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Unfortunately, I also find that the bigger the company the more likely it is that the answers, suggestions and solutions you will discuss tend to sound like they are "read from a script" - ergo, sometimes the email answer is as good as it gets.
My advice: Pick up the phone. If you don't get far on the first call, call again later and hopefully you might get a person who's a bit more receptive or able to help.
I've seen it all. I'll be there's people that have seen more all than my all. :)
Nominet only charge £94 (£80 + Vat) to put you off using them. They want to run the registry but not look after end users, which is how they keep .uk such good value. Nominet members only pay £5 + Vat per domain for two years.
Providing you keep your registrant details up to date with Nominet, it's quite hard to loose a .uk domain as they always send hard copy letters.
In the unlikely event your current registrar doesn't play ball, you can always pay Nominet £15 + Vat for a manual change of registrar and then pay the renewal fees to that registrar.
ukwebmaster I think paying 15 pounds for change of registrar can be a good option .. would you know of a registrar which will not charge an exorbitant fee in redemption period .. I checked 123-reg but they charge 200 pounds to renew a domain in redemption period which is rather silly given that nominet itself is charging much less than that.
Regret I can't recommend as most registrars only publish normal registration/renewal prices.
You could always appeal to Go Daddy as it doesn't actually cost them any more to renew once the domain has gone past it's renewal date - and they are still keeping you as a customer.