Take control of your domain – its yours!

Wow. This is one of those blog entries that I really hate to write. The reason I hate writing it is that it is very real situation that happens probably a lot more than even I think. What warrants it as this weeks topic of a rant is that a friend and client of mine is going through it as we speak.

I am sure you heard of the “bargain” companies that offer a “free domain name” with their hosting services. The catch is that when you try to leave, you find that you never really owned your domain at all and you can’t take it with you. This little trick has been around for a while now, and I would hope that anyone reading this would smell this scheme from a mile away and steer clear of it.

Well that’s not really what happened here, but the end result is the same, and in this case leaves me scratching my head. You see in this case, my friend/client is the legal registrant of the domain but still seems to be powerless to change the contacts and/or transfer it to another registrar.

Before I go too far, (and sorry for making an example out of you, {name removed for privacy}) I just want to make one statement to anyone who did not register their own domain name: GET YOUR DOMAIN NAME UNDER YOUR NAME AND CONTROL, NOW! I don’t care who registered it for you if it was a web developer, your “computer guy” or even uncle Fred.

Here is the story: This particular client purchased a highly customized version of my Premier Sites database system. At the time, a quick WHOIS showed me that his “computer guy” owned his domain. I mentioned to him that he should get it put in his name – and he did – or so he thought.

Here we are over a year later and we determine we need to make some changes to his nameserver records. No big deal, right? Well, as it turns out, even though he is the “registrant” of the domain, all of the “contacts” for the domain remained as his computer guy.

It just so happens that at the same time there is some billing disagreement between them and the computer guy basically refuses to make any changes.. or.. get this.. even approve a transfer to another registrar.

Obviously your first thought is “Well, let’s just write a little letter and get it changed. After all, I *AM* the registrant, right?” Wrong.

Interestingly enough – guess who the registrar is? You guessed it. The computer guy. He is part of some domain reseller program, who, when calling the “parent” company listens quietly to your request then tells you contact your reseller.

Gee, thanks.

Will he get his domain back? Yes – but it will be a potentially nasty fight. You see ICANN has rules about people hijacking domains, but they are all geared towards someone who takes someone else’s trademark and tries to sell it back to them. In this case, the client is even the legal registrant – so none of the normal ICANN rules apply.

Fortunately, the client and I have identified a couple of options, although neither are particularly attractive, he WILL get his domain back.. eventually.

I will do my best to keep all of you that are interested updated on the outcome of this – but please, Please, PLEASE – I am BEGGING you – Check the ownership and Administrative contact for your domain names and make sure it is YOU.

Sorry for the rant, but I hope it saves you some money and frustration in the future.

Thanks for your time.

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About the Author

Though his chief ambition is to one day control the entire Internet, Jim busies himself in the meantime running our little web development and marketing agency. He's a certified super nerd who ranks coding in old, outdated languages and watching Star Trek reruns just a bit too high on his list of fun things to do.Outside of work, Jim enjoys Hockey (Tampa Bay Lighning, to be specific), more genres of music than most people realize exist, riding his Harley (he calls it "two wheel therapy") and exploring the world through travel.