Domain-Name Jail is Not Fun

My trials and tribulations of restoring my domain name

I was minding my own business rounding the monopoly board. I rounded "Go" but this time I didn't receive $200. I had to pay $200 and I went directly to Jail. Take it from me that being in Internet domain-name jail is not enjoyable and should be avoided. I sure wished I had a "get out of jail free" card right about now. I thought I would share my tale with you so that you can avoid the pitfall that I fell into.

Sometimes we laugh at other people's calamities. You have to admit it is funny to watch people fall down. That is why that shows like Most Extreme Elimination (MXC) are so popular. However, I have to admit that I used to be amused by those folks who would not keeping track of their domain-name expiration dates and then inadvertently cause an Internet outage for themselves. But when the tables are turned and it is you who falls off the log, it hurts. It doesn't just hurt your pride but it can also hurt your pocketbook.

The other day I realized that my e-mail and my web page weren't working. I assumed it was a problem with my historically-reliable hosting provider. Later that day I realized that my problems were due to the fact that my domain-name had expired. The registrar had put my domain into "Redemption Period" status due to failure to pay my domain renewal fees.

Once your domain name registration has expired it will be in "Expired" status for up to 45 days depending on the registrar. During this period you can renew your domain easily without interruption to service for a price of just one-year's registration fee. If you pass this deadline then you enter the "Redemption Grace Period". This was the state that my domain was in. When in this phase you have to pay a steep fee to retrieve and renew your domain. However, if you don't renew and your domain has been in the RGP for 30 days then the domain is then in the "Pending Delete" status. After 5 days then the domain will be released to the public for registration. The domain could be captured by anyone using a "back-order" service. In encourage you to check the status of your domain name using any of the popular whois services.

In the end I had to pay a redemption fee of $160 and I renewed the domain for a further 3 years for about $50. That was a difficult pill to swallow given that I have a long history of working with DNS on behalf of my clients. I have a solid understanding of how DNS and BGP are the glue that holds the Internet together. However, I missed the fundamentals, pure and simple. I was frankly shocked at the steep penalty price compared to the price of a 3-year renewal. Now I realize why the Internet registrar didn't notify me. They make far more on the penalties than they make on domain registrations so they are hoping that folks don't keep track of their expiration dates.

There were two failures in this case that lead to this problem. The first was the fact that I wasn't paying attention to the situation. I had had my domain name for so many years that I had forgotten about the fact that it might expire. I assumed that the annual fees I pay my hosting provider were also taking care of the annual domain renewal. The second failure was that I wasn't notified by either the hosting provider or the domain registrar. Both of those organizations had 45 days to let me know that it expired. Both of those organizations had my valid e-mail addresses and neither contacted me to let me know the situation was bad and about to get worse.

Now my domain name is restored, but I don't have a feeling of satisfaction. Instead I feel that I have been taken advantage of my hosting provider and the Internet registrar. I feel that both should have know the situation and what was about to happen but neither did anything about it. Both of them benefitted from the situation and the consumer was the one who paid the price. I now know that the old saying "buyer beware" is alive and well in the capitalistic Internet system.

I hope you have learned from my errors and you monitor your domain-name registration more closely than I did. I hope you never have to experience domain-name jail. Please don't rely on anyone else to keep track of your domain-name for you. It is your responsibility and you can bet that your hosting provider and Internet registrar are hoping that you forget to renew.


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