I’m sure if you ask Ned O’Meara, who wrote this detailed article about buying and operating Drop.com.au two years ago, it is quite a long and lengthy process, setting up as a reputable “Drop-Catcher”.
In his post, Ned mentions that he spent a few months preparing the drop platform, negotiating the necessary auDA approvals, signing statutory declarations, and then informing the domain buying public that he was open for business.
If you ask Jonathan Horne from Terrific Servers though, in regards to how he thinks a drop-catching service should be run, well, for starters, he claims that “drop-catching doesn’t exist!” You’ll read more about this a little later.
In the meantime…
We have some big questions to ask auDA about Registrars “drop-catching” domain names for themselves.
On 30th October 2009, Jo Lim from auDA wrote:
On 27 October 2009, it was brought to auDA’s attention that four domain names were registered on 26 October 2009 to NetAlliance Pty Ltd. We understand that the domain names were registered for the purpose of domain monetisation.
The common directorship makes NetAlliance a related entity of four registrars, and accordingly it is prohibited from registering .au domain names for the purpose of domain monetisation.
At the time, it was clear that auDA were insisting on separation between being a “drop-catcher” and being a Registrant. Yet, as per our recent article, Terrific Registrar has blatantly gone against all that! Registering Company.com.au for itself!
I can confirm I have received confirmation that auDA are currently “investigating” multiple complaints made against Terrific Registrar Service.
The outcome of that investigation is going to be very interesting.
We will find out:
- Have the rules changed since Jo Lim’s post nearly ten years ago that none of us are aware of?
- Is this the new order? The new way that Registrars are going to be able to grab dropped domain names for themselves?
- Why and how was the Terrific Registrar Service setup in the first place?
These questions, plus many more, are soon to be answered by auDA’s complaint team.
While we wait for that… If you’d like to hear another recent story of Terrific Registrar securing more domain names from the drops, feel free to read on. I must warn you though, you may need to make a cup of tea or coffee at this point before scrolling down…
On Sunday just gone, Netfleet lost another domain name again to the infamous Magical Terrific Servers on the drops. It involved the domain name nuo.com.au(.)
So, me being me, of course I had to find out what was going on…
On Monday I rang the owner of the domain for two reasons. The first was to understand if he was a legitimate buyer and didn’t purchase for UBU purposes (Unauthorised Business Use – or ABN Hijacking – there were more than 1000 of these instances last year!!) The second was to understand if Drop.com.au had used the Terrific Servers to continue catching dropping domain names (they have publicly stated they no longer have anything to do with Terrific Servers), or if Jonathan Horne was using the Terrific Servers for himself, to catch domains for himself, and/or mates.
Whilst on the phone, I asked the domain owner’s permission to email him, and he said it would be fine for me to do so. In the email I simply asked “who” invoiced him to “catch the dropping domain name”, (I did not ask to see the invoice) as it would help with questions I currently have in regards to the stability of the domain name system at present.
About half an hour later, I received the following email from “Terrific Management“…
We have been notified that you have contacted a client of ours, with the intention of ‘checking his registration was not an UBU’. You have then followed up with an email requesting details of an invoice for ‘catching’ services.
We have advised our client not to communicate with you, and don’t appreciate you making unsolicited contact with our clients, and falsely representing your intentions on the call.
You’d never guess what I did next…
Well, you all know me by now, so I’m sure you can guess…
I phoned the number and asked to speak to “Terrific Management“.
After shooting the breeze with a nice-friendly-sounding Terrific Tech Support guy, and he realised he wouldn’t be able to solve my particular inquiry by himself, I was told that I would be able to speak to the infamous “Terrific Management” shortly…
I could barely contain my excitement.
And then …
Jonathan Horne was suddenly at the other end of the line.
Apart from being surprising, it was a very interesting conversation.
As luck would have it, I was in my boardroom at the time, and had just come off another conference call and had a staff member beside me ready and willing to take down notes “in the moment” as I was speaking to Jonathan on the speakerphone.
Some key sentences Jonathan stated, and that I find are in the interest of the public, are as follows:
Robert – “Did you just send me an email?”
Jonathan – “I certainly did – I did, everyone did here at Terrific mate”.
I took this to mean that Jonathan admitted in that moment that he is “Terrific Management“, and as a Registrar Manager (his wife owns the company), he is buying domain names up for himself such as “Company.com.au” and also acting as a drop-catching service for his friends/clients/mates.
And. The obvious. I asked to speak to “Terrific Management” and Jonathan appeared on the line.
1) Registrars cannot register domain names using their own entity. This is known as Domain Warehousing or Front Running, and it is a serious breach of the registrars accreditation agreement. Therefore, we cannot catch the domain under our own entity and then hold the auction afterward.
Yet somehow, Jonathan Horne used the Terrific Registrar Servers recently to catch Company.com.au for himself. As mentioned above, there are currently a few formal complaints at auDA in this regard and the investigation is underway.
But anyway, let’s get back to nuo.com.au …
When I asked Jonathan how the nuo.com.au Registrant was able to secure the domain through Terrific, even though there was a bid placed on Netfleet, his reply was:
“He didn’t buy off the Drop Platforms yesterday. The name was registered through TERRIFIC. He registered it through Terrific.”
