By Dan Lhotka

Pay Attention! and I’m back!

Pay Attention! And I’m back!

Welcome, dear readers! I know it’s been a while since I last posted in my blog. Well, I am back writing again, and I have something that came up recently that I want to share.

So in the early days of the Internet, Network Solutions was the go-to registrar company. This was primarily due to the fact that they were the first domain name registrar, they were geared towards business, and in general were easy to work with. Their website makes it easy to setup and configure domain names, and to modify DNS, and do all the other things that a registrar provides. My parent’s domain name is on Network Solutions, and many of our older clients are still using Network Solutions for domain registration and DNS.
However, I had something happen recently that has made me start to think about moving away from them.

I had a client that wanted a new domain name. I was going to setup email services on this new domain name, and use it as the primary repository for email going forward with this client. Simple thing. We signed up for the domain using Network Solutions. I setup the A records and MX records, and then configured the email service to use this domain name. All was working as expected until the end of the month, when due to a bit of miscommunication, the bill for the domain name was declined.

One day later, email suddenly stopped working. I checked the settings, and found that the MX records were changed, and the A records for the domain were pointing to an Under Construction page. I called Network Solutions about the issue, and they told me that the domain name has been released and that another company has purchased the domain name. The company in question is called New Venture Services Corp. I checked the Whois information for the domain, and confirmed that this other company now owns the domain. Knowing that it will take time to sort out the domain name problem, I decided to setup the client with a new domain name. Within the course of a day, I bought a new domain name, changed the mail server’s MX records to point to that domain, and got email working again.

Once that was done, a whole new nightmare awaited me in order to get the old domain name back. I researched the issue and New Venture Services, and found that they were owned by also owns Network Solutions. I contacted New Venture Services Corp, and found that they wanted $300 to sell the domain back to us.
This method of buying a domain name and then ransoming it to a company that might want it for an exorbitant amount is called cybersquatting.

So what happened is this –

1. The domain was released to the public
2. Network Solutions sold the domain immediately to New Venture Services (who probably has a standing contract with NS to buy all the domains that are returned or expired for almost nothing)
3. New Venture Services charges a premium to sell the domain back.
Legal, but very shady.

I found several different forums that talk about the same thing happening to other people –

Interesting reads, and a serious rabbit hole to fall down.

Bottom line – Pay Attention!

Make sure your domain isn’t set to expire for a very long time. Create Calendar entries to remind you when registration is coming up. Make sure you have valid credit card information entered in.

At this point, I recommend against using Network Solutions for new domain names. Godaddy is terrible, but they at least give you 45 days to renew if your domain runs out.

Oh and by the way – about 3 months after this whole thing happened, Network Solutions sent my client an email warning them about the practice of Cybersquatting.