Perhaps letting domain registrars do as they please is OK.
For the 2009 Domain Name Wire Survey I added a new option for the most important factors when selecting a domain registrar: what they do with expired domains.
With all the commotion over what domain registrars do when domains expire (e.g. GoDaddy and Tucows), I wondered if this affected peoples’ decisions about which registrar to use.
Apparently not; it was ranked the least important factor when choosing a domain registrar. I guess domainers only care about what happens to expired domains when they want to buy them.
So I’m going to pose this question: why shouldn’t domain registrars be allowed to do as they please with their customers’ expired domains?
Perhaps expired domains should be the spoils for a registrar’s hard work getting customers to register domains in the first place.
In the “old days”, expired domains went to whomever had the best drop catching technology.
Now most expired domains are auctioned off through exclusive relationships, sending money back to the domain registrar.
Is one of these more fair than the other? In the first model the registrars get nothing, in the second they get a cut. Someone has to have an advantage getting expired domains. Who should it be?
We also have some registrars that keep domains for themselves. GoDaddy did (past tense) it with Standard Tactics. Tucows currently keeps domains it wants for itself, sells some to an unnamed third party, and then sends the rest to NameJet. Other registrars send their domains to NameJet or SnapNames and then sell off some of the remnants that aren’t sold at auction.
The best reason I can come up with for why registrars should be restricted in how they handle expired domains is that it creates a conflict of interest with customers. A registrar may not push a customer for renewal because it wants to keep or sell the domain itself. In the case of Tucows, its resellers are responsible for pushing renewals, so the company is distanced from the process.
Why are we complaining about what Tucows is doing? Is it really not fair, or is it just that we’d like to use our various advantages to snag the domains for ourselves? Is one system really more fair than another?