Robert – “How does that work?”
Jonathan – “I’m sure in good time, Robert, you’ll find out, but it’s not a question I need to answer to you right now”.
Robert – “That’s up to you, you can answer it now, or later.”
When I informed Jonathan that the Domain Name Industry was wondering how Terrific were able to bypass all the drop-platforms and win domain names for themselves, and for their mates, at hand-registration prices, he stated:
Jonathan – “Well, I can give you an inside tip for free, Terrific will be offering “back order” or “drop-catching” services in the future. We don’t have anything to do with Drop or Netfleet, and I was as surprised at getting “Company.com.au” back as you were. Terrific has a platform that is a lot more effective than anyone believed that it would be, and I’m sure you’ll see that, you too, probably… well… you may not, because as a company… Terrific can choose who are its customers and whether you’re ever allowed to use the platform or be a Terrific…”
Robert – “Allowed? Who says I’d want to use Terrific?”
Jonathan – “Well, when it’s getting backorders at 100% hit-rate, then you might want to”.
So, apart from being banned at Drop.com.au – all for simply trying to purchase a domain name as a client of theirs, it can also easily be seen above with Terrific, that I clearly will not be welcome to use Jonathan’s “magical backorder time-machine that has a 100% catching hit-rate“.
Most importantly though…
It’s plain to see that the Australian domain name catching system is NO LONGER FAIR.
This point in time, in this industry should officially be called, “NAMES FOR MATES!” at hand-registration prices.
This directly affects all of us.
And the outcome of auDA’s complaint process will speak volumes.
On asking Jonathan why he thought he was allowed to do any of this he stated:
“auDA isn’t acting, because there isn’t anything untoward! But, you can continue to perpetuate innuendo.”
On asking Jonathan why he suddenly began secretly “catching” dropping domains with the Terrific Servers, and what his plan was for the future in this regard, he responded:
Jonathan – “Right now, there are names being caught for clients of ours, and there will be a lot more names caught for clients of ours until we’re aware of exactly what we are going to do in a commercial aspect. Clients of ours, and Domain Protector clients will certainly be getting the benefit [of Terrific] because they’re already clients of ours and we already have a commercial relationship with those clients. But what happens in the future is none of your business.”
Robert – “It is my business and it’s the domain industry’s business!” How did NUO.com.au get caught by you yesterday?
Jonathan – “You do know how Anthony Peake got into the industry, don’t you?”
Robert – “I do, yeah”
Jonathan – “ So wasn’t that the exact same situation? One day he decided he’d give it a crack?”
Robert – “He came out publicly, formed a public company and explained he was running Domain Shield and this is how it was going to operate!”
Jonathan – “Robert, I can promise you one thing, THAT WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN, as if I’m going to have the power to do this, and it’s not going to be a commercial product? Terrific will offer a backorder service … well, we don’t know yet, but I can tell you that it will be… but with all the innuendo…”
Robert “It’s not innuendo, it’s people caring about the industry and finding out what the hell’s going on!!”
I then asked Jonathan to confirm, again, how Terrific won nuo.com.au as a “drop-catching system” on Sunday, against Netfleet’s 7 servers. He stated:
Jonathan – “THERE IS NO DROP-CATCHING SYSTEM, that DOESN’T EXIST, it’s a MADE-UP THING, you do understand that, yeah?!”
Robert – [huh?] “The industry calls it the “drop-catching system” with two players, Netfleet and Drop.com.au”
Jonathan – “Well, I call it A BACKORDER SYSTEM. Our clients put a BACKORDER in our system, and just like Crazy Domains and GoDaddy do, our backorder is VERY effective in GETTING THE NAMES.
Robert – “People are wondering?!”
Jonathan – “There are NO DROP-CATCHING LICENSES! So you can correct the people and you can tell them now what’s factual. THERE ARE NO LICENSES. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DROP-CATCHING. There is a “normal registration” at a point of day, it could just well be a BACKORDER SERVICE. So, you may as well report, TERRIFIC ARE PROVIDING A BACKORDER SERVICE to DOMAIN PROTECTOR clients that is VERY EFFECTIVE.”
Robert – “Crazy Domains and GoDaddy have offered “backorder services” for a decade and they’ve been unsuccessful. You’d think THEY would be powerful enough to do it, if it could be done?”
Jonathan – “You would think that. So why don’t you go and ask them why they’re not doing it?”
Robert – “Maybe I will”.
Jonathan – “Because they certainly charge a whole lot of money for it”.
Robert – “They do, and they never catch any names with their backorder service”.
Jonathan – “That sounds like a fantastic, interesting article!”
As mentioned above; auDA are currently investigating how Jonathan Horne used Terrific Servers (which were being used by Drop.com.au to catch domain names for years) and glue records (created by Anthony Peake at Drop.com.au) to acquire Company.com.au for himself for $8.50 while at the same time, there were multiple bids by multiple parties of over $10,000 to buy the domain name over at Netfleet.