Moniker CEO Bonnie Wittenburg discusses botched transition
Wittenburg discusses what went wrong and what the company is doing to fix it.
It’s been a long week for Moniker and its customers.
The company transitioned its entire platform over to Key-Systems’ reseller platform over the weekend and it didn’t go as planned. Domains not set to renew were renewed, domains were missing from accounts, pricing was erroneous and other features didn’t work correctly.
Moniker took the entire site down for 24 hours starting Tuesday to address the issues.
This is obviously a major disruption to a customer base that has already endured a registrar transitioned between several owners and management teams in the past decade.
I reached out to Moniker CEO Bonnie Wittenburg with several questions regarding the botched system transition.
DNW: It’s understandable that things go wrong during a major transition like this, but it seems like a lot more went wrong that should have. What sort of testing did Moniker do prior to the transition? What happened to cause so many problems?
Wittenburg: The entire team involved in this project – both at Moniker in Florida, and at Key-Systems in our German Headquarters – conducted testing to ensure quality for functionally, usability, and reliability. Some testing required a live environment that encompasses all system components to be functioning together, rather than independently in a silo. Moniker’s systems were not technically maintained to Key-Systems’ standards in years past which resulted in a loss of fidelity during the data import process. Our efforts have brought Moniker systems up to standard from which we can begin a program of improvement. Although we anticipated difficulties with the transition, it has proven to be more complex than anticipated.
These issues have been solved or are in the process of being solved since the initial roll-out and subsequent maintenance period. We are working diligently to further improve the Moniker experience at every level. We are working closely with select customers to identify pain points and to better understand how we could prevent further issues and to learn from what has happened.
Independent from the data migration issues, some customers are affected from our transition away from SnapNames and domain names which were acquired on the SnapNames platform. We are working with SnapNames and Web.com to resolve these issues. The transition is not complete resulting in a portion of some clients’ domain names being temporarily unmanageable. We are actively working with all parties involved to resolve these outstanding issues and to ensure that these domains are safe.
DNW: I imagine much of the code base in Moniker is very old. Are any of the technical staff from Moniker still involved with the company today, or was it all handled by Key-Systems staff?
Wittenburg: Moniker formerly operated off a legacy code base built on outdated technology that would not support the introduction of new products and services in line with our goals. Although we work closely with technical staff at SnapNames in support of outstanding issues stemming from the sale of the company, none of the former engineers are still with Moniker. It has been this way for some time and all of the technical components of Moniker are handled by Key-Systems out of Germany.
DNW: What is Moniker going to do to regain the trust of its customers?
Wittenburg: We are aware that a reputation takes years to build, countless hours of hard work from our employees, and is solidified by providing quality services to our customers. To us, that means creating an easy-to-use platform that enables clients to manage their domains while maintaining security protocols. We are also aware just how fragile this relationship is between a business and consumer. These recent events are a blemish on our record, but we are not a damaged company. We remain hopeful that our clients will give us an opportunity to prove our commitment to them and we are working to restore their faith in our organization and the staff we employ. Our technical staff is working around the clock to fix and improve remaining problems to allow Moniker to operate at full capacity, our main priority. We have a top notch customer service team in place that is core to our renewed commitment to providing the best in customer service. Simply put, we are committed to making this right and will stop at nothing to restore and improve our services and quality of product we deliver.
I also had a chance to speak with Moniker Director of Marketing Mark Mariani.
Mariani explained that one of the big issues was that, while all domains were in Moniker’s database, not all were placed in customers’ accounts. This was obviously one of the big causes of alarm.
Customers who had domain names renewed that were set not to auto renew will receive refunds if they have not already.
The company is also working to address the $25 minimum PayPal payment issue and bulk authorization codes for transfers.
Moniker offers phone and ticket support for any outstanding issues but queues are longer than normal. (In my opinion, submitting a ticket might be a better option for non-urgen issues — you won’t spend time on hold and you’ll have a record of your support request.)
Moniker has had a long week. The months ahead cleaning up the mess will be even longer.