Saturday, 28 December 2013

Getting a random email from a Taiwanese domain name registrar you've never heard of about your domain name? I did.. and surprise, it's legit!

Years and years and years ago, I registered a domain name with a particular registrar. Over the years, it got acquired and then eventually, it seems, "deaccredited".
Waaaay back in the late 90s I think it was, I registered a domain with "Capital Networks" aka "TotalNIC". TotalNIC spun off its gTLD domain registration business to PacNames in late 2004.

Time passed, PacNames had a particularly basic web interface that changed very little over the years, and occasionally had faults making DNS changes, but it worked, and I'd been with them for years and it'd be a pain to shift the domain.

Cut to today, the 27th of December, and I get an email from Net Chinese:
Dear Sir/Ma’am,

Greetings, this is Net-Chinese, an ICANN accredited registrar in Taiwan. We are contacting you for your domain name service provider “Pacnames” has no longer offered their services, for which ICANN has authorized Net-Chinese to take over the domain names maintain services.

Your domains are transferring to Net-Chinese, but temporarily domain management platform is not available. For demands of domain renewal and DNS update, please contact us by service@net-chinese.com.tw.

Your domain ..., Expiration date 12/28/2013, will expire/ is expired. If you want to renew the domain, we offer two methods:
1. Pay via Paypal / Credit Card
Please visit http://www.net-chinese.com/QK/ec_paypalbuy_short.asp and choose the years you'd like to renew domains for. After completing the transaction, please email us your domain, paypal account (email), transaction date, years of renewal to service@net-chinese.com.tw 

2. Pay via Credit Card (Fax)
Please download and fill out the form “Netc_AppForm-domain_renewal” at http://net-chinese.com/files/Netc_AppForm-domain_renewal.doc and send back to service@net-chinese.com.tw along with your payment information (listed in the form). Please note that the renewal fee will be charged by New Taiwan Dollar 290 (USD 9.55*30.36) per year. Transaction fees will be added based on the exchange rate of the day the transaction happens by your credit card bank. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us.

Best regards,

Net Chinese Co., Ltd.
The Only ICANN Accredited Registrar in Taiwan
E-mail: service@net-chinese.com.tw
Tel: +886-2-2531-9696
Fax: +886-2-2531-9522
Website: www.net-chinese.com
The email is polite, with some slight Engrish (no insult intended, they speak English far better than I speak Taiwanese - eg. Not at all), but out of the blue!

I checked the prior registrar's website - NOTHING.

I checked my domain's WHOIS information:
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.net-chinese.com.tw
Registrar URL: http://www.net-chinese.com.tw
Registrar: Net-Chinese Co., Ltd.
Registrar IANA ID: 1336
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: foreign@net-chinese.com.tw
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +886.225319696
SURPRISE!

Oh, and my domain WHOIS details were no longer cloaked - something I'd paid for, to steer clear of the businesses that like to cache such details online and charge to remove them (Yes, there are businesses online that vacuum up WHOIS info, and then both sell access to said information, as well as sell [at an ongoing rate] temporary removal of such information).

I found this a little disconcerting, and then did some googling.
Now, clearly a business that tells ICANN it doesn't want to comply with auditing requests that became necessary when it was found it wasn't compliant with licensing requirements isn't going to stay a registrar for long. That'd be like a travel agency that does ticket issuing telling IATA to go jump :) . The list of events outlined in ICANN's letter above does seem to suggest that the old registrar was rather, err, laissez-faire with its management of records and rather unwelcoming of what were indeed auditing requests (in the face of ICANN not being confident they were following procedure). Sure, it's only ICANN's record of events, but it does seem restrained when reading between the lines.

I don't think Net Chinese have done anything wrong, however, I do have a gripe about this whole affair. Well, a few...
  1. Telling me the DAY BEFORE my domain expires that it's expired!? Really!? It's a good thing I check my emails regularly!
  2. No links to ICANN information - I had to go Googling to verify this email. I normally would delete such things without considering them.
  3. The existing registrar clearly doesn't give a sh** anymore - NOTHING on their website to say all their domains have been slammed. No email sent out with their domain.
I'm all for registrars shirking their licensing requirements to be appropriately dealt with, but I think there's room for improvement when it comes to notifying end registrants.

Anyone else experienced this?

