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GoDaddy business practices re; new domains

I'm not exactly sure what to expect by taking the time to post this HERE on GoDaddy, and they don't have categories for customers to post concerns or any other sort of "un-praise"... and actually I'm not sure how I am going to proceed, but it's unlikely that I will just forget about it without doing some additional research and sharing my findings on a web-site I've created for just this purpose.


Several years ago I began noticing that using GoDaddy to search for a potential new domain name is a much different experience than, well, every other registrar and non-registrar entities.   What I mean is, if I searched for a domain and GoDaddy considered it "premium", then I DID NOT buy it IMMEDIATELY, other names I searched showed up as unavailable.  It seemed odd to me.  So I started checking ICANN, Network Solutions, other registrars and especially agencies who were NOT trying to sell me something.  And I confirmed that, sure enough, GoDaddy was telling me domains were unavailable that were actually NOT registered.  To be clear, I used no less than 10 other sites to search, most of which were NOT for-profit registrars, and always included ICANN.  And I'm not entirely new to this inter-thingy.  I still own domains I registered in the 80's for FREE through Network Solutions, who at that time, was the only way to get it done (and yes, they were $0 back in those days).  Not saying I'm an expert, but I know enough to identify some of the schemes being used by companies making themselves rich on the net.


Just ten minutes ago, I saw GoDaddy do it again.  And confirmed that after searching for several domains, more than one being for sale with GoDaddy as the agent, my last search showed the domain as UNAVAILABLE (without any normal detail).  Checking a dozen other sites starting with ICANN, and Network Solutions, nope, it's NOT actually registered.  So any excuse about faulty software, sorry, it's been several years.  Any excuse about a mixup?  Again, not possible.

In fact the for-profit sites offered to register it for me, so now I own it.  Kinda funny owning something GoDaddy tried to convince me wasn't available.


But worse than this practice is that I have documented cases where I searched a domain name at GoDaddy, let's just call it "a good one" - easy to spell, pronounce, a .com - but I hesitated for a mere couple of hours.  Sometimes it was as much as a day.  But a large percentage of those domains showed up registered if I didn't grab them immediately.  It's almost as if.... someone was watching me do the search, and said, "Oh hell yes that's a great name!  If I take it out from under him, he'll have no choice but to buy it from me!  YAY!"   And sure enough.... in nearly every case, the domain was privately registered, THAT DAY, and listed as "Available for Sale" and guess through which agent?  This may not be technically illegal, IANAL, but it sure as hell is a disgusting practice and marks a company - for me - that I would never deal with again.


Now I could be COMPLETELY WRONG about this (although I have documented a fair number of cases), and while I don't have a **bleep** thing to gain from investigating it further, and in fact obviously have a lot to risk, I have simply "had enough" of businesses in the US and especially involving the internet employing such blatantly shady, unfair, and downright disgusting business practices just to "further enrich the lives of billionaires".  I'm just a lowly software geek, but I was around before it all went this way.  When having an email server meant you automatically passed on emails for other sites and companies, without trying to steal pennies from someone along the way.  And being semi-retired gives me a lot of flexibility to do more in-depth research and even take some actions.  And being a software engineer means I have the expertise to not only do the research, but also, the ability to make available web-sites I create specifically to share this information with my fellow "netizens"(I swore I'd never use that word).  And to make it widely visible across the internet landscape.  


But HERE is the point of my post:  I am wondering if any other forum-users here have noticed anything similar while searching or registering domain names.  If so, please share!  

And again, everything I've observed may be perfectly legal - technically.  But if every person who thought up a great domain name for their business KNEW this business practice was happening, I wonder how many would register their domain names here.


And if a GoDaddy rep wants to respond, well it's your site! I'd love to hear, believe me, I would LOVE to find out that I'm just dead ass wrong.  I don't hate this site, and I became a customer the day GoDaddy came online.  But if you reply with canned responses and flat denials that contain as much truth as a presidential tweet, then my motivation level to get my web-site AND the cases I have documented published will skyrocket.  So I would advise against that.  If you have real factual data you can share about GD's policies and business practices, let's hear them.


PS: This post is mirrored on a similar forum hosted by Google, open to the public, and all posts will appear on the web-site I am just finishing now - hosted on my server, controlled by no one.  (I'm not posting the URL because I'm not promoting it or even advertising it - that isn't the point here)

Former Employee

Greetings @DavidInvenio,
Thanks for posting your experience. While you may be a novice to The Community, you clearly are not when it comes to domains. So, with appreciation for your comments, let me respond with a few ideas of my own (other members or moderators are still welcome to offer their experiences, as well).
I have been involved in domains for several years at GoDaddy and know of no business practice or process to prevent people from purchasing domain names. While I don't doubt you may have seen some unusual things, my first reaction to that is it seems it would be counter-productive for a company not to offer a domain and let another registrar register it. That just doesn't seem like a good way to do business.
However, I will give you a personal example that may explain some of what you have observed from my own experience as a GoDaddy Customer. Several years ago I had a friend working at an FM radio station. More from idle curiosity than anything I searched the station frequency as a domain name like [Number].FM while sitting at home one night. - Wow, was I shocked when I found out it was available! Knowing someone at the station could surely make use of it, I registered it and it processed.
I was really proud of myself nailing down a three character domain - until I got an apology letter 24 hours later with a refund. It seems the name I picked had been registered for six years (admittedly, I had not checked the WHOIS). It seems the .FM Registry Server had been down briefly for some reason and some back-up algorithm here or there said "if you don't get an answer, register it" so it processed. No harm done (other than sadness), it was corrected and my money returned.
While somewhat the opposite of your experience, I share my story only to illustrate that there are more factors at stake than simply the desktop interaction occurring at the moment. The registration process has many access points and is made up of both centralized (Registry) and distributed (Registrar) records. Prior world events that have impacted these records have included floods, tsunamis, and hurricanes as well as the occasional registrar that doesn't live up to the trust placed in them (these news events are out there and searchable).
However, while suggesting there may be other factors afoot, I will also urge you to do the following (because something may indeed be resulting in your experiences). I would take short list of your examples and write them up, with the timeline. Then the next time you interact with 24/7 support email that data in for escalation and examination. If that sample is not definitive, broaden it a little for another cycle.
I think it might also be of interest to see WHO registered the domain(s) you were interested in "hours or days later". Was it the same person or company? GoDaddy itself primarily holds domains of use at a corporate level and acts as a registrar or clearing house (aftermarket) of others domains. We would not be "grabbing" them as a registrant, even thought they may be registered THROUGH us.
Obviously, the more recent the example(s) the more likely the background data may be around for examination. However, I've been here long enough to believe that no one would be doing this intentionally. There is extensive verification of systems that goes on here constantly, but who knows, perhaps you will be able to point out something we, ourselves, haven't uncovered yet.
So thanks in advance for taking the time, and thanks for being a GoDaddy Customer,
Thomas D. - GoDaddy | Community Moderator
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