The government stole my domain name!

Well, stole is probably the wrong word! But an interesting tale nevertheless!

We recently had a customer who had a couple of websites that were developed by someone else, and these were hosted on some server space. We were in discussions about taking on their sites & hosting, getting their sites a bit more visually appealing and adding some social media widgets to the site.

Before we had agreed to go ahead, The lady rang me and said “Pete, one of our sites is down”. I had a quick look – couldn’t ping the domain at all, i was thinking the domain had expired and not been renewed. So I rang her back, she said “No, I’m sure I paid it”. So I grabbed her hosting login details, jumped in and there was a message saying Domain expired, please renew. Gave her a quick buzz, processed the renewal, thought that would be the end.

The next day I jumped on to have another look, still nothing. Ok thats weird. Jumped back into GoDaddy and it said Domain expired, please renew. What?! So I looked through her account transaction details, she had renewed the domain 3 times along with 3 lots of SSL certificates. Logged a ticket with GoDaddy, they said there was an issue, 72hrs to fix. Ok will check back in 3 days. Meanwhile their business had no web presence.

3 days later, we got an email from GoDaddy apologising that they were not able to renew the domain and to contact auda (the domain administrative mob in Australia).

So I gave them a call.

We have over 300 domains we manage for clients and I’d never seen this. Apparently, the government reserves the right to stop a domain from being renewed, should it want it for itself!

This company domain, must have been close enough to a government organisation’s name, that this happened. Wow I thought. What an absolute pain in the neck. So where to from here I asked the lady at AUDA. The customer has the right to appeal this decision to a minister. One can only guess how long that could take. Meanwhile – Zero web site for the customer or emails. And who knows if the appeal will get approved.

So we powered on and didn’t waste any time, and got the customer hooked up with another domain name, new email account, and everything running smoothly again on our servers. The customer is appealing the decision, see what happens there. There is still the idea of all their branding that needs to be redone, cars, and whatever else.

I reckon the Government should have to compensate businesses if it chooses to do this. What are your thoughts?

When picking a domain name, try to avoid acronyms or anything that could closely resemble a government organisation. Definitely learnt something here!

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