Not All Domain Registrar’s are the Same

Just say no to Cheap Registrars

Until recently I have had very little experience with some of the “so called” cheap registrars.  I say “so called” because they in fact are almost never the cheapest solution.  If you want inexpensive then places like 1&1 Internet Inc. tend to be closer to ICANN cost when it comes to domains. I tend to keep a VPS account around that I use for one of our name servers and this gives me access to purchasing domains at nearly cost. The server is inexpensive and tends to stay up 200-300 days before they reboot the physical server. These VPS’s are great for dns and mail relays. Before I get too far off topic, here is a little lookup box to show you 1&1 Internet Inc. pricing.  They tend to give the domains away to get your hosting business so keep that in mind for their motivation.  I do not use them for web hosting. I also use Network Solutions or Verisign or whatever they are calling themselves this week for my most important domain simply because they manage .com currently.  They are more expensive but when I need something, I can count on them to push their weight around.

Hijacked Domain Names

Recently, I wrote about marlin.ab.ca being held up and hijacked by one of these inexpensive registrar and hosting companies. Now I find myself working through the maze of eNom.  In both of these cases, the problems arise because the contact information isn’t kept up to date and the re-sellers of the domains have watered down the levels of protection built into the system by reducing the number of customer contacts and assigning themselves to these contacts.  In the former case, the re-seller does not even notify the registrant on record when payment is due. Crazy stuff going on out there.  Today’s discussion is about eNom.  Other than them using a windows platform for their hosting when they first came out many years ago, I hadn’t thought much about the company.  eNom transformed the industry at the time by allowing others to sell and service domain names like they were a real registrar.

I should warn you there are some hostile links on the web about eNom and I’ll just list a few because I could fill this entire page up with those links. Their customers are frustrated because they have been losing their domains due to problems with the resellers. It is easier to just walk away then try and get access to what the customer paid for.  From what I have found (my transcripts included below),  eNom appears to want its cake and eat it too.  They are the registrar on record but they allow their re-sellers to have an API into their database so you are at the mercy of the re-seller if you have any problems later.  As a registrar, eNom should be accountable to ICANN’s policy of transfer. My experience thus far is that you would be better off providing this information to the registrar you want to transfer to and let them fight it out with eNom.  I am not going to go that route however in this case and attempt to see if I can make the process work. If you are a competing registrar, then you can complain to ICANN about violations.  As an individual or company, you don’t really have any rights as ICANN represents the registrars.

The domain in question is mhwaves.com which is a local amateur swim club. The club had become so frustrated that they purchased a new domain wavesswimclubmedicinehat.com and built a new website. When I found out, I told them I would get back the mhwaves.com domain and started the process on 3/29/2011.  It is paid through June so I have plenty of time to get this done before eNom or their reseller could play their hand of wanting renewals and hold up the transfer if that is their intention.

As promised here are a few links of frustrated eNom customers:

I have been handling domains for quite some time.  When I got aesir.com it was before registrars existed and in 1991 your domain was free.  This is before microsoft.com came into existence and we used a mail template system in those days for creation and updates. In my case, I hand delivered the application for aesir.com which was located in the same building as I was working. Over the years, I have helped companies navigate the ever changing greed of domain names and at various times, our name servers were handling 1000’s of domains for CAIS (a local ISP), cort.com, and various banks. I don’t do this very often anymore but if you need help, send me your story and I’ll see if I can help.  Hopefully, you will learn enough from this article to resolve it yourself.

Here is our problem with mhwaves.com

[Querying whois.verisign-grs.com]
[Redirected to whois.enom.com]
[Querying whois.enom.com]
[whois.enom.com]
=-=-=-=
Visit AboutUs.org for more information about mhwaves.com
<a href="http://www.aboutus.org/mhwaves.com">AboutUs: mhwaves.com</a>

Registration Service Provided By: Idigital Internet Inc.
Contact: domains@canadianwebhosting.com
Visit: https://secure.idig.net/dnrenewal/dnrenewal.asp

Registrant Contact:
   Medicine Hat Waves Swim Club
   Kelly Bennett ()

   Fax:
   Box 2581
   Medicine Hat, AB T1A 8G8
   CA

Administrative Contact:
   Idigital Internet Inc.
   Tony Chu (domains@canadianwebhosting.com)
   +1.6042832113
   Fax:
   623-6081 No. 3 Rd.
   Richmond, BC V6Y2B2
   CA

