I Made Godaddy Refund The "udrp Fee". Here's How I Did It...

Maxwell

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As per my previous thread, I had a bit of an issue with Godaddy charging me a $50.00 "administrative fee", when I had a UDRP filed against me in mid-September. It was honestly the last thing I needed. I had just moved overseas, and was in the midst of loads and loads of busy work, and now, not only did I have a UDRP to deal with, I was also out $50.00. Not even in exchange for anything. Just a bullshit administrative fee.

However, as of today, I can proudly announce that I have made them reverse the fee, even after being told it's "non-refundable". I thought I would post this here on DNForum, so that other domainers can see what I did to get the fee refunded - and hopefully, no one else will have to get bullied into paying this nonsense fee.

Just as a caveat and a disclaimer, I am not a lawyer (yet... I'm putting in my law school applications this month, though, as I will be finishing my bachelors degree this year). Therefore, I am not in any capacity to provide legal advice. The contents of this posting are strictly observations based on agreements that were applicable to my relationship with Godaddy, and Godaddy's relationship with ICANN. This posting is not a guarantee of anything. It is strictly anecdotal in its nature.

Here are the events, as they happened...

- On September 17th, 2014, one of my domain name registrations was challenged with a UDRP proceeding. I received all the relevant documents by email - and as the registrar, so did Godaddy. As a result of this, they decided to charge me a $50.00 administrative fee - presumably, for the "inconvenience" of having to receive this paperwork.

- As I did not agree with this fee (seriously... $50.00, to receive an email?), I attempted to correspond with Godaddy by phone, to have the fee reversed. The first call resulted in me being put on hold (and me not having the patience, so I hung up). The second time, the guy I spoke to was a bit more helpful, but he attempted to justify the fee by saying that they "had to have an administrator from legal process it", and for that reason, it is a "non-refundable fee".

This bothered me (obviously) - but what really got to me was that as a registrar, they are bound to be required to cooperate with UDRP proceedings in some way... which, in effect, makes it their responsibility, and not mine.

After all, they didn't actually DO anything... other than receive the email, place the domain name on registrar lock, and notify me accordingly. Which, conceivably, they would have to do anyway, as a registrar, right?

So I decided to investigate.

Sure enough, the ICANN Accreditation Agreement (2013 version) has something to say about this sort of thing, as far as the registrar's role goes...

- §3.8 (domain-name dispute resolution) requires the registrar to comply with the Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy (UDRP) - which includes requiring them to put the domain name in a registrar lock, while the dispute is active.

- Additionally, §3.5 (rights in data) strips the registrar of any exclusive license, with respect to registrant, as well as registration data. In other words, they are required to disclose it, as they do not have an exclusive right to it. Not that it matters, because my domain name wasn't even on private registration in the first place. I have nothing to hide. So there are no barriers for anyone to get past.

- Further, I know for a fact that Godaddy hardly had to do anything to begin with. Because WIPO (with whom the complaint was filed) sets out a very limited scope of duties for the registrar (which is only reasonable, because they are not actually party to the proceeding - they only hold things that are relevant to it, and they are contractually bound to comply with the provision of data, and restraint of the domain name).

So, I sent Godaddy the following email, explaining why the fee needs to be refunded...

Hello,

I was recently charged $50.00 as an administrative fee for receiving a UDRP proceeding, filed against me for one of my domain names registered at Godaddy.

As I disagree with this fee being levied, I phoned in twice in the past week, attempting to have it reversed. The second representative I spoke to informed me that the fee cannot be waived or refunded.

I am emailing you to contest the fee, on the following premise...

The Godaddy Canada TOS specifies in section 17 that the fee is an "administrative fee". Section 3.8 of the ICANN accreditation agreement requires registrars such as Godaddy fully comply with the procedures as prescribed by the UDRP - which, in kind, may be ordered by a resolution provider such as WIPO.

The scope of the registrar's responsibilities, as specified by WIPO (which can be found at https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/guide/#g) are limited to the provision of publicly available information - the entirety of which, the registrar is required to disclose anyway, under section 3.5 of the accreditation agreement.

