Dynadot

GoDaddy is *verifiably lying* about a completed auction they "cancelled"...

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PJ Baldwin

Established Member
Impact
112
I've purchased hundreds of domains through auctions/aftermarket platforms, but I've never seen anything like this before...

Here's a timeline of what happened...

• On August 27, I was the winning bidder of a domain through GoDaddy Auctions (GDA).

Within 48 hours, the seller (current registrar) updated the registrant to "Afternic on behalf of domain buyer" to signify that it's ready to be transferred by the auctioneer (which is typical for completed domain auctions, per my experience).

• 8 days later, however, I noticed the domain still hadn't been delivered to my GD account (nor had I received any emails or updates from GDA about it).

• So, I checked Whois (again) and noticed the domain had gone into redemption (at the registry-level) 7 days after the auction ended (because the 45-day auto-renew grace period had passed).

• I contacted the seller (current registrar) and confirmed with their support team that this happened because GoDaddy never initiated the transfer, and consequently the domain just sat there and eventually went to redemption.

• I then contacted GoDaddy to let them know that they allowed the domain to go to redemption, and therefore needed to redeem and transfer it to fulfill the transaction/agreement that took place through their auction platform. (Keep in mind, GoDaddy Auctions doesn't have phone support, only email). Two days later, GoDaddy's support team finally replied to my detailed email with a canned response of: "We regret to inform you that we had to cancel the auction transaction, as the partner registrar of this expired domain auction has advised they would not be able to provide the domain. This could be because the previous owner renewed the domain name, or because there's some kind of hold or legal dispute, which makes it impossible to provide the domain to us (even though we do appear as the current registrant). As this is the case, we have proceeded to issue you a refund." ... In other words, "It's the seller's fault, not ours, so we'll just cancel the transaction, 10 days after the fact, and refund your money."

• So, I contacted the current registrar (again) to confirm that they're still willing and able to transfer the domain to GoDaddy/Afternic (the current registrant). Their support team responded with "Yes, this particular domain is ready to be redeemed and transferred by the registrant. There is no hold on this domain, nor is there anything that prevents the registrant, Afternic, from redeeming and then transferring it to GoDaddy."

• Then I contacted GoDaddy Auctions (again) letting them know that they lied (verifiably) about the seller being unable or unwilling to transfer the domain. I explained to them that they are still the current registrant ("Afternic on behalf of domain buyer") and that the current registrar confirmed that they're ready to complete the transaction upon the registrant's (GD/Afternic's) request to redeem and transfer the domain.

• After 72 more hours, GoDaddy eventually responded with another verifiable lie and bogus excuse: "Your concern was discussed and further investigated. We have reviewed with our internal and external partners on the ability to secure the name for you. At this time, we can confirm that the contact information was updated prematurely. I do regret to inform you that we have confirmed that this domain is not currently able to be captured on your behalf and we are unable to provide any more specific information on the underlying reasoning. There are several reasons which can cause a domain to become unavailable; therefore, these types of auction sales cannot be guaranteed." ... In other words, "We looked into it and confirmed that we won't transfer the domain, and we will not explain why."

To summarize in one paragraph...

A buyer and seller reached an agreement through GoDaddy Auctions. The seller then updated the registrant to "Afternic on behalf of domain buyer" and confirmed that it's still waiting to transfer the domain to GoDaddy (per the agreement). GoDaddy, however, when being confronted on their lie that the seller was blocking the transaction, changed their story to "The contact information was updated prematurely, and we have confirmed this domain cannot be captured on your behalf, and we are unable to provide any specific information on the underlying reasoning."


As a domainer, how would you feel if this happened to you with a domain you care about? And if you really wanted the domain (and didn't want to risk trying to catch it on the drop), what recourse would you consider pursuing?... I suppose I could lawyer up, but then there would be legal fees, plus the matter needs to be settled within ~25 days (before the end of the redemption period).

Last but not least, I've learned a valuable lesson from this, which I hope my fellow domainers here on NamePros can benefit from: Never assume or trust that an auctioneer (in particular, GoDaddy) will honor their agreement by transferring a domain that you won at auction. And if they give you an excuse of "the current registrar won't transfer it to us...", call the registrar to confirm whether that's actually the case. It's possible (if not likely) that GoDaddy simply neglected to transfer it in time, then didn't want to pay the redemption fee to fix their own mistake. I buy a lot of domains through auction, so I could have easily overlooked this (and only noticed it after the domain dropped and got picked up by someone else). Because of this, I'm about to review all of my previously won auctions to ensure sure that I actually received all of the domains. Some of them could have been "lost in the shuffle" as I described above, without noticing it (as a higher-volume domainer).

