Before you think this is a story of a stolen domain name, it's not. This post is about what recently happened to me when I mistakenly dropped a domain name.
About two weeks ago I had a .ca domain name that was getting close to being deleted. The domain had actually expired on Jan 6, but when a .ca domain expires it goes into a suspension mode for 30 days at the registrar where this domain was held. Other registrars (like Sibername) can hold an expired .ca for longer. For example, I have a .ca domain at Sibername that expired over two months ago that is still renewable, though with an extra $25 fee. I don't intend to renew it, but I think it's a good feature to have the option to do so for so long. Unfortunately, this domain wasn't registered at Sibername.
Because the domain in question had expired on Jan 6, that meant I had to renew it by 9pm PST on Feb 5, which was a Sunday. If I didn't, the domain would then be deleted and go into TBR status (To Be Released), which meant it would be available in the weekly drop of expired .ca domains. I've had many domain renewals to do in January and February, and even with a lot of effort to stay on top of things it can still get down to the wire. I figured I knew how the deletion cycle worked at my registrar and I'd be ok.
Well, it turned out to be a busy weekend and one thing led to another. Next thing I know, it's Monday morning and I'm thinking "Did I have a domain to renew today, or was it yesterday?". I logged in to my account at my registrar and sure enough the domain was deleted. Aaaargh!
I immediately contacted my registrar and they got back quick, saying there was nothing they could do and that the domain would be in the TBR on Feb 15. I'd have to place an order to catch the name, competing against anyone else who wanted it. Not a pretty picture. I posted in DNForum for help and also contacted CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. Sure enough, there was nothing that could be done until the TBR. I took down my post at DNForum, because I had my answer and the last thing I wanted to do was bring more attention to my deleted domain that I wanted back.
It was a long 10 days to wait for the Feb 15 TBR. As it turned out, this TBR was getting a lot of attention because there were more high quality domains in it than usual. Many .ca domainers were talking about how good this TBR was going to be. Great, I thought, everyone will be poring over the list of expired domains more closely this week, and more people will be competing in the TBR. On the other hand, maybe my domain will get overlooked, and the high quality domains like SummerCamps.ca and Tofu.ca will get all the attention.
In order to have any chance at getting this domain back, I had to place my TBR order at the two most successful registrars for catching .ca domains, that being Sibername and MyID. If anyone could get it, it would be one of those two. But would I end up in an auction with someone who had deeper pockets? I could only sit and wait. I bid higher than the minimum for this domain at both registrars and didn't see any signs that there were competing bids, but that could change in the minutes before the cutoff and I wouldn't know it.
After the bidding closes, you have to wait until 2pm PST before any results come in. Usually you'll get an email from the registrar telling you that you're in an auction for a domain, or that you got it outright. The first email I got from Sibername told me that I was in one or more auctions for a domain. I had put in for other TBR domains as well. I logged in and checked my auctions. My domain wasn't there. I then checked the payment page where a domain that was won and had no other bids could be paid for. Lo and behold, they had caught my domain and were ready for payment! It was a great feeling to get it back.
You are probably wondering what the domain is. It is KonaCoffee.ca. I think I registered it back in 2007 after a vacation in Kona Hawaii where I learned about kona coffee beans, and how they are only grown in that part of the world. I love kona coffee and this is one of my domains that I 'love' to own. Obviously no one else was competing for this domain so that does say something too. I already had a mini-site for the domain, and perhaps one day I'll take it to the next level by selling coffee online. Thousands of Canadians visit Hawaii every year and know the magic of kona coffee. If I had lost the domain, I'd have winced every time for the rest of my life whenever I heard or saw the words 'kona coffee' or 'kona blend'.
The lesson I learned from this is to renew early and not leave your important registrations to the last minute. I was planning to do a blog post about this whether I got the domain back or not, because it's a good story on the subject of domain renewals. I got away with it this time, but next time might not be so lucky. Thank you to Sibername for getting my domain name back!