Trials & Tribulations With auDA

Bill Gates QuoteToday we have a guest post by Robert Kaay. For those that don’t know him, earlier this year we published his very honest and illuminating 3-part series “My First Year As A Domainer”. If you haven’t read it, I can recommend it! I’m proud to call Robert a friend of mine.

He is a substantial part of the auDA “ecosystem” – his business is both that of a domain investor and domain broker. Over the past two years, he has worked hard at building his business. To do this properly, he had a fast learning curve about auDA policy. He also reached out to many people within the Australian domain space for advice. Robert took some expensive hits initially, but, as any successful business person does, he learnt from them. Or so he thought.

His opinion piece today raises some very serious concerns he has about how certain auDA policies are managed. He also makes some excellent points about flow on effects with certain registrars (particularly Netfleet). I sincerely hope that the “powers that be” at auDA and Netfleet take Robert’s criticisms and opinions on board (in the spirit that are intended).

As Bill Gates once famously said; “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.


Trials & Tribulations With auDA – by Robert Kaay – 8th September 2016

Two years ago I wrote a blog about having a domain name forcefully removed from me. I wrote about it over at my old Domain Broker Australia website. In particular, the blog detailed how someone at auDA had protected a real word (Flybys) and had placed it onto a “prohibited misspellings” list. How the most powerful Australian drop-platform-service (Netfleet) was double-dipping fees on this particular name. Double-dipping, because as soon as the licence for the name was purchased, the name was swiftly being taken from the new owner due to auDA policy, and then the license for the name was being re-sold, over and over, again and again.

If you’re interested in reading the long version of what happened, feel free to visit my original post from a few years ago here.

I was new to the industry back then. I’m talking three-months new. Still, I instantly fell in love with the power of names on the internet and could see the potential of their future digital real-estate-type value. I was very bold in my intentions, so, even though I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, I registered the business name Domain Broker Australia with ASIC and bought the domain name, and off I went.

And here we are roughly two years later.

Domain Broker Australia has morphed into DBR (dbr.com.au) and I love helping old and new clients, every day, get their hands on their own dream domain names.

In light of recent Australian domain name forum discussions and comments recently made on Domainer.com.au, I have felt driven to revisit the blog post I wrote two years ago because of two main reasons:

1. Nothing Has Changed

Netfleet are still double-dipping fees on names they know are going to drop and be purchased and then be taken away from the new owners again and again.

2. auDA

I have come to realise there is basically only one person over at auDA that deals with complaints. Her name is Vanessa, and she was the sole person I was dealing with at auDA regarding this matter at the time. I now have a stronger opinion of how I believe she wrongly dealt with my situation at that time. Especially due to my recent dealings with her.

So Here’s My Take On It

First up, I should point out from the get-go that there is a new business manager at Netfleet called Nikki Scholes. She has only been on board at Netfleet for a few months, so she obviously had nothing to do with Netfleet double-dipping me two years ago. From all recent accounts from various domainers; Nikki is a breath of fresh air for Netfleet and has made herself very available to be contacted for problems and opinions over at the Netfleet camp.

And that’s great.

The fact that Nikki has been seemingly brought in to stand in the middle of Melbourne IT and the directors of Netfleet, seems to be a strategic, albeit, good move by the powers that be over there. I have no doubt the uproar made by domainers exactly one year ago (over some dodgy practices Netfleet were involved in back then) had a lot to do with finding someone like Nikki to take over the day-to-day running of the show and improve Netfleet’s credibility and customer relations.

Back to what I was saying.

Three days ago, Ned wrote a blog on this website entitled “Identity Thief Finally Nabbed”.

Ned wrote about how scammers are using ABN numbers from companies they have no affiliation with to secure strong Australian .com.au domain names. Ned has been very pro-active and at the forefront of putting a stop to these sorts of activities. No one pays him any money to do this and he should be commended for his efforts in protecting the quality of the Australian domain name space.

These bunch of names were taken from the scammer, with no refund, and were promptly put back on the drop-platforms so people could bid for them, and pay for them all over again.

In the comments section of the post, a well known domainer named Snoopy commented:

“What happened to the money?

Is Netfleet planning on making a double-profit from their customer’s illegal activities by keeping all the money and then re-auctioning the same names again when they get deleted?”

It was great to see Nikki from Netfleet answering his question:

“Regarding rights to the money, this is a grey area. There are costs involved and at the time we believed the purchases were legitimate. The domain industry is still young and there are a few things that need ironing out.

The Australian domain name industry has existed for 21 years now. I guess we could still see it as a young industry because most Australian businesses don’t understand just how powerful acquiring the best domain name for their businesses can be.

What’s really interesting though is when Nikki says “this is a grey area”, and although she’s only just come onboard at Netfleet, I don’t think any of us domainers could have said it better ourselves.

Technically, if Netfleet are now admitting that double-dipping could be occurring in some “grey areas”, and are willing to admit they probably shouldn’t be profiting from known domain names that keep appearing on the drops, then it may be time to refund my $64.25 that I requested two years ago (plus interest).