As far as this domain, I'm going to try one last option to get GoDaddy to honor the agreement and do the right thing. If that doesn't work, I'll consider getting my lawyer involved... My other option is to try to pick it up on the drop, but there's no guarantee of that, plus I want to preserve its original registration date.

I know this was a long post, so thanks for reading... and I welcome any feedback and/or suggestions.

(Note to mods: This story should be of general interest to domainers, and offers a valuable lesson that applies to all types of domain acquisition (for higher-volume domainers). It also raises some interesting legal questions about a domain buyer's rights, and broker/auctioneer's obligations, after a sale/agreement as been reached. And to be clear, this is not a review of GDA or Afternic, nor is the underlying legal matter of a buyer/seller's rights and aftermarket/auctioneer's obligations specific to either of those companies. In other words, this topic is suited for general, wide-ranging discussion appropriate for the current forum. Thank you.)
 
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bmugford

www.DataCube.comTop Contributor
Impact
42,443
I have no idea what went on here. @Joe Styler can you look into this?

Brad
 

PJ Baldwin

Established Member
Impact
112
I have no idea what went on here. @Joe Styler can you look into this?

Brad

It's clear what happened... GoDaddy mistakenly (through some error or oversight) did not transfer the domain like it was supposed to, so it just sat at the current registrar for 7 days until it eventually went into redemption (which happens automatically at the registry level after the 45-day auto-renew grace period passes).

Now, GoDaddy doesn't want to pay the fee to redeem the domain, so that it can be transferred. Instead, they're making up a bogus excuse about the "seller being unwilling to transfer it", which is verifiably false. I confirmed with the seller (current registrar) directly that they are willing and able to transfer the domain to GoDaddy, once it's redeemed.

Keep in mind, by ICANN rule, only the current registrant can redeem or initiate a transfer. The current registrant is "Afternic on behalf of domain buyer", which means Afternic/GoDaddy have to initiate the redemption and transfer request.

Also, the rights to the domain are mine, as acknowledged by the seller changing the registrant to "on behalf of domain buyer" after completion of the auction. Essentially, GD/Afternic is merely a "custodian" at this point, whose sole purpose is to facilitate the transfer from seller to buyer. Instead, they're making up lies about the seller as an excuse to avoid fixing their own mistake.

What's more shameful (yet understandable, since they're lying) is that they will not provide an explanation. "We confirmed that we won't transfer it, and will not provide any reasoning or rationale for why." That was after I called them out for their previous lie.

It's completely unacceptable.
 

PJ Baldwin

Established Member
Impact
112
I have no idea what went on here. @Joe Styler can you look into this?

Brad

Also, if @Joe Styler wants to help resolve this matter quickly, I have a proposal that would make things easier for all parties...

As mentioned previously, the current registrant is "Afternic on behalf of domain buyer" (with email-address auctions[at]godaddy.com).

As the "domain buyer" it's registered on behalf of, I could create an account at the current registrar, and all GDA would have to do is inform the registrar that the account belongs to the "domain buyer", and that the domain should be moved to that account so that the buyer (myself) can redeem and transfer it through that account (GD refers to this as an "account transfer").

To be clear, I'm willing to pay the redemption fee, even though GD is at fault, since it happens to be very close to the amount I paid for the domain at auction (which GD recently refunded, unilaterally, without the buyer or seller's consent).

I believe this is a more-than-fair offer to settle this matter easily and amicably.

And afterward, GD can investigate why it neglected to transfer the domain in the first place... so that it doesn't happen to another buyer/customer and seller/registrar.
 

jberryhill

Top Contributor
John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq.
Impact
6,494
It's clear what happened... GoDaddy mistakenly (through some error or oversight) did not transfer the domain like it was supposed to, so it just sat at the current registrar for 7 days until it eventually went into redemption (which happens automatically at the registry level after the 45-day auto-renew grace period passes).

Now, GoDaddy doesn't want to pay the fee to redeem the domain, so that it can be transferred.

That's what it sounds like. Unlike many of these variety of posts, this one has enough of the relevant details. GoDaddy probably doesn't have a way to pay that easily.

GoDaddy is generally a slow payer of bills, so I would imagine it is nigh unto impossible for the wheels of their bureaucracy to act on something like this promptly. So it is simply easier for them to make up some bullshit.
 

PJ Baldwin

Established Member
Impact
112
That's what it sounds like. Unlike many of these variety of posts, this one has enough of the relevant details. GoDaddy probably doesn't have a way to pay that easily.

GoDaddy is generally a slow payer of bills, so I would imagine it is nigh unto impossible for the wheels of their bureaucracy to act on something like this promptly. So it is simply easier for them to make up some bullshit.

Is there someone in the NamePros community with enough clout at GoDaddy to help resolve this?

