Why you should not use 1and1 to register your domains

By | December 8, 2012

I was recently looking for a domain registrar to which to transfer my domains from Go Daddy (the whole SOPA-supporting, misogynistic-ads-running, whole-day-outage-allowing thing just wasn’t doing it for me anymore), and several friends recommended 1and1, so I went ahead and transferred my domains to them several days ago.

Boy, was that a mistake.

I like to run my own DNS server for several of my domains. I don’t want my DNS server to be a single point of failure, but at the same time, it’s a pain to run multiple DNS servers, so after initiating the domain transfer process to 1and1, I emailed their “expert” customer service department and asked if they could provide secondary DNS support for my domains and mirror the domains’ zone files from my the primary DNS server maintained by me.

I got back an answer which make it perfectly clear that the person writing it didn’t know what I was talking about. Lovely, a domain registrar whose “expert” customer support representatives don’t understand how DNS servers work.

I wrote back a second time, explaining again what I was asking, and ending my message with, If you don’t understand what I am asking, please escalate this issue to someone who does.”

I got back a second answer which, again, did not answer my question and made it clear that the (different) person at the other end of the line didn’t know what I was talking about.

But that’s actually small potatoes compared to what 1and1 really did wrong, which was to screw up my domain transfer in a way which caused the domains I was transferring, including my primary email domain, to be down for almost 24 hours, and to lie to me about the cause of the delay. Perhaps most people who register domains don’t understand how things work well enough to know when they’re being lied to, but I don’t fall into that category, and there’s nothing worse you can do to piss me off as a customer than lie to me to mask your incompetence.

Here’s how a domain transfer issupposed to work:

  1. The customer initiates the transfer.
  2. The new registrar requests the transfer from the old registrar.
  3. The old registrar notifies the customer and asks for approval of the transfer.
  4. The customer configures DNS etc. at the new registrar, so that when the transfer is approved, the new registrar can have things up and running essentially immediately.
  5. The customer approves the transfer with the old registrar.
  6. The old registrar notifies the new registrar that the transfer has been approved and relinquishes control of the domain to the new registrar.
  7. The new registrar immediately completes the registration process and brings the domain live on its DNS servers. This completes a successful transfer, with minimal downtime.

The only steps in this process which are not under the control of either the customer or the new registrar are steps 3 and 6, when the old registrar must take action. I suppose it’s possible that there are some registrars who do these steps manually (or worse, delay them on purpose because they don’t want to lose customers), but for Go Daddy, at least, it’s entirely automated.

Go Daddy asked for my approval almost immediately after I initiated the transfer through 1and1. After I approved the transfer, Go Daddy released the domains to 1and1 very quickly. In particular, Go Daddy notified me at 7:30pm on December 6, “This is to confirm that the following domain names have been successfully transferred away from Go Daddy to Schlund+Partner AG.”

Sixteen hours later, 1and1’s web site claimed that they were still waiting for the transfer from Go Daddy. That’s bullshit. The only thing they were waiting for was to get their thumbs out of their asses and finish the transfer on their end. Which they didn’t do until 7:20pm, 10 minutes short of 24 hours after Go Daddy released the domains to them.

When I called 1and1’s “expert” customer service department to complain, I reached an offshore customer service farm which, judging from the name and accent of the person who answered the phone, was in India. Let’s face facts, here, folks: there are no “expert” customer service departments in India.

The guy I spoke with first claimed that the issue was “propagation.” I knew that was bullshit because (a) I know a thing or two about how this stuff works, having been in the business for more than two decades, and (b) the “whois” info for my domains showed that they were now registered with 1and1, which means there was nothing stopping 1and1 from completing the transfer.

When I told called him on that bullshit, he said that  the delays were ICANN’s fault, which is also bullshit.

Then he said, “Did you read the warning we displayed before you initiated the transfer? It said it would take 5-7 days.” To which I responded, “That’s because ICANN rules allow the old registrar to take up to 5 days to transfer the domain to the new one, but that’s irrelevant here, because the old registrar has already transferred the domain to you, and all that’s left is for you to finish setting up the domain on your end.”

The fact of the matter is that the only thing which caused our domains to be down for almost 24 hours was a 24-hour delay at 1and1.

I’d be a lot less pissed about all of this if the guy I spoke to on the phone had been just a tiny bit less clueless about the whole thing. If he had said to me, for example, “Once your old registrar finishes their part of the transfer, it can take 1and1 up to 24 hours to finish setting things up on our end,” I could have lived with that. I’d still have been upset about the unnecessary 1-day delay, but not nearly as upset as I am with the fact that the guy I spoke to on the phone was clueless and blamed other people for a delay which was only 1and1’s fault.

Oh, and by the way, I wasn’t running my own DNS servers for the domains in question; if I had been, none of this would have mattered, because my DNS servers would have stayed up and running during the entire delay, as opposed to Go Daddy’s, from which they removed my domains as soon as they relinquished them to 1and1. So now you know why I like to run my own DNS servers whenever possible. I’ll be making sure to set up my own DNS servers for all of my domains before I transfer them off of 1and1, which after this experience I most definitely intend to do.

Speaking of which, can anybody recommend a registrar that’s competent and doesn’t lie to customers?

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6 thoughts on “Why you should not use 1and1 to register your domains

  1. JT

    I’ve just gone through a horrendous experience with 1&1. Our domain was due to expire, and so I contacted them a day before to renew. Unfortunately, because we were not aware of their stupid policy of having to renew 9 months ago (!) the domain had been marked for deletion. Apparently when you buy a domain from 1&1, you buy into a contract, and if the contract is not renewed annually, it gets terminated and then when you want to renew you have to pay an $18.95 penalty plus the next year’s registration. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and no other DNS registrar I know of operates this way. There’s way more to the story, but I can’t be bothered to type it out. Suffice to say, our site has been down for 4 days because of 1&1’s incompetence in handling a renewal.

    There is one good registrar that I know of, and it’s easyDNS. They’re competent, have actual experts that answer the phone and know what they’re talking about, and their CEO is a pretty cool guy who blogs about the company and his opinions on the industry. A real straight-shooter who doesn’t mince words. Check them out, https://web.easydns.com/. I intend to transfer this domain to them soon as I sort out things with the incompetents at 1&1.

  2. Andy

    Guess what, Just because the account was not paid on time, 1and1 simply DELETED all my data on the server. Including website and the database. The window given for payment? – Just 15 days.

    I would expect the account to be LOCKED and not reachable. That is fine. But simply deleting the entire server.. means I lost all my data, all my customers, all my orders, all…. everything..

    I am so pissed off right now that I can’t even type this.. Just got off the phone from these fxxxing assholes..

    My suggestion:- I can live with few hours downtime but simply wiping out data? You guys are talking about business aren’t you?

  3. Dyson Medic

    I currently have an issue where my host Hostgator upgraded our server and changed IP addresses on a VPS.

    I want into 1&1 who does the domains, changed the IP’s accordingly. However, something needs doing with DNS glue and other stuff I don’t quite get that should have been done automatically at their end.

    I am also getting ludicrous replies – presumably from India. Only thanks to the good support at HG do I actually understand what is going on and that 1&1 are totally incompetent.

    If not resolved by tonight, I am pulling all my domains out of 1&1 – GoDaddy don’t seem to have these issues.

  4. NShanske

    I would warn anyone against using 1&1, not just for domains, but for any product, particularly hosting. Your experience makes it clear that nothing has changed since the awful experience I had with them 2.5 years ago.

    An email I sent them at the time:
    Dear XXXXX-
    This is neither what I asked for, nor is it helpful. It confirms once again that nobody at 1&1 has actually bothered to listen to my concerns.

    My database was down for a period of over 24 hours. This itself is unacceptable. Worse, 4 phone calls to 1&1 support during this time period yielded no real information, not ETA for fixing the problem, and no explanation of what had gone wrong and what was being done to fix it. I was told that I would be contacted when updates were available. One woman I spoke to claimed that the entire server was being restored from backup(which I presume is what happened) I asked when the backup was from and how much data loss I should expect and was told “none”.

    When the database finally came back up(something I had to notice myself, as no promised update came from 1&1), there was data missing, presumably those updates that occurred between the time of the most recent backup and the time of the database failure. I contacted 1&1 support to inquire about the whereabouts of my data, since I had been assured that no data loss would occur.

    The cs representative seemed confused by the concept of missing rows and told me several times that my tables were all there. Eventually she told me that someone would look into it and get back to me. I had a few ineffective and unresponsive twitter conversations with @1and1_4u, and here we stand now.
    You have just sent me a dump of a database which matches the database you restored 2 days ago and is still missing data updated before the outage.

    The unwillingness of 1&1 to listen to me, to take responsibility, and to be accountable has been astounding to me. A 24 hour outage on a production system is entirely unacceptable. I have asked for and still not received an explanation of what went wrong, why it took so long to remedy, and what steps have been taken to avoid similar future failures.

    Data loss of any kind is likewise unacceptable. Even more astounding is the fact that 1&1 is either unaware or unwilling to admit that it lost my data. I would like a full outage report detailing when the outage occurred and at what time the most recent backup which was used for the restore was dumped.

