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Registrar "hijacking" my domain name?

I am being charged a fee by <Registrar> because I'm leaving them.

8:43 pm on Mar 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have a hosting account with <Edit>"HOST"</Edit>, a windows-based hosting site. I am transferring my site to a LINUX server and have requested that HOST send instructions as to how I can change the DNS pointer. This site's domain name was registered through who is a reseller for Tucows. It was due for renewal on 3/28/08. During the communication process, HOST remarked, via the support line, that while they could still remain as the registra, it would be easier for me if I changed registras. I agreed. The next thing I knew I received this email message:

<EMail contents removed per WebmasterWorld TOS. Summary: We renewed your domain so it wouldn't lapse during the transfer. Pay us back.>

Wouldn't this be considered as a form of hijacking? I've been in the industry since 1998 and have administered to dozens of sites. I have never been told that I have to pay to release a domain.

Can I fight this?

[edited by: Webwork at 9:55 pm (utc) on Mar. 6, 2008]
[edit reason] Check your stickymail [/edit]

9:54 pm on Mar 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hi teelions. Welcome to WebmasterWorld.

My guess is that "your fight", if any, might best be waged by filing your complaint with your credit card company - after you get the domain moved to a new registrar. :)

It certainly has a bad feel too it, like an unjustified opportunistic self-interest-rationalized preemptive renewal . . but you might want to check your existing agreements to determine if the renewal conforms to anything you previously agreed to, such as renewals being made before the actual registration expiration date.

10:52 pm on Mar 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thanks. I appreciate the advice (sorry for the TOS violation).
9:10 am on Mar 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Certain hosts do have a semi-legit clause about not wanting to transfer domains when they are near expiry because they dont want to be blamed if something goes wrong, therefore to renew at the last minute (say last 14-30 days) they would require a year renewal first. The new registrar should give you credit for this renewal plus they will want you to buy another year so you will be billed by both places but it will be for 2 years total so no extra fees in the end.
1:23 pm on Mar 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Agreed, I'd check their terms just to make absolutely sure. I've used registrars in the passed who have insisted that transfer is not allow in the period 30 days before the domain is due for renewal. These same registrars have also had T&C clauses if various types.

From experience, this setup isn't usually about upsetting the customer, but more as a protective step against the domain name being lost - which would annoy the customer more so I would imagine.