The domain went to redemption, and now GDA is blaming the seller (current registrar) while the seller is blaming GDA for allowing it to happen (i.e. not initiating the transfer)... and me (the buyer) is getting shafted.

At this point, I don't care whose fault it was, and I will pay the redemption fee myself.

As I mentioned before, what I'm proposing to resolve this is simply: GD/Afternic (as the current registrant "...on behalf of domain buyer") could instruct the registrar to move the domain (internally) to an account that I control so that I can redeem it directly through the current registrar. Some registrars (including GD) refer to such an internal move/transfer as an "account change" or "account transfer", and it seems appropriate since the domain is registered to "Afternic on behalf of domain buyer". In other words, they don't own the domain, they're just the custodian responsible for transferring it to the buyer.

Again, all GDA would have to do is send an email to <support @ [the-selling-registrar].com> with that instruction.

There has to be someone here (at NP) who works for GoDaddy/GDA and could help me, as the customer, not get screwed by an error/oversight/dispute between GDA and the seller. Again, I'm willing to pay the redemption fee.
 

PJ Baldwin

Established Member
Impact
112
That's what it sounds like. Unlike many of these variety of posts, this one has enough of the relevant details. GoDaddy probably doesn't have a way to pay that easily.

GoDaddy is generally a slow payer of bills, so I would imagine it is nigh unto impossible for the wheels of their bureaucracy to act on something like this promptly. So it is simply easier for them to make up some bullshit.

One last thing I should note... This domain does not have much value. I won it (sniped it) in the closeouts for $50.

The vast majority of domains I buy at auction (or catch on the drop) are as investments, but this relatively obscure domain happens to be one that I intend to use myself. That's why I care.

In all likelihood, I could probably catch it on the drop (with DC and NJ) but there's no guarantee of that, and I don't want to risk losing it. Furthermore, I prefer to keep the original registration date.
 

Joe Styler

Aftermarket Product ManagerTop Contributor
GoDaddy Staff
Afternic Staff
Impact
4,781
I don't think anyone lied to you. This is going to be my only response and I'll be as clear as I can and explain as much as I can around it. I really don't like the accusation that the company is lying to you. They wouldn't do that. They may make errors but no one is going to flat out lie and stay employed here.

We're not going to give you the domain and that boiler plate response does cover the issue in question. I've spent the last two weeks working closely with different partners who we had to resolve issues with over the fulfillment of domains. Any domains we could deliver we did. Any we could not we didn't so yours would fall into the latter category. We do our best to deliver any domain we sell from anywhere we sell it. Sometimes things happen that do not allow for that.

We are definitely not in a position to redeem the domain at another company and it would seem neither are they or they would have delivered it to us so we could both make money and our customer would be happy.

You cannot call into regular support and ask if a domain can be redeemed and expect that answer to be the same as can this domain be delivered to an auction winner at another company.

At a very high level we get lists of domains from partners, we load them for sale, they get bids, and the sell or do not sell. Once sold we ask them to give us the domains via a transfer and either they do or they do not. If they do we deliver them to the buyers if they do not we cancel them and refund them. It is in everyone's best interest to deliver domains and there are contractual obligations in place for such delivery and to keep the names that cannot be delivered under a certain threshold. It is a pretty small percentage.

I work closely with the management and development teams at the partners and we work together to deliver anything we can even if/when errors happen.

Redeeming a domain to deliver it to someone is in almost all cases a non-starter. It is going to take some kind of act of God or court order for most registrars to do that. If it were registered to you it's no problem if it's registered to another party it is a big problem and thus support probably thought that you were the registrant trying to renew it when you asked. The front line team doesn't have the knowledge of how an auction fulfillment works. Most people on this forum do not have an idea of the legal aspects and ICANN policy requirements on a domain transfer let alone a front line support agent at a registrar. I think a lot of the people on Namepros probably know as much as if not more than a front line support agent at a registrar. It is not saying anything bad about the support teams just a point in fact that as someone who spends every day working in domains for the past almost 20 years I still don't know all the rules and am always learning something new.

What happens in an auction sale with a partner is we ask them if they can give us the domain and they say yes or no. There are times when something comes up outside of the normal transfer process that can stop them from giving us a domain. An error on their part, a billing issue, a death, a court issue, a TM issue etc, there's a lot of things that can impact the transfer for an auction that wouldn't necessarily stop the original registrant from redeeming the domain.

Even if nothing legal or ethical were stopping the redemption and transfer it is still almost certain that it won't happen at any registrar. Part of what has to happen in a redemption of a domain is that you need to notify the registrant that the domain that it was redeemed. After it is redeemed it is no longer expired, that brings up some tricky legal issues of who the owner is at the time of sale now. You need to redeem it in almost all cases in the original registrant's name and you have to inform them that you have done so. Then once the name is in good standing again in the original registrant's name you would have to transfer it away which would also necessitate notifying the original owner/ registrant of the domain now that it is no longer expired. So even putting aside the legal issues of renewing a domain in a person's account in their name and then taking it away from them to sell it, you have P.R. issues of having to, by policy, tell the registrant you renewed their domain and then tell them soon after you transferred it away from them.