And let’s not forget the domain name in question that I had purchased. Flybys.com.au

And with my recent research into what has been happening with this name, two years down the track, I am now even more concerned about this whole double-dipping ongoing-epidemic in the Australian domain name industry. Because I can now see auDA has allowed a massive corporation to own my old name, for basically next-to-nothing. But we’ll look into that in a few moments.

I admit I was new to the industry two years ago and I wasn’t up to speed with all the auDA policies back then, as I am now… BUT, the fact remains that Flybys (a real word) appeared on auDA’s Prohibition on Misspellings Policy List.  Sure, that’s not Netfleet’s fault. However, it should NEVER have appeared on auDA’s magic prohibited misspellings list in the first place.

Is it right though, that Netfleet promote the name at the top of their list to thousands of people to buy, knowing it sells over and over again, and is taken away from buyers, over and over again? Without so much as a warning?

Two years later, nothing has changed. This is still happening.

Misspellings and obvious trademarked domains are still being pushed by Netfleet. I won’t give any recent examples because of possible ramifications to the new buyers.

Perhaps now that Nikki is here as a breath of fresh air at Netfleet, she can finally put an end to this double-dipping problem? And I know this could also relate to Drop and Domain Shield (the other two main Australian drop-catching platforms) but let’s face it, Netfleet are the biggest and if they perform this change, surely the other drop-platforms will also implement it?

This now brings me to my second major point that I would like to reflect upon.

Exactly how has Vanessa from auDA been allowed to manage complaints and disputes over the last eight years, as a single Judge-Dread like character, seemingly able to enforce her own personal understanding and interpretation of auDA policy with an iron fist? Handling disputes and enforcing policy and taking domain names away from businesses who don’t have time to get up to speed with all the auDA policies, all on her own?

Let’s get back to my own example and how this still relates to what is happening to this very day, two years down the track.

Flybys is the plural for Flyby, WHICH IS A REAL WORD. As in; NASA’s satellite did a FLYBY of Mars.

Two years ago, when I received my standard cookie-cutter Policy Delete letter (meaning the name was going to be stripped from me and I would receive no refund from Netfleet), I wrote to Vanessa to defend why I had purchased the name (which I’ll explain in a minute).

It was clear from her robot-template-cut-paste response that Vanessa didn’t care. She didn’t respond personally at all. She just placed the name into Policy Delete and 14 days later had the name deleted from my control and put back on the Netfleet cash-cow gravy train.

I complained to Netfleet and Mark responded saying they were not going to give me back my $64.25. Basically, it was my bad luck that I had bought it. Even though it was a real word, and this wasn’t the first time this had happened with this name.

A few weeks later (as documented on my blog post), Netfleet DOUBLE-DIPPED on the fees for their service and sold the name for $102. That’s just free, never-ending cashflow for Netfleet. No wonder they don’t want it to end!

It gets better though.

The new person who bought the name had it stripped from them too.

And do you know who owns the name now? As in, TODAY, two years later?

COLES SUPERMARKETS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

I wonder how many times Netfleet sold this name from the dodgy “Prohibition on Misspellings Policy” auDA-super-duper-protection bubble, that SHOULD NOT HAVE APPEARED ON THAT LIST because IT IS A REAL WORD, as I pointed out to Vanessa (auDA) at the time.

auDA protected that name (again, it’s a real word!) for a MASSIVE CORPORATION, I guess by classing it as a “similar” name. But, guess what?! It is not a similar name. IT IS A REAL STAND-ALONE WORD.

Vanessa was made aware that this word was a REAL WORD, yet she did nothing about taking if off the Misspellings List. She allowed person after person to pay for a name that was going to be taken from them. The name was ripped from the new buyers time and time again, every time, stating there had been an “official complaint” made against the licence of the name, with robot-template-copy-paste cold-as-ice responses. And Netfleet took the money again and again from it.

Until….

COLES SUPERMARKETS AUSTRALIA bought MY NAME that was WRONGFULLY RIPPED FROM ME for under $100.

It must feel awesome to be a massive corporation and have FREE PROTECTION by auDA for obscure, distantly related domain names associated with your business.

Get ready for this…

You’ll never guess what?!

Flybys.com.au now redirects to…. yep …. Flybuys.com.au (with the U in the name).

But here is some EVEN BIGGER NEWS THAT YOU WON’T BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!

If you go right now to the auDA Prohibited Misspellings List

YOU WILL SEE…

That auDA have REMOVED flybys.com.au OFF THE PROHIBITED MISSPELLINGS LIST so that no one can use this policy rule against COLES SUPERMARKETS to take the name from them!

That’s right!

Flybys.com.au IS NO LONGER on the Prohibited Misspellings List.

What a coincidence?!

Take a breath.

I know, I can’t believe it. It is CRAZY how this is allowed to happen.

What I am proposing is very simple.

I have been screwed over and many people after today are going to continue to get screwed over.

