Dotmaniac.com: Negligence, Incompetence, or Just Plain Fraud?

Earlier this month, two of my sites went down due to negligence (and perhaps even fraud) on the part of Dotmaniac.com, a part of the Interlink Network Group.

Despite having taken my money to renew these domains and confirming to me that they had been renewed, Dotmaniac never processed the registrations, and the domains stopped resolving when the old expiration dates hit. Dotmaniac seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth; they no longer answer phone calls or tech support email requests at all. There’s no voice mail or anything; the phone just keeps ringing. Their website, however, lives on, still accepting registrations and renewals, although its security certificate seems to have expired.

The problem with a dead or otherwise unresponsive registration provider, though, is not the money you spent (which should be recoverable through a credit card dispute) but the fact that you’re sort of screwed in general. Moving your domain to another registrar requires cooperation from the one you’re leaving, so what do you do when the old registrar disappears?

Thanks to incompetence, negligence, orjust plain fraud on the part of Dotmaniac.com, I’ve wasted countless hours, lost a fair amount of ad revenue (and a good chunk of my hard-won search engine placement) at Groceteria, and become a big screaming ball of stress at a time when I didn’t really need it.

I’ve also discovered that you should be realy careful where you register your domains, because there’s almost no oversight over the process, and you could find yourself at the mercy of a shady operator like Dotmaniac.com. These slimy sacks of shit are a part of the Interlink Network Group, located in Vancouver WA. If they ever answered their phones, you could call them up and tell them what you thought of them at 888.888.1051 or 877.744.6638. You could, if so inclined, also send them a fax at 360.571.4538. However, if you actually do business with them, you’re taking a terrible risk.

Chronology:

19 October: I renewed Groceteria.com and Otherstream.com on Dotmaniac’s website.

24 October: Despite being renewed, Groceteria.com “expired”, with its status changed to something called “clientHold”, which — I later found out — means that it has expired and will no longer resolve.

25-26 October: I spent the bigger pasrt of both days trying to contact anyone who could help me. Dotmaniac never answered their phone: no voice mail, no nothing. I also tried contacting Tucows, the back-end registrar (Dotmaniac is a reseller), and got no response from them either. Groceteria had been offline for at least 36 hours when I had to leave town on Thursday, and I was pretty sure Otherstream would be gone by the time I got back on Sunday.

28 October: I was right. By Sunday, there was no Groceteria, no Otherstream, and no email. Needless to say, no one at Tucows or Dotmaniac had gotten back to me either.

29 October: More contact attempts, more frustration. Early this afternoon, a friend of Mark’s suggested a method that might at least get the sites back online, and it seems to have worked. I’m now trying to get all the domains transferred to a different registrar. I also filed a complaints with ICANN, the BBB, and Tucows compliance office.

Solutions:

I’m not entirely sure which technique worked, but here’s what I did to get out of this black hole. At some point after doing all three of these things, my sites came back online and I was able to move my domains to a different registrar:

  1. I went into the Dotmaniac automated web interface and switched off “Domain Locking”, which is a status designed to keep your domain from being “slammed” by other registrars.
  2. I emailed the compliance officer at Tucows/OpenSRS, which is Dotmaniac’s wholesaler. His name is Paul Karkas, he’s based in Toronto, his email address is compliance@opensrs.org, his phone number is 416.538.5458. He never responded, but may have moved the process along. I’ve heard that he’s a good and competent sort, but again, I wouldn’t know because he never responded.
  3. I filed a complaint with ICANN, the board which oversees all domain registrars. They do not investigate complaints individually, but they do send a copy of all complaints to the registrar in question, which often acts as a swift kick in the butt to slow-moving registrars.

Final Note:

If you’ve been victimized as well, you have my sympathies. Based on the email I’ve received, I’m not the only one this has happened to. What you see on this page is all the information I have. I can’t give you any more, but feel free to check back for updates. I’m still waiting to see the results of my credit card dispute, and will post them when I have something.

More Domains Associated with Dotmaniac/Interlink Network Group:

The last one’s an ISP in Vancouver WA, apparently. They don’t ever answer their phones either. If I were you, I’d avoid doing business with any of these sites.

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