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The losing host handled the original registration, and one of their staff is (wrongly) listed as the registrant, and the admin' contact.
Now that I am trying to move the domain(s) they have stopped replying to any emails, though I do always get an auto-responder (hence it has arrived at their server).
As I understand it the lack of reply is not, by itself, a problem. However, the Registry Status is set to 'registrar-lock' for unknown reasons.
Does anyone have any idea how I can get the domain(s) back under my control?
_Any_ ideas are welcome since I been struggling with this for over a week and am out of ideas.
Rarely necessary but nothing like having the hounds at the door to get the attention of someone who is otherwise indifferent to your rights or their duties.
Other than that - use regular mail, the fax machine, emails to whomever they are a reseller for, phone calls going up the chain of command, reports to the local Better Business Bureau, letters to the appropriate government agency with copies to the company - whatever it takes to set things right.
Sometimes your current registrar can pitch in. (On several occassions my registrar's intervention did the trick.)
one of their staff is (wrongly) listed as the registrant, and the admin' contact
Does this not mean that, effectively, they own the domain, not you?
It isn't as it should be, but I have been in a similar situation with a client though a site had not yet been built, it was just used for a single very lightly used email address.
The client had asked them to register the name for her, they said they did so and billed her annually (about 25 times the registration cost, but she had no clue and more money than sense) for 3 years. When it came time to change they said they owned it and were simply charging her to use the email address.
In that case a similar name was available and we bought it, rather than get into an expensive legal situation, but it was a salutory lesson.
abbeyvet - fortunately, the losing host's own terms state that the ownership remains with the customer (i.e. me/us)
I think we may have to threaten legal involvement, but I'd rather avoid that if possible (we're only a small start up at the moment, and don't have the funds).
Can ICANN get involved? or any other body?
Can ICANN get involved? or any other body?
Unless there's a specific agency in your area dedicated to handling this specific issue, no.
Legal options appear to be your only bet.
As long as people continue registering their domain names with providers just because of the price tag without checking further, expect this sort of thing to keep happening.
I threatened them with legal action, I had the paper reciepts for registering that specific domain name with them and finally they answered, pretending nothing had happened.
I got them to change the admin contact address (lucky!), then went above their heads to the registrar they were reselling for, got an account and made them transfer it to me.
Legal threats usually work, especially if you can prove you paid them for that specific domain. A lot of people who do business this way depend on people being polite and non-confrontational.
That said, I must also admit that whenever we register a name for one of our clients, we assign ourselves as the technical contact, IF we are also hosting their domain. (If we're not hosting it, then we suggest they list the company that is hosting it at the technical contact.) This is simply because it makes it easier if we need to change technical information for the domain (e.g., new nameservers). After several times of trying to explain to a non-technical person what they have to do for even the simplest of changes, we decided we would cut them out of the loop and same everyone involved a lot of hassle.
For a very few clients, we have agreed to be listed as the Admin contact, but only because they don't speak English well and came running to us every time they received a renewal e-mail from the domain registrar.
The only time it's been a problem (but not our fault) was one client who changed hosting to a different company. We told them several times to have their new hosting company transfer the domain registration. We had no intention of charging them or anything- we just wanted to remove ourselves completely from the situation. They finally got back to us months later, after the domain had expired, so they couldn't transfer it without renewing it. They paid us to renew it, and we again told them to have their hosting company transfer the domain. Another year went by and despite several warnings about what they needed to do, nothing happened. (This is rather typical of their organization, so we weren't terribly unhappy to lose them as clients!) The domain expired again. Several messages asking if they wanted us to again renew the domain went unanswered. Eventually, the registrar put the domain back into the open waters and they lost a domain they'd had since 1998. (I just saw that someone else, completely unrelated to their organization, registered the domain, although he's not using it yet. I wonder if he's going to use it send SPAM. :) )