Don’t Blame The Innocent – Fix The Problem

Honey Vinegar 2Imagine this scenario. You see a nice domain name on the expired auctions; you make a play to get it on all platforms; and you succeed on one.

A few days later you get contacted by a registrar. The domain name dropped in error they tell you; it should have been renewed, but there was a glitch in their system. The previous registrant is understandably irate, and wants the domain back.

So What Should You Do?

This is where it gets interesting. You’ve done nothing wrong – you’ve simply been successful in legitimately purchasing a domain on the drops.

Obviously, there are a few options:

1. Politely say “no thanks” and keep the domain.

2. Agree to relinquish the domain as long as your costs are covered.

3. Agree to sell the domain at a fair market value (and negotiate an acceptable price).

In my opinion, all of the above are potentially in play. Most of my decision making would be based on my relationship with the registrar in question. If they were good guys and had done the right thing by me in the past, I would probably opt for either (2) or (3) above – but I certainly wouldn’t go over the top in my expectations of price if it was option (3).

If on the other hand, if the registrar hadn’t treated you right in the past, then your decision making would probably be different. And understandably so.

What Does The Registrar Do?

The registrar is in a real pickle. If it was their system fault, then they simply have to get the domain back for their client, even if it costs them. It’s called taking responsibility, and fixing the problem.

They either must compensate their client (and the client’s perception of value will probably be substantially more than the price it “dropped” at); or they have to buy it back from the new registrant.

If they play hardball with the domain investor that legitimately acquired the domain; or if they offer an “insulting price”; then their “pickle” will become toxic.

My advice to the registrar is to treat the domain investor respectfully, and negotiate the best deal that you can. Then you get on with business as usual, and make sure the glitch doesn’t happen again.


No names; no pack drill. Suffice to say though, this does not involve me.

I’m hopeful common sense prevails from the registrar in question. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.


Disclaimer 2

19 thoughts on “Don’t Blame The Innocent – Fix The Problem

  • November 14, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Yep, that all sounds sensible to me. Whilst it may not be the most shrewd business option I have taken a view that if someone legitimately was let down by their provider or the registrar made a half baked attempt to contact them and if they are being nice about it and understand that domains expire and then anyone can register them then so long as a reasonable fee to cover time and expenses is paid then fair enough to gracefully sell it back to the person. At least that is easy enough to say when its a non special amazing domain name but mileage may vary. It is a little frustrating at time though because you feel like saying hey buddy if it weren’t for me someone else a lot less conciliatory might have registered your domain and then you wouldn’t even better getting so far as a phone call about it.

    • November 15, 2016 at 5:33 am


      “At least that is easy enough to say when its a non special amazing domain name but mileage may vary.”


  • November 14, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I lost a domain to a registrar stuff up. I paid the renewal and they didn’t renew it.

    I realised too late and it went on the drop. They were sympathetic and tried to bid for it but it was won by another drop house.

    I requested they pay the winning amount as compensation which was a decent outcome.

    I’d recommend the registrar go the honey route, firstly, secondly and the thirdly.

    • November 15, 2016 at 5:30 am

      @David – and I here I was thinking you were a tough, uncompromising so and so!

  • November 14, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Similar circumstance happened to me, but registrar bought it back. Very impressed.


    • November 15, 2016 at 5:28 am

      @Jeff – I know of two registrars who will do whatever it takes (in situations like this) to ensure customer satisfaction. Good to hear you had a similar experience.

  • November 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    I’ve had a similar experience recently.

    • November 15, 2016 at 5:25 am

      @Luke – can you expand on this? Did you keep the name or agree to relinquish?

      • November 15, 2016 at 7:31 am

        I’ve still got the domain. They didn’t want to compound their losses by having to purchase the domain back from me.

        From my discussion with the previous registrant, it seems that there were some issues with renewal at their registrar, and so the domain expired. I gave them some info to help work out what transpired.

        They were absolutely furious to lose the domain, quite understandably in my opinion. It certainly didn’t help matters that the winning drop-catcher was also the registrar where their domain was held!

  • November 14, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    I have grabbed a few names also, only to have a registrar phoning to say there was a “mistake”. On each occasion I was legitimately going to develop the names, so I didn’t want to sell the names. They are now developed too, and make decent money every few weeks through affiliate marketing. No figures were thrown my way though, so they couldn’t have been that upset about losing them… I too have had this happen to me though! One day I was flicking through the drops and saw on the drops!!! My name?!?! I rang my registrar and they acted super-fast, somehow getting it removed from the drops before anyone snapped it up.

