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Customer Service is Hard, Why Give Your Support Colleagues the Run Around?

Customer support @SlideShare

Photo courtesy of sylvain kalache(CC Attribution)

I have been in customer support for years and years and years. While this is a fulfilling job there are days when things can be difficult. We spend hours trying to help customers. The frustrating thing is when our colleagues, or rather our peers, do not take us seriously or do not take action to help our client who is actually also their client. I saw some of Richards Emails and I had to laugh. Yes I laughed, but these were borne out of sheer frustration. This post is not for everyone, but if you are in IT support, you may well find things that register with you.  Naturally we have had to remove some details. The story is true.

The good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good: Our client’s domain:  xxxxx.com,
The Bad: FreeParking,
The Ugly:  ICANN.

All identities have been concealed to protect the innocent. All names, dates, and places are fictional but the events are real.

Background:

We are trying to move xxxxxx.com from FreeParking to another registrar. Problems seem to come about with automated processes and something more sinister perhaps?

To start the process, we sent a request to FreeParking for a .com domain transfer code. They duly provided it. Lets call this support ticket 1 (SPT-1-FreeParking).

We then initiated a transfer in to the new registrar. They sent an email to the Admin Contact on the Domain record and the admin contact forwarded this email onto us. Now I am not sure how the new registrar found the Admin Contact, I will come back to this later.

In the transfer process we click on the email with the title “Domain Transfer Request for xxxxxx.COM” and after a browser window opens we receive the error message “Authorization order does not exist”.

Odd, so support ticket 2 (SPT-2-NewReg)is sent to the new registrar for clarification as to  what is going on. They say, 

“I have looked into this and we see that our transfer system was unable to verify the whois information by visiting the website whois.freeparking.co.uk  or  http://www.freeparking.co.uk. “

At this point, I decide that I have to start making sense of  this process as FreeParking support are clearly not understanding what I am going on about. (I do speak English, really.)

Technical Digging:
$ whois xxxx.com  
 Domain Name:  xxxxxxx.COM  
Registrar: FREEPARKING DOMAIN REGISTRARS, INC
Whois Server: whois.freeparking.co.uk
Referral URL: http://www.freeparking.co.uk
Name Server: NS3.UKDNSSERVERS.CO.UK
Name Server: NS4.UKDNSSERVERS.CO.UK
Status: ok  
Updated Date: 12-sep-2014  
Creation Date: 12-sep-2007  
Expiration Date: 12-sep-2015  
**  
No Domain
** The notice section has been removed from the output above.

OK, No Domain? Ummm, so lets just check that shall we.

$ whois -h whois.freeparking.co.uk xxxxxx.com
No Domain

So FreeParking mainly use freeparking.com so I make a wild assumption and try whois.freeparking.com

$ whois -h whois.freeparking.com xxxxxxxxx.com

The full record is returned but not shown here. I have worked it out. FreeParking at some point in time probably changed from freeparking.co.uk to freeparking.com and forgot to tell ICANN about the change to the whois server. We/I have worked it out. That must be simple to fix, surely. Maybe support at FreeParking can help me? 


So SPT-3- to FreeParking goes off explaining the above. 

— Support Ticket 3, response —

They are on http://whois.freeparking.com – go to the site and check it out.

So, I fire off a support ticket to the new reqistrar

— Support Ticket 4 response —
We do not use third party whois search to verify domain contact information.
We use what the registry for .com is referring to use for whois lookup and they are the links below:

Registrar: FREEPARKING DOMAIN REGISTRARS, INC
Whois Server: whois.freeparking.co.uk
Referral URL: http://www.freeparking.co.uk
We recommend to please contact the current registrar for links we can use to verify whois information.
Sincerely,

That seems fair enough from the new registrar. FreeParking have screwed up their Whois Server and the new registrar doesn’t want to look at any-old-website for verification of ownership.

FreeParking Support don’t get what is wrong and the workaround isn’t accepted by the new registrar. So where do you go from here?

— Compaint 1 (COMP-1-FreeParking) —
Hi,
Can I complain/suggest you set your Whois Servers correctly for the domains you are the registra for.

Whois Server: whois.freeparking.co.uk
Is wrong
Whois Server: whois.freeparking.com
Seems to work.
Domains affected. xxxxx.com, xxxxxx.com, xxxx.com

Response (fairly prompt) 

Hi, I have escalated this to our team that deals with WHOIS server settings and one of them will get back to you ASAP.
Regards,
xxx  

2nd unprompted Response (+2 hours) 

Please try that
Please try what? At this stage I feel like I am going though a slow Lobotomy courtesy of FreeParking.So getting not very far. A little frustration kicks in…..

