I can remember an email to-and-fro between Ian Whalley and myself, perhaps a decade or more ago, in which we were trading light-hearted tales of Internet domain purchases, registrars, horror stories and the like. Ian was rightfully pleased that he’d managed to get all his domains under a single registrar. I seem to remember, but this is a little hazy, that he’d got visibility of all his expiry/renewal dates, and also the correct details in the whois info.
My first domain purchase was with an Australian registrar whose name escapes me. I registered beatnik.net when I visited Sydney and Melbourne for trade shows during my Sophos days. It was cheap, as I recall, and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but it looked really cool, or something. On my return home I realised that I’d made a terrible mistake and sort of left it to fizzle and die.
Next up was gaekwad.com which I registered with Joker in Germany. Joker was a pretty neat system, but I never really got on with it. It was too technical for my know-how at the time. I snagged a few other domains around the same time, none of which really came to anything.
For reasons of national pride, or perhaps a feeling of bashful stupidity, I moved my domains to 123-Reg. I bought a few more, sold a few, let a few lapse and forgot to renew a couple. This was how it worked until perhaps 2004 or so when I discovered Go Daddy.
The following decade was not kind to my wallet. No fault of Go Daddy, I might add. They offer(ed) a vast selection of domain types at silly prices. They had coupons to take the prices down even further; coupons which, thanks to an affiliate deal with Podshow/Mevio/BiteSize TV paid my mortgage and bills for a number of years.
I’ve been gradually slimming down my domain portfolio from a somewhat bulky and expensive 250+ domains to the low teens. I’ll soon be in single figures, which is nice. I’ve sold a bunch, made a nice chunk of money on smart purchases and been a little unscrupulous with some others that took advantage of fat-fingered people mashing away on keyboards. I regret nothing.
I’ve had a working relationship with Go Daddy since 2006, both as a promoter and user of their services. I have been paid, continue to be paid and have paid them. I’ve seen good times and not-so-good times. They’ve received about $US10,000 from me for domains and related services, and I’ve been paid an order of magnitude more in return for my promotion services.
I’m an expert at navigating my way through the checkout process and avoiding the infamous Go Daddy up-sell. The domains I buy are likely loss-leaders, and the offers of additional trinkets with a cheap domain almost always get ignored by me.
Earlier this week I was reading about Go Daddy on Hacker News. Sort of due diligence after the fact, I suppose. Go Daddy are reportedly preparing for IPO. My understanding is that Go Daddy management changed considerably in the past few years. The founder and CEO has moved on, the higher-ups have changed tack and the current Go Daddy is not like the old Go Daddy.
This New Go Daddy is a double-edged sword. They’re less brash and showy, the commercials are less controversial and I’m confident the guy in charge doesn’t hunt elephants. New Go Daddy acquired Media Temple, the hosting company I’ve used since 2006. At the time it was announced, the somewhat inevitable customer backlash and fallout was brief and likely lost Media Temple some customers. It wasn’t a fatal move, both Go Daddy and Media Temple are still trading.
I don’t have access to any concrete source on this, but I’ve read reports that Go Daddy is losing money and has been for years. Having poked around and read lots of articles, I’m a little nervous having my hosting and domains under the same ownership umbrella. Not, like, losing sleep or jaw-clenching levels of nervousness, just a bit of first-world mild concern.
Last week, I started a search for a new domain registrar. I’ve skim-covered my emerging email strategy in recent days, but domains are another thing that need my attention. Most of my domains are with Go Daddy; there’s one with Names Beyond that I wasn’t able to migrate to Go Daddy. Remember that conversation with Ian about one registrar? Yeah, that rogue Names Beyond domain that wouldn’t budge has been annoying me softly ever since I bought it.
Someone once said that domains are like girls: most of the best ones are taken, but if you go searching around in faraway lands you can find some real gems. With that in mind, I went to Antigua and Barbude to buy pr.ag. Well, I didn’t actually get on a plane or anything proper, I just found a registrar that would sell me a domain for a reasonable price. Names Beyond got my business.