    • November 15, 2016 at 6:45 am

      @Robert – that was lucky to get your name back. Once a name is on the purge list, it is nigh on impossible to retrieve it.

      • November 15, 2016 at 1:44 pm

        Regarding names on the purge list…  There was one a few years ago that I’d badly wanted for a long time.  I was excited to see it on the list, but then it disappeared on the morning of the auction.  The whois record showed that it stayed with the existing owner.  I was kind of relieved at not having to bid $xx,xxx for what would have been a big one! :p

  • November 14, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    It has happened to me numerous times with a poor registrar whose system failed to complete the auto renews.  The names went to drop auctions and I did not get them back. Prior to the drop I even emailed auDA who could not offer a solution.

    That registrar has since lost a substantial amount of business when we moved all our names to another registrar whose auto renew does work.

    Perhaps auDA needs a policy on this that registrars do pay some form of compensation or receive a 3 strike warning. This will help keep it out of the courts when names are more valuable.

    If registrars have system problems such as this with more than a few cases auDA needs to act and de register them somehow.

    If , where such an examples what would be a solution? I doubt the registrar will bid at this level to buy it back.

    A tricky problem best avoided by using quality registrars.

    Maybe registrars could also post their policy on their websites in case this occurs so people have more information.



    • November 15, 2016 at 5:23 am

      @Sean – some good points. If auDA had the 3 strikes policy, Melbourne IT wouldn’t be happy! 😉

  • November 15, 2016 at 10:49 am


    I have been on both sides of the ledger

    With losses, I remember one great name that was recovered from the purge list and my account manager has reminded me several times about the bubbly I owe him

    In another case I remember clearly, I lost the name and was told very bluntly nothing could be done

    Interestingly the 1st case was genuinely my fault, the latter was not

    In cases where I have acquired names, my attitude varies dramatically based on my experience, the manner in which I am approached, the quality of the domain name and the impact the loss has on the previous registrants business

    I will always try and restore a name that was active (i.e. website, email etc) however given that they would not have had service for 30+ days I review these claims carefully

    In a very recent case, the previous owner held the name for 15-years and had not used but insisted it was his name

    The tone of the emails I received was toned back but basically reciprocated in my responses

    I have now flagged this domain as “Never sell to…………” (in fact I am currently reviewing a JV offer)

  • November 15, 2016 at 11:31 am

    i wonder what % dropping names are forgotten or what % are let go?

    funny how in someone can call you and ask I want it back, drop a .com and kiss it goodbye.

    I had it happen twice, first the guy said ” I just need it for 2 more years then I retire” so I leased it to him at a fair price.

    2nd was a very irate woman who claimed it was here online shop ! I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t wonder why in 30 days there was no orders and the email stopped working?

    So I said I have FIRM plans for it and its never going to be for sale sorry, which is the truth and in development right now.

    neds 1,2,3 is good if you add in ..they might be lying to you as well


  • November 15, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    An option is  also to amend the current 30 day period to 60 or 90 days. These longer periods are used in some extensions successfully.

    I also think auDA should run the official drop catching service. This is very simple for them to set up and manage. The list is after all coming from them each day.

    • November 15, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      “I also think auDA should run the official drop catching service. This is very simple for them to set up and manage. The list is after all coming from them each day”

      Ouch, that would hurt a few [email protected]!

      If they collected bids, then granted names with bids to the highest bidder before releasing the remaining names then the whole process would have the integrity

      “blind bidding” in the hands of private operators is potentially open to abuse from “snakes”
      “open bidding” is exposed to snipe bidding

      So, IMO blind bidding under the control of one secure service would remove a lot of the concerns that regularly arise with the current system

      The net revenue could be used in so many related areas and would go a long way towards helping build a smarter economy


      “An option is  also to amend the current 30 day period to 60 or 90 days. These longer periods are used in some extensions successfully.”

      The “loss” of names may reduce but I believe that the majority name losses are due to use of inactive email addresses

      People with functional websites know that they no longer resolve after 1-day and have it fixed within 1-2 days

  • November 15, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    I had another issue with the ziphosting fold back into netregistry. They totally failed to issue a renewal notice. Luckily I was watching the stats and rectified it in the grace period.

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