Some Simple Questions

  • Who was the single person responsible for having flybys.com.au TAKEN OFF the Prohibited Misspellings List? auDA should answer that question. If it wasn’t one single person, WHO were the people involved in making that decision and what is the reason?
  • When Vanessa sends an email to someone quoting her standard “auDA has received a complaint about the domain name you have just licensed”, how do we know that Vanessa isn’t just making this complaint up herself?

This Is What I Think

What I’m starting to put together, using my experience of domaining for around 4 hours a day, seven days a week, over two years is…

To me, it looks like auDA is creating “special rules” to protect massive corporations, while normal everyday businesses and start-up companies have to walk a thin-line of fear, praying that Vanessa doesn’t rip their name off them for some trivial and technical reason hidden in auDA policy. And if anyone stands up about being mistreated by Vanessa, what will happen to all their other names? Will they all be taken away from them too for trivial reasons?

Does this sound like a “fair” system auDA is running? Does the complaints handling process sound fair, when it’s basically one single person making decisions on millions of Australian domain names?

It makes me wonder if there is some sort of special arrangement for this type of situation, where big corporations are having dozens of names added to the Prohibition of Misspellings Policy list. Some of them REAL WORDS. And then, once they have acquired the name, the name no longer appears on the Misspellings List. Is this some sort of lurk? I’m not saying it is, but how can we tell?

I was legitimately using the name FlyBys.com.au for a courier company at the time called One Hour Delivery (I had a few drivers in Perth). I was following auDA’s “Domain Name Eligibility Rules” by having a “close and substantial connection” to the name, by performing delivery services in Perth as fast as “jets”, symbolically performing “flyby” deliveries.

Like I said in the beginning. I was new to the Australian domain name industry so I didn’t know all the in’s and out’s of the industry at the time. However, now that I buy and sell and broker domain names every single day for people starting their own businesses, as well as for large corporations, I DO know the in’s and out’s. I also now clearly know what is wrong and what is right with this industry. As do a lot of my domainer colleagues (who have been in this game longer than me, and I thank them for their advice over the years!)

So I’m Going To Say This

I think a lot of us have had enough of all this nonsense.

I have personally found Vanessa from auDA to be…. let’s say…  “difficult” to deal with on a number of occasions.

It also comes across that she feels she has ultimate power at auDA and her verdicts should not be questioned. Her job at auDA appears to be a one-person JUDGE, JURY and EXECUTIONER. This is why I have had to go (and will continue to go) over her head a number of times at auDA to ensure proper judgement has been carried out, which, thankfully, it has.

Hopefully you remember from my previous posts on this website that I can type really fast, so I like to write pages and pages of my thoughts, but I will finish this up for now.

I would like to leave you with this though…

Recently I believe Vanessa may have also “created” a fictional complaint against a whole bunch of names I have registered.

The names are not your standard .com.au TLD’s, but according to auDA Policy I am legitimately entitled to license these names. TLD’s that no one has bothered to license over the last 21 years. No one appears to want them, so I have decided to register a bunch of them. It’s probably a waste of money, but anyway…

Vanessa has personally tried to strip me of these names on three occasions.

On the first occasion, Vanessa said I was not allowed to own them. Jo Lim overturned this decision.

On the second occasion, with no official complaint submitted to auDA, Vanessa took it upon herself to look over the names I had registered and found some of the DNS were incorrectly set. This saw them momentarily not obeying auDA policy for these specific TLD’s. But instead of notifying me and asking me to explain the situation (of how this accidental temporary error could have occurred and could it please be rectified) Vanessa chose to bypass me altogether, with no notice, and demanded my registrar place the names into policy delete for being against auDA Policy.

Some of the names she demanded my registrar to delete, I didn’t even own! It was just this massive list and it proved she hadn’t actually checked each name.

I was given no notice. No explanation. Just a message straight to my registrar to delete the names.

We are talking $1125 worth of names here.

My account manager at my registrar must have seen this as quite odd, as he notified me within minutes of this occurring so I at least had a chance to defend myself. I instantly contacted Jo Lim, and she revoked Vanessa’s decision.

On the third occasion, dated 19th August, 2016, Vanessa wrote me another email stating exactly, “auDA has received a formal complaint regarding your eligibility for the domain names listed above” and she quoted 41 domain names. One of the names she said I owned, I didn’t, because she spelt it wrong.

I instantly questioned her, asking how it was possible for someone to make a formal complaint against a huge number of names like this.

It has been two weeks now since I questioned her alleged “formal complaint” coming from her direct email address about these names and I am still waiting for an explanation from her regarding the matter.

As I stated to her in my recent email, the formal complaint she sent me looks “made up”. Especially because one of the names in the large list is so obscure and unpopular, I highly doubt anyone would be trying to complain against it so they could grab it for themselves.

The thing about this large list of 41 domain names that she is claiming someone has made an official complaint about me is; how and why would someone have spent dozens of hours of their life typing in obscure words and suburbs to put together a list this large? Just so they could make an official complaint against me? Remember, there is no way any of us can just type in an owners name, and see all the Australian domain names that a particular person owns. You have to literally think up a name, manually type it in, and see who owns it. Then move to the next name. And if you do this too many times from the same IP Address, AusRegistry locks you out from accessing the database for 24 hours anyway…

I would like proof from her that the complaint isn’t made up and I have requested she tell me the name of the person to prove they actually exist, because I don’t believe they do.

