

    I'm not so sure that the new system is cheaper or easier than the old one. Back in the old days at least a phone call always could clear up any problems.
  • Re:Your first step (Score:5, Informative)

    by maxwells_deamon ( 221474 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:21PM (#16617216) Homepage
    I would be worried about this approach. If they just give back the money in responce to the request from the credit card company, he losses the domain.

    The certified letter or lawyer are the best approach
  • by egarland ( 120202 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:29PM (#16617316)
    Charging you for services and then not providing them is something credit card companies go after vigorously. Call your credit card company and complain. Most likely a significant percentage of their income comes in through credit cards and having Visa or MasterCard blacklist them would be something that would impact them deeply so when their investigator starts poking into things they'll pay attention.

    At the very least you should be able to get your renewal fee back.
  • Re:Who (Score:2, Informative)

    by 8-bitDesigner ( 980672 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:38PM (#16617420) Homepage
    eNom, perchance? I've got a client who had the same thing happen to their domain, and every attempt to contact the registrar has just flat out failed, including calling the phone number attached to the bloody Whois record.

    Hell, I just got the annual "Update your records!" email from a half-dozen registrars at ICANN, and I can't help but find the irony in a registrar having inaccurate Whois records.
  • Re:Who (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:35PM (#16618458)
    I would also agree on blaming eNom. I was frequenting an online forum. They took the domain down exactly one year before it actually expires. The owner took two weeks to get things back to normal with another registrar.
  • MOD PARENT UP!!! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:11PM (#16619070)
    Excellent post! :)

  • My worst nightmare (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:34PM (#16619196)
    As the owner of several short dictionary one-word domain names, this has always been one of my nightmares... which is why I was leary of moving away from overpriced NetSol. The $100k retainer registrars must give ICANN doesn't come close to the cost of taking care of their clientele if they go under. The root DNS hijack fiasco a few years ago finally gave me the moral push to begin moving my domains away from them as renuals came up.

    A recent experience has made me rethink my move away from NetSol though... I had a _very_ important domain transferred away from me (they injected a request at the same time I was trying to move it.. I can only guess they saw the lock come off and knew it was going to be moved) and after working my way through tier one TS, NetSol really worked hard to research the problem and get my domain back for me. They could have just as easily washed their hands of it and waited for me to get a lawyer, but they didn't... meanwhile, I have lost much of my confidence in the TS of the more affordable registrar I do business with and doubt they would given half the effort.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Saturday October 28, 2006 @12:13AM (#16619458) Journal
    You might try contacing whoever's running the nameserver that's got your domain on it to point it at your own servers, if they're not the same as the miscreants.

    ICANN FAQ on Domain Registrar Problems [].

    ICANN Transfer Policies []

    ICANN Transfer Dispute Resolution Policy. []

    You may end up having to pay the miscreants a transfer fee. They do have to release registrar locks in a reasonable time with some reasonable process, though they can also hold the domain for 60 days after registration.

  • Re:Snipe it (Score:3, Informative)

    by smbarbour ( 893880 ) on Saturday October 28, 2006 @02:41AM (#16620116)
    As someone who works in the credit card industry, I have some insight into the process. (I'm in IT, and as such, for whatever reason, I'm somehow expected to know everything. It's "information" after all.)

    The cardholder first contacts his or her issuer (the cardholder's processor) to dispute the charge. Then, the issuer initiates a retrieval request on the transaction. The acquirer (the merchant's processor), receives the retrieval request and contacts the merchant for information on the transaction (There is a time limit of 21 days, IIRC, to submit the information to the requester). The information required is the transaction data and proof that the purchased "merchandise" was "delivered".

    If the merchant fails to prove that the transaction was valid, the chargeback is issued, and the acquirer pays the issuer who pays the cardholder. After that, the acquirer does whatever is necessary to recover the funds from the merchant. In our case, we withhold funding until it is paid, and if that doesn't work, it is reported as income for the merchant to the IRS (via a Form 1099)

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