Domain Purgatory exists : Just ask, Fabulous and Verisign

I’m not a Catholic, so quick disclaimer: the reference to a “Purgatory” does not intend to offend, nor is intentionally religious.

Going by the definition of Purgatory:

“A place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven.”

Very recently, I sold a domain through the Domain Name Sales marketplace; the negotiation took a while to materialize, but once the transaction started at, things moved along fast. received the payment wire, and I created a new retail account with Fabulous, its current registrar. I’ve found that this approach – handing over a username/password pair – works well and eliminates the need to wait extra for a transfer to complete.

Once I created the account with the buyer’s credentials, I confirmed the domain was in it and updated the process.

The next day, the buyer send an email stating that the domain was inaccessible, and followed up with a screenshot from within their account at Fabulous. More emails followed, showing that the domain was no longer in their account. They stated that they had not been able to initiate a transfer out either.

Every WHOIS tool I used to query the domain’s status, returned an ominous message, with a typo to boot:

“Sorry, this server does not host that domain.  Please use the root server to find this domain’s authorative whois server”

A mini panic ensued. I wanted to make sure there was no malicious gaming of the process by the buyer, located in eastern Europe, although no such indication existed prior to this glitch.

The first thing I did was respond to their communication and copied the support account on the exchange. They’ve been very helpful in the past, and I followed up with a phone call to explain what is going on.

I also called Verisign‘s support department; as managers of the particular TLD, they were able to assure me that the domain was alive and well, locked in place, and not in any pending transfer, or – god forbid – deletion mode. I was particularly impressed by Verisign’s professionalism at the time.

Engaging in the exchange was also a smooth process, but due to the 15 hour time difference things were offset throughout the day. Meanwhile, my buyer politely expressed his frustration more than once, having anticipated a prompt exchange.

I was now coordinating feedback from three separate timezones plus my own, and the domain was in limbo, somewhere.

Early next morning Aussie time, I called and explained the situation. Initially, I was told that the domain was already gone, en route to an unspecified registrar.

Within moments, however, Fabulous located the issue; a display glitch, that had rendered the domain unavailable to the buyer’s account, all thanks to a small omission on my part: I had not included a ZIP code, as the buyer did not provide one. Due to the lack of a ZIP or postal code, I had punched in a “dash” that somehow sent the domain’s account into a special place, unable to manage its domains properly.

Fabulous fixed the issue in seconds, and responded to the multi-recipient support email, confirming the updated status for the domain.

I’m happy to have been able to resolve this minor headache in only one extra day, through my direct communication with all parties involved:,, Verisign and the buyer. Keeping the process streamlined and the buyer happy is how I do business, and this incident ended to everyone’s satisfaction. I’m grateful towards the people providing the technical support, as well.

As a footnote, it feels strange to acknowledge that while domain names are digital entities stored in a technological realm, we can most definitely view them as “souls” – ghosts in the machine – and this one appears to have stayed in the Purgatory for a short while. 😀


  1. Really good read. It’s is scary to know how names can just vanish during the process.

  2. Howie 😀 Technically, the domain never vanished, but it appeared to be gone. The “fun” part was the live WHOIS info that accompanied its temporary disappearance.

  3. Yikes!

    It’s interesting how many glitches arise from unanticipated values being entered in online forms. My street address has a “1/2” in it, and that slash causes all sorts of glitches for me – including rejected payments because some websites don’t allow me to enter my billing address correctly.

    But on the plus side, at least I’m not 1 of the billions of people whose native alphabet still isn’t fully supported by software or the internet.

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