This is something I never thought would concern me. All those domain ownership issues, I thought, were with people who just aren’t organised enough to renew their domains, forget their passwords, or pick domains that others try to steal.
I’m currently managing a couple of .DE and one .CO.UK domains on Godaddy. The .co.uk domain was bought for a fairly long period, so no problems there, but recently, both the .de domains were up for renewal. I received a couple of email reminders from GoDaddy, but when I logged into my account I noticed they are only due to expire on 26th March. More than a month away. On the last email I received on the 20th, I decided it’s probably time to renew, so clicked on the link and was getting my credit card ready.
To my surprise, the GoDaddy domain portal did not allow me to renew them, and marked them as ‘pending expiration’. hmmm… weird. Oh well, I emailed GoDaddy and asked to renew, not even worrying too much. Maybe a system glitch of some sort.
When an email arrived in response, it said that all .co.uk (yeah, this is not a typo, even though I emailed them about 2 .de domains) have to be renewed on the 20th of the month prior to expiration. Very strange. I pointed out to GoDaddy that these were .de domains and even so, why can’t they allow you to renew over their own website??
It was then, that things were beginning to look suspicious. I tried to access both those domains, and was shocked to find out I’m being redirected to a GoDaddy ‘free parking’ page – i.e. a page full of GoDaddy ads and links. Not to where it should have led me to obviously.
WHAT?? The domains are still mine. They have not expired, yet GoDaddy simply hijacked them. That can’t be right. Surely enough. That’s what GoDaddy did.
Ok. I felt angry, and disappointed and very stupid too. Did I miss an email reminder telling me this is going to happen and I ignored it?? I searched through my emails, and nowhere did it say anything about it.
This is what their initial renewal email said
You have elected that the domain name(s) above renew manually. This means that they WILL EXPIRE if you do not log in to your account and renew them by the expiration date(s) listed.
BY THE EXPIRATION DATE(s) LISTED. The dates listed were 26th March. Not the 20th of February.
Ok, so maybe it’s on the original Terms and Conditions I must have signed. I searched, and looked, and searched again. Nothing.
Right then, so it’s probably something the .DE domain TLD forces GoDaddy to do. I trawled through DENIC. Trying to find a clue. Nope. Nein. Nicht.
I’ve had numerous emails and a long telephone conversation with GoDaddy support, but they simply wouldn’t listen. I eventually got to a supervisor who gave me two options:
1. Do nothing, and these domains will expire, but only on the 26th March. Until then they are not going to be released or re-activated.
2. Pay their renewal fees, agree to their terms (which also mean 60 days lock from transferring)
I obviously had no alternative but to pay. The fees were reasonable. At least no nasty ‘re-activation fee’. I didn’t mind paying the renewal fees anyway and in the first place. But why hijack my domains??
As of now, nearly 24 hours after paying, and after another couple of emails to their support, my domains are still locked and redirected to a landing page.
If you’ve been affected please let me know. Surely there’s something that can be done to complain against such practice.