So there is no way in almost all cases anyone is going to do what you are asking. No one lied to you, we ask the selling partner to give us the domain they either say yes or no. If they say no or are unable to otherwise transfer it to us you get a refund that is how the auction works.

We do our best to fulfill any domains that sell. We are able to deliver almost all of them and with the changes I have been working on implementing over the past few months we will see less and less domains that are won not be fulfilled even out of the small percentage that were previously renewed post auction. That margin is continuing to shrink and we are fulfilling more names this year than last. It is obviously very important to all parties involved to make this happen and something I take very seriously.
 
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Impact
5,711
You need to redeem it in almost all cases in the original registrant's name and you have to inform them that you have done so
In current case, the ownership was changed to afternic before deletion, so the registrar would have to inform GoDaddy that their domain was reedemed it seems... No issues here imo
 

jberryhill

Top Contributor
John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq.
Impact
6,494
In current case, the ownership was changed to afternic before deletion, so the registrar would have to inform GoDaddy that their domain was reedemed it seems... No issues here imo


https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/errp-2013-02-28-en


1. Registrant at Expiration

1.1. A Registrant at Expiration ("RAE") is defined as the registered name holder who is eligible to renew a domain name registration immediately prior to its expiration.

1.2. If a domain name registration is modified pursuant to a term of the registration agreement authorizing the modification of registration data in relation to the expiration of the registration, the RAE is the entity or individual identified as the registered name holder immediately prior to that modification. In all other cases of transfers of gTLD registrations between registrants, the registered name holder who receives the registration is the RAE.

...


3. Redemption Grace Period

3.1. With the exception of sponsored gTLD registries, all gTLD registries must offer a Redemption Grace Period ("RGP") of 30 days immediately following the deletion of a registration, during which time the deleted registration may be restored at the request of the RAE by the registrar that deleted it. Registrations deleted during a registry's add-grace period, if applicable, should not be subject to the RGP.

3.2. During the Redemption Grace Period, the registry must disable DNS resolution and prohibit attempted transfers of the registration. ICANN-approved bulk transfers and permitted partial bulk transfers are not subject to the prohibition of attempted transfers. The registry must also clearly indicate in its Whois result for the registration that it is in its Redemption Grace Period.

3.3. Registrars must permit the RAE to redeem a deleted registration during RGP (if RGP is offered by the respective registry).

-----

A lot of folks read that as saying that only the RAE can redeem the name. However, the policy doesn't say that. it say it "may be restored at the request of the RAE" and that registrars "must permit the RAE to redeem a deleted registration", but that doesn't exclude other possibilities.

If I "may provide Bob with ice cream" or I "must provide Bob with ice cream", neither of those formulations prohibits me from providing Jim, John or Jane with ice cream.

Quite obviously, the .com registry doesn't care who was the RAE or the current registrant, because the .com registry never knows who is the registrant in the first place.

So, the more important question are the terms of the unidentified "current registrar" implementation of the RGP. As the thread does not identify that registrar, then we can't answer that question. However, it does appear that the "current registrar" was ready wiling and able to do so on behalf of the then-current registrant, Afternic. However, Mr. Styler's comments might be relevant to GoDaddy's implementation of the RGP, but GoDaddy does not appear to be the relevant registrar in the scenario described.
 
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jberryhill

Top Contributor
John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq.
Impact
6,494
But, expecting sense out of a system which does this is asking a lot:

Screen Shot 2022-09-21 at 4.17.06 PM.png



Screen Shot 2022-09-21 at 4.17.15 PM.png
 
Impact
843
Sadly, this has been happening more often than it should lately and it's quite frustrating.

I've had numerous failed auction deliveries from multiple expiry partners this past year. (TUCOWS, Uniregistry, FastDomain to name a few.)

Not only are we losing investments, but the time invested in researching each one as well.

For many, this time adds up very quickly and to watch your investments further expire and slip into redemption as a result of someone else's failure, further fuels the frustration.

If the domains are with Godaddy and you speak to the right person, (not low level auction support,) they'll do their best to get you the domain.

However, when it comes to partner registrars, forget about it, there isn't much anyone can do once it hits the redemption phase. It just becomes a waiting game for you and the dropcatcher.

With such a small delivery window and the increased number of bugs & glitches that plague their platforms, one would think they'd have better system or at least better people in place to oversee and prevent this from happening, but they don't.

Unfortunately, when it comes to auctions, it's still the Wild West.