Transferring Names To GoDaddy – 30 Day Gotcha

Update 090709: FIXED! Just noticed that a domain transfer I purchased didn’t actually initiate. I didn’t receive the usual request for the Transaction ID and Security Code that GoDaddy uses to begin the transfer procedure. Checking the status of my transfer I see a new bit of information there,

The transfer cannot be processed because the registry will not allow the domain to be transferred at this time. Most registries do not allow a domain to be transferred for a 60 day period after registration or prior transfer. This will be reprocessed automatically when the domain is eligible for transfer.

Excellent! It would appear that GoDaddy has come up with an elegant solution, simply do not initiate the transfer process until the domain is eligible. Thank You GoDaddy!

Update 073009: Got me again! Almost. I got the generic ‘update your ICANN info’ email from a registrar where a domain I’d won in auction was registered. Thing is, I thought I’d transferred the domain to GoDaddy months ago. (Helps to keep copies of my receipts… ) Yes I’d purchased a domain transfer back in January. I had one email notifying me that the transfer had failed.  But that’s it. No doubt I let it sit because, GoDaddy used to re-try the transfers later on. Anyway, I got on the phone and a very helpful support guy found the transaction, refunded my money and re-instated the transfer. He thought the refund SHOULD have been automatic. I’ve since re-confirmed with a supervisor that FAILED TRANSFER ORDER REFUNDS NEED TO BE  PROCESSED MANUALLY.

Just a heads up on what in my opinion is an annoying bug in the GoDaddy domain transfer process. Your domain transfer (this is a product you purchase from GoDaddy for $6.99) will expire after 30 days unless the transfer completes. You will be informed via email that the transfer didn’t go through. But you will not (as of 062609) be informed that GoDaddy has dropped your domain transfer and that it is no longer in your account. You will not get an email notifying you that your transfer has been dropped. YOU WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY GET A REFUND. So for example, if you win a deleting name through SnapNames (or whoever), and wish to transfer the name to GoDaddy, DO NOT INITIATE THE TRANSFER BEFORE 30 DAYS HAS PASSED. Because the domain cannot transfer for 60 days (ICANN rule) you run the risk of throwing away your money, or, as in my case, an hour on the phone at your expense to GoDaddy support getting your refund (I was told to call, too complicated for email).
I was told by a supervisor that expiration of a transfer after 30 days is stated in the Domain Name Transfer agreement you have the option of reading at Checkout. And so it is.

2. Failed or Rejected Transfer Requests
Go Daddy may elect to accept or reject Your domain name transfer application for any reason at its sole discretion. Rejections may include, but are not limited to:

  • The current Registrar rejected the transfer;
  • The original registration took place less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request;
  • The domain name has been placed in a locked status by either the Registry or by the losing registrar;
  • The domain was transferred to Go Daddy less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request;
  • The domain name expired but was not renewed;
  • The domain name expired and was renewed during the forty-five (45) day grace period and the forty-five (45) day grace period has not yet passed;
  • The Domain Name Registrant was changed less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request;
  • Any pending bankruptcy of the current domain name holder;
  • Any dispute over the identity of the domain name holder;
  • Any situation described in the Dispute Policy; or
  • Transfer orders over thirty (30) days old.

I was also told by the supervisor that refunds are at the descretion of GoDaddy but that they almost always do.

I guess the reason this is so frustrating is because I remember when GoDaddy would attempt to make the transfer UNTIL THE TRANSFER COMPLETED, i.e I could initiate the transfer after acquiring a domain and after entering the authorization codes, forget about it. Eventually, some 60+ days later, I would get an email confirming the transfer. Anyhow, that is no longer the situation.

Not just to whine. By and large GoDaddy works for me. In this situation though I would recommend:

1. Make mention of the transfer having to complete within 30 days at the point of purchase – not buried away in the legal agreement
2. The email that states a failure to transfer just prior to the passing of 30 days should offer a method to either re-initiate the transfer, or obtain a refund.

But why is it that in 2009, we, YOUR CUSTOMERS, are STILL perceived to be annoying, have-to-deal-with-them, sources of aggravation. The experience I had with GoDaddy, or rather, the feedback I had to provide as a result of my experience, IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR COMPANY THRIVE!. Customer service is the new black. This is what it looks like….

SouthBySouthWest 031409 Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh keynote audio (right click to downlaod) click triangle to listen.

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The Drop

“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic anxiety disorder most commonly characterized by obsessive, distressing, intrusive thoughts and related compulsions (tasks or “rituals”) which attempt to neutralize the obsessions.” (Wikipedia)

If you’re an OCD domainer (OCDomainer.com available as of 10/17/08) the ‘Drop’ is very likely to become a ritual you feel compelled to perform daily. Ask me how I know. The Drop has all the ingredients necessary to inspire a full-blown obsession. It’s seductive. There’s the mystery–information is a little hard to come by. It’s full of possibility–”With my special knowledge around the topic of (DNA Gene Sequencing, Farley Torque Sprockets, Gaspers) I might discover the Dropping Gem that will catapult me into the sphere of Elite Domainers! (You picture yourself shaking Frank’s hand). Maybe you stumble upon a story of catching an expired name, like this one, (It’s a little dated, add NameJet.com to the list of back-ordering services, but still the best overview I’ve come across). Or maybe you stumble upon a site like DropDude.com or GoDrops.com – a lot of action going on here with The Drop. It could be a forum post, where you read someone nonchalantly boasting about catching ‘spareparts.com’ in The Drop for Reg. fee. “Maybe I should look into this!”.