Maybe she will prove me wrong? I will let you know if she proves me wrong in the comment section below. Still, at this stage, I am quite certain that no real person making a “formal complaint” against these names exists.

In Summary

  • auDA should not be protecting massive corporations by including REAL WORDS on their magical prohibited misspellings list.
  • Netfleet (or any other drop-catching platform) should not be allowed to keep taking money, month after month, from names that everyone obviously knows are not allowed to be licensed in the first place (unless the appropriate company contacts a registrar directly to prove they meet auDA Policy and are allowed to own it).
  • Scammers who illegitimately use another companies’ ABN should NOT be issued refunds.
  • From my own personal dealings, Vanessa appears to me to be acting indiscriminately and irresponsibly, and is out of control in her role as “Complaints Manager” at auDA. I personally don’t believe she should continue to be the first port-of-call, sole-judge, jury and executioner of the Australian domain name space. Perhaps auDA can take a look at Netfleet’s recent decision to hire a few people as customer-focused and personable as Nikki Scholes?

And My Last Point

Complaints made against a domain name to auDA should be made public. Otherwise, how do we know all the complaints are legitimate?

It’s called transparency, and it’s time auDA was more transparent, across the board. Otherwise, perhaps they shouldn’t be the sole company in charge of our much-respected domain space!


Disclaimer

Disclaimer 2

 

42 thoughts on “Trials & Tribulations With auDA

  • Avatar
    September 8, 2016 at 1:07 pm
    Permalink

    Geez Robert you have had the rough end of the stick. Great post and I agree about misspelt names should not be offered again and again on the drops.

    To the average joe they would not know about the misspelt list and this happened to me once. I argued how unfair it was to Vanessa that we have lost money and it got me know where.

    And that was 8 years ago, nothing has changed. Do the math on how many people get stung.

    Don

    • Avatar
      September 8, 2016 at 2:19 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Don,

      I think we’ve all had a “misspelling list” problem in our early days. Hopefully more professional domainers can come forward with their stories?

      Something I don’t think anyone has ever suggested (I could be wrong), could be… What if there was a blanket policy for drop-platforms, possibly implemented by auDA, where every buyer from the drops has a 24 hour money-back guarantee (for any reason!) on any name from any platform?

      This would surely see the drop-platforms informing the public (especially the newbies that come in every week as our domain name industry continues to grow, as we are seeing!) when names are “dubious” to purchase. As the drop-platforms wouldn’t want to be offering refunds every few days once domainers reached out to the newbies who had just purchased the “suss” names to inform them they weren’t allowed to have them. Causing the newbie’s to ask for their “no-questions-asked” refund… Which would get annoying for the drop-platforms, so they would try to stop people buying these sorts of names to begin with… Perhaps this is one method that could see the end of double-dipping?

      • Avatar
        September 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm
        Permalink

        Those names probably shouldn’t even be available to register if they are on an official AUDA misspelling list. It is setting a trap for people to fall into. I’m guessing they constantly monitor them waiting for someone to register a name. Block the name instead of trying to catch people out. If a trademark owner wants it they can apply to AUDA.

          • Avatar
            September 8, 2016 at 5:08 pm
            Permalink

            … plus… if someone finds a name that they can’t register on the misspellings list, and they think it should be removed from the list (because, say IT’S A REAL WORD), then they could lobby auDA to have it removed.

            … also… I have publicly stated before, I don’t think there should be a misspellings list to protect massive corporations at all. My personal opinion is to scratch the misspellings list entirely. Why should major corporations receive this free protection over standard businesses?

            • Ned O'Meara
              September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am
              Permalink

              Re Misspellings List

              This was one of the issues under review at the 2015 Names Panel. I was not in favour of its retention – and argued that if a company or brand was concerned with people registering misspellings, they had plenty of other remedial avenues available to them (including complaint to auDA in the first instance).

              I also believed that it was unfair that big companies could get preferential treatment over smaller ones. Where do you start and stop when it comes to adding companies and brands?

              However, majority of public submissions seemed to be in favour of retaining it; and so a majority of the Names Panel went along with it. One can’t therefore complain about due process not being followed. I believe that one day it will be scrapped, because it clearly has “issues”.

              Have a read of Final Report (pages 13 & 14).

        • Avatar
          September 12, 2016 at 9:10 pm
          Permalink

          Drop catching is all automated, we grab the dropping names and list them.   We are not a life jacket that protects you from jumping in the water if you don’t know how to swim.  It’s your (the buyers) responsibility to comply with auDA policy.  If you register a domain on the prohibited list, we assume you have gained permission from auDA to do so.  DYOR.

          If Domainers by and large do not believe they can comply with policy on their own, then they should petition auDA / Ausreg and make the Registry block registrations of domains on the list; this will stop your double dipping issue which I do not at all blame Netfleet for.

