When you started building your website, did your website builder try to sell you on a domain name?
Many of the do-it-yourself website builders offer you free domain name registration. This is a very tempting offer! However, we’re here to tell you that you may regret it.
For these services, domain registration is not their primary business; it’s just something they do on the side, a bonus that they can throw in for free. As such, they don’t always do it well.
We know. We recently spent two months helping a client reclaim his domain name, which was held hostage by a site building company that had no process for domain transfer.
Our Cautionary Tale
The client was a doctor whose domain was registered with a do-it-yourself website builder. An office assistant started the website, then quit her job. We were fortunate enough to be able to help this client create a new website when no one else in the office could complete the project.
Shortly after we launched, the domain name stopped working. I called the old site builder/domain registrar on their help line and was told “We’re so sorry! Our automated registration process didn’t renew your site.” They corrected the issue, but the site was down for half a day.
At this point, we made it a priority to move the domain name to a service that specializes in domain registration. The process to move the domain name took almost two months and at least 3 helpdesk calls, 7 chat conversations, 49 emails (not kidding) between the losing registration organization, gaining organization, the client and 11Web.
To give you an idea of the company’s disastrous lack of domain knowledge and process, here’s a bit of the story:
- I called their technical support and was told I needed to cancel the account before they could release the domain name. I verified that the domain name would remain active until we could get it moved and was assured it would.
- So I called billing to cancel the account. She said that I should call technical support and get the domain moved before I cancelled. I told the billing agent that I had talked to support and they insisted I get the account cancelled before I could get the code. I offered to call technical support again and she graciously assured me that she could cancel the account and the domain would remain active until technical support could give me my transfer code. They refunded the client the balance of their account and I got on the on-line chat before I ended the call as I had been told to do.
- The tech on the chat line said I had to send an email to their support desk and they would email my transfer code. Of course, you have to wait for up to 24 hours for them to process your request.
- About six hours later I received an email from the support representative that there is a problem obtaining the code and the request has been forwarded to their product development team for resolution.
- I sent a request for update 3 days later only to be told it was taking longer than they anticipated.
- I sent a request for update 7 days later. They said since my account had been cancelled, I would have to pay $15.99 to purchase my domain back. Really! I tried calling tech support and the automated line said to send an email to their support email. So I called billing. The guy on the line said “I see why they can’t process it, you have an outstanding invoice for $15.99” Following a long conversation about how that invoice got created after I had been assured everything would be fine, he eventually cancelled the invoice and sent another ticket to their help desk.
- It took us another four weeks and countless emails to get everything else aligned so the transfer could take place.
Ultimately, we were successful in getting the domain transferred to Hover.com, in an account under the doctor’s name. Our client now has full control of the domain. But all of this could have been avoided if had he just registered the domain himself to start with rather than rolling it into a DIY website “bundle.”
11Web’s Domain Recommendations
Don’t Be Swayed By Free — Purchase Your Own Domain Name
Your domain name is a very important business asset, and it is one you should protect by claiming it, paying for it, and managing it yourself from a domain registration company. $15 a year is not a big investment to protect something so important!
We use Hover.com because domain registration is their business, and they don’t try to upsell you on additional features. Their user interface is very simple to navigate.
Make Sure You’ll Receive Renewal Emails 5 Years From Now
We also recommend the you register the domain using an email that is monitored and belongs to the business in general, not an individual who might leave (think email@example.com rather than your marketing manager’s direct email).
A client of ours had to pay a premium to reclaim their domain when expiration notices were sent to an email address that was no longer used. Their site was also down for several days after the domain expired while the transaction was processed.
Your domain name is a very important business asset and it is one you should protect by claiming it and managing it yourself. $15 a year is not a big investment to protect something so important!
If you set yourself up for success from the beginning, you can protect yourself from frustration later. Do yourself a favor, and take charge of your own domain.