GoDaddy will not return domain; other registrars say what they would do in the same situation.
It’s been just a few days since Domain Name Wire broke the story about GoDaddy deleting a domain registration due to an invalid e-mail address in whois. GoDaddy responded to the article but few people seem satisfied.
Here’s another update. After agreeing to give the previous registrant of FamilyAlbum.com his domain if he indemnified GoDaddy, GoDaddy today decided that it will not give the domain back. In a message to the former owner, GoDaddy said:
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.
I’ve never actually seen ICANN’s complete policy on this but would appreciate anyone experienced with these rules to comment.
In the meantime, I contacted a number of registrars to ask them what they would do in this same situation. Would they cancel a registration after just trying to contact the customer via e-mail? What do they do about inaccurate whois data? Here are the responses so far:
“We operate the domain name registrars directnic.com and domaincontender.com as well as the parking service Parked.
You asked what steps we are willing to take instead of deleting a customer’s domain due to invalid WHOIS data. Well, we are willing to make a Federal case out of it. We literally will go to Federal court to protect our customers, including for WHOIS privacy.
In 2002 we at directNIC.com refused to delete the domain name of a customer who allegedly had invalid WHOIS information. The fact that this client also was being sued for allegedly committing slander was not an issue for us to judge. The attorneys involved demanded that we delete the domain name. However, we considered the rights of our customer too important to be swayed by impending litigation. Some registrars will take the position of “not having a dog in that fight” and so they will roll over on their customers. That is not our position. As a result, we ended up fighting a Federal lawsuit, titled Gregg Lloyd Smith versus Intercosmos Media Group, Inc., which we ultimately won on summary judgment. The end result of the lawsuit was that, under U.S. law, domain name registrars were deemed to be interactive service providers with federal immunity from the postings of the registrant of a domain name. See http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/docket/011303smith-ruling.pdf.
In another example, several years ago we had a customer who refused to update WHOIS information on a domain name and an attorney threatened to sue us at directNIC.com over it. Ultimately, the customer used a WHOIS protection service and the attorney who was making the threats ended up in jail.
Aside from the anecdotal replies above, when we receive a WHOIS complaint, we specifically state and adhere to our policies published on directNIC.com and http://domaincontender.com. The first action we take is to attempt to verify the WHOIS information ourselves. Sometimes people complain an email is invalid when in fact, the owner was on vacation and their email box was just full. We are not going to consider a client’s WHOIS information incorrect if their email box is full, or if their mail server is temporarily down, or some other trivial issue. Catastrophes, such as Hurricane Katrina, also caused many people to have “invalid WHOIS” information for a long time, and we take such things into consideration before acting on a complaint.
If we conclude that a domain’s WHOIS information is false or outdated, then we try to contact the customer. We generally spend at least 15 days trying to contact the customer. (Exceptions to this rule include when it is clear a domain is being used for serious financial fraud or child porn.)
Sometimes a customer will respond with valid reasons for not wanting their WHOIS information on the domain name. In those cases we propose that they use directNIC’s WHOIS identity protection service.
If the customer fails to respond to our requests to update their information, then we generally place the domain name on hold. However, this is more than two weeks after the process has started. Such rare and drastic action typically gets the attention of the customer, and they usually are very quick to respond to us at that point.
Sigmund Solares, J.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Intercosmos Media Group, Inc.”
“We certainly appreciate your concern in this matter; and would like you to know that I have taken the time to review this article as well – which I found this to be very interesting. While the statement is true; that it is required by ICANN that we keep valid contact information on file for the domain name, many customers will register with bogus information to keep their information private. Register.com makes every possible attempt to contact the customer to give them an opportunity to update and validate their contact information. We will contact them via telephone; email; snail mail and also fax if it permits – however have not in my career with Register.com in the last 3 years have experienced an issue to an extreme where an account has actually been deleted. Also as was mentioned, there are services provided by most domain registrars which will keep the whois information both valid private.”
