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Domain renewal paid for but didn't happen

     
4:57 pm on Nov 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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joined:Nov 18, 2012
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Hi all,

Not sure if anyone here can offer any advice on this.

I renew some domains for my client each year. I'm listed as the admin contact of the domains, but his company is listed as the registered owner. We're both in the UK.

Earlier this year, we renewed (his company name).com with a well known domain registration company and received email notification of a successful order. Somehow though, the registrar slipped up and the renewal didn't go through.

Unfortunately we didn't notice the registrar's non-renewal for several months. The domain was just used as a forwarder to the main site (.co.uk) so it wasn't spotted as quickly as if it had been the canonical site domain. Secondly, we'd successfully completed the order process on the registrar's site, they'd taken the money, we had their invoice, and we believed that amounted to a de facto successful renewal (and nothing on their order pages or email suggested otherwise). Thirdly, we received absolutely no communication from the registrar to inform us that they had failed to renew it, nor any countdown emails to the expiring domain.

The problem now is that the domain has since been snapped up by a US company who are listing it for a ridiculous price. We only found out about this after receiving an email from none other than our domain registrar (the company that messed up) offering to sell the very same domain to us for over a thousand pounds. This seems to have been an automated email on their part ("You already own domain X, we can get you domain Y")

Our domain registrar has so far said all they'll do is refund the original measly renewal fee and that they're now unable to retrieve the domain (even though they have only just tried to sell it to us as a premium domain in their email). They're hiding behind small print and refusing liability, effectively telling us that we failed by not informing them that they'd not done their job right.

Has anyone had anything similar happen?
What do you think you would do to resolve something like this?

Would appreciate any input. Thanks.
2:05 am on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Administrator from JP 

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld digitLeo.

Unfortunately this does happen. You don't have much recourse once the domain has been snapped up by someone else regardless of the registrar's incompetence. Take the refund and take your business elsewhere.

In the future you may want to max out the registration of your important names for as many years possible.
9:49 am on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hello bill, thanks for replying.

I'd never heard of this sort of thing happening before. Pretty shocking, and even moreso when the same registrar (that failed) are offering to sell the domain back to us for that crazy price! Obviously the domain isn't totally beyond reach for them, whatever their supposed relationship is with the current registrant.

I'm going to be speaking to my client again today to keep him in the picture and see if he has a preference as to how we should proceed. More generally though, as you say, a good reason to choose multi-year registrations.
5:41 am on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Administrator from JP 

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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A lot of registrars simply have tie-ups with the re-seller sites and will algorithmically offer you domain names based on your portfolio. It's not likely malicious on their part...just automation that happens to be highlighting their incompetence.
4:47 pm on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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we renewed (his company name).com


A quick thought, is this a registered mark or trademark?

Is it something like exampleltd.com or just example.com?

IMHO if it is exampleltd.com then I would have thought that a good lawyer should be able to prove neglience plus Verisign's domain dispute may be able to assist.

Just an idea.
5:06 pm on Nov 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Bill - yes I assumed the email was automation. (Unfortunate that they couldn't automate another email to let us know that it hadn't been renewed!)

HuskyPup - thanks for your suggestion. No it's not a registered trademark but it is a company name. My limited understanding of trademark law is that they don't necessarily grant a claim on a domain name, especially when dealing with parties in different countries as is the case here - he's in the UK, the current domain registrant is in the US. And of course there's the issue of lawyers fees to weigh up, which could well exceed what it would cost to buy the domain at the premium price. But with the name in this instance not being a trademark, these are moot points I guess.