ICANN / VeriSign Redemption Period Farce!
When I first heard about the plans for a redemption period for expired domain names, I thought it was a terrific idea. In the past, too many domains have been deleted when for one reason or another, the owners wanted to continue using them.
If you haven't yet heard about the redemption period (also known as "grace period"), it is an extra period of up to 30 days that occurs only when a domain registrar deletes a domain name (which normally happens sometime in the first 45 days after a name expires without being renewed). Instead of actually being deleted and re-available for registration within a few days, what happens is the central VeriSign registry holds the name in a new REDEMPTIONPERIOD status. During this 30-day period, the original domain owner has a chance to renew the domain name.
This extra 30-day period is of particular importance, not just because it extends the time available to renew expired domains, but because all names that enter the redemption period are removed from the zone files (the list of domains currently in the global DNS). With the previous system, some registrars removed names from the zone files , whilst others allowed names to continue working normally right up until the day they were deleted. So the actual deletion came as a real shock to many domain name owners, and it was too late to do anything about it.
With the new system, the web site and e-mail services will definitely stop working for at least 30 days before the name is finally deleted, so the owner can have no excuse now for not getting the name renewed.
That's the theory out of the way - it all sounds like a great way to help clean up the domain name industry. So what is the "farce" I refer to in the title? Unfortunately when VeriSign and ICANN get together, they have the habit of reducing good opportunities to improve the industry into farces. And the redemption period fiasco is one of the most extreme examples to date.
Farcical Situation #1
A customer of Network Solutions (the registrar) whose name has entered the redemption period just contacted me. This name is vital to his business. In fact, he believes he will lose his job if he cannot get the name back. So it should be a straightforward matter to pay the renewal fee and recover the name, right? That is the whole point of the new system after all. But no, every time he has contacted Network Solutions (and he has spent several hours on the phone with them) he has been told the same story - i.e. the name is no longer recoverable and will definitely be deleted. The mind is starting to boggle ....
Farcical Situation #2
I have also been contacted by one of my own customers whose name has entered the redemption period. When I made enquiries with the ICANN registrar where the name is held about getting the name back, I was quoted a price of $200 ($85 going to VeriSign registry, the balance going to the registrar). That was the price they were going to charge me. Presumably I was supposed to add my own percentage on top, and charge the customer $250 or above. The mind is really boggling now ...
Shame on the "REDEMPTION PERIOD"
So there you have it - customer #1 is told the redemption period is not for recovering names after all and for customer #2, the name is recoverable but is going to cost him at least $200.
So a chance to clean up the industry has been miraculously replaced with a situation where the industry looks seedier than ever. In fact, it will look to many customers like the new system is just an artifice designed to screw them out of more hard-earned bucks.
Designing and implementing a fair redemption period should have been a walk in the park. But for whatever reason, it hasn't happened. One has to seriously wonder about the structure and integrity of an industry where such a farce is allowed to play itself out.
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