Domain seller leaves thousands in limbo
Trading status of Firevision is unclear
Updated Thousands of UK domain owners have been left in limbo by the actions of Cambridge-based registrar Firevision.
Customers have been flooding internet message boards complaining that attempts to buy, move, update and renew domains names through Firevision have been faced with a brick wall. The owner, 27-year-old Graham Briggs, has not replied to emails or phonecalls.
However, reports that the company is in liquidation are incorrect. Companies House lists the company as being put under the authority of the Official Receiver in November last year. However the company's debts were paid in December, the local receiver's office informed us, the wind-up order was rescinded and the company is entitled to trade as before.
Except it doesn't appear to be trading. There is no mention of the wind-up order or the company's current status on its website. Briggs, who started the company with his wife in 1999, is also not responding to emails or phonecalls to his mobile (which is now dead) or his home.
The company isoverdue with its accounts. The last record was left with Companies House in April 2001, the most recent was due in February 2003 - over a year ago. In 2001, the company gave a stated loss of £11,320 on revenue of £77,588.
The UK registry Nominet, which runs all .uk domains and authorises registrars, told us that the problem has not yet registered on its radar. Eleanor Bradley, its director of operations, told us that if it get reports of problems, it will investigate them but that it has "certainly not been inundated" over Firevision.
She declined to discuss individual cases, but her advice for uncertain domain holders is clear. "In general principle, if you are not happy with your registrar, there is the option to go elsewhere." There are fairly frequent liquidations of registrars and Nominet even has a page on its website explaining what to do. The difficulty however lies in the fact that Firevision appears to be still operating.
Domain holders can, for £15 a time move their domain to another registrar, although any more than two is still charged at £30. Bradley was keen to dispel the myth that domain holders will also have to renew their domains through Nominet at £80. If they transfer their domain to another registrar they will be able to renew the domain through them, and that should work out far cheaper, she explained.
With regard to the unknown status of Firevision, Bradley assured us that Nominet keeps a close eye on its tag holders (registrars) and that if it becomes clear it is a big problem it will ultimately contact all affected domain holders itself. ®
Graham Briggs, owner of Firevision, has got in touch. He told us: "We're trying to sort things out at the moment, but email support became really difficult last year due to spam." He claims to have received 10,000 spams a day and to have been out of contact recently due to illness. But his intention is to get to grips with the situation and "the long term aim is to sell the customer base to another company", he told us. "In the meantime," he advises, "customers should contact the company at email@example.com or me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org."
Firevision is still registering new domains and Mr Briggs assures us that it is still making nameserver and tag changes on existing domains. "Top level whois changes can also be done at https://manage.opensrs.net/, a facility provided by the registry we utilise," he explained. He also intends to put a notice up on the Firevision site explaining the situation. Although as of 12pm on Wednesday 9 March, nothing has appeared.