          Dropcatchers are black and white:  List all domains dropping today, bid on them if you want them, onus is on you.   Attempting to ascribe them some moral authority to save you from yourself is a stretch.

           

          • Avatar
            September 13, 2016 at 11:02 am
            Permalink

            @Cam,

            When customers are frustrated by a problem the business can easily correct, why not fix the problem?  Of course, customers can go the extra mile and avoid the problem themselves.  But it’s bad PR to blame customers.

            Drop catchers could fix this problem once and for all with about 10 lines of code, programmed in 10 minutes, and executed forever afterward in milliseconds.  Simply query the prohibited list and prevent backordering them.  Piece of cake!

            In this case, it’s FAR more efficient for the top 2 or 3 drop catchers to fix the problem once.  The alternative is for each and every customer to mentally cross-check the prohibited list each and every time they place any backorder.

            Why risk alienating customers?  Nobody is happy to have something they bought seized without a refund.  Why waste employee time canceling orders and answering those frustrated customers?

            Strange to blame domainers, if they’re a drop catcher’s biggest customers.  Also, wouldn’t you like to attract non-domainers as well?  If they place backorders, those ordinary people are very unlikely to be thinking about an AUDA prohibited list.  Why not make the experience safe and painless for them?

            I’m puzzled by this reluctance to write a simple database query.

          • Avatar
            September 14, 2016 at 1:32 pm
            Permalink

            Hi Cam, good to see your voice here.

            We are not a life jacket that protects you from jumping in the water if you don’t know how to swim.  It’s your (the buyers) responsibility to comply with auDA policy.  If you register a domain on the prohibited list, we assume you have gained permission from auDA to do so.  DYOR.

            I can’t agree with this. As Joseph says, how hard could it be to auto-warn customers that certain names, that appear again and again, are being bought over and over again. Perhaps another option is to have the LAST DATE that the domain name appeared on the drop list. This would at least provide a reason to investigate why the name is back on the drops so soon?

            If I was to thoroughly investigate every name I was looking at on the drops, I would have no time for anything else. Especially when there is only a few minutes remaining and you have to make a gut-decision on purchasing some names. Even so, some names clearly looks as though there will be no problems with registering them, because they are clearly geographic and generic, and so we feel no research is needed. Only to find, the name wrongly appears on the ridiculous misspellings list and auDA place it into PD mode. This has happened to me in the past 24 hours for a geo-gen name that is absolutely ridiculous. And I plan to write about this incident very soon… absolutely crazy…

            Anyway…

            Saying that drop-catchers are:

            not a life jacket that protects you from jumping in the water if you don’t know how to swim. 

            It’s your (the buyers) responsibility to comply with auDA policy.

            … is like saying that when I walk into the supermarket, if I pick up a tub of yoghurt that is passed its used-by date, and then take it home and find fungus growing on it, then I am not allowed to take it back to the shop and ask for a refund?

            Of course I am. It is the supermarket’s responsibility to ensure that “spoiled goods” are not made available for me to accidentally purchase. If the supermarket doesn’t perform these checks to ensure the tubs of yoghurt are “meeting code” and I accidentally purchase one, I can easily take it back to the store where they will ISSUE ME A REFUND NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

            This specific yoghurt example has actually happened to me.

            • Avatar
              September 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm
              Permalink

              Not sure I agree with your supermarket analogy Robert.

              As evidenced in your OP with flybys.com.au and Coles, it’s possible to register a domain on the prohibited list and challenge it successfully.

              I have had this occur in the past at Drop and is one reason why I would not remove these domains from the list.

              To use the supermarket analogy, it’s more like you buying peanuts knowing you have a peanut allergy then blaming the supermarket for it.  You need to be aware of what you can and cannot buy.

              The one concession I’ll give you is that flagging domains on the prohibited list, similar to how we do it with PD domains would be a good addition.

              • Ned O'Meara
                September 18, 2016 at 5:50 am
                Permalink

                @Cam

                To use the supermarket analogy, it’s more like you buying peanuts knowing you have a peanut allergy then blaming the supermarket for it.  You need to be aware of what you can and cannot buy.

                You make some good points – however, you obviously haven’t bought nuts at a supermarket lately! I’m just looking on the back of a packet of cashews, and in BIG RED LETTERS it says:

                “Allergy Advice” – and then goes on with a description. If you have a nut allergy, of course you’re not going to purposely buy and consume nuts. However, the manufacturers still feel the need to warn people of the dangers.

                So like you say, flagging such domains would be a good additional safeguard – imo.