(In addition to the message below from Gandi’s CEO, I received a phone call from the company. In short, they explained that they’d do everything possible to contact the owner before taking action. It would contact the customer based on all information in whois, on the web site, etc. It wouldn’t cancel a registration if unable to reach the customer because the customer might call back later…which is what happened with FamilyAlbum.com.)
“- it’s a case per case basis, which means that we take a look at the domain and website attached to it to. Obviously Familyalbum.com is not the same than a domain name leading to fraudulent activities,
– depending on the case, we try to contact our customer by ANY means to have his data corrected,
– if we do not have ANY answer, we NEVER cancel the domain. We hold it instead, and wait for a reaction,
– Gandi has never and will never purchase domain names for itself in order to put ads on it or whatsoever close to that. We are registrars, not real estate-short-term-view-agents”
“While there are many “you could or you should” advisories for
the Registrar from ICANN, it comes down to your business model. At
Rebel.com, we are a registrar focused on satisfying the needs of the
domain name professional. We understand the value of our customer’s
assets and offer the tools and the personal service they would expect.
Emails are sent, phone calls are made. We look for contact
information on developed sites. We reference our customer records for
contact information for parked sites. Ultimately every problem report is
resolved considering all available registrant information and the
required policies of ICANN.
-David Chiswell, CEO of Rebel.com”
I anticipate further comments from registrars over the coming week and will post them as they become available.
“I have taken the time to review this article as well”.
With statements like that from Rergister.com, it’s clear that these other companies realized this question didn’t come out of the blue. They had the opportunity to read the story and formulate a nice sounding, consumer friendly response.
When you consider that GoDaddy is the #1 registrar, and the direct competition of these other companies… should we really put much stock into what the competition says in this situation?
I think not. In fact, I know better, and so does anybody else with common sense.
Of course these other companies are going to respond with comments claiming they would do more than GoDaddy did. What do you expect them to say?
If you do some research on google you will see that godaddy is in a class by itself when it comes to deleting its cusomers domains and accounts. Usually for spam complaints that turn out to be unfounded.
Infact they wrongly shut down domains every day for spam complaints without even investigating those complaints.
Years ago when I was thinking of transferring domains to godaddy I did some research and found many such stories.
Here is a link to just one story. There are hundreds of them on the net if you care to look.
I really hope this guy sues godaddy for millions. The stroy of familyalbum.com has
PS Pam it seems like you are shill for godady. I would be suprised if your real name was Bob Parsons.
Godaddy’s decision to not give the original owner of familyalbum.com his domain back is going to cost godaddy millions of dollars.
Nobody with a valuable domain or an internet business of any kind should trust their domain and business with godaddy.
I will make a point to tell this story to every individual I’m dealing with in business and social circles and I hope that everybody who is outraged at despicable actions of godaddy will do the same so that the word will spread that godaddy should not be trusted.
I have over 1000 domains with GoDaddy and
wrote to my account manager when this story
broke, asking for clarification etc.
So far I haven’t received a reply.
If I put in a GD backorder for the domain
Godaddy.com, do you think I can use this
non-reply as evidence that the domain should
be transferred to me ?
I wonder how many people are now going through zone files looking for GD domains with invalid contact information. GD put themselves in an impossible position, if I find XYZ.com at GD with invalid WHOIS, I can now contact GD to have it dropped with minimum follow up effort on their part.
If the outcry over all this means that GD takes further steps to use phone, fax, mail to contact the owner – they hand the FamilyAlbums.com owner victory on a plate. If they don’t, then this just gets deeper and deeper for them.
Personally I came extremely close to removing my 600 names from GD after the seclists.org incident. This is the last straw for me – let’s hope I didn’t update contact information on any of them in the last 60 days huh?
Now would the time for every GD customer to call GD and let them know that this is not acceptable. I have over 3000 domains with GD and I will not hesitate to transfer them out of their hands if they don’t step up to the plate with this corporate BS. On another note, Bob would you be interested in a list some friends of mine have that name all the typos GD owns? You know the list I’m talking about, the one that has trademark company typo domains that land on your PPC pages?
