Here’s the latest about the FamilyAlbum.com fiasco with GoDaddy.
Domain Name Wire’s story about FamilyAlbum.com has garnered lots of attention. A story about the story has about 3,500 Diggs on Digg.com. Message boards are buzzing. Bloggers are blogging. But where does that leave us?
Did GoDaddy have the right to “delete” FamilyAlbum.com?
After taking “reasonable” steps to contact the owner of the domain, a registrar has the right to delete a domain registration. However, GoDaddy didn’t delete the domain. Instead, it gave it to another customer. That raises red flags, but I don’t think there’s a definitive answer to this question.
Did GoDaddy have to delete the registration?
No. Paul Karkas, Compliance Officer for OpenSRS (Tucows) explained this over at e3Internet, pointing to an ICANN explanation:
Subsection 126.96.36.199 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.
Did GoDaddy do the right thing?
This is the debate. Assuming GoDaddy had the right to do what it did, should it have done so?
I’ve read what bloggers are saying, went through a number of message board threads on this subject, and reviewed everyone’s comments. There are a few people that think GoDaddy was in the right, but most people suggest that GoDaddy was wrong.
Most people look at this as a customer service issue. Domain owners want to know that their registrars are doing everything possible to protect their valuable intellectual property. GoDaddy clearly didn’t do that in this case.
I should point out that the former owner of FamilyAlbum.com isn’t a domain investor. He’s an entrepreneur in Austin, Texas trying to get a business off the ground. The loss of this domain is a major setback.
I’m curious at the number of people defending GoDaddy’s actions on the basis that keeping your whois current is required in GoDaddy’s terms of service. (This specific point has been made multiple times at NamePros). These people suggest that by registering a domain you agree to the TOS, so ‘tough luck’. However, GoDaddy’s TOS basically says the company can cancel your registration at any time for any reason. I’m sure these same people would complain if one of these people lost a domain at the whim of GoDaddy’s TOS.
Another interesting response is defending GoDaddy on the basis of the number of domains it manages. People make the excuse that with so many domains, the company can’t possible spend more time contacting owners with errors in their contact data.
I used to work at one of the biggest companies in the world. People there made this excuse all of the time. It’s a bad excuse. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you don’t have to apply the same level of service as smaller competitors with fewer accounts to manage.
Additionally, there appears to be a disconnect between the service that Bob Parsons says his company provides and that which it actually does. Anyone who’s been on hold for a rep for an extended period of time or has been given flat out incorrect answers by GoDaddy customer service reps knows this. At the large company where I used to work we had the same disconnect. The CEO always talked about how great our support and services were, but everyone with first hand experience knew it wasn’t true. The CEO’s promises rang emtpy.
It seems that Parsons is too busy blogging about Super Bowl commercials and trying to get the business of former RegisterFly customers than to address customer service issues.
A couple additional registrars have chimed in on this matter. Here’s Karkus of OpenSRS again:
For the past few *years* now Tucows has elected to simply suspend the domain name and *not* delete it.
There are a variety of reasons that factor in here.
We’re in the business of keeping names, not deleting them, and there can be many reasons why an end user does not or is unable to reply within the allotted fifteen day time frame given by ICANN. We want to ensure that the end user has every opportunity afforded to them to comply with the accreditation agreement.
Also, god forbid, that a name is erroneously deleted, there would be a redemption fee to pay – so, it also makes good sense/cents to not delete a name and possibly incur a charge from the registry – not to mention any time delays that may take place in processing a redemption.
Here’s Moniker’s response:
When Moniker is presented with a third-party complaint of invalid domain contact information, we immediately begin a dialogue with the customer to rectify the problem. Beyond an e-mail, we will follow up by phone and send correspondence to their mailing address about the issue numerous times.
If the customer does not respond after multiple attempts, we reserve the right to move it into a special “disputedâ€ account, and may inactivate the domain until the issue is resolved.
Moniker will never delete a domain outright unless we are ordered to do so legally or if illegal activity or fraud is proven. Moniker understands that domains are valuable assets and we ensure that every action is taken to prevent a customer losing access to their domain.