  • Avatar
    September 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm
    Permalink

    It is surprising how different people’s experiences can be when dealing with companies, statutory bodies and bureaucrats

    Misspelling List

    I “collided” with the misspelling list when I started my investment in domain names and lost a few names, simply because I did not do enough research (and was not initially aware of this list)

    I also challenged several names where I had a legitimate use for them that did not conflict with the use by the “complainant”

    I was successful with those challenges

    Names seem to be placed on the list when they receive repeated complaints, whether they are misspellings are not

    In my view “complainants” should not rely upon an administrative process like the misspellings list to protect their IP

    They should protect their IP through the channels already in place or secure the registrations themselves (one hours salary would pay for the registrations for several years)

    auDA

    My dealings with auDA were “rocky” when I started domain name investment

    This was in large part due to my naivety and “brash” nature

    However overall my dealings from the top down to the reception have always been professional, respectful and courteous

    The time given to me by the staff at auDa to resolve issues when they arose has been invaluable

    Further IMO…It is not right when individuals in organizations are publicly named

    If a problem exists then it is the organization and its systems that should be challenged

    Double-Dipping

    In my view auDa do need to take action here

    With the new gTLD’s trademark names were flagged and warnings were displayed

    These warnings had to be acknowledged before the names could be registered

    If auDA replaced the misspelling list with a similar flagging system then these names would not sit well in the drop-catcher systems and would most likely be excluded from their lists

    Then would be few better uses for their bankroll than a small IT investment in this area

    • Avatar
      September 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks for your valuable opinion Greg and as you know I highly respect your opinion on these matters.

      In terms of when you said:

      “Further IMO…It is not right when individuals in organizations are publicly named. If a problem exists then it is the organization and its systems that should be challenged”

      I normally couldn’t agree more with you. But in this case I feel as though Vanessa is doing this more from a personal viewpoint, than one of representing company policy, as documented. As I also mentioned, she personally just ignores my emails now and doesn’t bother replying to my questions, and she is the one and only complaints port-of-call at auDA, so what choices do I have in the future with complaints to auDA if I don’t publically raise these issues?

      Furthermore, let’s face it, when you make a complaint to auDA, it really just comes down to one person’s personal decision, initially, and most normal businesses who even find out how to make a complaint to auDA, certainly don’t know that if Vanessa replies something they don’t agree with, they can take it further.

      As Don said in his comment above, in this current complaints method at auDA, imagine doing the “math on how many people get stung” over eight years?

      Glad to hear you agree that auDA need to do something about the ongoing drop-platform double-dipping situation. If Netfleet won’t initiate a procedure regarding double-dipping on their end, perhaps auDA can?

      • Avatar
        September 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm
        Permalink

        Robert

        I recall getting emails from several officers over the years (not just Vanessa)

        In this calendar year I have received two complaints, but they have been communicated to me via the registrar

        One was resolved in my favour immediately (seemed to be a registrar’s decision)

        The other was also resolved in my favour, but took a few weeks (it seems to have been referred to auDA)

        I questioned this process with my registrar and was told that it was the way complaints were meant to be dealt with (i.e. Step 1 – registrar, Step 2 – auDA)

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm
      Permalink

      @Greg

      “However overall my dealings from the top down to the reception have always been professional, respectful and courteous”

      Likewise. Though on reflection, I did have a number of celebrated public “run-ins” with the previous CEO.

      I think the staff at auDA are terrific. Having been involved with working groups and panel over the years, I have met them all on numerous occasions.

      To the uninitiated though, Vanessa can be prickly and abrupt. I’ve even heard that some people are reluctant to call her a second time (I am not one of those)!

      The thing is, Robert is not “Robinson Crusoe” when it comes to some of the stuff he has written about. It has happened to other people too. In my opinion, there has to be some better and fairer procedures put in place to avoid the situations he describes. He is a stakeholder in the .au space – and he is an auDA member. Whilst I don’t agree with everything he says, he is entitled to vent his concerns (particularly if he has already tried through normal channels to do so).

      Complaints Process

      I think this needs to be looked at and revised. As I have said many times (even publicly at the 2015 auIGF), I am not in favour of anonymous complaints. I’m going to be writing a separate article about this soon.

  • Avatar
    September 8, 2016 at 2:45 pm
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    Robert, I like the way you wear your heart on your sleeve in all your articles. Sounds like you and Vanessa should have a sit down one day to clear the air.

    • Avatar
      September 8, 2016 at 3:06 pm
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      The thing is Vanessa  is the regulator here. I don’t think this is about getting along with someone, they should be able to make the correct decision based on policy, if they can’t they should not be in that job, if they get emotional they shouldn’t not be in the job, if they make regular mistakes they should not be in the job. This job is a bit like working for a bank or a law firm, if they can’t do things by the book they are in the wrong job.

      If Ms Lim regularly overules her, then the fact that she is making the wrong decision should be a huge issue for AUDA.

  • Avatar
    September 8, 2016 at 2:56 pm
    Permalink

    Exactly how has Vanessa from auDA been allowed to manage complaints and disputes over the last eight years, as a single Judge-Dread like character, seemingly able to enforce her own personal understanding and interpretation of auDA policy with an iron fist?

    //////////////////////

    This is a a worry because if it is one person with no formal appeal process there is going to be a lot of mistakes.

