Hosting Companies Should Not Be Listed as Domain Owner for Clients

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I was looking through some upcoming NameJet dropping domain auctions via FreshDrop, and I noticed something that I found to be appalling. Hosting companies either dropping the ball on renewals or not doing enough to help their current or former customers with their domain name assets.

I generally do a historical Whois search for domain names I might have an interest in bidding on at auction. From this, I can see who previously owned it and try to figure out why they either didn’t find the domain name valuable enough to keep or why the domain name may have been allowed to expire.

On four consecutive searches today, I saw that the previous registrant email was a hosting company. What this means to me is that the hosting company didn’t pay the renewal bill either because they didn’t realize it needed to be renewed, their client no longer works with the company, or, probably the least likely of the bunch, the client no longer wanted the domain name.

Since these were very good domain names I searched, it’s unlikely that the client simply opted to not renew the domain name. Another unlikely thing is that the hosting company dropped the ball. I presume they manage other domain names and they would certainly get emails, so it’s unlikely they simply forgot because there would be some severe liability for that I would think.

What is likely in my opinion is that the client no longer works with the hosting company, and the hosting company didn’t feel compelled to let the client know their domain name was going to expire. They probably just didn’t feel like going through the effort of ensuring a safe transfer. Instead, since they didn’t have orders to renew the domain name, and since they wouldn’t be compensated for renewing it without those orders, they took the easy way out and just let the domain names expire.

Of course it’s the client’s job to keep tabs on its assets. However, I think it’s irresponsible or a hosting company to register a domain name on behalf of a client and keep the Whois information in the name of the company – specifically the registrant email where renewal notices are sent. If a relationship ends, the hosting company shouldn’t have to pay for a former client’s renewals, but the responsibility shouldn’t become theirs either.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I do design on the side and newer register client’s domains in my name. I can help them register it but would not do it in my name. I don’t want them to chase me down once I move or stop supporting their sites.

  2. I have to agree, its bad juju and bad news travels faster than good news.

    I had registered a domain with 101 only to have them not register it and on my control panel it stated ‘sent to registery’ so i thought i was safe seeing they accept my money, the very day I raised an issue(2 weeks later)…..guess what it was gone that very day which is pretty suspicious, so now I take screenshots of all valuable names when i register them.

    I have a domain ‘dictionary.tc’ that i cant access due to the registrar locking me out, and my name is still on the whois 6 months later.

    people are just wonderful creatures and everyone is different, probability states you will find a couple of bad ones.

  3. Yep growing trend of taking advantage of non domain savvy customers. They don’t realise that the web company are the legal registrant/owner of the name.
    I’ve also heard of many a tale whereby a web developer registers the name in their own and the customer is either held to ransom later on or the developer disappears and the customer is up the swanee!.

  4. I recently did a backorder on two domains that were close to expiring with Godaddy.com. Needless to say, I was shocked when the domains expired, the domains were now registered to an affiliate company of Godaddy. I made an inquiry and found that I was now in an auction to purchase the domains. Guess who received the proceeds from the auction???
    IMO, the registrar should never have been involved…

  5. they get horrible pr on stories like this.
    Of course they want our domains and will do anything to get them. Monitor your domains yourself and don’t count on emails.
    Got a valuable domain, register it for 5 years.

  6. I believe this thing happens mostly in those cases where the hosting company offers “free domain(s)” for taking their hosting package and the customer discontinues hosting.

    These customers don’t realise that when they discontinue the hosting package, they need to first pay for the current registration and then should either leave instructions with the hosting company to renew it or transfer away the domain to some other registrar.

    I am sure such customers are not domainers and if the orphaned name seems valuable, the previous end-user probably did not realise it or doesn’t care.

  7. hi elliot ,can u tell me what were those domain names 🙂 … i registered flixur.com and nenyn.com from such list…what do you think of them?

  8. About the “doesn’t care” in my previous comment:
    I say this because I have seen many end users using crappy, hyphenated domains (even 4 to 5 words) and spending hundreds of dollars on SEO rather than using a part of those funds to buy a decent, useful name in the secondary market.

  9. I think Sri hit the nail on the head. I recently sold a small hosting company. I always made sure the clients knew the value of owning their own domain name. Often, I’d get asked “why should I pay when xyz company gives me a free domain?” I suggested they carefully read the TOS of xyz company before doing business with them.

  10. Interesting post Elliott. Working at Moniker, I’ve seen this happen numerous times. In addition to website hosting, hosting companies offer domain name registration services and bundle the price with hosting services; ie: a turnkey solution. The problem is (sometimes) the hosting company registers the name on the clients’ behalf and then the owner of the website/domain doesn’t really own it. It’s VERY important for people to understand the difference. It’s ok to register your domain name with your hosting company however it’s not ok to allow the hosting company to register it for you. Agreed it’s the client’s job to keep tabs on their assets.

    BTW – Happy Birthday!

  11. Hi, here is my whois record, from a public website, can any one tell me what is meaning of 4 STATUS info?
    Also why i cant see my name in records?

    Domain Name: SHADIDAFTAR.COM
    Registrar: GODADDY.COM, INC.
    Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
    Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com
    Name Server: NS53.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
    Name Server: NS54.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
    Status: clientDeleteProhibited
    Status: clientRenewProhibited
    Status: clientTransferProhibited
    Status: clientUpdateProhibited
    Updated Date: 15-dec-2010
    Creation Date: 01-nov-2010

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