A domain name might not seem like such a big deal but it is just about as important as any other aspect of a business.
The last mishap you want to deal with is having your domain expire unexpectedly. It might go unnoticed if a small site forgets to renew its domain but when it happens to a multi-million-dollar company, thousands of customers can be affected and of course, the story will make headlines.
If a company happens to be careless enough to forget to renew its domain and have it expire, its web site will no longer be available at the regular domain name, some of it services will go down, and the domain might be purchased by another buyer. Below, you’ll find some of the most notorious instances where a company forgot to renew their domain name.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Amid reports that the Dallas Cowboys were kicking out their head coach Wade Phillips, the team’s website, DallasCowboys.com, expired. The site had expired five days before domain host Network Solutions offered it for sale, which was when the team’s officials struggled to have the site re-registered. They were able to register the site again, but DallasCowboys.com was down for days. Of course, they left their subscription on auto-renew after the embarrassing occurrence.
In 2015, UK mobile operator EE forgot to renew its domain name, leading to thousands of subscribers utterly flabbergasted about losing their email connection. This happened at a bad time for the company, only days after they had admitted to disappointing their customers with their inadequate broadband service. The domain name, FSNet.co.uk, expired in August and was not renewed. The email accounts stopped working when the domain got suspended a month later. While the domain name was renewed and services got back up within 24 hours, sufficient damage had been done.
Back in 2010 when foursquare was a promising Web 2.0 company and had just raised $10 million in funding, the company made the mistake of not renewing its domain name. When anyone went to their site, it was GoDaddy’s parked domain page that they found. Apparently, TechCrunch thought it was funny. Foursquare renewed their domain when the issue was discovered and they were operating again like nothing ever happened.
If what happened with Foursquare wasn’t ironic enough, this certainly is. Marketo is a Silicon Valley-based firm that is in the business of selling automated marketing software online. The company didn’t realise their domain subscription had expired until they started receiving complaints from customers that the company’s reporting systems were not working. Marketo’s apps failed and its website went ghost, leaving users unable to access their accounts.
Also, their marketing emails use links tied to their domain name (market.com) to track user interactions, meaning all the forms, images, hyperlinks and hyperlinks in client emails went dead. The question that remains is how the company could have missed the notification emails that are typically sent by domain registrars such as GoDaddy, Freeparking domain name search, and others, to remind customers to renew their domains. It was a customer who was a domain name specialist that re-registered the domain and tweeted the invoice at Marketo.
Software giant Microsoft forgot to renew its domain name not once, but twice. It was on Christmas Day in 1999 that a customer Michael Chaney found that the company’s single sign-on service passport.com was not working because the domain had not been renewed. Chaney sorted out the bill and let Microsoft know about it.
Four years later in 2003, Microsoft forgot to renew their domain name again, but this time it was hotmail.co.uk. Again, it was a user that paid for the domain name to keep the service running, however, this time, they did not respond to messages from this user until nearly two weeks later when technology site The Register contacted Microsoft. It appears this is one company with bigger problems than mere domain name renewal.
6. Regions Bank
One of the major banks in the U.S., Regions Bank had its domain name expire in 2013 after they had forgotten to have it renewed. Not only was it impossible to access the main bank website, but customers were not able to use all online services offered by the bank. It was a most embarrassing ordeal for a bank that had more than 2,400 ATMs and 1,700 branches. Services remained inaccessible for nearly a week and the bank had to make a public apology.
7. Open Door Baptist Church
This case was hilarious for many, but not adherents of the Open Door Baptist Church, which was popular for its strong messages against different groups such as the LGBT community. Their domain name warningsofwrath.com expired and one man who noticed it before they did, registered the domain and redirected it to a gay porn site.
This was one instance that showed exactly how costly certain mistakes can be. Yatra was the second largest travel search engine and online travel agency in India and had as much as 30% of online travel transactions in the country attributed to it. When the company forgot to renew its domain name, it lost numerous customers who were lured by competitors. It also lost its State Bank of India partnership that was behind the company’s custom travel credit card. Since the incident, the company has not regained its former level of success.
Why are domain name renewals so easy to forget?
Take a trip to a certain location where a certain founder is tossing around names for his new company. He has a lightbulb moment and hurries to check whether the domain is available. Tada! It is and he registers it. Somewhere down the line, Mr CEO’s company is booming and the domain ownership is transferred from his email account to a common company one that no one feels responsible for. Ah, that’s why it seems no one noticed those domain expiry notifications. ☺