Domain names safe even if registrar folds

Users who buy a domain name through an overseas or local company which then collapses should be taken care of by Domainz, though its chief executive warns the process could be a slow one.

Users who buy a domain name through an overseas or local company which then collapses should be taken care of by Domainz, though its chief executive warns the process could be a slow one.

Ed Hayes, an Xtra customer, spent three weeks trying to get hold of someone at US-based registrar company Register.com without success. Hayes wanted to discuss moving his registration away from Register.com because he'd heard the company was laying off staff and was concerned about its future.

While he has since been reassured about its viability, Hayes received only automated replies to email and calls to the help desk were greeted with recorded music. Hayes subsequently contacted Domainz for assistance.

"I assumed that if over the past few months their customer service has been this bad -- that is, inaccessible by phone; you go on hold for ever; or email takes two weeks to get a reply -- that there must be something very wrong."

Domainz chief Derek Locke says the company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of InternetNZ which runs the .nz name space, has procedures in place for such eventualities. He says any registrar having business difficulties could have "implications for a lot of our customers". Locke says this is not unusual, unfortunately.

"This has happened before, with Asia Online for instance, and it is a tricky process because if the company goes into liquidation then we have a number of issues with respect to the transfer of names."

Locke says there is a legal process to work through in that respect and that other ISPs or registrar companies can get in the way by trying to grab those names. "You can't do that because it becomes part of the whole liquidation process."

He says Domainz would typically work with the liquidator to change name-holders if need be. "We have to work out who is going to be the ISP and provide the services and also who is the actual owner of the name. That's got to be worked through very carefully."

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