Why you should never let a website developer setup or move your domain to their account!

It sounds legit and innocent… “We are going to move your domain into our parent account. That way we can monitor it and make sure the website is up and running for you.” … and you even say thank you, until the reality of what you did comes into play a few years later.

Buyer Beware

Over the last 20 years we’ve heard all the horror stories that started as a mindset of convenience and ended with a masterful calamity. In short, if you let the website company buy the domain (the www.yourwebsite) or when you move your domain over to them; you don’t own it anymore. What many do just because they don’t know better or are convinced otherwise can become a nightmare when you realize that when you give that ownership over, if they refuse to transfer it back when you need it… there is nothing short of a court case you can do to get it back.

Myth: I just need to call the domain provider and tell them I own the company

FALSE. The person whose name is listed as the registrar owns that domain. Remember the .com battles of the 90’s where kids were going out and registering common names, then cashing out for millions? That’s because when you have a domain listed in a registration account, it belongs to that account holder. (Regardless of who made the initial purchase). Even if it happens to be the name of a company, the domain service provider cannot forcibly remove that property and give it to someone else. They can take the account holder to court… and the court CAN force them to release the domain, but they still have to pay market value of the domain to get it. The domain providers often will work with the parties through arbitration (for a fee) but at the end of that if the account holder still refuses, the courts are the only recourse.

We have seen too many times where the domain account was held hostage for unfair fees, royalties, part ownership stake in the company… the list goes on.

Let’s Run Some Scenarios

1. You call a website developer and want to have a website created. You have nothing started so they acquire the domain for you, set up the website and your up and running. Sounds good so far? Now fast forward 6 months: horrible service, rude staff and never answer their emails, you tell them you want to move to another service provider. Nope. You don’t own the domain because YOU didn’t purchase and register it under your name.

2. Same situation, but your employee sets up the domain in his name and email and contracts with a website provider. Employee gets fired for drinking on the job. Next year website goes down for no payment (you have to keep that up to date) Former employee refuses to give you the login credentials… TECHNICALLY that former employee owns that domain.

3. Last one (for this article) You hire a new website provider; they ask for login credentials for your domain and tell you it’s for monitoring and convenience. As a result, they require you to transfer your domain to their account. Sounds fair right? Maybe, maybe not. Remember the domain is OWNED by the person of who’s account it resides. When you try to sell your company, you find out that they expect a percentage of the sale because… you guessed it: They own your domain!

If you haven’t figured it out yet…

Websites by Patriots will never transfer the ownership of a domain to our account. We work with you to keep the account in your ownership and control. If you do not have the login credentials to your website’s domain, find them and secure them. If it is in an employee’s name, get it changed to yours. If it’s in another company’s account, get it changed to yours. This is your name, reputation and business. In some cases you’ve spend thousands of dollars to brand your website address. It is worth your time to make sure you actually own your domain.