Therefore, I find that Godaddy does not have a valid capacity in which to charge an administrative fee of any sort.

As a result, you are to apply a full refund to the credit card on file without delay. Please provide confirmation of the refund within 48 hours. Thank you.

To which, their reply was...

Dear Maxwell Arnold,


Thank you for your email. When a domain name is named in an Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) proceeding, the registrar's role requires much more administrative involvement than a domain name that is not subject to a UDRP proceeding. Due to this, when you purchase a domain name, you agree that we are authorized to charge an administrative fee per the following portion of our Terms of Service (found at https:// www. godaddy.com/agreements/showdoc.aspx?pageid=REG_SA):

Go Daddy also reserves the right to charge you reasonable "administrative fees" or "processing fees" for (i) tasks Go Daddy may perform outside the normal scope of its Services, (ii) additional time and/or costs Go Daddy may incur in providing its Services, and/or (iii) your noncompliance with this Agreement (as determined by Go Daddy in its sole and absolute discretion). Typical administrative or processing fee scenarios include, but are not limited to (i) customer service issues that require additional personal time or attention; (ii) UDRP actions(s) in connection with your domain name(s) and/or disputes that require accounting or legal services, whether performed by Go Daddy staff or by outside firms retained by Go Daddy;

Please note, however, if the panel finds the case in your favor, we will promptly refund the fee you were charged.

Kindest Regards,

Shannon C
Disputes Administrator
GoDaddy

Of course, she would avoid the key point of the registrar's duties. That was my strongest argument. But by failing to mention it, it can be twisted to make it look like I just didn't read the fine print. Guess what? I did - and I'm calling them out on it.

What I find to be interesting, though, is that they will readily refund the fee if I win the UDRP. Which tells me that it's a totally bullshit fee. Whether I win or lose, the "administrative involvement" that they had in all of this doesn't change. It all took place prior to the case even being heard by the panel.

So I sent them this...

Hi, Shannon

Thank you for your prompt reply. However, you have failed to acknowledge Godaddy's responsibility as a registrar, under the ICANN accreditation agreement. The entirety of WIPO's list of registrar responsibilities entails the provision of information that Godaddy is obligated to disclose, in its agreement with ICANN.

This is what I mean when I say that Godaddy does not have the capacity to charge an administrative fee. As Godaddy is simply doing what it is legally required to do, I have not brought on any additional "administrative involvement", as you had put it, that is outside of the scope of Godaddy's responsibilities as a registrar.

Your fulfilment of these responsibilities is mandatory - thus, any costs that might have been incurred is a cost of doing business for Godaddy. I am not obligated to pay any amount outside of the registration or renewal fee, as that in itself, creates a binding obligation for Godaddy to perform all services pertaining to domain names that are registered with it, as described in the accreditation agreement, as well as applicable legislation.

The provision of this refund is not optional. Please apply it to my credit card immediately.

Then, this afternoon, I received email confirmation that they are, in fact, refunding the administrative fee!

I would have gotten it anyway. As I said in my prior thread, I was all set to file a chargeback for it (which I was going to do last night, but didn't get around to it - fortunately).

But this just goes to show that if you pay attention, you can notice discrepancies between what happens, and what's permissible. If something impermissible ends up costing you money, you have every right to seek any remedy you can get - and that's just what I did - and I hope that anyone else who gets hit with this fee gets to see this thread, so they can harass Godaddy a little bit too, and get them to refund the money.

The best part? I'm STILL leaving them! Their approach to this was grossly unprofessional, and that's not conduct that I'm going to finance, with revenue that comes out of my pocket. So, in the end, they end up losing my business, and the $50.00 they tried to snake out of me.

Not so tough now, are you, Godaddy?
 

Commerce

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You might want to include this post with your law school applications. It is neat to note that you had your first solid legal win even before you even entered law school. Thanks for sharing the research to the benefit of the other DNF members.
 

Ian

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Thank you sharing your experience. It helped to dig through ICANN legal docs to find establish your domain registrant's rights. Patience and persistence pays!
 

Rajeesha

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good attempt, winning the case before enrolling law college :)
thanks for sharing
 
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