GoDaddy denies transfer request and violates ICANN policy

Update – May 5, 2009

I emailed Stacy Burnette from the ICANN compliance committee.  She personally telephoned GoDaddy to resolve the issue.  She said that GoDaddy would be contacting me, but they never did.  I went ahead and retried the transfer, and it succeeded.  Thank you Stacy, and thank you ICANN for protecting the consumer!

godaddy-logo1GoDaddy proudly proclaims that they are the largest domain name registrar in the world, with over 28 million domain names registered.  At their sale price of $9.99 per year registration fee, the registration fees alone earn GoDaddy over $750,000 per day.  We’ve all seen it, the larger a company gets, the more they lose sight of their customers in pursuit of the almighty dollar.  GoDaddy is no exception.

Why is GoDaddy the most popular domain registrar?  Originally it was price and service.  Now, it’s mass marketing.  You may be surprised that GoDaddy is higher in cost than many competing registries.  For example, Name.com only charges $8.99 per year for domain registration.  Guess how much renewals cost at Name.com?  $8.99.  At GoDaddy, it costs $9.99 for a new registration, and $10.69 per year for renewal.

Name.com also has free private WHOIS.  GoDaddy charges an outrageous $9.99 per year per domain for this service.  Name.com also provides free DNS management, free domain forwarding, and free web hosting through Google.  I’m not trying to sell you on Name.com because they’re not even my favorite registrar, and the registrar I use is actually cheaper and provides even more free services.  I’m just making a point that GoDaddy is not the number one in value and hasn’t been for quite some time.  They are simply the most popular.

icann_logoGoDaddy has started a trend of violating ICANN policies.  ICANN policies are created to protect you, the domain registrant.  You, the registrant, should be free to choose your own domain registrar and be able to transfer your domain to the registrar of your choosing unencumbered.  Fair competition keeps things in the consumer’s interest, and anything that obstructs that harms the consumer.

GoDaddy prevents you from transferring a domain to another registrar if you make a change to the registrant contact information.  This includes removing the private WHOIS from your domain or updating your email address.

I stipulate that GoDaddy recognized the fact that when you wish to transfer your domain to a competing registrar, the first thing you do is update the registrant email address so that you can complete the transfer.  In order to modify this information, GoDaddy forces you to “opt-in” to their policy, which prevents you from transferring the domain to another registrar within 60 days of a change to your registration information.  Most likely, this forces you to renew your domain for another year at GoDaddy at their ever increasing prices.

ICANN recently released an advisory against this type of policy, which GoDaddy has ignored.

ICANN policy states the following as the ONLY reasons that a registrar may deny a transfer:

  1. Evidence of fraud
  2. UDRP action
  3. Court order by a court of competent jurisdiction
  4. Reasonable dispute over the identity of the Registered Name Holder or Administrative Contact
  5. No payment for previous registration period (including credit card charge-backs) if the domain name is past its expiration date or for previous or current registration periods if the domain name has not yet expired. In all such cases, however, the domain name must be put into “Registrar Hold” status by the Registrar of Record prior to the denial of transfer.
  6. Express written objection to the transfer from the Transfer Contact. (e.g. – email, fax, paper document or other processes by which the Transfer Contact has expressly and voluntarily objected through opt-in means)
  7. A domain name was already in “lock status” provided that the Registrar provides a readily accessible and reasonable means for the Registered Name Holder to remove the lock status.
  8. The transfer was requested within 60 days of the creation date as shown in the registry WHOIS  record for the domain name.
  9. A domain name is within 60 days (or a lesser period to be determined) after being transferred (apart from being transferred back to the original Registrar in cases where both Registrars so agree and/or where a decision in the dispute resolution process so directs). “Transferred” shall only mean that an inter-registrar transfer has occurred in accordance with the procedures of this policy.

Here is the email that GoDaddy will send when they deny the domain transfer:

The transfer of YOURDOMAIN.COM from GoDaddy.com, Inc. to another registrar could not
be completed for the following reason(s):

Express written objection to the transfer from the Transfer Contact. (e.g. – email,
fax, paper document or other processes by which the Transfer Contact has expressly
and voluntarily objected through opt-in means). 

The express written objection may be the result of a pending or recently completed
Change of Registered Name Holder. This is an opt-in process during which the new
Registered Name Holder agrees not to transfer for 60-days. This domain will be
transferable on MM/DD/YYYY.

GoDaddy tries to comply with reason number six from the list above.  GoDaddy implies that you expressed written consent and opted-in.  However, if you cannot opt-out, it is not an opt-in policy, and it is not voluntary.  GoDaddy will not let you opt-out.  I tested this by trying to transfer a domain within weeks of updating the registration information.  I talked to a GoDaddy supervisor on the telephone.  He not only refused to comply with ICANN policy, he hung up on me after he said, “Do you think that the world’s largest domain registrar isn’t familiar with ICANN policy?”  He contended that I agreed to the 60 day hold period when I clicked on one of the check boxes that  I was required to check in order to make the change to the domain.

So, you’ve been warned. Transfer your domains away from GoDaddy, and don’t wait too long.  Currently, I’ve filed a complaint with the BBB and am starting a major campaign through ICANN’s proper channels until GoDaddy stops violating ICANN’s policies and stops their unethical behavior.

Please join me in sending GoDaddy a message that we, the consumer, still matter, and there is nothing wrong with fair competition.

What can you do to help?

  1. Unlock, retrieve your authorization code, and transfer your domains away from GoDaddy today
  2. If they refuse to allow you to transfer your domains, file an online complaint to the BBB
  3. Ask your new registrar to contact GoDaddy or initiate a Transfer Dispute against GoDaddy
  4. File an official complaint against GoDaddy and site “Transfer Problems” as the issue
  5. Get involved with ICANN

The only way that you can break the chain of consumer mistreatment is to spend your money elsewhere.  Today, I spent just a couple of minutes to transfer a couple of domains away from GoDaddy. Within the hour, they were in the account at my new registrar.  I don’t have to put up with GoDaddy’s endless service spam, bloated user interface, lack of free features, and ill will.

By the way, GoDaddy is not the world’s largest domain registrar.  In that sense, they are all created equal.  GoDaddy simply has more domain registrations than anyone else, which are just records in a database and are supposed to be free to move elsewhere.

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