Losing It (Almost)

Been on a bit of a blogging hiatus, I’m afraid. I must confess I’m gun-shy after a narrowly averted blogging catastrophe. And, yes, I realize there are much bigger issues in the world, but in an effort to help anyone else who stumbles across this while frantically searching for a way to rescue a blog from the netherworld, I’m providing the shorter-ish version of the story. It’s your Christmas gift.

On December 9th, my domain name expired. Sigh. Out of the gate, I’ll admit that it’s totally my fault for not just sitting down and ponying up the $10 ($10, people! Makes my apathy even more embarrassing) to renew the registration. I have no excuses–or at least I thought I had no excuses. Come to find out, Google/Blogger actually did provide me with an excuse. They/It deleted my login, so there was no possible way for me to access my account to pay the renewal fee, had I chosen–you know, like a responsible adult–to renew it in a timely manner.

That’s pretty sneaky. And pretty uncool. It’s not like this domain name is the cat’s meow. There wasn’t a queue of whackos lined up waiting to snag it. J, T and Theo B. is not snazzy or clever or supremely well established. But it’s mine. I have close to 5 years’ worth of essays and photos stored under it, so it’s important to me–to say the least.

When I woke up on the 10th and realized I really needed to renew, I finally sat down to knock it out…only to find the dreaded “holder” page up–chock full of lame ads–courtesy of Big Brother…er, Google.

I had no way to sign in. After spending a gut-wrenching afternoon trying to figure it out, I was in full-blown panic mode. There was no way to access my work; however, I must give a huge shout-out to my 9-year old who suggested I take screen shots of cached pages and then print them out–a process which, as you can imagine, takes a ton of time. And ink. And paper.

I called people all over the country. I emailed the Google machine about 15 times. I searched and searched for answers online–which is obnoxiously ironic since Google was the beast that was causing this problem in the first place.

Finally, on Monday, I received the following email. A friend of mine pointed out that the line about “kindly informing [me]” was a nice touch, especially when they’d “migrated” my stuff without my knowledge.

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That screenshot’s a little tricky to read, and this message is a gem, so I’m giving it to you again.

See for yourself:

Hello Laura,

Thank you for your message, I called you but couldn’t reach you so I let a voice message. I understand that you are trying to renew your domain name jtandtheob.com

I kindly inform you that we have migrated all our customer from Google Wallet to our new online billing system, now you have an Admin console were you’ll be able to manage the renewal options and billing information for your domain name jtandtheob.com

In order to access this Admin console you have a user ending in “@jtandtheob.com” and a password. I’ve sent you a message to laurabedingfield@me.com that contains your user and the option to reset your password. Once you set your new password please continue with the steps below: 

1. Go to admin.google.com (try using and incognito window in Chrome).

2. Enter your user “@jtandtheob.com” and your new password. 

3. Accept the terms and conditions and proceed to verify your billing information. 

4. On the left upper corner you’ll see an arrow to go back to the dashboard. Click on it and go to “Billing.” 

5. Next to Domain registration there is a plus sign”+” click on it to display more information. 

6. Make sure that the renewal option is set to: “Auto-renew my contract.” You can change it by clicking on the blue link “change.” 

I’ll give you a call tomorrow to follow up on this case.

This case will remain open while I work with you. Feel free to reply to this message anytime. 

Regards, 

Diana

Google Enterprise Support

To this Diana’s credit, she did call and prove she was a real person, despite the above garbled email. She explained that I was not the only one affected by this sneaky “migration”. That was a nice touch, too. But finally landing upon this point of human contact was beyond frustrating, and tracking down a way to talk/email with a live person took the skills of an M.I.T. graduate, which, clearly, I am not.