Jake, is that they way it works? Anybody that disagrees with your opinions must be a “shill” for the other side?
Trust me, I’m not a “shill” for Bob Parsons. I don’t know Bob Parsons, nor do I have any connection to GoDaddy whatsoever.
It seems there is a small group of people determined to slam GoDaddy for everything they can find. And if you disagree with their opinions, you are labeled a “shill”. It’s silly.
And let me remind you, for every unhappy GoDaddy customer, there are literally thousands of happy ones. I’ve been around the business for a while, and I’ve seen this for myself.
Can anybody recomend an alternative registrar?
There are several good registrars:
Enom, Fabulous, Moniker
However my newest favorite is Dynadot.com and they have good customer service with none of the bullshit that godaddy has and domains only cost $7.99
also all the registrars so far listed in this domainnamewire survey sound much better than godaddy
thank you everybody
Colin Pape says
Sounds to me like DirectNIC is the only registrar that actually has a track record to back up their statement.
That company has a lot of credibility with me after the whole Katrina situation they went through, and how well they handled it…
The last incident with seclists made me realize just how fragile my holdings with any other registrar are… I am now in the process of becoming a registrar as I realized it’s the only way to really protect my property…
Shame that companies like GoDaddy are so quick to roll over on any challenge they are faced with… Can’t wait to get my domains out of there!
Thanks so much for your continued coverage and for breaking the story… You are doing a fantastic job!
Lets be real.
What we are dealing with here is a crime. I doubt Bob Parsons is involved, but godaddy has hundreds of employees and my guess is one if not more are involved in this type of criminal activity.
If you work at godaddy you quickly realize how valuable domain can be, ETC ETC…
Somebody had to press the delete button. Whos was it?
Also, it is very fishy to offer to return the domain. Think about it. We all know that a registrar can’t take back a name that has expired and been reregistered. Why would godaddy make such an offer? Such an offer is as criminal as stealing the domain in the first place, presuming the guy who backordered it was not involved. Of course, I think the guy who backordered it was involved.
Imagine if you backorderd a domain at snapnames and a week later they took the domain back. It has never happend and it won’t.
The offer to give the domain back is a red flag.
This is a story that will never away until godaddy puts a new policy in place and compensates the original owner of familyalbum.com
On another note, I keep all my valuable domains at directnic.com. They are one of the few registrars with a really competent
legal department. Most registrars don’t seem to understand the laws surrounding domains and domain registrars. Directnic does. Plus their software is top notch. It never fails.
Moniker is much cheaper but they have buggy software. For example, I receive renewal notices from moniker all the time for domains that were transferred out several months earlier. Also I have domains listed in my account that wher transferred out months ago. This has been going on at moniker for years and they have no intention of fixing. I know because I have complained to them about it. If you have a large number of domains this kind of software bug can be a real hassle.
Additionally the domain search and checkout process at moniker takes is time consuming.
But if you are looking for cheap domains moniker may be for you. At least they don’t steal domain from their customers.
If you have valuable domains at godaddy move them out now!
Update on the moniker software problems:
I decided to try renewing a domain in my moniker account that was transferred out of moniker months ago. They send me a reminder every week for this domain. So I renewed it.
Sure enough they charged me for the renwal even though the domain is at another registrar and they can’t renew it.
Essentially they just stole my money.
It was a test I needed to do because I was thinking of tranferring thousands of mediocre domains into moniker. It cost me $6.95.
I’d rather pay $10 per domain then deal with buggy software.
Note: I was one of the first customers at moniker and I had a lot of hope for them.
They seem to put all their energy into brokering domain sales instead of fixing their buggy software.
On another note, Frank Schilling just blogged about the godaddy/familyalbum.com
situation. He has some good points. Check it out at SevenMile.com
Ron Bennett says
Changing registrars may provide some protection, but one can’t count on it until such time ICANN changes how “Whois Data Problem Reports” are handled.
