NameJet Was Auctioning My Domain Name Without My Permission

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I want to share a bit of a weird story. Yesterday afternoon, I received an Auction Start email for a domain name I had backordered at NameJet. When I saw that I was the High Bidder, I was surprised because I am pretty sure I placed this backorder after seeing it had already received at least one other bid. I was expecting to be an underbidder, giving me additional time to decide whether to bid further. This happens, and bidders should always be prepared to be the high bidder.

When I visited the auction page, I saw that it was a “Direct Lister” auction, meaning that it was privately listed for auction and was not an expiry auction. I was curious to see who listed this domain name for sale, so I did a Whois search. Much to my surprise, my company is the registrant of the domain name, which was created at the end of September.

A quick check of my records show that I won the domain name for $59 at DropCatch.com on September 25th. I was the only bidder in that auction, and the domain name is registered at NameBright. I have not listed any domain names for sale at NameJet in several years.

It would appear that someone listed this domain name for auction at NameJet, the domain name expired and was registry deleted prior to the auction, and the domain name was not removed from NameJet’s platform prior to their auction. After seeing this, I reached out to NameJet to have the auction cancelled, which NameJet did.

I understand that this is more of a human error issue than something nefarious, but I think it is important to call attention to it.

Had I not placed a bid and the auction concluded, the winning bidder would have been charged by NameJet and would have been waiting for the domain name to provision to their account. Because the seller does not control the domain name, the sale would have had to be cancelled. This may have looked like the current registrant (my company) defaulted on the sale, which is not true.

In addition to this, participants who were involved in the auction can see it was cancelled. If any of them decided to investigate further, it would appear that I was bidding on my own auction. As mentioned, I was not the seller, so this assumption would be inaccurate. The only giveaway would be that the name was created 42 days ago and is registered at NameBright, so it could not even transfer to a Web.com related registrar due to the ICANN 60 day lock.

This is not the first time something like this seems to have happened. In fact, less than two weeks ago, I tweeted about another situation that appears to mirror this one:

Beyond NameJet requiring that sellers push their domain name to an account controlled by the auction venue prior to the auction, I am not really sure how this issue can be prevented. It sucks to win an auction, pay for an auction, wait for the domain name to provisioned, and later learn that there was some sort of issue that resulted in the auction being canceled and/or payment refunded. I am just glad I caught the issue before the auction ended, and I hope there aren’t other auctions that previously closed where a buyer is waiting for the delivery of the domain name and the registrant was not the seller.

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