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Domain hijack?

We've got the name, but not the domain

     
7:10 pm on Jul 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Here's something I hope the people here can throw some light on. We've got a domain - let's call it ourdomain.info, and we have had it for the past two years.

It was up for renewal, so we renewed it, paid our money to the hosting company, checked the whois lookup, and yup, its our domain till July 2009.

Only it isn't - type the name into your browser, and it ends up showing a page of ads for some large US web company. This happened unexpectedly 36 hours ago, and is somewhat confusing to our regular users, as well as being a bit of a blow for us.

Our web hosting company is saying absolutely nothing. Those who know British web hosting companies know they beat trappists monk for their vow of silence - but how can someone take a domain used and owned by someone else and start serving their own stuff on it? It's not a hijack as we are still the listed owners of the name. We just seem to have no control of it.

Help?

7:40 pm on July 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sure it isn't a parked page? As if it isn't your register has a major problem with the dns.
Could be this
[webmasterworld.com...]
8:07 pm on July 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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A few questions:

Are the nameservers the same as they used to be?
Who is the owner of the nameservers?
-If the owner of the nameservers is the hosting company then they should be contacted - most web hosting companies have contact lines and emails for urgent support issues.

Can you go through a proxy or get someone from a different location to look at your site - if so are they seeing the same thing as you?

8:16 pm on July 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hi - The nameservers are as they were. The owners of the nameservers appear to be the same as the hosting company.

The problem is certainly universal - we have had emails from several different parts of the planet commenting on the disappearance of the website - the general theory being that we have sold the name to the present users.

Our web hosting company will only speak to clients through a 'ticket' system. We have been trying for the past 30 hours to get ANY response from them. Our most recent message pointed out that they are failing in both their contractual obligations and their duty of care. So far no response, which means that as soon as this is sorted out, our next job is finding new hosts. :(

10:44 pm on July 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It was up for renewal, so we renewed it

Did your domain expire -- even for an hour -- before you renewed it?

Just trying to rule out a possible reason for the DNS change.

5:40 am on July 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That's one of the things we want our hosting company to tell us - they should have done it in good time. However, knowing them I'd have to say yes, there's a very good chance they were late.

Can you tell me what the effect of this delay would be? (According to whois we are still the registered owners.)

5:10 pm on July 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Okay - an update, and thanks to members of this forum who have been helping us with this.

Here's the situation to date

Our domain name was brought from an American company - a large one - by a UK reseller. This reseller took our money to register the name for another two years but has not in fact done so. Nor are these resellers answering phone, email or service tickets, and they have not done so for the past three days. They may be having some kind of crisis.

The US company with whom the domain is registered are showing our former website as parked pages during its grace period, after which they will release the name. They will not, despite pleas, threats or appeals to reason, allow us either to re-register the name or have the auth codes.

Every attempt by ourselves or by Afilias who handle the .info TLD is met by a stubborn response from the US company that they can do nothing and we must talk to the reseller. (As if we have not been trying to do so desperately for the past three days!)

Currently, once the domain name expires after the grace period we have to try to dropcatch it. Meanwhile, we have sent solicitor's letters to the company and its individual directors in an attempt to get them to either register the domain name or allow us to do so.

This is, I have to say, a damn silly way to run the internet.

7:25 pm on July 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Meanwhile, we have sent solicitor's letters to the company and its individual directors in an attempt to get them to either register the domain name or allow us to do so.

Have you contacted the official Registrar -- the "parent" company that the reseller is operating under?

(It's unclear to me which companies you have contacted ;-)

8:30 pm on July 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Oh, we have contacted both - extensively. My most recent attempt was to ask the people holding the domain name if they would allow me, if I gained the auth codes from the reseller to transfer the name elsewhere. I include the reply that they have given to my attempts to communicate with then via live chat (three times) phone (twice) and email - (six and counting)

Your domain name is registered through #*$!t Ltd. As #*$! Ltd is a partner of #*$!.com, you will need to contact them directly for any login or billing information related to your account.

Sometimes the word order varies. However, this is not exactly helpful - especially as they obviously have enough control over my website to substitute parked pages.

11:57 pm on July 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Have you attempted to pay the renewal fee, so as to not lose the domain, pending a resolution of your "problem"? I mean pay the parent company, not the reseller.

Get on the phone. Whilst you have them on the phone fax the person an offical (looking) letter and tell them you will stay on hold while they retrieve it. Then give them a credit card #, which you confirmed you would do in the letter, and insist on paying for the renewal. I find that money talks. Almost without exception, money talks. Credit cards. Wire transfers. FedEx an official bank check drawn on a local depository bank. Money talks so always talk money first when you are behind the 8 ball.

Strategy #2 is to move up the food chain, insisting on talking with the person's supervisor (get a name) and then that person's supervisor. When I once was having my chain yanked I tracked down the (UK) CEO's direct phone line (not listed anywhere, through a friend of a friend) and called him directly. He was flabbergasted but I'm fairly certain that he determined that if I was able to "get to him" I likely could accomplish a few other things. Being a lawyer didn't hurt, but I was entirely polite throughout the process. So, if I was in your shoes I'd consider FedExing a letter to corporate counsel or the CEO - with a copy to the account exec or other assistant that yanked your chain.

Be imaginative. Be determined. You don't have to be a jerk to get people's attention. Sometimes you might send something nice, by courier or delivery service - just to get the right person's attention.

[edited by: Webwork at 12:06 am (utc) on Aug. 1, 2008]

8:47 pm on Aug 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Well, this morning our domain popped back into existence. Since neither of the companies is talking to us still, we don't know it it was pressure from Afilias - who were very helpful - or if the reseller finally paid the registrar after a friendly letter from our solicitor.
Either way we are now trying to move the domain somewhere safer. If you don't hear from us again, assume a happy ending - we'll see.

Two things to take from this - just because you are listed as admin for your domain name, you don't necessarily have any rights. And no, we were not even able to pay the renewal fee direct to the registrar - all attempts to do ANYTHING with them met the same response. 'Talk to your reseller'.

So if the people who sell you a domain name can't be easily contacted you may have a problem. We did everything by the book, and still nearly lost our domain. Since we don't know why it was restored, we may yet ...

9:06 pm on Aug 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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we don't know it it was

"Use the force, Luke. Use the force.

Obviously the force is strong with you, biscuit. Thanks for providing a follow-up with a happy ending. Now, get your domain outta there before they change their mind . . . and we have to resort to the dark side . . :)

[edited by: Webwork at 2:46 am (utc) on Aug. 3, 2008]

9:39 pm on Aug 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Given your situation, I'd go ahead and do a domain transfer to a different registrar right now and stop using the reseller you used.
11:24 pm on Aug 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Great news - glad everything is sorted so far, make sure you get yourself an account directly with a registrar. That will give you much more control of your domains in future - yes you may pay a little more but it is worth it for the extra security it will give you.
6:24 am on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Two things.

An excellent lesson in why WHOIS Privacy is best avoided
Can you imagine the chances of getting your name back if your details were not in the WHOIS?

Not all registrars are created equal some are warehousing expired names so they may have vested interest in allowing certain names to expire.

11:28 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Or just do a ten year registration and forget about it until 2018. :)
1:36 pm on Aug 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It's just bad management to leave it while the last minute to renew and not check at the registry WHOIS that the updates have been effected.