The multiple ways auDA have ruined the Australian Drop Aftermarket.

auDA (au Domain Administration) have consistently stated they have “no control or jurisdiction over the drop or secondary Australian domain name market“. Yet, they continue to negatively influence it time and time again.

Here’s some examples…

Example 1.

We wrote about the dodgy way Company.com.au was dropped and then magically won for $8.50 (against bids of over $20,000) when a “catching-server” mysteriously went missing over at Drop.com.au headquarters and into the hands of the Terrific Registrar service operators.

It was clear there was “foul play” involved on multiple levels, so a formal complaint was made to auDA to investigate. The first investigation came back fruitless, so a second internal investigation was requested.

Cameron Boardman dragged his feet on this, over a number of months, and replied in writing as follows, a few weeks before he left auDA;

I have nearly completed the internal review which has been interrupted by ICANN and other issues. Accordingly I will respond shortly.

I must point put that I have no authority to review this matter on anything except as it relates to auDA’s public policies. If you would like the matter reviewed under a statutory mechanism, this will have to be referred to the appropriate authority.

I will provide further information in my review. I’ll be back in contact shortly.

Best regards, Cameron

Mr Boardman never performed this task, left it unfinished and soon left auDA.

I made an inquiry to auDA, asking what was to happen next.

A few more weeks went by and the conclusion James Shady gave can be summarised as;

Your correspondence raises various allegations regarding contracts between Drop and the Registrant and the use of Registrar credentials and potential anti-competitive behaviour. auDA published policies and codes of conduct seek to promote a competitive market and ethical behaviour by industry participants. However, the allegations you raise are not a matter on which auDA is able to take action. More appropriate bodies for addressing the allegations that you have raised may be the ACCC or a small business commission, such as the Victorian Small Business Commission.

What a copout!

auDA are supposed to be the “domain industry police”, yet when you report dodgy behaviour to them, directly related to “domain names”, they claim they have no power to act.

And the culprits, Terrific Registrar in this case, have now seemingly been let off scot-free to get away with their heist.

We shouldn’t forget that Terrific Registrar defended themselves at the time, stating they were “testing” and “preparing” to release a “public backordering system” (documented here).

From our data, and FOUR MONTHS LATER, this excuse as to why Terrific Registrar hijacked a Drop.com.au server to catch one of their own names back in an anti-competitive fashion appears to be a load of rubbish.

Example 2.

auDA allowed a panel to be invented to create the rules of Direct .AU Registrations. They called this panel the Policy Review Panel (PRP).

Namebid documented the PRP’s “Roadshow” in February 2018 and stated the “cut off date” by which a domain owner had to own a domain name before a certain date, to be eligible to own the matching Direct .au version of their existing domain name.

After much public uproar, and after many months, this initial “cut off date” was changed from April 2016 until February 2018.

During this time however, the domain aftermarket and drop market industry flailed and a lot of trust in buying Australian domain names was lost.

Now that Direct .AU Registrations have been PUT ON HOLD YET AGAIN, there’s no doubt that the “cut off date” is going to have to be moved YET AGAIN too.

The concept of the “cut off date” in relation to Direct .AU Registrations has, and continues, to instil fear, confusion and anti-trust into the Australian domain name aftermarket and drop market.

Well done, auDA. Not.

Example 3.

Just yesterday, a domain developer/investor purchased DBRE.com.au legitimately and fairly off the Drop.com.au platform.

TODAY he received the following message from Drop.com.au, as instructed by auDA;

This email is to inform you that the domain dbre.com.au has been locked by auDA due to an administrative error on their side.

The domain was the subject of an External Review and was supposed to be locked at the Registry.

They decided last night to return the domain to the old registrant and to lock the domain pending the outcome of the External Review.

If the panel finds against the registrant, they have agreed to transfer the name back to yourself.

If the panel finds for the registrant then they will cover reasonable costs associated with your registration of the domain.

They expect the External Review to make a finding next week so I will be in contact as soon as they provide me with an outcome.

Please note that the Review is not related to you or your registration of the domain name, it is a pre-existing problem with the old registrant.

Kind Regards,
Drop.com.au

This now means that when any of us buy a domain name from the Drop Aftermarket, we all have no idea if one or two individual people at auDA are going to decide, “Nah, I’m just going to reverse that one and take that domain off that buyer“.

If you ask me, all this shows is that not only is auDA’s management and director infrastructure publicly and embarrassingly falling apart, but that auDA are no longer competent to perform simply daily domain name administration.

These are merely three examples that show how auDA have ruined, and continue to ruin, the trust and value of Australian domain names in the drop and general aftermarket.

6 thoughts on “The multiple ways auDA have ruined the Australian Drop Aftermarket.

  • Scott.L
    September 6, 2019 at 6:02 pm
    Permalink

    So correct me if I’m wrong – any registrant (consumer) with a complaint against any auDA Accredited Registrar must refer their complaint to the ACCC ? Strange, I thought auDA was the Domain Name Administrator for registration complaints…?

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    • Scott.L
      September 7, 2019 at 12:12 pm
      Permalink

      Out of curiosity, I went to the ACCC website looking for how a complaint might be raised and this is what I found.

      “While we don’t resolve individual complaints, we will use the information you provide to help us understand what issues are causing the most harm to Australian business and consumers, and where to focus our compliance and enforcement efforts”.

      https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-protection/where-to-go-for-consumer-help

      OK that’s not very helpful, so I took the advice published on the ACCC which redirect the complaint to the Ombudsman.

