Moniker domains, and why we are switching registrar
I very rarely write a public piece about a company, but part of me believes in the “name and shame” mantra when something goes really wrong.
Historically, we’ve always registered and kept our domains with Moniker. An American company, but their Domain management control panel was second to none. Straightforward, very comprehensive and their prices were relatively good, even taking into account the exchange rate fees.
However, a couple of months ago, Moniker Inc. was purchased by a mainland European company called Key Systems. Along with this purchase, the entirety of the Domain management control panel was “revamped”. This revamp was the subject of much abuse and complaint across the internet.
We initially had no major problems. Our portfolio is just over 100 domains that we look after for various clients, and quite frankly, we got quite reliant on their renewal system. Simply put, it was very good. Emails every 90, 60, 30 and 7 days prior to the expiry of a specific domain, in addition to weekly reports. The last email we received from Moniker in this way was on the 31st of May 2014. We were however receiving a new kind of email for a variety of our domains regarding impending renewal, which we were generally happy with.
5 days ago, a .co.uk domain expired out of our Moniker account. There is a bit of internal failure here due to the over reliance on their renewal notification system, and I have since put a stop to that. The question remained though – how did it slip through our fingers?
Well the short answer is that we received no expiry notification regarding that domain. The only way we found out was a notice from Nominet, the UK register for domains, notifying us that the domain had expired. This is the first ever notice like that received unintentionally, I should add.
“No problem”, I thought, it would simply fall into the grace period and we can quickly renew, no real harm done. Typically, registrars offer a grace period for their customers, ranging from a week to a month. It is absolutely discretionary, but I’ve never known it not to be offered. After all, it’s a fairly effective method of customer retention. This freedom is afforded by the registers, by the way.
Sadly, no cigar. I could not renew the domain, as it had disappeared from the account. No trace of it. I even tracked down the initial purchase receipts to prove that we did actually have it within our account. So on the phone to Moniker I go today, after emailing on the 1st and getting no reply. I was advised by David Wong that Moniker affords no grace period to .co.uk domains, and apparently never has done. The latter may be true, I’ve never had to test it out. “What are my options, then?” I asked. By this point I was worried. It was a client domain (who knows about this), and it was important. This was David’s response:
Well now you have to go through the redemption process, at a cost of $125 plus the renewal fee. I can’t promise you that this process will work.
I wasn’t the happiest of bunnies after this news. Reluctantly, I proceeded, knowing this was a failure on our part at the end of the day, and David had given me no other options. Still no answer on why I never got the renewal reminders that are set up in the account.
So I put the phone down and starting looking into why Moniker had so few options in a situation like this. Well, firstly, I found that renewal emails were only being sent for major TLD domains, that is .com, .net, .org etc. No .co.uk domains. I also found NO evidence in the Moniker service agreement regarding zero grace periods on .uk domains, bizarrely. I then realised I could still log in to the Nominet control panel, and attempt a manual transfer to another owner, and optionally, registrar. Bingo. After about 10 minutes, I now have the domain in question safely re-registered with a UK based registrar at a very reasonable cost.
I then started panicking – Moniker are going to go ahead and charge for a redemption! So, a quick email to David Wong, and I also get back on the phone to their support line. I spoke to a very helpful gentleman who expressed joy that I had managed to find another solution. He said he would close the support ticket and the matter would be dropped.
20 minutes later, I received an email from David Wong and an invoice receipt for a payment of $131.95. Wonderful. Included in David’s email was perhaps to most fascinating part of this whole saga, and why Moniker are up there with one of the worst registrars out there now:
The system will not send the domain renew notice, if the domain have auto renew off.
I’m sorry, what? Thankyou and goodnight Moniker, we’re switching to Daily, and we’ll be speaking to our debit card dispute team regarding the illegitimate charge.
To any other users having issues recovering .uk domains with Moniker, goto the Nominet website, and log in with the OWNING address on the domain in question. Request a password if you have never logged in before. Then, you will be able to transfer even an expired domain to someone else. You may have to create another email address and use a different arrangement of the name in the WHOIS record it asks you to fill in, but it will then allow you to change the IPS tag and pull it from Moniker and send to a new registrar. There is a cost of £12, but I felt that was quite reasonable considering what I was faced with.