In a (right, royal) pickle
Definition: (informal) in a difficult situation; in a mess: Things are in a real pickle at the moment, I’m sad to say. My web person disappeared, and my dog ate my website copy.
Ok, in all seriousness, if you've landed on this page because you have one of these web dilemmas, keep calm, there's always a way forward.
Domain Name Pickles
Ah domain names - in theory, they are so simple, yet so vitally crucial to your business. But alas, so much can go wrong, so very wrong. So let's take a look at some of the scenarios I've seen clients struggle with over the years.
Your Domain Name Has Expired
With no warning your email stops coming, your website is offline, and any paid marketing you are doing is suddenly a giant waste of money with people being directed to an error page. Hello, your domain name has very likely expired. I know, it's the 2020's and you'd think this wouldn't be a thing anymore. But it sure is...
So just how does this happen? Especially when there are often many fail-safes in place from your registrar?
Well, it happens generally, through a lack of oversight, as someone thinks someone else is managing it. Except that person left the business 10 months ago. No one's checking their email or they used a personal Hotmail address for the reminders. I see this a lot - often it's a part-time staff member who is hired to do specific work, they leave and there's very poor follow-through.
Or, perhaps the right person is still there, they are just not getting the domain email renewals for some reason (or perhaps they thought it was a scam).
Maybe the renewal notices are going to spam or just not even making it to the junk folder at all.
The good news is that if you catch this early enough (and most people notice within hours), the domain name can be renewed and just like magic everything will go back to how it was. In New Zealand, you have 90 days to renew an expired domain name. After that, it's open season on your domain.
So, just don't let this be a risk, have systems in place - even a simple calendar reminder can save the day.
You don't own YOUR domain name - your web developer does
This is a big giant NO NO. And I've seen it all too often. The web developer or web agency is listed as the registrant for the domain name. Sometimes, they even use this as leverage to keep a client - or worst still hold them hostage. Basically, if you leave them, you lose your domain name, your email and your hosting. That's more than a pickle, that's a pickle factory with a tornado bearing down on it.
It takes 5 minutes to get an account with a domain name registrar and registering a domain name is as simple as filling in a web form and getting your credit card out.
Ok, but what if you find yourself in this situation? Well, if you have the UDAI or authentication code, you can grab the domain back, but you still won't be the registrant. But at least you'll have control over it. Still, not an ideal situation, and you really need to be the registrant.
The Domain Name Commission exists for New Zealand domain management issues, and you can lodge a complaint against your provider. To do this, go to https://dnc.org.nz/for-consumers/complaints-about-nz-industry-service-providers/
If you'd like to read some of the legal judgements around domain name issues in New Zealand, you can read these online at http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZDNC/