Domain Name Maintenance and Customer Service Lessons

Over the past several days I feel as though I’ve been part of a Lemony Snicket book.
I’ve had domain registration problems for that are still in the process of being resolved (<<those of you who sent emails to my address, it may be another day or two before it works, but yes, I’m still here!)…my notebook computer mouse key went haywire…and today I lost my Internet connection (a wireless tower and wireless dish antennas don’t work well under a 2″ layer of ice and another few inches of snow on top of that) and I’m using my 24k dial-up. Hopefully the electricity is not next to go…

However, I definitely learned some important lessons regarding domain name registration, customer service, business continuity, and patience.
Some background; the credit card I use to pay for my domain registration was replaced with a new card (same number, just a new card with a new expiration date to replace the one that had an 11/07 expiration date). I didn’t think anything about it since the number was the same. However, my domain registration service had the expiration date recorded and apparently checks it monthly.
1) When the expiration date showed that the card had expired, the registrar cancelled my domain name after a two week “grace” period.
2) The registrar did not contact me via email, phone call, or letter to indicate the card they had on file was shown as expired.
3) The registrar did not try to process the card to determine if it really was expired.
4) The registrar only has customer service available from 6am – 5pm pst Monday through Friday.
5) I noticed no email coming in late last Friday evening.
6) I noticed my website was down shortly after.
7) I tried contacting my registrar, upon which I learned about their limited customer service hours.
8) I checked my account information for the domain and saw a successful annual renewal of my domain in 11/11/07, along with a copy of the “paid” receipt. So, that looks fine…right? So why doesn’t it work? I can’t find out until Monday.
9) I work on client work over the weekend thinking (naïvely, I will find) that I can make a call (at a time that is late into my central time work habits) as early as possible on Monday morning and get the issue resolved quickly.
10) I call the registrar customer service at 8am cst on the button on Monday morning…the recording indicates they are not yet “open” to take calls, and I’m reminded of their customer service hours. Hmm…their clocks must be slow…
11) I call at 8:05am cst and am put on hold for 45 minutes (this is not a toll-free call from my business land line) until a customer service rep is “available.”
12) The service rep tells me my domain was “expired” because the payment did not go through.
13) I point out the invoice paid document from 11/07.
14) The rep tells me that if the payment card on file is ever shown as expired the owner of the domain is sent a notice, then the domain is “cancelled” if the card payment info is not updated.
15) Huh??!? It was paid for a full year…this doesn’t make sense.
16) I then look closely and carefully…I never received any emails to my primary or alternate email address with such notification.
17) The rep tells me I should have been sent a notice, and then he tells me that I do not have any email address documented within my account information.
18) I’m looking right at my profile with the registrar rep as we’re talking on the phone. My email address is listed…I tell the rep.
19) The rep tells me, “No, you do not have anything listed. I can assure you that I am looking right now at your account information, and I can assure you have no email address listed.”
20) I tell the rep, “I am looking right at my profile, and I see the email address listed.”
21) Rep tells me, “No, you are wrong! You do not.”
22) I tell myself, “serenity now” a few times. I do not want to make things worse and never get my domain name back; I need to have my email and my website back. I’m at the mercy of the know-it-all guy on the phone I’m depending upon to help me.
23) I take a deep breath then calmly tell the rep, “Okay. Just please tell me how to get this fixed so I can get my email and website back as soon as possible.”
24) So, he tells me to give him the new expiration date for my credit card, he enters it into the system, and says that whenever his “billing department” processes it that I’ll have my email service back within 4 – 6 hours, and my website will be back up in 12 – 24 hours because the domain name was out of the DNS servers and it will take that long to get them updated again with my domain.
25) This is not good. However, there is not much I can do about it. So, I wait. And wait. And wait. All the time sending email messages to my email address every hour just to see if it is up yet. No, my emails are rejected, indicating my domain name was not found. Noon comes and goes…I’m still not showing up on the Internet as a domain. 1pm…2pm…at 3pm still no domain. I call again to the registrar.
26) A different rep answers this time (after only 20 minutes of wait time I’m paying for).
27) After explaining the situation, this rep #2 tells me rep #1 was “not quite right”; that it would take at least 12 – 24 hours to get my domain fully repopulated again. So, I should have everything back by 9am cst Tuesday (today). He also said that my email message *WAS* listed in my profile, “but to [rep #1’s] defense, he was probably looking at your account information, not your profile.” Well, I told rep #1 I was looking at my profile. No sorry, no nothing for rep #1 getting argumentative and short with me.
28) I continue sending myself email messages each hour…just in case it may be back.
28) It is now Tuesday. At 10am cst queries on the Internet show my domain name still does not exist. I still have no email for
29) I call my registrar at 10:05am cst. I get the same rep #2 again after only 10 minutes on hold.
30) Rep #2 says, “Hmm…I don’t know…let me talk to my manager about this.”
31) I’m on hold for another 10 minutes.
32) “Oh, well, I’m afraid to say that your domain is in a state of “registration redemption.”
33) I’ve never heard of this before; domain name management is definitely not my area of expertise. Is this like being in Internet purgatory?
34) I ask rep #2, “What does it mean to be in registration redemption?”
35) Rep #2 says, “Oh, that means that because your domain name was expired that now the ICANN folks have to look at the request to restore the domain and approve it. This takes an increased time. It could take up to 72 hours.”
36) 72 hours!!!??? 3 days!!!??
37) I ask rep #2, “Are you telling me that you are just starting my redemption period now, and that it will be another 72 hours from now, or up to 72 hours from the time I filed my updated credit card information with you yesterday?”
38) Rep #2, “Oh, from yesterday…so it’s really only another up to…what…48 hours or so.”
39) I have abandoned the “serenity now” attempt, and instead silently think a very loud, “AAARRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!” to myself.
40) Okay…composure and politeness restored, I ask rep #2, “So, to confirm my understanding, my domain will still not appear to anyone until possibly Thursday?”
41) Rep #2, “Yes, I’m afraid so. I wish I could help more.”
After a few more pleasantries I concluded the call.
Add on top of this my left touchpad mouse button stopped working most of the time over the weekend (but after turning off my computer Sunday afternoon and banging my fist on the button a few times, it actually works fine again…I’m not a hardware repair specialist, so I don’t recommend you try this, but it worked for me, and made me temporarily feel oddly comforted); and then the ice storm currently going on (2″ of ice accumulating from freezing rain since midnight on top of about 2″ of snow already on the ground, followed by around 3″ more now of snow on top of the ice, and still going strong) that knocked out my wireless connection (I guess the wireless towers don’t work well under several inches of ice and snow) leaving me to my good ol’ dependable ~24k dial-up service connection.
I’m really most mad at myself about the domain expiration.
Why didn’t I think about checking on this when I got my new credit card to replace the old one? Why, WHY, WHY!??
I really am kicking myself about this. A domain name is way too important to a small business to leave to assumptions. Even though my charge from the registrar showed as being paid, I should have called the registrar to confirm all was well and that my domain was good to go for another year or two.
It is always good to double check and confirm important issues.
So I’m very, very upset with myself. Feel like I should tape a “kick me” sign on my back and walk through the crowded mall…but with the bad weather many malls are closed right now, and the ones that are open are basically empty.
I also checked the ICANN site for information about “registration redemption” and it states that “Registries would implement procedures allowing for rapid restoration of resolution (within one day).”
So, I’m hoping I will get my domain name, along with my website ( and email address ( back by tomorrow. However, I’m not going to assume anything, especially since this registrar told me 3 days as opposed to the ICANN’s 1 day guideline.
So, some important lessons I’ve learned from this, and I hope if you are a small to medium business (SMB) you can perhaps also learn from my experience, includes:
1) Domain name expiration cannot be quickly resolved; if your domain name ever expires, it may take you days to get it back.
2) As a company of one I need to stay on top of all my domain name management issues. I cannot depend upon a faceless registrar on the west coast to be looking out for my best interest; they have thousands of other domains on their books, and my single domain is pretty insignificant to them.
3) However, registrars, and all other types of service providers, still need to have good customer service practices for their customers of all sizes. It is not good to tell a customer “You’re wrong!” Especially when I’m looking right at my account information on their website. Yes, I’m thinking about changing registrars…but I also must consider the risk that I may lose my domain yet again for a period of time because of some unforeseen problem that may occur during the switch.
4) Along with customer service goes availability. A registrar should have 24×7 on-call customer service available. Businesses depend upon their domain names working in order for their email and websites to work. Shutting off a domain and then making the domain owners wait from Friday night to Monday morning is not good business practice for a registrar.
5) Always have a backup to keep your network connectivity going. I’m always so glad I still have my dial-up service for those times my wireless service gets knocked out. Remember, wireless towers do not work well under several inches of ice.
So, for those of you who got bounced emails from my address, or saw my site was down…yes, I’m here, I’m here, I’m here!!! Please resend any messages tomorrow or Thursday.

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