Moniker Deactivated My Domain 26 Days BEFORE The Expiration Date
We've all seen domains people have forgotten to renew. A high profile one was rubyonrails.org in 2009. We chuckle and think "Oh dear! I bet I wouldn't forget something like that!" but it turns out that some registrars will cut you off without you forgetting a thing..
On December 31, 2009, I came up with a name for my new coding news site - coder.io - and registered the domain name at Moniker.com. Few registrars do
.io domains and Moniker seemed the most reputable. As their control panel and their frequent update e-mails stressed, coder.io expires on December 31, 2010, so I had it in my calendar to renew mid-December.
Today (December 5, 2010) I received several tweets and e-mails from users asking why I've taken coder.io offline and lamenting its loss (aww!). I went to
http://coder.io/ and saw a "parked domain" page full of ads:
I looked up the WHOIS record (all fine and dandy) and logged in to Moniker's control panel to work out what had happened:
The Moniker control panel showed the expiration date as December 31, 2010, yet had it listed in the Pending Delete section. This is where domains go when they are not renewed by the renewal date but not 26 whole days before! The only solution available was to renew the domain immediately - so I did. Despite that, over an hour later coder.io is not working, though it's not going to a PPC ads page anymore at least - I hope it will burst back into action soon.
The crux of the matter, though, is Moniker deactivated a customer's domain name 26 days before renewal was due. If you're thinking of using Moniker or use them already and want a proper registrar, for most TLDs I'd recommend NameCheap, as they've been good to me and I have many tens of domains there. For .io domains? I'm stuck at Moniker for now but I Want My Name has been recommended to me and I'll be checking them out once the dust settles.
P.S. I'm not looking for general registrar recommendations - I like NameCheap! But if you have a .io domain and are happy with your registrar, I'm all ears.
Update 1- Moniker Replies and their Terms of Service
It was suggested that I hit up Moniker's customer service agent on Twitter - @MonikerSnap. So I did, and I got a response too (credit to them for being helpful, at least):
The link is to Moniker's Domain Name Deletion and Auto-Renew Details page. It explains little. It's basically a chart of times for different TLDs that Moniker will process an auto-renewal (if you have this turned on - I don't) and when Moniker will "delete" domains. For .io, the auto-renewal is 60 days prior to expiration and the deletion is 6 days prior to expiration.
I take issue that a registrar has the right to delete a domain name prior to the expiration date, as that makes a mockery of what an "expiration date" is. But ignoring that, 26 days still isn't 6 and even Moniker's own Terms of Service that I agreed to demonstrate Moniker's violation (from paragraph 6 - emphasis is mine):
You agree that after the expiration date of your domain name registration and before it is deleted or renewed, we may direct your domain name to an IP address designated by us, including, without limitation, to an IP address which hosts a parking, under construction, or other temporary page that may include promotions and advertisements for, and links to, Moniker's Web site, Moniker product and service offerings, third-party Web sites, third-party product and service offerings, and/or Internet search engines and/or advertisements, and you agree that we may place our contact information in the WHOIS output for the expired domain name.
I agreed that after the expiration date, they can do the typical registrar thing of redirecting my domain name to their parked domain advertising page, not 26 days before. Moniker's TOS stands for nothing.
Moniker's Domain Name Deletion and Auto-Renew Policy provides no more defense for them. They state:
At Moniker.com, domain names are registered for fixed periods and are subject to renewal any time during a valid registration prior to the domain registration expiration date.
I had planned to renew mid December and this is clearly "prior to the domain registration expiration date" of December 31, 2010. They also state:
If a customer does not renew a domain name registration by the expiration date, the registration may be subject to deletion [..]
Perhaps Moniker or someone else can prove me wrong, but I can find no basis for them to deactivate people's domains 26 days before they even expire.
P.S. It's now 6 hours after I renewed and Google's DNS is still returning the IP for Oversee/Moniker's parked domain server. Not cool. We've now been "down" over 14 hours. However, OpenDNS's cache checker and more direct querying yields success. Maybe this part is a Google issue..
Update 2 - My Theory
I suspect that because the
.io TLD is managed by a small, independent registry, registrars like Moniker have to fit in with weird payment terms or even file renewals and registrations by hand. Given this, Moniker would prefer to auto renew you 60 days prior to expiry in order to guarantee they have the money in hand for the process. I can sympathize with this and if I'd had an e-mail noting my domain was not safe to the expiry date, I'd have renewed early. But I had no such e-mail and their TOS do not, by my reading, reflect this possibility.