eNom and Afternic: Conflict of Interest?

My first registrar was Bulk Register, now owned by eNom.  (Actually, it was Network Solutions, but I don’t like to talk about that.)  I still have a few accounts I didn’t switch over to my current registrar because they aren’t due yet, but an odd thing happened recently, confirming my decision.

I lost a domain.

Mind you, I’m used to regular notices as to what is expiring and when.  My current registrar send out so many by every means imaginable that I’ve asked them to stop calling me.  But without warning, a client called me up and asked why an unused domain usually parked on his active site went to a page trying to sell it.

I looked it up and found it was now owned by “BuyDomians.com“.  No redemption period?  Maybe a short one, but again, I wasn’t notified.

I contacted them and they offered it to me for several thousands of dollars.  Based on traffic, all the free value estimators showed it worth $0 except one, which valued it in the three-figure range.  I tried convincing them it was of no value to anyone but my client, but they insisted it was valued according to marketability and would not let it go to its rightful owner for much less.

Upon researching this type of situation, I found that an ICANN dispute costs a cool grand just to file and then it’s a crap shoot to interpret the regulations such that they are breaking the law.  I believe they are, and simply can make it not worth anyone’s time to challenge them.

My old registrar insisted that I must be blocking their emails — which was ironic because we were communicating by email and my server team found no such record of receving emails from the address they use for notifications.  They claim to send out at least three notices.  (For another upcoming domain, I have to admit I later did receive one.)

But shortly after this fiasco — which ended in my offering free hosting for life for the client to make it up to them — I received an email from eNom with the following message:

Moniker and eNom are now live as Afternic DLS Premium partners

The reason this caught my attention is that when I tried to play nice with BuyDomains, I inquired about selling some of my own domain names.  After all, if they’re charging an inflated price, they should be able to buy mine at a high price as well! 

But they don’t buy domains.  It’s handled by their sister company {drum roll please}, Afternic

Maybe eNom is telling the truth about notifications.  But they do have a huge potential benefit by letting them lapse.  Just sayin’ …