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How to Get Help When You Have a Problem with Your Registrar

6 March 2007

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Please note: this advice refers only to generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and does not apply to country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)

ICANN successfully introduced competition in the registrar marketplace which has resulted in over several hundred ICANN-accredited registrars now offering a range of registration services. Go to http://www.icann.org/registrars/accredited-list.html for a complete list of ICANN accredited registrars. Registrants have the option of simply purchasing a domain name, or purchasing a domain name that includes a package of services such as web hosting services, domain name proxy services and other related services. With this range of registrar services available to the public, comes a range of customer service offerings. Registrants have found that some registrars offer 24 hour live customer service assistance, while others only offer customer service via e-mail. Accordingly, registrants are encouraged to carefully research a potential registrar before entering into a contract for registration services to determine if the potential registrar meets the needs of the registrant.

In keeping with ICANN’s goal of promoting and encouraging competition in the registrar marketplace, the Inter-Registrar Transfer policy provides a straightforward procedure for domain name holders to transfer their names from one ICANN-accredited registrar to another should they wish to do so. The policy also provides standardized requirements for registrar handling of such transfer requests from domain name holders. You may view the inter-registrar transfer policy at http://www.icann.org/transfers/policy-12jul04.htm.

ICANN is the private, not-for-profit technical coordination body responsible for coordinating the unique assignment of Internet domain names and IP addresses. ICANN is not a government agency. ICANN has a contractual relationship with all accredited registrars that clearly sets forth the obligations of accredited registrars, (See http://www.icann.org/en/registrars/accreditation-agreement-en.htm). If a registrar fails to adhere to any of the terms of the RAA, ICANN may pursue all remedies available to it under the RAA, including termination of accreditation.

If you have a complaint that concerns a matter addressed in the RAA, you should contact ICANN for assistance at http://www.internic.net. In summary, registrars are obligated to provide the following customer service related services pursuant to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement:

  1. Registrars must adhere to consensus policies (http://www.icann.org/general/consensus-policies.htm) e.g, Inter Registrar Transfer Policy, Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, Whois Data Reminder Policy, Whois Marketing Restriction Policy, Restored Names Accuracy Policy and the Expired Domain Deletion policy.
  2. Registrars must timely populate Whois data
  3. Registrars must timely submit updated registration information to registries.
  4. Registrars must provide public access to Whois data.
  5. Registrars must require all Registered Name Holders to enter into a registration agreement that includes specific provisions.
  6. Registrars must investigate reported inaccurate contact information.

ICANN’s mission does not include resolving consumer complaints that fall outside of the RAA. Complaints about a registrar’s performance that cannot be resolved with a registrar and fall outside of the terms of the RAA may be addressed by private sector agencies involved in addressing consumer complaints (i.e. The Better Business Bureau http://www.bbb.org/), by law enforcement agencies or by governmental consumer protection entities (i.e. The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network http://www.icpen.org/). ICANN does not address consumer complaints pertaining to the following matters:

  1. Spam complaints
  2. Website content complaints
  3. Failure to timely answer phones
  4. Failure to timely respond to e-mail messages
  5. Over billing/ Multiple billing
  6. Computer viruses