Technical Contact:
   Idigital Internet Inc.
   Tony Chu (domains@canadianwebhosting.com)
   +1.6042832113
   Fax:
   623-6081 No. 3 Rd.
   Richmond, BC V6Y2B2
   CA

Status: Active

Name Servers:
   ns105.canadianwebhosting.com
   ns106.canadianwebhosting.com

Creation date: 13 Jun 2006 19:20:03
Expiration date: 13 Jun 2011 19:20:03

Line 3 tells us that enom is the registrar and what is next amazes me how far we have come in the past 20 years. They are using the whois database now to insert hyperlinks to sells their wares. Observe line 4 and 7 which are offshoot services for hosting. I contact the reseller and talk to technical support. They tell me that the hosting account has been closed but if I call back and select sales that I can have the account reactivated. When I call back and am talking to sales, they explain again that the account has been shutdown and that they don’t have access to the domain. I say then lets just transfer this to another registrant if that is the easiest way to handle it. They (Teo) tell me to send a letter from the President of the waves club explaining what has happened and they will release it. I write up a letter as instructed and email and fax it off to them. I hear nothing back (two days and counting). I sent it to both billing and sales as directed. Today, I sent an email to both the technical contact on record for the domain and to sales just verifying that they have everything they need. At this point, I have sent 4 email messages, made 2 phone calls, and have never heard a peep from them if they have what they need or have even received my emails. This is probably to be expected. A word of advice here. Stay positive and assertive and do not go negative. It is easy to become frustrated but consider if the email is misplaced for example or the fax wasn’t received.

So why are we in this mess? The club didn’t know about registrants or technical contacts and just paid their invoices and had hoped that the registrant would protect their interests. Obviously, ICANN recommended practices were not followed and the contacts were allowed to lapse. Unfortunately, the president of the waves swim club doesn’t know who Kelly Bennet listed in line 15 is. I look up the name in the local telephone directory and the number listed is no longer in service. That would be the easy way to resolve this. Without this information, we have to prove we are the registrant. I contact enom and open up a ticket and explain the situation in the ticket. This is my first indication that this is going to be a hard process. I have included the transcripts below. Having run a noc for many years, I can see the tell tale sign of personnel that are required to keep the number of open tickets to a minimum. They are closing tickets without resolution indicating a poorly run organization. After the last response, enom said they want to see articles of incorporation for any of their .com domains, I close the ticket and decide that enom can not be counted on here. In our case, we have those but there are loads of domains that are private registrants. To anyone that has ever seen articles of incorporation, it is just as easy to fake those also so what we are really after here is a person to entity to trust which seems to be lost on them. Ben Y is just attempting get the ticket closed. He has not offered to help or provide the details that they would require to allow the customer to get access to their domain. In fact, it almost appears that he thinks his job is to prevent the domain owner from using what they have paid for.

Customer Jim Dunphy 04/01/2011 08:30 PM

Thanks for you comment.
Please close the ticket.
Jim

Response Ben Y 04/01/2011 04:07 PM
Hello,

We are sorry to hear of your troubles, but this is something that you'll
need to work out with your reseller as we have no way to verify ownership
based upon the information that you have sent to us.

Unfortunately we cannot verify ownership with the document that you've
attached as we usually require Articles of Incorpororation and a color
photo ID of a company officer for security reasons.

The document that you've attached is something that anybody can generate,
and so you'll need to work with your reseller to try to gain access to
the domain name.

This is something that may take your reseller some time to do, as they
don't want to give unauthorized access to the domain name, and so please
allow them time to assist you with this matter.

Best Regards,

Ben Y.  Technical Support Team
__________________________________________________________________
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9 AM – 6 PM Pacific Time Out of the
office Saturday and Sunday

Customer Jim Dunphy 03/31/2011 05:51 PM

Been on the phone with them yesterday... First to technical support who
referred me to sales. I called sales where they claimed that they do not
have access and that enom was the registrar. Sent multiple email and a
fax. This is very frustrating that your reseller is confused about how
their/your system works and the customer who has paid for the domain
can not get access to it. They claim that once the hosting account is
closed down that they (being the reseller) have lost access to the domain
from you? I don't see how you as the registrar can not help with this
limbo. Don't you have some obligation as a registrar to provide access
to the domain to a customer that has paid for it? I'll wait a few more
days but they don't even have a ticket system and they apparently don't
reply to email so I have no way of even knowing if they have received
what I sent them. I sent the same letter to you verifying the owner and
the domain is dead and can not be resolved.. Can you leave this ticket
open until Monday in case we still don't have resolution?

