In what can only be a Christmas miracle, the domain registrar 1and1 has decided to return the domain OurGoods.org to the New York City-based barter startup. Renewal notices went straight to spam, and OurGoods forgot to renew their domain name for about $9; in retaliation, 1and1 blacklisted them. The cofounders begged, but customer service wouldn’t listen: the domain had already been shuffled over to DomCollect, 1and1′s partner, for resale.
“We hope that no one buys it and I don’t know why 1and1 doesn’t want to work with us,” cofounder Caroline Woolard said at the time. “I was just telling them we are a nonprofit, it’s $9 a year, can we really just pay you $9? They say the grace period is over somehow and because we didn’t pay they want to blacklist us and just let it go up for grabs.”
But apparently persistence paid off. Out of the blue, 1and1 emailed OurGoods last week to say they could have the domain back. Provided they follow the necessary bureaucratic procedure, that is:
As your bill went unpaid for ongoing months, your account was terminated. Domains in a canceled account do not renew. The domain OurGoods.org had expired as has gone into the redemption period. If you wish to retrieve the domain, we will require that you take the appropriate steps to have the domain restored.
Back in November, you attempted to redeem the domain, however, as explained by a 1&1 agent, we were unable to restore your domain at that time because you did not currently have an active account. Please know that this does not mean that we are unwilling to redeem the domain for you, it simply means that you will need to create an account so the domain can be added to that account when restored. This would also means that we will require a new redemption form using the information from your new account.
You may create an account by visiting order.1and1.com, or you may speak with a sales representative to assist you. They can be reached Mon-Fri, 8AM-11PM EST at 1.877.461.2631. Once a new account is created, please allow 6 hours for your new account information to be sent to you via email. Once this information is received, you can use it to fill out a new redemption form.
Below is the URL to our Domain Redemption form. The completed and signed form can be sent as an attachment in reply to this email, or faxed to 610.560.1501.
Ms. Woolard said the change of heart was a welcome surprise, but she’s not quite sure what brought it on. “Absolutely NO idea, but I’m thinking they made sure to keep us happy after all the people who called on our behalf,” she said in an email.
One of those advocates was Larry Erlich of DomainRegistry.com, who emailed Betabeat after our first story about the debacle. “I read the ourgoods.org story and it pissed me off,” he said. “So I forwarded it to my contacts at ICANN the head of compliance [sic]. They are on it… I had been informing ICANN about this behavior in the past by registrars (competitors) which essentially isn’t allowed.” Registrars are supposed to return a domain if the failure to renew was unintentional.
Mr. Erlich said his lobbying was responsible for 1and1′s reversal (Betabeat was unable to confirm this). And hey, maybe registrars are receptive to public opinion—what with GoDaddy switching its position on SOPA after an outcry and reprimand from Ashton Kutcher. Although 1and1 doesn’t seem to mind its stack of files on RipoffReport.com or angry rants from French people.