I have been following along the NamePros thread and article on TheDomains.com about alleged bidding irregularities at NameJet. I have also been in communication with NameJet General Manager Jonathan Tenenbaum, asking to receive updates as the company addresses the allegations and investigates the situation.
A few minutes ago, Jonathan emailed me a statement with a status update from the auction platform:
“In an effort to keep everyone current as to where we stand on this matter, I wanted to share the following update. There have been some inaccuracies and misconceptions that have been brought forth by such a spirited discussion. And it would be a challenge to respond to all of them – therefore, I want to bring the discussion back to the heart of the matter.
As stated earlier, we take the issue of shill bidding on NameJet very seriously and we are conducting a thorough investigation, keeping in mind that the integrity of our platform is of utmost importance to us. As I have said repeatedly, we do not condone shill bidding of any kind. We would never encourage, promote or otherwise be involved in any such thing and our position is clear – it is never allowed on NameJet!
In our current investigation certain auction activity has come to light that we deem questionable and a possible violation of our terms. This kind of activity is not acceptable to us and we are taking steps to deal with it. We have suspended several accounts while working through the information we have available.
I thank everyone for their patience as we work through these issues. Our goal is to best serve our customers and we are working hard to that effect.”
When it comes to auction venues and domain name marketplaces, trust is the most important component. As a NameJet customer and someone who writes about the domain investment business, I want to share some advice for NameJet:
- Have an independent, third party investigation into this matter. I presume there are companies that can be used as outside auditors, and their results will likely be more accepted than an internal audit. An investigation of this nature may take longer to accomplish and it will be more expensive than an internal audit, but it will be more trusted by industry participants.
- Keep customers in the loop about what the investigation finds and reveal everything. If things are kept private and people find out that something was not revealed in its entirety, it will lead to distrust.
- If there was wrongdoing found and customers lost money as a result, make them whole.
- Make it clear what is acceptable and what is not acceptable when it comes to bidding and selling. Obviously laws and traditions differ in different countries, so it is imperative that all sellers and bidders know what they can and cannot do when using NameJet.
With that said, I think customers need to let the investigation run its course and not jump to conclusions about what happened. Making faulty assumptions can damage someone’s reputation and open the accuser to legal action. As George Kirikos pointed out on Twitter this afternoon, today may actually be a good day “if it leads to cleaning things up.”