Complaint 2 (COMP-2-OuterSpace) – A general email to a higher power. If you need a laugh, see the email addresses that were tried and the one that got a response.

Subject: Whois Server incorrectly set
To:registrars@freeparking.com,
support@freeparking.com,
accounts@freeparking.com,
anyone@freeparking.com,
abuse@freeparking.com,
annoyance@freeparking.com,
losingmytemper@freeparkng.com,
>> mymothercouldmasterthis@freeparking.com<<,
IwillFlyToDelawareIfNeeded@freeparking.com

Hello,

Having a bit of trouble with support. Any chance you can set the Whois Server correctly for the domains
xxxx.com,  xxxx.com, xxxxx.com

Whois Server is set to whois.freeparking.co.uk but that doesn’t return anything.whois.freeparking.com does work. I have asked support multiple times to change but guess this isn’t something they can deal with. Thanks,

— Response —

Hi Richard, I have to admit to being somewhat confused by your message. I’m not really sure what you’re asking for… when you say the WHOIS server is “set” to whois.freeparking.co.uk… which setting are you referring to? Perhaps your mother could tell me what and where it is we’re supposed to make said change? 😉

..and incidentally whois.freeparking.co.uk uses the same data sets as .com, and we get full results from the .co.uk whois server.

Whois servers are independant of the DNS system, however central registries keep a record of the default WHOIS server for each accreditted registrar, so for example if you perform a simple lookup via Internic it will show the default whois server, but that it on a registrar basis… not a per domain basis.

Look forward to hearing from you.
Cheers

XXXX

I found a higher power! Not that I completely agree with his statement about getting a full result from .co.uk but a higher power no less 🙂

So, I tuck my tail between my legs. Apologize about being sarcasitic in my choice of email addresses and explain I am not really sure what I am doing, and could he help me out.

I am sure this is the right man to get to the bottom of this. A few emails back and forth and XXX asks: 

Hi Richard,
No worries… have you tried Port 43 for our .co.uk command line whois?
Or does your whois command line application do that automatically?
cheers,

XXX

I send him a couple of tcpdumps of the look-ups. Indeed I am using port 43, but this is clearly the same problem the new registrar is having, but worth checking.

I hear nothing for a while and the domain expires today, so I end up renewing the domain. Have FreeParking done this on purpose, have they just won? The frustration builds again. So who do you complain to? ICANN, that is who. After digging for ages to find the complaint forms but they all seem to be concerned with disputes about ownership or about Whois information being incorrect. I couldn’t find a form about a Registrar breaking the Base Registry Agreement  Which I found here:

http://newgtlds.icann.org/sites/default/files/agreements/agreement-approved…

Interestingly, FreeParking manage to break 2 rules in only 1 paragraph.

“Registration Data Directory Services.  Until ICANN requires a different protocol, Registry Operator will operate a WHOIS service available via port 43 in accordance with RFC 3912, and a web-based Directory Service at <whois.nic.TLD> providing free public query-based access to at least the following elements in the following format.  ICANN reserves the right to specify alternative formats and protocols, and upon such specification, the Registry Operator will implement such alternative specification as soon as reasonably practicable.”

So, not only are they not maintaining whois.freeparking.co.uk they also neglect to maintain the record available at whois.nic.com . Complaint emails sent off to ICAAN, Support at FreeParking informed in the hope they sort it out and XXX also kept in the loop. 

Elapsed time since incident start: 4 days. 

The intended domain renewal has been missed and we have been forced to renew at FreeParking.com

Footnote:  Some other emails flew backwards and forwards. When we asked if we could complain about the level of service we were getting they actually sent us a link to ICANN. They missed the point. We wanted to complain about the service and support being provided by FreeParking. This is like wanting to complain about your bank branch and you are then told to complain to the Bank of England. They know very well that this line of action will take weeks if not months. 

FreeParking why don’t you just help us so that we can help our clients? I had sent a tweet to FreeParking yesterday. I guess they might take action with a follow up blog post and barrage of new tweets? Incidentally, I am still laughing about these two email addresses, perhaps we have discovered a new way to get support?

  • mymothercouldmasterthis@freeparking.com,
  • IwillFlyToDelawareIfNeeded@freeparking.com


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