Transferring domain

I have almost completed a website for a client and sent them the name server details this morning. They have now discovered that the company who built their old website somehow transferred control of the domain to themselves, taking it away from the client.

Now when the client goes to the registrar his login details are not accepted and he has spoken to Nominet, who have said they cannot help because the registered email (unknown to us) is different from my client.

Most likely the previous web designer asked for control of this at some stage and the client simply agreed without understanding the possible implications. I am not suggesting they have done this for nefarious motives and they have agreed to change the name servers, but the client and I both agree the domain should really be registered to his name.

He’s been with them now for about 10 years, but they could shut up shop tomorrow or simply fail to renew the domain and he would be in real difficulty. It’s the loss of control, despite being the owner of the company and website.

Does anybody know how you go about transferring this to his name and what steps could be taken if any should they prove difficult?

PS Since GDPR came in the who is information no longer provides any useful information regarding the name of the registrant or contact email associated with the domain.

moving a is far easier than a .com, but first, I can’t work it out, are you in contact with the present holder and have they agreed to transfer?

This link covers most:

I’ve transferred lots of personal domains from one registrar to another and that is easy, but never had to change the named registrant for a client and realistically there is not a lot I can do here myself, however I was interested to understand the process.

The client has now gone back to the original web designer, who appears to be the named registrant and we are waiting to hear what they say. Right at the very start I asked the client if the domain was registered in their name and if they controlled the nameservers. They assured me that was the case and only now after building a 27 page site have they realised that is not the case.

Maybe I just don’t understand what you are saying/asking, but are those two things not the same? Changing the name is the same as transferring, no?

I suspect we’ve all been there, I know I have. In some instances I’ve offered to work to obtain the domain, using legal pressure if required, but I’ve been very clear with them: It’s expensive, not least for my own time. More often than not though, if the “holder” of the domain doesn’t want to play ball, they are essentially fecked if they are not willing to spend.

I know I had once instance years ago where a bike shop had bought up a very close domain to a competitor (my client). My client wanted it, but £6k later gave up.

I can’t recall which way round it is, but one of the domains, either .com or is easy(ish) to get providing it can be proven the person trying to get it has a right to it. I think it’s which is easier to get, so go check up the info on Nominet.

I should say though, in most instances, where the old web guy who holds the domain is being a dick, a direct email explaining you are taking over the client and want the domain CC’d to your solicitor more often than not works. I used to use this approach only when thing looked like going south, but now it’s how I approach all requests. It does often get back a reply along the lines of “OK, no need bring solicitors into things from the off”, but as the old saying goes… The best way to lose. the fight is to be the 2nd person to throw a punch. So I tend to come out fighting, so to speak.

I hope you got a large deposit upfront.

Whoever has control of the contact information on the registration is pretty much in control.

ICANN is the controlling agency of domain names. They do have a process for disputes:

It’s a long and dragged out process. Since you can’t even see the official “WHOIS” data it can make it more difficult than its worth. On the registration record, there are four main contact areas.

  • Registrant Contact Info
  • Admin Contact Info
  • Tech Contact Info
  • Billing Contact Info

I can tell you from experience that if the name, address and phone number are not the business owners and are the old web guy then it’s a tough battle.

The most important of all those fields is the Admin Contact Info email address.

You can try the “legal action” threat, I’ve had better luck offering to pay them for their time to change the registration. You know it’s only going to take them an hour, so have the client offer to pay them for the time at their standard hourly rate.

I learned to check that stuff up front, most business owners just assume they own the rights to the domain name.

This has been stressful, but I think we are getting there and most of it has been sorted now. There was a lot of contradictory information going back & forth yesterday, though nothing ill intentioned I think. I am still not entirely clear on everything and slightly staggered that a relatively large company has such a poor grasp over the way their website was administered.

Basically it seems that the domain was registered in my client’s name but still managed by the previous company through their own account and we’ll organise a transfer to another registrar in the new year, so it is completely under the control of my client.

It seems the original company that built the old site was taken over by a design agency three years ago and the client was just passed to the new agency. The client then agreed to let them do whatever they needed and simply paid the bills.

The name servers were changed to mine yesterday, then back again to theirs and finally back to mine, which has caused some fun and games with the DNS propagation. It’s also more complicated because the email is being routed remotely through another server, so lots of excitement with mx settings & SPF records as it all went back & forth with the DNS. Some emails were turning up and others not.

I am hoping that will all settle down in the next few hours, then I can actually work on completing the site. It’s live, because they made the switch prematurely, however it still needs another couple days of work.