      The Ombudsman website clearly states: The Ombudsman does not administer complaints made for Domain names.

      https://www.tio.com.au/complaints-we-can-and-cant-take

      It looks like those at auDA have shot themselves in the foot.

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      • Avatar
        September 7, 2019 at 12:45 pm
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        Spot-on Scott, good investigating!!

        You’ve just proven that James Shady HAS shot himself in the foot with his weak “there’s nothing to see here” response to this second internal review of Company.com.au(.)

        You’re right. ACCC point to the Ombudsman.

        But…

        The Ombudsman clearly states: “We can’t help with DOMAIN NAMES”.

        Because…

        Australian Domain Name complaints are supposed to be auDA’s RESPONSIBILITY.

        It is clear that James Shady has shirked away from performing his duty and instead pointed to a fruitless never-ending indefinite loop solution.

        And what about the OBVIOUS CONTRADICTION in auDA’s role in the secondary market, as seen with yesterday’s DBRE.com.au debacle?

        For the Company.com.au complaint in the drop aftermarket, auDA claim, “Oh, we can’t get involved”.

        But, for the DBRE.com.au complaint in the drop aftermarket, auDA claim, “We’ve decided to reverse that dropped domain name”.

        It’s clear there’s one or two people over at the AU Domain Administration office that are INVENTING THE RULES AS THEY GO ALONG to suit themselves.

        auDA are basically one or two people who have self-declared themselves as Australian Domain Name JUDGE, JURY and EXECUTIONERS.

        DOCA continue to give them chance, after chance, after chance, after chance…

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        • Scott.L
          September 7, 2019 at 1:21 pm
          Permalink

          Rightly said Robert, It’s all a farcical charade – the Office of Small Business does not accept complaints against regulators, those matters are revered to the (drum roll…..) ACCC.

          Besides its enshrined in their New constitution, along with their Corporate Principles, also their Board Charter, as Ned pointed out, it’s in their Registry Agreement, registrar agreement and registrant agreement. Its also glowing like a lighthouse on their website and in their Government Endorsements / review and the sponsorship agreement with ICANN.

          Could it be any more obvious! Basically, if you lodge a complaint with auDA against dodgy registrar practices then go get a lawyer because this administration doesn’t have the integrity or balls to help you.

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  • Neddy
    September 7, 2019 at 10:52 am
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    Of course auDA has jurisdiction over dropcatchers. Last time I looked they were registrars first and foremost; and the Registrar Agreement and Code of Practice sure spell out some do’s and don’ts.

    This excerpt is from the Recitals in the standard Registrar Agreement: https://www.auda.org.au/pdf/auda-registrar-agreementv3.pdf

    “auDA is committed to exercising its responsibilities to the Registrar and the Australian
    Internet community in an open and transparent manner, and to apply standards and policies in a way which are not arbitrary, unjust or inequitable.”

    This excerpt is from the Code of Practice: https://www.auda.org.au/index.php/assets/Policies/auda-2004-04.pdf

    e) preventing practices that undermine the reputation of the industry and the
    interests of Registrants and Customers;

    In relation to DBRE.com.au, the domain was officially purged; then purchased legitimately; then clawed back a day later. That (in my opinion) is not open or transparent conduct by auDA. What it is (in my opinion) is arbitrary, unjust and inequitable. And it undermines the reputation of the industry. Yet auDA gets the Registrar to do the dirty deed.

    Where on the auDA website are a list of current external reviews? This shouldn’t be hard to do. They have a list of auDRP’s.

    Unbelievable yet again.

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  • Avatar
    September 21, 2019 at 10:33 pm
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    In regards to the example 3, I can tell my own observations.

    We all know that a domain investor/developer is someone who knows the game well and can fairly play.

    And the registrant (Polu Chan) of this domain name (dbre.com.au) is neither playing fair nor does apparently know the domain game in .com.au space.

    I am following the stories of hot .com.au domain names on a daily basis and take screenshots. Call me Domainaholic or whatever you like.

    This is my own observation, and I just didn’t want to be silent. (This is not a justification for the event happened to company.com.au as I was one of the bidders myself).

    Anyways, let me give you an example, so you can understand the reason why this so-called domainer is being traced by AuDA:

    What/who is “borders” in Australia? of course, the DHA. Last month, this guy registered borders.com.au (that no other person/domainer even attempted to register it because that’s a governmental body), and transferred it to Crazy Domains. Then it became Policy Delete a week after, and then this guy attempted to acquire it through drop.com.au again, this time with another name and transferred it to himself afterwards, all of which happened via Drop.com.au. (I guess he maybe didn’t pay his invoice). Anyways, it is again Policy Delete now. (Check AuDA whois). For justifying his registration of border.com.au, he then registered a business name under his ABN(https://abr.business.gov.au/ABN/View?id=68859792235) called BORDERS Screen Printing on 22 Aug 2019! Lol

    I’m sure same thing happened with other registered business names.

    Another instance, who is behind DBR? We all know that, an active and well-respected domainer. What should be the reason to register DBRE.com.au ? How on earth the same guy should register it?

    I hope it helps clarify the situation. So, I suggest that the admin delete the example 3.

    Have a great weekend

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