After 10 years, I finally secured bradfrost.com. And boy was it a huge pain in the ass.
A Long, Long Time Ago
Once upon a time way back in 2004, another Brad Frost (there are a few of us) registered bradfrost.com and chose a 10 year registration period.
When I started getting into web design while at university, the time came to buy my domain and set up my own site. So needless to say I was a bit disappointed to visit bradfrost.com and see this:
Now it’s pretty clear that the dude just wanted to showcase a few pictures of his hunting shenanigans, but the juxtaposition of stock corporate photos and big game hunting was both simultaneously hilarious and hard for me to handle. To twist the knife a little more, I found out I wouldn’t have a stab at the domain until it expired June 9th, 2014. Which I promptly marked on my calendar.
The expiration date was getting closer and closer, and was as excited as a kid gearing up for Christmas morning.
A few months out, I realized I should probably use a backordering service to secure the domain automatically. I figured there wouldn’t be a million people in line to get the domain, but hell I was excited. So I did a little (too little) research and ended up setting up a backorder with GoDaddy. Oh don’t worry, I paid for this mistake.
In case you didn’t know, the domain name expiration process is a long and confusing one (as Mike Davidson explains), with many twists, turns, states, and statuses. Dates went by, statuses were updated, and GoDaddy would alert me with updates.
When the domain finally became available, I checked GoDaddy’s dashboard to see the following:
“It couldn’t be!” I thought to myself, as I opened a new tab and visited bradfrost.com. My stomach sank as I saw a domain parking landing page stuffed with ads:
GoDaddy failed me, and I was kicking myself for being so stupid to put one ounce of trust in them. The registrar named “JULIUS CAESAR” mocked me from the Whois.
And so began the process to secure the domain I’d spent the better part of a decade waiting for.
Dealing with Assholes
I spent the next few days in incognito tabs looking at the landing page, trying to figure out how to approach buying the domain.
After doing some research on the company, Domain Name Sales, I found that I could use an escrow service to anonymously bid on the domain. So I signed up for Escrow.com, and entered a $30 bid for bradfrost.com.
Rejected, offer too low, said the response.
So I tried again. This time $60.
I tried one more time for $100.
And then things take a weird turn. A few days later, I get the following email:
$1,895! Holy shit! Highway robbery. This ain’t pets.com.
Now the whole point of using Escrow.com was that it allowed me to bid on the domain anonymously. And now I get an email from someone not using the official channel. How did they know it was me? Now I’m sure it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to track down all interested candidates for a domain that applies to about 5 people on earth. I tried to cover my tracks any time I visited bradfrost.com, but I’m sure I left behind an IP address or something that could pinpoint me.
But still, holy shit, $1,895 for my domain name.
After my seething rage subsided, I had to decide whether this cost was worth it. Ultimately, I knew it was. My reputation, my business, is my name. Owning my name is extremely valuable, and in the long run the cost is totally worth it. Plus it’s a business expense.
I read up on domain counter offers and countered with $1200 for the domain, which was thankfully accepted. Once the offer was accepted we went through Escrow.com to complete the transaction, and the instructions for releasing the domain were provided. I quickly pointed the domain to my server and got the hell out of there.
Then I got this email:
Seriously, screw you.
It’s not the picture of the company’s employees that pisses me off, it’s the picture of the company’s employees IN THE GODDAMN CARIBBEAN that pisses me off. It’s their not-so-subtle way of shouting “Congratulations on getting extorted!” from the Caymens.
They even had the audacity to send follow-up solicitations:
I normally don’t like speaking ill about people or companies, but these guys are snakes. They sit at the same table as the shady used car salesmen and SEO gurus. Recently, one of these snakes sold Ebola.com for $200,000, and reading an interview with him tells you exactly which direction these peoples’ moral compasses are pointing. What these snakes do isn’t illegal, or even dishonest, but it is straight-up opportunistic and predatory.
In my research on Domainnamesales.com I came across countless forum posts from confused, bamboozled people all justifiably angry after going through what I just did. And in every forum, a representative from the company would swoop in and say “Well actually…” they are a legit company and what they do isn’t breaking any rules. I dunno, if I had to spend a good part of my day explaining over and over that the company I work for isn’t some illegal scam, I’d probably reevaluate my career choice. Just sayin’.
So that’s my story. Pretty crazy. Going through all of this certainly taught me some things, such as:
- BUY YOUR DOMAIN. – If you haven’t bought your domain yet, buy it right now. Stop reading and buy your domain name if it’s available. Snag it before it’s too late.
- Make sure auto-renew is on – The domain expiration process gives you plenty of chances to renew your domain, but if it’s your name I think it’s a safe bet to auto renew your domain registration.
- Avoid dealing with shady companies – I hope you’re never in a position where you have to do business with opportunistic assholes. And if you do, hold your ground if you can. I learned you can make counter offers for domains, which definitely saved me from being fully extorted.
- Stay out of domain stuff altogether – Dealing with the business side of domains is like walking through a very dark, dodgy forest. Instead, I’d recommend spending your time happily designing and building great web experiences.