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Are we seated comfortably?

Once upon a time, company A registered their domain name with GoDaddy.com, and contracted with another local "web design firm" to handle their web and email needs.

The "web design firm", which in this case turns out to be Just Some Guy With Photoshop, well-- they went incommunicado several months back.

The domain was registered with Company A listed as the registrant, and the web designer listed himself as administrative contact. The domain has expired as of last week.

(insert horrified gasps here, as the beleaguered small-business-owner panics, and calls his friend, who happens to be my boss, who makes finding a resolution to this situation My Problem. )

GoDaddy is being less than cooperative with inquiries as to how we need to proceed in order to change the contact information, so that we can renew the domain, and make everything right with the world.

( Even pointing to online records that indicate that we aren't the only ones looking for Web Guy, and that two sheriff's departments would like to have a word with him hasn't helped. )

Any advice as to how to proceed would be most welcomed. Thanks in advance.

EDIT:

Despite numerous attempts to follow GoDaddy's stated procedures, the domain wound up going to auction. Business owner told my boss to "get the domain, period." One auction later, it's back in the hands of the owner. Original web designer who dropped out of contact/etc is apparently in custody of the authorities for various non-related crimes. Thanks for reading/answering/etc.

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4 Answers

up vote 20 down vote accepted

If you'd have posted the domain name (so we can do a WHOIS lookup on it) it would have been more helpful.

That being said, there are typically 3-4 contacts for a domain. Registrant, Technical, Billing, and Administrator.

As long as you're listed in at least ONE of these three you have a good chance of getting your domain.

The process varies from registrar to registrar but basically you'll need to call until you find someone who is half smart and wants to help you. Being NICE to them goes a loooong way.

Second... at some point you're going to have to fax in your driver's license, a written statement on company letterhead, and sometimes even a copy of your business license.

Third... from there it usually goes up the chain and evenutually someone somewhere makes a decision and turns the domain over to you.

In my experience, the nicer you are, the smoother things go. The more information you have proving the domain is yours, the better things go. Remember, simply PAYING for a domain DOES NOT mean you own it. (crazy I know)

So... be nice, be patient, and keep moving forward.

In the mean time... you should be able to renew that domain so it at least comes back online for you while you go through this process.

I've gone through this process SEVERAL times with clients. If you need more help, contact me off list.


UPDATE:

I figured I'd update this story for future people who stumble across this thread.

In my experience with situations like this I have found that the NUMBER ONE MISTAKE people make is they call up the registrar and they stop just short of demanding their domain back. Some even go as far as to try and tell "the story". Trust me, the folks at GoDaddy (and almost every other registrar) don't really care about your story.

That being said, I called up GoDaddy on Bill's behalf and talked to a guy in "Domain Technical Support". I explained to him that I was a system administrator helping out a friend who had got into trouble with his domain name.

I also explained that I have two problems. 1) I need to renew the domain to get it back online ASAP. and 2) I need to find out more information about how I can prove I (actually Bill's friend) can prove he is the rightful owner of the domain name.

Short and to the point.

I told the tech guy that the DOMAIN REGISTRANT IS THE BUSINESS but the contact email is the webmaster who is now MIA. With my problem presented to him I then asked "What do YOU recommend as a final solution for this? How can we get the domain back?"

Tech guy said:

  1. Send an email to change@secureserver.net explaining the problem. From there on out, all correspondence will be via email as they keep a record of everything. This is for both their protection and yours. (Believe me, there's lots of domain theft out there)

  2. At some point they will request a scanned copy of a government issued ID. Most people scan their driver's license in .JPG format and make sure it is CLEAR.

  3. He will also have to provide a copy of his business license (or something similar) proving that the he is indeed the registrant of the domain.

Tech dude said the process will take a "couple of days" but in my experience it usually takes longer than that. Plan for 5-7 days of back and forth and if it takes less you'll be plesantly surprised. ;-)

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2  
Bill, I just called and talked to GoDaddy on your behalf. I believe I have a solution for you. Please give me some contact info so I can reach you. –  KPWINC Aug 6 '09 at 22:00
    
bill@nanorift.net gets to me. –  Bill B Aug 6 '09 at 22:20
    
And thanks so much--- I can set up compute clusters-- this whole computers connected to outside world on public networks thing is still a bit new. –  Bill B Aug 6 '09 at 22:21
    
Awesome that you actually called GoDaddy on his behalf. That rocks! –  GregD Aug 6 '09 at 22:25
    
Seriously awesome. You should get a SF medal or something, that is definitely going above and beyond. –  duffbeer703 Aug 6 '09 at 23:15
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Presumably Company A would have some record of registering the domain with GoDaddy. Additionally, they may have the username/password for the domain, seeing as it was them who set up the domain.

If the username/password are gone, and their name isnt on the Domain Record, I'm out of ideas on this one, other than calling up and identifying yourself as "Just Some Guy With Photoshop". If there is at least some documentation you have on your side, you should be able to get away with that.

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If the domain has expired why can't it just be registered by any John Doe who wants it? Or is there a waiting period here?

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To answer my own question. Looks like the grace period varies from one domain registrar to another. –  3dinfluence Aug 6 '09 at 20:30
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You (or, rather, Company A) can send (fax) a letter on company letterhead to GoDaddy stating that the administrative contact details should be changed to <insert details here>. The company details should, of course, match up with the registrant information (if they don't, then WTF?) Once that's done, it's just a standard password recovery from there. The registrars don't like to talk about this process because processing a fax costs them money, and there's already no margins in domain registration.

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