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07|30|2008 10:33 am EDT

Moniker/Snapnames accidentally sell the wrong domain

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registrars

Imagine the following scenario: A registrant owns a .NET version of your .COM domain and decides to list it with SnapNames. However he mistypes the domain by entering the .COM version in the spreadsheet he sends to his account manager. The account manager then proceeds to move the .COM version of the domain, which is owned by another registrant, from his Moniker account to a SnapNames auction, where the auction is won by a bidder.

No one at SnapNames and Moniker notices the error, until the original registrant of the .COM domain notifies them about the domain name that has disappeared from his account. Upon this notification SnapNames & Moniker took action and nullified the auction to return the name to the original registrant.

Domain Name News has talked to the parties involved in a recent incident where this exact scenario played out.  The party that bought the domain at auction is naturally upset that they no longer own a domain that was bought and transferred to them. The party that originally listed the .com instead of the .net domain admits to making the typographical error in haste and the party that lost the .com is just happy that the domain name was returned to him by Moniker.  SnapNames has admitted the mistake and says it is “developing safety checks we believe will help prevent similar situations”.

How much can a mistake by an employee of your registrar cost you?

What if this name would have been a high value one word generic domain and the owner did not notice the name missing from their portfolio for weeks. The name may have y been transferred to another registrar at that point.

Registrars that also sell domain should seriously consider to put check and balances into place that confirm if the original registrant really intends to sell a specific domain name rather than manually accessing their account and moving the domain name into auction.

What are you doing to monitor your domains for changes? Let Us know in the comments.

You can also read the discussion over this incident over at NamePros.

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13 Comments

Stuart

July 30, 2008 @ 10:47 am EDT

Oops. Perhaps they should have an auto-email generator which verifies with the actual domain name holder if they are moving their domain name into auction. Then, the .com owner would get an email from Moniker asking them to verify they are auctioning the domain name. As you elude to in your article. No brainer.

F.Larry

July 30, 2008 @ 12:56 pm EDT

I agree with Stuart on this, but on the positive side, its an opportunity for the .com owner to make a good sale.

MD.

July 30, 2008 @ 1:54 pm EDT

Wow, this is insane. I will move the domains I have on Moniker to another registrar.

Drew

July 30, 2008 @ 4:00 pm EDT

This is the problem with no firewall between the auction house and the registrar involved.

If the name had been at a registrar not owned by snapname, this wouldn’t have been able to happen.

Conor Neu

July 30, 2008 @ 6:18 pm EDT

It is ridiculous that an auction house sell anything without confirming the seller actually owns a specific piece of property. Often times a true auction house will go beyond that and verify authenticity of a product as well. They will also help bring in the buyers as well, as opposed to piggybacking conferences, but that is a seperate complaint.

Moniker/Snapnames seem to be in it for the quick money, not the business. They have a long way to go before being viewed as reliable auction houses.

AU

July 31, 2008 @ 12:22 am EDT

I had a similar situation with Moniker. I purchased a domain in one of their major auctions and paid for it. Turned out that the seller did not own the domain, my money was refunded and I was not too happy.

I strongly recommended that they implement a simple check as Stuart suggested but I guess that never happened. Even free newsletters require an email confirmation… why wouldn’t someone claiming to sell something worth $1000’s in an auction also be required to do the same?

Mason Cole

July 31, 2008 @ 5:40 pm EDT

Adam and Frank —

This was an unfortunate employee error. Thankfully we reversed the sale and restored the name to the previous registrant. I wanted to assure the two of you and your readers that we’re using the situation as a way to re-examine best practices. I think everyone is aware of SnapNames’ long reputation for integrity — Oversee, SnapNames and Moniker intend to make sure that remains intact.

Adam Strong

August 1, 2008 @ 12:38 am EDT

Thanks for weighing in Mason. This story was reported to us and I am fortunate enough to know all the parties involved and was able to get access to the full story. We followed the trail and talked to all involved in the mess. It’s an important story that points out that bad things do happen even to the best of us. I think it is just as important for registrars/auction houses to implement best practices, as it is for individual domainers. The owner was fortunately watching and caught the error early enough. The situation could have been much worse for the owner and your company(s)

Stephen Douglas

August 1, 2008 @ 8:42 am EDT

Many systems are growing, learning, and adjusting. The honesty of the process is what’s at stake, not the sadness of the buyer who realizes their lottery ticket was misprinted. Moniker and Snapnames are working hard to make their systems strong and dependable. I’ve never had a problem with them, and I’ve sold over 100 domains with them in the last year for good profits.

I understand the concern, and the “suggestions” to fix the problem, but I also know that Mason and his team will be all over this to prevent it from happening again. The unfortunate miscommunication in this case doesn’t diminish the fact that Snapnames and Moniker are at the top of the domain industry service of selling domains in a professional venue.

It’s a story, but nothing to start pulling our hair out. I’d rather talk about Godaddy’s 60 day hold on your domain from a comma change in your whois registration listing. Funny that this issue isn’t talked about heavily.

RichardK

September 5, 2008 @ 12:38 am EDT

Check this out Adam. Monte has listed one of my domains on the TRAFFIC auction list and I didn’t even give him authority to do it. Footballjerseys.com is not for sale !!

RichardK

September 5, 2008 @ 12:53 am EDT

They didn’t even email me to confirm.

monte

September 5, 2008 @ 12:27 pm EDT

all names are validated before the auction. none of the names were sold here that were not owned. the forwarding to sites noted above have nothing to do with moniker…the owner has the right to forward domains to any site they want to.

the names on the list are initial names considered for auction only…they are only considered and it is clearly stated on the email and notices

before auction, any names that do not match owner info are pulled and fall into our erroneous submission policy and process….that is why we have it.

thanks

dch

September 10, 2008 @ 3:33 pm EDT

monte, I am sure Richard appreciates your heartfelt apology above. Your respect for domain owners shines through with every word.

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