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Drop catch debacle

What happens when things aren't perfectly clear



8:51 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I noticed a domain I was interested in had been registered at godaddy had expired. The page said "expired domain - If you are the owner of this domain, hurry and renew now". It also said "interested in this domain? Click here" which went to their sister site, the domain name aftermarket, an auction house. There was no trace of this domain here, either.

I researched the whois and nothing, absolutely nothing returned. I figured it wasn't returning anything because, like the page said, it was expired and about to be returned to the pool of available names. I then signed up with godaddy's drop catch figuring I had a shot at acquiring the domain.

Turns out, the name had expired and, with the new technique registrars are using these days, went to auction weeks ago and won by someone else. Yet the domain still had an "expired" page displayed. Of course, after I had signed up for the drop catch with godaddy, there was activity with the name but no "we've registered it for you" email I was expecting.

Then, after emailing godaddy and asking them what happened, they apologized and mentioned a new 2 week limbo period. It had gone to auction weeks ago. I asked them why in the world didn't they put up a sign saying "expired - auctioned off - coming soon" to which they didn't know. So I'm stuck with their no-refund policy and out $18.99.

Why would someone use a drop catch if they actually knew the name had just been registered to someone else?

To me, <their system doesn't provide the information needed to make a sound business decision>. <small snip - let people draw their own conclusions.>

They refuse to refund my $.

What went wrong and how can I avoid this in the future?


[edited by: Webwork at 9:07 pm (utc) on Sep. 27, 2005]
[edit reason] Tidying up [/edit]


9:14 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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

Interesting scenario. I can see, especially if it's a good domain, how this sort of fact trail might lead to a hasty registration (get it while it's hot) whereas a deeper check might have revealed something else - such as a recent "Last Updated" date in the WhoIs record.

What's interesting is that GD, like other registrars, is now a direct player in the dropped domain auction process, auctioning their own domains that expire. (I can see how this part of the process may not have been programmed end-to-end, such that the parking page would change once the domain is sold at an internal auction.)

Anyone have any contacts at GD? I'd like to hear their side of this story. I prefer to not pass judgment until all sides weigh in. That, plus as I've told you directly Zoob, "We're not the BBB". (However, your second version of the post has a lot more "learn from this" value than the first. Nice job. ;0) )

IF the fact trail was this misleading - including a splash page saying the name was expired - I'd have to side with Zoobie on this one. I'm certain their side is, at the very least, "How do we know it was "that domain" that you were chasing?" Then again, if "that domain" was the one you immediately attempted to place a capture for their system 'might' show a record of the attempt. (I doubt it.)

Zoob, you might want to run this up the GD chain of command if what you want is justice. The "Expired" page is clearly a Gotcha.


10:01 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

When I ran the whois, there was no "last updated" because it said "there is no record of this domain" thusly leading me to believe it was soon to be released. The "expired domain" splash page was up as late as last Saturday and just not true. I think this 2 week limbo thing where nobody really knows what's happened to the domain is going to be a nightmare.


10:42 pm on Sep 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Most Whois services will say that failure to locate a record is no guarantee of availability or something to that effect. If you are checking .com [registrar.verisign-grs.com] or .net [registrar.verisign-grs.com], the global registry will update once daily at roughly 11:00-12:00 GMT. .org [pir.org], .info [afilias.info], .biz [whois.biz] and .us [whois.us] update in near real time. Regarding the status of non-US registries, perhaps someone else here knows. It is also a good idea to check the Whois record offered by the old registrar to see if the domain you are chasing has actuallly dropped.


12:26 am on Sep 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I didn't see a "failure to locate a record is no guarantee of availability" but rather "no record of this domain can be found" or somesuch. It was a dot com and the same registrar.


12:59 am on Sep 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

When I want to check on a domain I first run a search at inernic.net. This will tell me if it is in fact registered to a registrar. If internic.net shows that it is held by a registrar, then I go to that registrar's whois to run a query for more details. If internic.net shows that it isn't held by a registrar (i.e. No Match Found For XYZ.COM), then go quickly to your favorite registrar and attempt to register it. If there is any latency in the records system it will quickly come to light when you try to register the domain.

The whois at a registrar may show that a domain has expired. (Some registrars [but not GoDaddy] will even stop returning whois information as soon as it expires.) Meanwhile, the internic.net whois may show that the same domain doesn't expire for almost a year. This is because internic automatically renews a domain registration unless the registrar explicitely cancels it. The registrar can cancel the renewal (and get their money back) at any time within 45 days. That is why the time from a domain expiration to it being released is usually about 44.5 days.