    These are not unreasonable requests, but your customer service department is unequipped to tell me anything other than “your database is still down”, a fact I had no need to call to ascertain. I have spent 15 years managing production servers in data center environments handling large volume, including web hosting services. I NEVER had an incident with 24 hours of downtime. When I did have downtime, I provided with customers with appropriate outage reports, and my vendors did the same for me.

    I look forward to your prompt and detailed response.

    And a response a received from them:
    Thank you for contacting us.

    We understand that you urgently needed our quick response and reliable
    information regarding to this query. Indeed, we are gathering the best
    information that we can provide you which you may find it interesting
    and that you can apply it in order to resolved your concerns. Moreover,
    we really do apologize for the inconvenience we have caused you. As we
    further check your case, it is still open and pending on our
    administrators list. It is highly prioritized and they are working on it
    as you read this email right now. Rest assured everything will be sorted
    out. And if a resolution will be provided, we are going to immediately
    update you of the outcome of it at the very soonest time. Again, we
    really do apologize for any inconvenience we have caused you. We are
    hoping for your understanding, patience and cooperation .

    If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

    My response:
    Dear Sir,
    Your response has left me at a loss for words. You have managed to string together a series of sentences that manages to be both completely incomprehensible and devoid of all content.

    Please forward my initial email to someone with an capacity for rational thought who can read it, understand it, and respond appropriately. Additionally, a response to my separate email containing numbered questions would be most appreciated. Please make sure that whoever is answering reads and understands the questions before responding.

    Thank you for your additional assistance in this matter.

    I anticipate your prompt and detailed response.

    Their (infuriating response):
    Thank you for contacting us.

    Please be advise that as we have checked your previous case your issue
    has already been escalated to the admins and they are working on it now.
    No need to worry because it is already on the process. And you need to
    wait 24 hours for the email updates from the admins.

    If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

    My response:
    It is really remarkable. Each email I receive from 1&1 is more bizarre and unhelpful than the last.
    It has now been almost week since my initial problem, and each correspondence with 1&1 has resulted in my increased frustration.

    Once again, you have sent me an email which does not respond to what I have written to you. Do not tell me not to worry. I am not worried. Rather, I am offended by the way I have been treated, and upset by the fact that 1&1 provides such subpar service. The way to remedy this would be to actually address my questions instead of sending me nonsensical responses about how hard people are working on my problem. I am no longer asking for people to work on my problem. I am asking for an explanation of what happened. If a week after the incident, it is not possible to explain it, then it would seem that your staff is so lacking in basic technical competence that I should be afraid to continue to trust you with my business. Please convince me this is not the case.

    By this point, I must acknowledge that the likely response to this email will be to tell me once again that someone is working on something, that I should not worry, that I should be patient. Please do not bother to waste your time or mine sending an email like that. Please respond by answering the specific questions I have asked, and by responding to my particular complaint.

    I once again, with little confidence, await your complete and detailed response.

    Their response:
    Thank you for contacting us.

    There was a hardware issue on the server during that time. The reason
    you cannot access a database driven website. Our administrators are
    taking precautionary actions so that this will not happen again.

    If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

    My final response(at which point I’d already cancelled and moved to linode):
    This is getting closer to a reasonable response, but only marginally. I am still awaiting a response to the 11 specific questions I asked in a previous email. I will restate some of them here:

    1) Why did it take you 6 days to tell me this was a hardware issue? Surely this should have been immediately obvious.

    2) At what time did the hardware issue first occur?

    3) Why did the hardware issue lead to permanent data loss?

    4) My data was restored from an old backup. At what time was the backup produced?

    5) At what time was the decision made to restore from old backup and when was the restore process begun?

    6) During my four phone calls to 1&1 during the 24 hours of database downtime, why could no staff tell me what was going on, or provide an estimate of when issues might be resolved?

    7) Why did 1&1 staff assure me there would be no data loss at a time when admins must already have been restoring from an old backup and data loss was a certainty?

    8) Why does 1&1 advertise 24/7 support when a none of the support staff is able to answer straightforward questions, even a week later?

    9) What are the precautionary actions that you mention your administrators are taking so this will not happen again?

    10) Given that 4 phone calls and over half a dozen emails have not yielded a single reasonable response to a single question, why should I continue to trust 1&1 with my business?

    I look forward to your prompt and detailed response to each question.

    Sorry for the long-winded post, but I’ve been waiting 2.5 years to get this off my chest. 1&1 is “unsafe at any speed”

  5. Pingback: 1and1, the saga continues « Something better to do

  6. JD

    During the SOPA firestorm a year ago (or whenever it was), I transferred everything to NameCheap. I have absolutely zero complaints. Everything was totally painless.


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