Under the current WDPR system the registrar is given the responsibility to forward the complaint to the registrant *not* ICANN …
Thus it’s possible for registrants even with a valid, working email address to lose their domains too, if the registrar claims not to have not received a response to the WDPR complaint from the registrant.
Here are some suggestions of what ICANN could do to close-up the WDPR security hole:
* Increase the time the registrant has to respond to such a complaint at least 30 full calendar days.
* Require registrars to attempt contact through phone and/or postal mail in addition to email.
* In the event of no response through multiple contact methods, then require registrars to deactivate (ie. remove name server entries) and place such domain names in a 1 year hold status and/or, for those expiring before then, place in shorter redemption period.
* Require normal deletion of domains for which WDPRs have been filed to discourage abuse of WDPRs by registrars.
Implementing some or all of the suggestions above would go a long way towards a more secure domain name system.
@Editor – This comment should be placed here as well.
What Godaddy did was actually not by the book as some of the above comments may portrait by Pam.
They actually did not live up their responsibility to make sure the WHOIS was accurate.
They are actually required to do more then just a phone call according to ICANN agreements:
Under the Registrar Accreditation Agreement Section 3.7.8 GoDaddy was required to:
“3.7.8 …Registrar shall, upon notification by any person of an inaccuracy
in the contact information associated with a Registered Name sponsored
by Registrar, take reasonable steps to investigate that claimed inaccuracy.
In the event Registrar learns of inaccurate contact information
associated with a Registered Name it sponsors, it shall
take reasonable steps to correct that inaccuracy.”
There are three reasonable ways to get in touch with somebody:
Only the first option has been done by Godaddy and repeatedly and therefor repeatedly chosen to ignore the other reasonable steps they are REQUIRED to do.
So Godaddy is in clear violations of ICANN policies.
Everyone should read Ron Bennett’s comments above. Very good ideas.
laurie layhee says
godaddy stole my website telling me it expired and was sold to another registrar dotacom.com amazing how the two supposed differant companys look so much alike. i am livid amd determined to get my website returned to me its rightful owner!!i now go through microsoft and will be sure to WARN people of godaddys decietfulness!!!
so instead of selling my products they are advertising other sites as sponsered.so where is my pay check???
Laurie, it looks like you domain *did* expire, so that’s not GoDaddy’s fault.
no my domain had not expired, i payed my renewal fees which i have proof.when I contacted Godaddy they said they would sell it back to me for 500. I have had the domain since 2002 where i registered it with register .com and then went to godaddy in 2006. On the new whois it says they have had it since 2004 which is a lie. it never was theirs.i have reciepts and documentation to back this up.they now use it for a lingerie directory for their other sites.could you please recommend an attorney for this matter.
How long does it take to update whois at godaddy
I have been a godaddy customer for about 5 years now and suddenly, I’ve noticed an unsettling trend. I search a domain on godaddy alone, nowhere else, its available, I come home that night to reserve the domain…suddenly in a matter of hours its now unavailable unless I want to pay THOUSANDS for it from a “godaddy partner”. When this first happened I just thought, “Well, just a coincidence” the second time it happened I was suspicious, the third time, I am now convinced that when I find a good domain name, it triggers a flag in the godaddy system and they sell this domain to their “partner” in hopes of making a fatter percentage off a ‘resale’ back to me, the customer they duped in the first place. Beware of this register company. I still have my domains registered with them but I’m now looking to transfer them to a more reputable register company (which I’m researching now). If this post saves one person from being ripped off, I will feel MUCH better.
James Beuthling says
Godaddy just sold my domainname scentshop. They give me nothing but cut past replies and bullsht. I have had the name for 6 years. My dam card expired. And they sell my domain, for a profit. I have emails indicating they said my site was fine up and running. but they had sold it behind my back three weeks earlier. they are liers. How can you sell your customers domain. And tell them its fine up and running two weeks after. wth i could kill
if you want to see i will be bilding another website showing a time line of emails and lies – belive they will steal your site an d hard work – I think my time is worth spend five ten bucks more a month for good host.
Please i need a good coldfusion host for my sites.