Most domains, subject to some rules and exemptions, can be transferred from one registrar to another. Go Daddy, for reasons that aren’t clear to me, cannot transfer a .ag domain in, which meant I was stuck with Names Beyond for the duration of my ownership. Actually, that’s a lie. I thought I was stuck with Names Beyond and their low-rent website interface. It turns out, I’m not.
I am about 24 hours away from being in the position that Ian was in a decade or more ago in having all my domains under one registrar, with full visibility of expiry dates, correct whois info and a slight air of smugness.
Did New Go Daddy figure out how to transfer that lone domain into their flock? Did Names Beyond make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Nope. I went to the French.
Gandi, a French company, are now guardians of my domains. In less than 24 hours I’ve moved 90% of my portfolio over to them. There are three more in the process of moving over: two .co.uk domains and pr.ag. Names Beyond are going through the motions of transfer, I’m told. I am not totally confident that will happen without a hitch, but that’s life.
The two .co.uk domains are ultimately handled by
Abominet Nominet and need their IPS tags switched from Go Daddy to Gandi in order for me to push them. Go Daddy don’t offer this tag switching function in their control panel, it’s a case of contacting them and asking them to do it for you.
I prepared some text to raise a support ticket at Go Daddy. Get all the info into one message, get the issue raised, get a ticket reference, get it actioned, get the domains out, drink a celebratory beverage, etc.
New Go Daddy have removed the ability to raise a support ticket over email.
OK, no worries, I’ll email their catch-all support email address. That didn’t help, and advised I either call them on the phone or use the live chat. To their credit, they have a UK geographical number (020 for London) to call, and it appears to be VoIP. This means I can call from my mobile phone and use my allocation of minutes.
Great. I call. There’s a 30 minute wait to be served. I hang up.
I look around for the live chat option. I fail to find it. I’m pretty good at Internet-fu, and this stumped me for a considerable while (almost 5 minutes). It turns out that the live chat option was not available from my browser, either because of my browser being unsuitable or because – and get this – the live chat queue was too large. Seriously.
I’ve read reports of people not being able to find the live chat portal thingy because there’s too much of a backlog. Conspiracy theories aside, it turns out that I wasn’t able to start a live chat for a more obvious reason: where I live.
Compare the following two screenshots. The first is how the Go Daddy support homepage looks if you’re in the US:
This is how the same page looks from the UK (note the change of country in the top bar):
The red emphasis is mine. In the US, there’s a live chat box. From the UK, there’s only a telephone line option. – no live chat. A telephone-only option for an Internet services company. This is baffling.
Note that when I took these screenshots it was before 5am at New Go Daddy, so their live chat was closed and the wait times for telephone support are much lower. I used the US location option and used live chat. I waited about 40 minutes, not quite focussing on the other tasks I was doing due to the inaccurate waiting time progress indicator, before a cheery-sounding lady responded with something that I’ve never experienced in live chat. I’m paraphrasing because I didn’t save the chat log, but it was along the lines of “Hi, please ask your question and be prepared to wait a little while because I’m dealing with other people at the same time as you”. I assumed this kind of thing happens a lot at busy companies, I’m not naive – but it didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy about the whole thing.
After a 40-minute wait, and a further two-minute chat to request an IPS tag change, I was done. I received an email with an incident number and advice that this tag change process would take 24-72 hours to complete. I don’t mind that it’s going to take 1 to 3 days to get this job done, but a email or form to open a ticket would’ve been far more straightforward for me. Selfish, I know.
Interesting point to note: zero up-sell on the chat. None. No attempt to have me stay with Go Daddy. I guess this is down to the operators not having any spare time to sell stuff while they juggle a bunch of support requests at the same time.
As is customary at the end of a support chat, I got to rate the operator and leave feedback. I was going to request that they bring back the email support option, but on the basis that I’d essentially just quit New Go Daddy as a customer, I left that field blank.
A tinge of sadness, a little reminiscing about how things were, and I was done.