UPDATE: I received a reply from Net-Chinese within 24 hours of contacting them.
Dear Sir/Madam,Thank you for your email.
Thank you for your information provided. Now we are preceding the renewal. After completed, we will send you a notice.
The GTS (0.47) shown on the payment page is actually the transaction fee (5%) charged by PayPal. The charge of transaction fee is list on the page below.http://www.net-chinese.com/QK/ec_paypalbuy_short.asp
We are sorry to send out the renewal notice so late, because we just receive the transfer complete report from registry on 26, Dec. 2014 as the transfer initiates on 23, Dec 2013.
We are appreciating your suggestion; we will take this in consideration in further email sending.

We apologize for any inconvenience it may cause to you.If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us.

Best regards,
Net Chinese Co., Ltd.The Only ICANN Accredited Registrar in TaiwanE-mail: service@net-chinese.com.twTel: +886-2-2531-9696Fax: +886-2-2531-9522Website: www.net-chinese.com
Even though they were designated as the new registrar back on the 4th of December, it looks like the transfer was initiated on the 23rd of December, completing on the 26th. Whilst the lack of English language material on their site is disconcerting (and perhaps, it's an interesting choice for ICANN given the likely nature of the existing client base). The charge they're talking about is because when I went to pay by Paypal, it added a charge that said "GST" on my end, but apparently is them adding the Paypal transaction fee to the transaction cost when paying by Paypal. I suggested to them that they include a link to the ICANN press release in future mailouts as that's how I verified their authenticity.

The whole experience still leaves me irritated, but to their credit, the gaining registrar, Net-Chinese, is doing its best to respond quickly.

UPDATE 2: They processed my payment (which I did via Paypal) about two days after my domain was listed to expire but otherwise without issue, and my domain's now got another year on it. I will say that if they want to keep their mostly Australia/New Zealand acquisitions from PacNames, they're probably going to have to work on their English language copy and put up more of an explanation on their English language site.

UPDATE 3: On January 13th I received an email inviting me to create a domain management account to which I could tie my domain, and perform basic management tasks
Dear Sir/Ma’am,


Greetings, this is Net-Chinese, an ICANN accredited registrar in Taiwan. This is an invitation letter to invite you to sign up a domain management account with us. Please click <http://www.net-chinese.com/Registration.asp?code=REDACTED> to sign up an account and we will push the domains listed below to your account. If you had sign up an account through www.net-chinese.com before please reply us your account name and we will also push domains in your account.

Click <http://www.net-chinese.com/domainlist.asp?code=REDACTED> to see domains.
After sign up an account if you hope to incorporate the other domains with this account please click<http://www.net-chinese.com/LookUpDN.asp> to retrieve domain password and reply us the domain names and passwords. We will also push these domain names to your account.
Note: Please login your account before click domain name password.
Best regards,
Net Chinese Co., Ltd.
The Only ICANN Accredited Registrar in Taiwan
E-mail: service@net-chinese.com.tw
Tel: +886-2-2531-9696
Fax: +886-2-2531-9522
Website: www.net-chinese.com
I followed the link, found a few quirks with their javascript form validation but managed to complete the form. What I found a bit disconcerting was that the whole operation happens over HTTP - there is NO HTTPS available. When I asked them, after looking on the management interface, how to unlock my domain, I was advised
Dear Sir/Madam,
Thank you for your email.

Based on ICANN’s regulations, we would not allow the domain to transfer out within the first 60 days counted from the day the domain transferred in.
Because the transfer is approved and completed on 2013.12.24 by registry, the transfer will be unlocked on 2014.2.22.
If you still want to transfer out your domain after 2014.2.22, please contact us directly.

We appreciate your patience.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us.

Best regards,

Net Chinese Co., Ltd.
The Only ICANN Accredited Registrar in Taiwan
E-mail: service@net-chinese.com.tw
Tel: +886-2-2531-9696
Fax: +886-2-2531-9522
Website: www.net-chinese.com
I've checked the ICANN policy previously and they're right. So, if you're looking to move your domains to another registrar, you'll have to wait until late February.

Let me be clear, they've been nothing but polite, answered my questions fairly promptly and the fact that PacNames didn't want to keep up with their auditing requirements is not their fault. Also, they copped an inbound flood of transfers on Christmas Eve. That said, their customer facing copy and security around things like domain name administration needs to be improved. I'm also a bit miffed my domain was "decloaked" when they shifted it though I suspect that was just part of how transfers between registrars have to work.

12 comments:

  1. Considering I had a whole HEAP of domains with pacnames... and they have now all been transferred over... and I can NOT currently access them to make DNS changes or to get auth-codes to transfer them to another english speaking registrar...