Just so y’all know I’m not over-reacting, here’s the convoluted information at the dead end of about 15 searches for how to renew an expired domain:

Renewing Domain Registration

Your initial domain registration is valid for one year. If subsequent registration renewal fails, you’ll have several opportunities to change your billing information and renew your registration:

On your renewal date – If you’ve chosen automatic renewal and the charge fails, we’ll send you a notification of the failure with instructions on updating your billing information. If you update your billing information within three days of the attempted charge, we’ll detect the change and bill you for the renewal using the new information. Within 19 days of your renewal date – If you don’t update your billing information within three days of the attempted charge, contact the support team for assistance with your renewal. If you contact our team within 19 days of the failed charge, we’ll send you information allowing you to update your billing information and renew your registration. More than 19 days after your renewal date – If we’re unable to bill you for registration renewal within 19 days of your expiration date, you won’t be able to renew your domain through Google Apps. Instead, you’ll need to contact your domain registrar directly. You may experience an interruption of service after your domain expires.

If you don’t renew domain registration within the 19-day window of opportunity, your domain name will be ‘vaulted’ by the registrar company (GoDaddy.com or eNom.com). A ‘vaulted’ domain name is not publicly available for registration, nor can it be redeemed without additional charges.

To recover a ‘vaulted’ domain, you must contact the registrar company to re-obtain the domain at an additional fee of $89 for GoDaddy.com and $250 for eNom.com. You can find contact information for Godaddy.com or eNom.com in the Advanced DNS settings section of the control panel.

If you don’t take action, the registrar company holds the ‘vaulted’ domain name for up to six months before releasing it for public sale.

Expired domain registration

If you get the error message that Domain has already expired, please contact customer support, your domain name registration with GoDaddy or eNom has expired and can no longer be renewed through Google Apps. To retrieve your domain, please contact your registrar directly with the following contact information. Please be aware that there will be a fee associated with retrieving your domain.

eNom: phone 425-974-4623 email googleclients[at]enom.com

GoDaddy phone 480-366-3700 email gdomains[at]secureserver.net

These support channels are dedicated to Google Apps administrators who registered a domain during the sign-up process. Please note that if you don’t retrieve your domain, you will disrupt your Google Apps service and could lose all data associated with your account.

Thanks, Google; that’s very informative. You’ve cleared it all up and my blood pressure is back to normal.

Not.

(By the way, eNom is zero help, and the GoDaddy phone number doesn’t work.)

So, if you are facing down the covert Google wallet migration, welcome! I so hope this helps you out.

Here are a few V.I.P. tips:

1) You have a 19 day window to renew your domain name before it goes into the “vault”. Once it goes into this mysterious vault, you are looking at a serious cash investment to get it back. Why an odd, nonsensical number like 19? Who knows. It’s Google.

2) If you try to call Google, you will not succeed. Instead, you’ll want catch the next flight to California, walk up to the front door of Google’s HQ (1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA, by the way) and slap the first 50 people you see. A computer answers the phone and asks you to input your DNS number or your Google Apps for Business PIN, neither of which you have because if you did, then you could sign in to your flipping account on your own, and you wouldn’t be in this pickle in the first place. Maddening, I say.

3) Don’t fall victim to the endless sign-in failure loop like I did. You will not win. You do not know the lucky Admin Email the powers that be at Google assigned to you. You do not have the ridiculous password (you’ll find it’s something totally logical like “Fc45Th89HTr”) they/it also assigned to you.

To escape this loop, you have to make contact with a real person so that real person can send you the email address and password Google magically created for you. You are just treading water until you establish a project number proving that you’ve filed a complaint.

Here’s the link to get that “support ticket number” rolling down the pike–> https://support.google.com/a/contact/domain_registration

4) Remember the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I filled the above form out about 10 different times and received a few computer-generated answers that did nothing but infuriate me even more. Keep at it, Warrior. Keep at it.

5) Once you get the magic email (and, if you’re really lucky–or, more likely, really squeaky–a phone call) you’ll be informed of your newly assigned Admin Email that enables you access to your console. Login–hear the Hallujah Chorus in your head?–and fork over the damn $10, and your site will be immediately re-established. (Look at all that techie-lingo! Console? Admin Email? It’s like I work for Google!)

6) Save all email correspondence with Google, and save your receipt from your renewal. Trails, folks. Trails.

It’s a good time, no? Trust me; it almost put me off this whole blogging thing forever. That link above is the Golden Ticket, though.

Good luck! And be sure to set the registration to “auto-renew” this time around. 🙂

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