by Jeffrey Henderson·
I’m writing this to stay busy. I’m waiting for my website domain to return home because I neglected to protect it properly. I have no one to blame but myself, so I’ll give you this cautionary tale so you won’t have to endure the last hour of my entrepreneurial life. This is also an unwelcome/welcome distraction from the rest of life's real attrocities.
Forty-five minutes into a thirty minute video call with my business partner Jon Lopez, I send him a link to landing page we developed yesterday for Harlem Grown.
“Nothing’s there,” Jon responded to the link I’d just forwarded.
Naturally, I checked on my laptop to discover the link showed an error.
This type of thing happens all of the time, so I traced my steps back through the ecommerce platform to find that the page was fine. I then went checked the domain link and found that the platform wasn’t connected.
No big deal. I’d hit the reconnect button and everything would be fine.
Nope. Something was more wrong. Much more wrong.
So head on over to GoDaddy. I love love GoDaddy.
But as I scroll through the domains I’ve purchased over the years, I can’t find the domain to my ecommerce platform. The platform that I’d based everything from design to business on. The phrase that I’d used to sign off wasn’t in my list of domains.
(You should know that I’m refreshing my domain list every 30 seconds as I type this article because it’s still not there as I write this article to keep me distracted.)
I was told long ago that there’s no more jarring sensation than having your car stolen. It’s an odd feeling — not life threatening, but the feeling of something so large in your life disappearing is an odd shaped hole.
I’d experienced this when I thought I saw someone stealing my car and driving off. It was jarring. It was odd. But it turned out to not be my car.
But this was my domain.
And it was gone.
Let’s Go Back
Was I hacked? Had I not paid for my service? Perhaps the tear in the space-time continuum that brought us reality show presidential candidates and fashion Crocs were responsible for my evaporated domain name.
Or maybe I just didn’t pay my bill.
In April my accountant found some subtle inconsistencies in my credit card statements — sorry WingStop, I’m not a regular. So the card was cancelled and I updated as many accounts as I could think of.
At the same time, anyone who uses GoDaddy knows that you receive what feels like a call every week to see if everything is okay. Early on in entrepreneurial life this was a great benefit. A real person explained how my accounts, domains, email, etc worked.
However, over time, I eventually numbed to their phone calls. Yes, I know I had an expiring domain. No, I didn’t want to add a website to a domain. The constant help became an unnecessary intrusion.
Until it wasn’t.
Over the previous 2 months those calls were a friendly reminder that my ONLY payment methods on the platform was no longer valid, putting my upcoming payments at risk.
It turns out that I didn’t even notice the 3:33AM email alerting me to the harsh reality.
Call or Chat?
Over the last couple of weeks our ecommerce print-on-demand product has had delays due to COVID-19. We’ve tried to stay ahead of the delays with emails and partial refunds, but we’ve been late with a few responses. Customers found our email and questioned the delay and we responded, often with a partial refund.
None of these customers wanted a refund because they were supporting a small business. They just wanted to know where the product was. They’ve all been amazing.
So when my domain was missing, I simultaneously started a phone call and a chat to GoDaddy. If you own your own business you understand how amazing that last sentence was. If you don’t find that sentence amazing, try to find the customer support phone number AND a chat link that actually connects to any of the B2B services that are needed to run a small business.
1–800-FACEBOOK is not a thing.
(checks 1–800-FACEBOOK to make sure it’s not a thing. It is not.)
The GoDaddy chatbot hits me back at about the same time the third phone bot give me the chance to speak to a live person. So, goodbye bot.
Cool as the Other Side of the Pillow
While I’m trying to communicate a sense of urgency without sounding like I’ve lost all control, I explain to my GoDaddy that the domain to our ecommerce site has disappeared.
Phil — my angel — patiently took me through my multiple step security. Some quick questions and a text.
I say ‘patiently’ because on more than one account I’ve been on the phone with many a service provider and felt as though their security protocol felt cold and impersonal. There I was waiting for some internet or mobile or banking or subscription information and the human on the other side didn’t fully grasp my anxiety. This isn’t always the case, but enough for me to respect Phil’s patience as he pointed out where to find the information he was looking for.
Securely identified, Phil checks my account to confirm that I no longer had the domain. Then he hits with the 1,2.
“I can’t even see the domain on our list” was followed up with “but it looks as though someone owns it.”
I mouthed four letter words.
“Let me do some digging,” Phil explained while I tried to figure out an alternative link until this mishap got sorted out. The redirection of a domain name was a potential nightmare, compounded by the fact that the domain is actually a graphic. I was doing the math but my heart wasn’t in it. I was rooting for Phil.
Along his search for information Phil calmly walked me through his protocol, his Google search and finally to his final dig. That sentence sounds simple, but it was a very long 8 minutes.
“Got it,” Phil exclaimed once he found the domain in the ethernet dark web of mystery or whatever. “How would you like to pay?”
The Real Lesson
During Phil’s eternal search to locate the lost domain name I spent my first moments unearthing my payment failure. Because my past credit card was no longer valid, GoDaddy listed nothing in my payment methods.
I immediately added two new methods realizing that a backup would have saved me a bit of heartache — and maybe answering the complimentary calls from GoDaddy.
Two hours after Jon Lopez found my error the ecommerce site was back in action. Of course I blame him for the bad luck because soon after our call he had a plumbing issue that can only be attributed to the cloud over him as opposed to my personal negligence.
Jon, of course, blames me.
Soon after the smoke cleared GoDaddy sent me 4 emails. I recognized the ‘How Are We Doing?’ and happily filled out the survey.
I ignored the other three emails.