    AUDA has had appeals processes in the past in particular in 2002 when AUDA was preparing for its generic domain auction people had to apply to even be in the auction on every name, basically proving eligibility. I had a business name very similar to a name I wanted, there was no real question of eligibility in my view. AUDA rejected my application and it took 2 further appeals until they decided to accept it, they were just rejecting with a template statement. If there was no appeal it just would have been rejected and that would have been it.

    I think often AUDA make very lazy decisions when it is a small domainer as opposed to a giant company. ie they aren’t very worried about making decisions that effects people who won’t sue them. For policy deleting names there absolutely should be an appeal process decided by a more senior person or potentially someone arms length from AUDA.

      • Avatar
        September 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm
        Permalink

        That’s true Ned, and most of us who frequently visit this website know that, but…

        What worries me is when a “general” business makes a complaint and is simply told NO with a template email, they generally think it’s a lost cause and give up.

        This would have surely happened thousands of times over the past eight years?

        The “NO – END OF STORY” template email should also have information about how you can still appeal the “NO” decision made by Vanessa (or anyone else at auDA).

        On my dealings with Vanessa, she has finished some of her emails off with closing statements (after stating auDA Policy) like this:

         

        “On that basis we consider this matter has been appropriately addressed.”

        Followed by her signature.
        There’s nothing else stating I have another course of action. I can bet most Australian businesses would give up trying at this point.
         

        • Ned O'Meara
          September 9, 2016 at 8:54 am
          Permalink

          @Robert

          “The “NO – END OF STORY” template email should also have information about how you can still appeal the “NO” decision made by Vanessa (or anyone else at auDA).”

          Having never lost a domain before, I’ve never received one of those emails. 😉

          But it is an excellent point that you make. I agree with you that people should be advised of further options as a matter of due process / fairness.

          I will lobby auDA about this.

           

          • Avatar
            September 14, 2016 at 1:47 pm
            Permalink

            Glad to hear you’re on the case, Ned.

            By the way, I’ve never lost a domain before other than my Flybys.com.au domain name. And, as stated, I did not check the misspellings list before purchasing this name because it is not a misspelled word, it is a real word.

            Things are going to get interesting though, as auDA have just come after me (just yesterday!) for another mistaken listing that appears on the misspellings list, when in fact the domain name I have registered is a two-word geographic and generic domain name.

            This time I’m not going to let them get away with it.

            I will be writing a detailed blog about this current situation soon…

    • Avatar
      September 9, 2016 at 7:44 am
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      Funny as! Optuspoo.com.au was put on the misspellings list.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 9, 2016 at 8:57 am
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      @Legal Eagle – had seen that before. I love the use of satire to get a message across. She still has a huge following by the looks of it.

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 8, 2016 at 3:40 pm
    Permalink

    Have a look at this post I made on DNTrade back in December 2014.

    “I’m not having a smack at Netfleet in particular, but I do urge them to change their wording on their promotional emails. They definitely need some disclaimers imho.

    And they should:

  • Highlight prominently what “PD” means.
  • Bring back the “MS” (misspelling) symbol they used to have (and explain it).
  • Ongoing education is the key.”

  • Avatar
    September 8, 2016 at 3:53 pm
    Permalink

    In the wider domain industry (i.e. outside .AU), it’s not uncommon to have one’s domain purchase reversed.  In particular, this happens most frequently in 3 ways:

    (1)

    I register a domain name that appears to be available, and the registrar bills me for it.  But it turns out the domain is already owned by someone else.  This happens because many registrars rely on a cache of slightly outdated information, which speeds up the display.  For example, during a bulk nTLD sale, I might register 100+ domains.  But other investors are doing likewise simultaneously.  What was available an hour ago has been taken.  This also happens for obscure ccTLDs, where the cache is updated less often.

    Once the registrar finds that the transaction must be overturned, they automatically refund me.

    (2)

    I register a domain in an nTLD.  Each nTLD has various lists of banned strings – domains they’ve reserved for themselves, domains that are blocked because they’re on ICANN-mandated name-collision lists, etc.  In the early days, we didn’t have ideal communication between ALL the nTLD registry providers and ALL the world’s registrars.  So it was often possible to register a domain that turned out to be on 1 of these lists of names a registrar wasn’t supposed to b selling.

    Once again, once the registrar finds that the transaction must be overturned, they automatically refund me.

    (3)

    At GoDaddy Auctions, where expired domains are sold, it’s always possible for the former domain owner to renew the domain and invalidate the auction – even after payment has been submitted by the buyer.  Therefore it’s a routine occurrence for the auction winner to be told, “Sorry, the owner has renewed the domain.”

    But of course, once the registrar finds that the transaction must be overturned, they automatically refund me.

    ***

    In the broader (i.e. non-.AU) industry, sometimes a domain is taken away from the buyer / owner without a refund  For example, in a UDRP dispute.  But that’s an adjudicated process with the option of having a 3-person panel.  Lawyers are involved, and the registrant is allowed to make a case for keeping the domain.  It’s worth noting that something like the UDRP panel is independent of the registrar and registry.  Panelists don’t earn money by selling a domain if it is confiscated, since the roles are separate.