    Not Happy Jan!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The whole thing feels a bit rushed and I can imagine if you have a lot of domains and need to be shifting DNS etc. *NOW* it'd be a right royal pain. That said, they've acted quickly in the interaction I've had thus far.

      What I suspect may cause you grief regarding auth-codes is that apparently in the ICANN deregistered registrar domain transfer process is a clause that says a gaining registrar can decline transfer requests for up to 60 days from when it becomes the registrar of record for a domain.

      Delete
    2. Oh yeah, they still haven't updated the expiration date on the domain, which is apparently yesterday, but the domain's not listed as expired, so I suspect ICANN must be cutting them some slack.

      Status: clientDeleteProhibited
      Status: clientTransferProhibited
      Updated Date: 24-dec-2013
      Expiration Date: 28-dec-2013

      Delete
    3. They've updated the expiry on my domain and emailed me on the 30th..

      Status: clientDeleteProhibited
      Status: clientTransferProhibited
      Updated Date: 29-dec-2013
      Expiration Date: 28-dec-2014

      Domain safe for another year :)

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the article, we were really worried it was a scam! How does this work though? Your domain 【jesuschristonly.com】, Expiration date 【3/21/2018】, will expire/ is expired. If you want to renew the domain, we offer two methods. Surely this is erroneous?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a bit of Engrish (again, they speak English far better than I can speak Taiwanese).. If you run a "WHOIS" on the domain you get:

      Domain Name: JESUSCHRISTONLY.COM
      Registrar: NET-CHINESE CO., LTD.
      Whois Server: whois.net-chinese.com.tw
      Referral URL: http://www.net-chinese.com.tw
      Name Server: NS.CHRISTIANWEBHOST.COM
      Name Server: NS2.CHRISTIANWEBHOST.COM
      Status: clientDeleteProhibited
      Status: clientTransferProhibited
      Updated Date: 24-dec-2013
      Creation Date: 21-mar-2003
      Expiration Date: 21-mar-2018 <-- Not expiring for ages

      Basically, they're saying, "Here's when the domain expires" (in American month/day/year format). That means the domain's good for at least another 4 years or so and you have no need to worry, but they've sent out a blanket email to all domain holders they've acquired before they're fully imported into their own management system (basic mail-merge without checking if the domain actually needs renewal yet just to get the word out - it appears to have been a last minute transfer by the previous registrar).

      WHOIS says the domain is safe, but if you're worried, I'd say get Patrick (also listed in WHOIS) to drop them an email at service@net-chinese.com.tw from the registered email address in use if at all possible.

      Delete
  3. I had 30 domains transferred!
    I deleted the first several e-mails I received from Net-Chinese as I was sure they were spam!

    In their e-mail they wrote :

    "We will send out email to invite you to create an account to manage your domain before 15, Jan 2014."

    It is now Jan 18, and I have received nothing.

    I would expect ICANN to follow up on this forced transfer to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

    It is indeed a strange choice, and hardly makes me feel confident about my domains!!

    Pacnames has nothing on their site!! NOT A WORD!! Unbelievable!

    You can still login and get a list of your domains, which might be useful.

    Thanks Anthony for the updates!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ian,

      No probs :) .. As an update on my own situation, I did receive an email in the mail which allowed me to create a management account and to link my domain to it. They're still blocking outbound transfers for 60 days from the transfer date, but they've advised me that once that time period passes I'll be able to transfer out.

      Delete
  4. PS. Thanks for the nudge.. I've just updated this blog entry with the email I got from them about setting up an admin account, as well as their response when I asked them about unlocking my domain for outbound transfer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Replies
    1. I prefer to use the "whois" tool bundled with most Linux distributions. Works great for IP addresses and domain names amongst other things, except ".au" addresses where you need to use the AusRegistry website to look up email addresses (it's an auDA anti-spam measure).

      That "whoisxy" site, to me at least, feels dodgy. It has no actual info about who runs the site, just a contact form.. Not even in the legal T&Cs does it say anything about the actual business or individual behind it, and the whois info on the domain is anonymised. The T&Cs feel "generic" as if they've been copy pasted from somewhere else

      If I'm stuck without access to a command line whois client, I'll go to the IANA website and use their Root Zone Database ( http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db ) to go to the registry website for the top level domain I'm interested in, and then use their provided WHOIS tool.

      Delete