I know from experience that GoDaddy's, and almost all other registrar's whois databases are not live views of up to the minute data. If a domain does in fact drop and is subsequently picked up by someone, it takes at least 1 day, and often 2 or 3 days before the change starts showing up in most whois searches.

I don't know why GoDaddy would have shown the domain as expired if it had been snapped up weeks ago. However, in the future, I would run a search at internic.net and pay attention to the status indicator. If it says ACTIVE, then believe the expiration date they provide. If it says REGISTRAR-HOLD or PENDING-DELETE, then ignore the expiration date.


1:34 am on Sep 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I see. Thanks

I do remember that GD never said the domain was available but I naturally thought it would soon be. Hence, I signed up for the name drop service last Thursday. GD constantly displayed the "expired" splash page up thru last Saturday. They had been displaying it for at least 10 days prior, too.


2:18 am on Sep 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Below is the data returned from internic and GD. Not sure what it means...I changed some stuff as not to reveal true names.

Internic returned this:

Domain Name: <snip>
Whois Server: whois.wildwestdomains.com
Referral URL: [wildwestdomains.com...]
Updated Date: 26-sep-2005
Creation Date: 14-aug-2003
Expiration Date: 14-aug-2006

and GD's whois returned this:


Registered through: GoDaddy.com (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: <snip>
Created on: 14-Aug-03
Expires on: 14-Aug-06
Last Updated on: 25-Sep-05

Administrative Contact:

What does it all mean?


PS - All I want is my $ back from GD. I've learned never to deal with domains ever again.

[edited by: Webwork at 5:07 am (utc) on Sep. 28, 2005]
[edit reason] Please don't post anything even approximating any individual's WhoIs record. [/edit]


1:00 pm on Sep 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

REGISTRAR-LOCK should not be confused with REGISTRAR-HOLD. It is more acurately a restricted version of ACTIVE. The restriction (usually) being that the registrar will not permit the registration record to be edited without explicit approval from one of the contacts on the current record. DNS lookup requests for REGISTRAR-LOCK are honored the same as those for ACTIVE domains.

The Creation Date together with the Last Update date and Expiration Date indicates that this record was indeed renewed by the original owner (or was transferred by them to someone else) and that it never dropped.

Although nobody likes to throw away $18.99, you could consider it a rather inexpensive learning exercise.

If you later decide upon a different domain, one that is not yet registered, you can use your already purchased Backorder to get it. Then you will only be losing about $10.

[edited by: john_k at 1:05 pm (utc) on Sep. 28, 2005]


1:02 pm on Sep 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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

Zoobie, this thread was allowed for it's possible educational value, consistent with WebmasterWorld's educational mission.

WebmasterWorld is not an alternative to the Better Business Bureau. Our mission is not dispute resolution.

Any remaining issues need to be addressed directly to GD, taking the issue up the chain of command if need be.


5:55 pm on Sep 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It sounds like you'd have to be an expert PhD in domainology to understand all the complexities of a drop catch. Therefore, I can't recommend this service to anybody who is not an expert.

I'll have to try the upper chain at GD then transfer my domains somewhere else on principle because that's just me.

Just the fact they had an "expired" splash page up for weeks and weeks when it wasn't expired at all should have been enough evidence of being mislead.

If I'm not successful in a refund, all I can do drop catch one of my own nonsensical names cutting my loss in half.

I'm moving on because there's nothing else for me to learn from this.



6:21 pm on Sep 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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

Good luck Zoob. ;)

And thanks for sharing your (aggravating) experience in a way that focused on the "how to, how not to" side, not strictly the "boy am I annoyed" side.


6:02 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think GoDaddy drop catch service doesn't refund the money. You can use the credit to try to catch another name though. They are not that good but they caught me a few names.


6:26 pm on Oct 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Some higher up from Godaddy happened to see this thread and realize I must have been the first to have fallen into a programming snafu.

I also realized I goofed and misread the email from tdnam.com...The domain in question did, in fact, go to auction. This link should not have been on the splash page.

Let's hope we've all learned a bit from this. Just mindlessly saying you can't get your money back doesn't really solve anything. Any canned response can say the same thing without being salaried.

Against all odds and all support saying there were no refunds, I just got my money back.

Thank you for operating on principles.


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