    It’s not unusual for domains to be sold to owners who aren’t allowed to keep what they’ve bought.  But it’s very unusual for domains to be confiscated both without a refund AND without a third-party adjudication process.

    AUDA and drop-catching registrars like NetFleet might want to emulate the rest of the industry and offer either an automatic refund or an indepedent adjudication process.

    • Avatar
      September 8, 2016 at 5:14 pm
      Permalink

      AUDA and drop-catching registrars like NetFleet might want to emulate the rest of the industry and offer either an automatic refund or an independent adjudication process.

      ////////////

      This sounds like a good possible solution to drop-platform double-dipping. Add Snoopy’s idea of “locking” names on the misspellings list, or get rid of the misspellings list altogether.

      Still, there should be NO refunds for scammers posing under a random company abn/acn(.)

       

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 9, 2016 at 8:58 am
      Permalink

      @Joseph – some excellent external observations as per usual!

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 8, 2016 at 4:01 pm
    Permalink

    Just delving into some old DNTrade posts again, and Mark Lye did do the right thing initially with regards being willing to put both a PD and MS (misspelling) symbols on applicable domains. Check his post out from 2012.

    By the way, in that thread, for some reason my previous “Admin” posts are now ascribed to Soj (the previous owner and admin of DNT before me!). Perhaps the current admins can get that fixed? 😉

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm
      Permalink

      @Andrew

      “The pedant in me …”

      I must confess I had to look that up. 🙂 Thanks for the “word of the day”.

    • Avatar
      September 9, 2016 at 1:22 am
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      You must be a hardcore fanboy, Andrew. I think I’ll stick with Dread, for originality reasons. And because I have great “apprehension and fear” whenever I see the an auDA email pop up in my inbox.

      And I’m definitely adding “pedant” to my vocabulary from this moment on.

  • tim
    September 12, 2016 at 1:23 am
    Permalink

    i’ve had many people tell me they like to keep thier head lowwwww when it comes to auda and the most common comment is ” because if they get you for 1 they’ll go right through your folio…………”

    thats a terrible way MANY people regard auda and robert it seems you stuck your head up ! thankfully history has proven ruling by fear never lasts and there are currently far to many unanswered questions that auda DO need to answer.

    here is the root of all the issues i feel ” ……….self-regulatory body……….” , its not working

    tim

     

    • Avatar
      September 12, 2016 at 9:30 am
      Permalink

      That’s why I won’t buy .com.au.  Your investments could be pulled out from under you.  AUDA has the most draconian domain policies out there.  I remember reading a whole bunch of .org.au were cancelled from a domain owner once.  That type of action erodes confidence in the space.

    • Avatar
      September 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm
      Permalink

      I’ve heard that phrase in this industry too, Tim, especially by domainers, so many times, “Oh, be careful of auDA, or they’ll wipe out your whole domain portfolio on technicalities”.

      I learned my lessons early and all my names are in check, so I’m not scared. As long as we’re all obeying policy, there’s no reason for any of us to be scared.

      What is worrying though, is when you can’t get a real “human” reply from auDA when you try to defend yourself against a “complaint”. Merely copy-paste templates. And you can’t get an answer when you ask to see proof that a “complaint” is real.

      Another reason to end these “secret complaints” is, it could be an international scammer who is making the complaint so that they can use an Australian ABN they have no association with, to secure the name from you once it is dropped.

      How I run DBR in terms of when clients come to me and ask if they should make a complaint is this: complaints should be a last-resort. Only to be made if it is impossible to contact the current domain name owner (by email and phone call, and NEVER because the current owner won’t sell, out of spite). And in the interest of transparency, all complaints should be made public. Perhaps the name of the person (or the company) who is complaining should be placed against the name appearing in the “official domain name drop list” in a new column of the “deleted domain names” section of the AusRegistry list?

  • Avatar
    September 12, 2016 at 7:34 am
    Permalink

    Misspell block list on generic words, now that’s funny.

    ancestry

    carsales

    commonwealth

    cricket

    domain

    freedom

    greyhound

    jobsearch

    origin

    professionals

    realestate

    travel

    three

    thrifty

    Use by domain owner is the norm for demonstrating bad faith or abuse.  Drop the misspell list/policy and get the lazy brand owners to police their own IP.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 12, 2016 at 11:07 am
      Permalink

      @Garth

      Use by domain owner is the norm for demonstrating bad faith or abuse.  Drop the misspell list/policy and get the lazy brand owners to police their own IP.

      Totally agree with you here – and in fact, so did a number of people on the Names Panel. Still, the majority wanted it kept, so I guess that’s democracy in action. 😉

  • tim connell
    September 13, 2016 at 3:29 pm
    Permalink

    forget illegal things but where else can you go and easily purchase something you are not allowed to have? FROM what is presented as a respected dealer in those goods.

    isn’t that just the simple issue here. Cam makes some good points but the fact is it should never even get to be a nf,drop,ds problem at all auda make the list auda should fix the problem.

    tim

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