Sometimes even someone like me with years of experience in business falls for an old trick. This has given me the idea for this blogpost.
Almost every starting entrepreneur nowadays will want to create a web presence, the first step in this process is choosing and registering a domain name. Now this is where it gets tricky; a lot of fresh entrepreneurs will not directly register the domain name themselves but will leave this to whatever web design agency they are dealing with. That’s all fine but make sure that you insist that the domain is registered in your (or your companies) name. Why? Simply because there is a good likelyhood that at some point down the line you might want to move your site or all your business elsewhere. If at that point the domain is not registered to you and you dealing with an unscrupulous web developer (a crook basically) they can hold you to ransom by refusing to transfer the domain or by charging you a ridiculous fee for it. They can even change the DNS records to bring people typing in the URL to a completely different website.
See, I thought that the time of these cowboys had come and gone. Until recently. In February I asked someone who I had met at a local Open Coffee Club to register a domain for me. He ran a company that developed websites, improved their rankings and did related work so registering domain names seemed like a logical extension of this. The domain in question was for the Greenhouse Incubator, a project that I have put a lot of (volunteer) time in and invested quite a bit of money in to. The aim of the Greenhouse is to help people who have recently become unemployed to start their own business. Anyway, it now turns out that this person without notifying me registered this domain and a number of other related ones in his own name. I only found this out now because I have become involved in a dispute over a completely unrelated matter with this person and he has now repeatedly threatened to change the DNS records of this domain effectively taking the site off-air.
Now what recourse do I have beyond appealing to this persons honesty? Very little. I can engage a solicitor and enter in a possibly lenghty legal process or I can appeal with the World Intellectual Property Organisation with a inntial fee of $1500. Neither of which are attractive options. But I will take them if forced to.
Anyway, let this be a warning to those starting out AND those at the game a long time. Register your domain yourself or make sure it’s registered in your name. There are some bad, bad people out there 😉