There’s a huge business scandal going on at domain registrar Registerfly, with stories of embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, and shareholders filing lawsuits against each other. One of the founders has allegedly used company funds for liposuction, high-priced escorts, a luxury condo in Miami, and a $6000 gecko.
In the meantime, their customers are caught in the middle, with no way to renew their expiring domains. Registerfly’s payment system simply takes the money and lets the domains get deleted. People are losing their livelihoods and businesses. Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy, provides more details on his blog, as does the gripe site Registerflies.com, which logs the complaints of thousands of irate customers.
In January, I tried to renew a domain that was about to expire, and each time I submitted the renewal, I got a message back saying it failed, yet my credit card was charged. I have about 10 fraudulent charges on my card for a one year domain renewal. According to customer accounts, if you complain to Registerfly about this, they’ll seize your domains and lock you out of your account. It has since been revealed that risk/fraud department was being paid on a commission basis.
Now that my last domain that I care about is safely out of their system, I can provide some details on how I managed to rescue all my domains over the past week.
Registerfly was until recently a reseller of eNom, for .com, .net, and .org domains, and Tucows, for other extensions such as .tv. If you have domains at Registerfly, they are registered through either eNom, Tucows, or, if you registered or renewed in the past month or two, directly via Registefly. You can do a WHOIS lookup using DNSStuff.com to find out. If your domains are registered at eNom or Tucows, you will not be able to make any changes via the Registerfly interface, nor will you be able to get an authorization code allowing the transfer. You’ll need to contact eNom or Tucows directly.
- Registrations resold via Enom - If your domains are registered via eNom, their customer service department can take care of you. When I called up, after a 30-minute wait on hold, I was able to reach Josh in business development at eNom (email customersupport [at] enom.com, 425.274.4500) and by faxing him my identification to prove I owned the domains, he was able to push them out of Registerfly into Enom with in 24 hours. Once they are at eNom, you can change your contact information, unlock the domains, and transfer them to your preferred registrar. I found eNom to be very helpful and responsive, once I actually got to talk to someone.
- Registrations resold via Tucows - I also had some .tv domains registered via the OpenSRS system, which is run by Tucows. I was able to contact Paul Karkas, the compliance officer at Tucows (compliance [at] opensrs.org) who was able to unlock the domains and send me the authorization codes allowing me to transfer them away. I initiated a transfer with GoDaddy, but GoDaddy was failing to parse the email contacts for the .tv domains, but after calling up the customer service department and making contact with one of their Domain Transfer Concierges, they were able to do a manual lookup to verify the email address that was showing up in WHOIS.
- Domains registered directly through Registerfly - For the remaining domains registered at Registerfly, you need to use their interface to correct your contact information and unlock the domains. Registerfly’s interface apparently was non-working for several weeks, but in the past few days has started to work, but only for domains not registered through a reseller. If the domains are registered via eNom or Tucows, it will display a ‘Bad password’ error. For my domains, I first corrected all the contact information. For many of my domains, the administrative contact had mysteriously been changed to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ Contact information changes should show up immediately in the DNS, or at least they were for me. If the changes do not appear, there’s a link on the DNSStuff WHOIS query result page that allows you to get a fresh copy of the WHOIS information. I was also able to unlock domains through the interface. If your domains show up as unlocked in the interface but locked in the DNS (as evidenced by the status ‘clientUpdateProhibited’ or ‘clientTransferProhibited’) try to first lock them in Registerfly, then unlock them again. Registerfly’s interface is completely out of sync with DNS, and this procedure causes it to resend the unlock command. The auth codes are also appearing, at the bottom of the contact info edit page for each domain. Keep in mind that the Registerfly interface was not working at all until a few days ago, and it could go down again at any time, so if you need to do this, do it right away.
I had to initiate and re-initiate the transfers through GoDaddy several times before they worked. Often GoDaddy can be stuck in ‘Pending Unlock or Hold Release’ state, simply because it doesn’t check DNS often enough to see that the domain is in fact unlocked. If your domain shows up as unlocked in WHOIS (’Domain status: ok’) you can simply re-initiate the transfer in GoDaddy, and the system will pick up the change.
Hopefully this info will help if you’ve got domains being held hostage by this dying company.