Thank you for getting back to me.

Jim

Response Ben Y 03/31/2011 05:29 PM
 Hello,

Thank you for contacting us regarding your domain management. This
domain is currently registered through one of our resellers (information
below). You will need to contact the reseller for account information
and domain assistance as you do not have a direct account with us.

You and your reseller will need to work together outside of this ticket
as they do not have access to our ticketing system. This ticket will
now have a closed status.

We appreciate your extra efforts to resolve this issue.

Your reseller information is as follows:

Organization: Idigital Internet Inc.  Site link:
https://secure.idig.net/dnrenewal/dnrenewal.asp Name: Chu, Tony Address:
623-6081 No. 3 Rd.  Richmond, BC V6Y2B2 CA

Phone: +1.6042832113 Fax: Email: domains@canadianwebhosting.com

Best Regards,

Ben Y.  Technical Support Team
__________________________________________________________________
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9 AM – 6 PM Pacific Time Out of the
office Saturday and Sunday Auto-Response 03/31/2011 07:22 AM -

Customer Jim Dunphy 03/31/2011 07:22 AM
Domain has been locked up and customer can
not get access to their domain because hosting account is closed. Also
attempting to work through reseller who said only enom has access to
this domain because account has been closed with canadianwebhosting.com.
Additional Details

Reference Number 110331-000099 Status Closed Created 03/31/2011 07:22
AM Updated 04/01/2011 08:30 PM Product Public Sites Category Domain
Ownership Verification File Attachment
 mhwaves.com-enom.pdf (73.44 KB)

Update: April 4, 2011

We received confirmation that the domain is back in our hands today. I was given a web login and was able to update the registrant contact information and the dns servers were already pointed to the aesir.com servers. Next step is to move to 1and1.com and get billing control of this domain.

[Querying whois.verisign-grs.com]
[Redirected to whois.enom.com]
[Querying whois.enom.com]
[whois.enom.com]
=-=-=-=
Visit AboutUs.org for more information about mhwaves.com
<a href="http://www.aboutus.org/mhwaves.com">AboutUs: mhwaves.com</a>

Registration Service Provided By: Idigital Internet Inc.
Contact: domains@canadianwebhosting.com
Visit: https://secure.idig.net/dnrenewal/dnrenewal.asp

Domain name: mhwaves.com

Registrant Contact:
   Medicine Hat Waves Swim Club
   Jim Dunphy ()

   Fax:
   39 Huxley Green NE
   Medicine Hat, AB T1C1W2
   CA

Administrative Contact:
   Idigital Internet Inc.
   Tony Chu (domains@canadianwebhosting.com)
   +1.6042832113
   Fax:
   623-6081 No. 3 Rd.
   Richmond, BC V6Y2B2
   CA

Technical Contact:
   Idigital Internet Inc.
   Tony Chu (domains@canadianwebhosting.com)
   +1.6042832113
   Fax:
   623-6081 No. 3 Rd.
   Richmond, BC V6Y2B2
   CA

Status: Active

Name Servers:
   ns5.aesir.com
   ns6.aesir.com
   ns8.aesir.com
   ns9.aesir.com

Creation date: 13 Jun 2006 19:20:03
Expiration date: 13 Jun 2011 19:20:03

Update 2: April 4, 2011

Just received another email asking if there is anything else they can do and verifying if we are satisfied with the resolution. This one is from the customer service representation. Based on the subject line, it appears that they were opening internal tickets with every incoming email and are now replying back. Interesting because I was betting after not hearing back anything after 5 days (from my first email) that this was going to be a struggle. The customer service rep was replying back to my email on April 3 (Sunday). I still have to get an authorization code to make the transfer occur from enom but at least I am the registrant contact so that should be uneventful.. not to mention I have their zone updated so the club can use their domain.

Update 3: April 6, 2011

I sent out a request for my authorization code and by the end of the day, I had received one in email. Well done CanadianWebHosting.com!  After our slow start, they have been a delight to work with.  I’ll have to keep them in mind should I need Canadian hosting in the future. I now have the registrar switched and a new year of service paid for mhwaves.com. My work is done.