So you start collecting details and one day you hit a goldmine of drop information like these posts from DotWeekly.com:
Domain Name Drop Times and Partner Domains, and Tips for using Redrops.com. Inspiration! Maybe this ‘insider seeming’ info will help open the gates to Domain Riches!

However you come to it, sooner or later you end up with a very long list of deleting domains on your screen. A VERY long list.

And one morning around 11am PDT you start loading your names into GoDaddy’s bulk checker 500 at a time. Harvesting the Availables you scan them for desirability. Whew! What a load of junk! Who would have registered this crap in the first place? No wonder they’re dropping. Wait, what’s that? NewportBeachPizzas.com? Hmm… would this be a good candidate for my ‘Geo Portfolio’? Let’s Reg it! Oops, gone already.

A couple of days (weeks, months) of this and you’re thinking, “There’s got to be a better way. Maybe I should look for the names I want first and only try to catch those!” So begins the search for a method to massage that list into something useful, hopefully valuable.

You get lucky and the first site you find is one of the best, LazyMate.com. Or you mess around with spreadsheets and bang your head against Excel’s raw ugliness. Maybe you have a favorite text editor that lets you search using Grep. Finally, poking around in tomorrow’s list you discover a couple of domains anybody would want. And a few dozen more that you’d have to think twice about.

Round 2. 11am PDT. GoDaddy bulk checker at the ready. And they’re off! Over the next hour you plug your list into the checker over and over waiting/hoping one of the names you covet will become available long enough for you to register it. But, unless you’re looking for some pretty obscure stuff, you don’t. Somebody else gets them. “Who’s getting these great names? It’s like Free Money falling from the sky.” Who indeed!

Inside a Drop Catcher’s War Room Command Post! War Room! Quite a bit of competition for these dropping names (and that was written in 2004). I guess I’m a little behind the curve. The Big Boys have Armies of Servers at their disposal. So what are they leaving on the table?

This takes you to the next tier of The Drop– Back-Ordering companies, who for a fee, will use their army of servers to try and grab the domain you want as it drops. They’re in competition against each other, so if you want that name you’ll register it at all of them, or at least the big three: SnapNames, NameJet, and Pool. If you’re the only bidder and your back order gets won, congratulations, you become the new owner of the domain. But if more than one person had the domain on back-order then the domain enters into auction and you may well find yourself bidding against some very deep pockets. I got lucky a few times–grabbed a domain that wasn’t on anyone else’s radar for $60. Spent more money than I wanted to a couple of times– $400 I couldn’t afford for a development domain I still have parked a year later. And got blown out of the bidding immediately a few times where a domain I thought might be under the radar had been spotted by a dozen deep-pocket domainers who bid it way out of my league.

But with so many domains dropping daily there MUST be great names falling between the cracks, so what else are the ‘little guys’ doing with The Drop?

Aha! There are scripts and an API! And DomainResearchTool (alas, PC only)– Scan large lists looking for expired domains with traffic! You can run your own version of the War Room! No more manual GoDaddy submissions. DropDude offers the Dynadot Drop Catcher. (Also check out Jason’s article on his business model, The Flip). See how it’s done live with other domainers at GoDrop’s Live Chat and Drop. I also signed up for the daily list of best-of-available-drops emailed 3 times a week from DailyDomainDrop.com.

So what are these guys catching? Good stuff? Well… I guess it depends on how you measure the results, right? If you measure it by ROI, then Jason at DropDude, using his self-hosted script method, scoring mostly Premium LLLL.nets, is probably doing pretty good. He seems to be making about 200% on an $8 name, i.e. flipping it for $20-30 without too much trouble. The other guys I mention seem to be more about building inventory than flipping. Domain inventory might turn out to have some value. Or it might not.

Here’s a short list of the kind of domains people are catching off The Drop themselves with their various methods.

DropDude
“The 4 I grabbed were, elnt.net, lghg.net, rgfc.net and thcb.net.”
“I got lucky today, picked up 8 quad premium llll.net domain names. I am already looking to unload them at my standard $9 price tag. These small sales are what helps me fund other projects like the one I started yesterday.”
“I grabbed dumpsterdivers.net yesterday and have already started it on it’s way to a money making mini-site.”

GoDrops (See also: GoDrops Grabs)
babyheadstart.com, fasthandyman.com, excellentringtones.com, 17452.com, d-w-a.net, publicsurf.com
17164.com, 30997.com, tintwindow.com, 5051.net, geobabes.com, beerscore.com, f-d-a.net, humboo.com

DailyDomainDrops (List published as available drops).
DialogueBlog.com, GeoPatrol.com, HiTechAnalyst.com, LiveSeeker.com, MemberCam.com
SatelliteEye.com, ScottsdaleEstatePlanning.com, SoCalNights.com, IsraelAccommodations.com
BritainAccommodations.com, GreatBritainAccommodations.com, GreenerClothes.com
GreenRecreation.com, YourAnchorage.com, YourProvidence.com, YourSaltLakeCity.com

And on and on.
Now, I didn’t call my blog DomainNoob for nothing. Frankly I’m not making ANY money domaining (apart from a tiny bit of Parked PPC) so what do I know? But personally, I’m sort of baffled by a lot of the attention paid to these long-tail double keyword domains, and also the whole LLLL phenomenon. I don’t really get this part of the market. I look at the auction lists and understand why those names are going for big bucks. I subscribe to Rick Latona‘s Daily Domains Newsletter, and the prices for those domains make sense. It’s just this short end of the marketplace that I’m not making any sense of.
And if these are the kinds of domains I’m going to find left over between the cracks after combing through deleting domain lists until my eyes bleed I have to ask myself–Is it really worth the trouble?
What do you think?