A company’s website is more often than not the key gateway to their customers. When running a website there are lots of administrative, tech and design tasks to complete. Unsurprisingly, renewing your domain name when the time comes doesn’t always appear at the front of your to-do list. 

However, what happens when one day a customer searching for your trusted domain in hope of finding the service or goods associated with your brand, are shocked to find, well, an unrelated product they weren’t quite looking for? This funny sounding scenario is an all too real problem as these companies found out in a costly and embarrassing fashion.  

Dallas Cowboys

The world-famous sporting brand that is the Dallas Cowboys suffered greatly in the 2010 football season. The team was on one of their worst losing streaks ever recorded, and speculation that head coach Wade Phillips was rumoured to be getting the sack further compounded more misery to the NFL franchise. As if the on-field action was bad enough for the fans and staff alike, behind the scenes on one Sunday in November 2010, the team briefly lost their online identity. The cowboys had forgotten to renew their online domain, DallasCowboys.com, registered and reserved since 1995. 

Luckily for the team, and the member of staff tasked with overseeing the website, the domain has not been placed on sale for the whopping annual price of $9.99. The expiry of the domain, which reportedly happened on the previous Tuesday to the crash, did however leave users unable to access the site for between 24-28 hours. As if losing the domain could not have been more embarrassing for an established championship winning team, during the short-term loss of the domain the homepage of the Cowboys was replaced by a picture of children playing soccer!

Sitemeter

You would like to think that an analytics company that provides tracking capabilities such as; number of visitors, who has been posting links to their sites and so forth would be on top of their game when it comes to all aspect’s website. Well, this epic fail from Sitemeter saw the business fall foul to just that. In April 2013, the site failed (or most likely forgot) to renew their domain, failing to shield one of their most valued assets.

Foursquare

2010 seems to be an eventful year for losing domain names. Foursquare, one of the fastest growing start-ups of the era and perhaps Dallas Cowboy fans, also forgot to renew their GoDaddy distributed domain.

Foursquare had just finished a round of fundraising reaching $10 million, which shot-up the overall valuation of the company at around $80 million. According to TechCrunch, the start-up had originally been registered at playforsqaure.com, which likely meant that an employee forgot to change the email notifications between the old and new domains. Registrars such as GoDaddy typically send several reminders before removing and reselling the domain. The notification was more than likely missed.

Luckily for Foursquare, after a few hours of their homepage being replaced by the GoDaddy landing page and a handful of concerned investors, they noticed their lapse in concentration and grabbed the domain before other interested parties could snatch it from them.

Heinz

Daniel Korell, a shopper in Germany, innocently scanned with his phone a bottle of Heinz Ketchup to enter a contest the company was running online. The famous tomato sauce brand opened a promotion that enabled participants to design their own label for a bottle of Heinz Ketchup Hot. 

The out of date QR code lead Mr. Korell to a URL which was a little bit saucier than he anticipated. Not only had the competition ended, but the domain name associated with the QR code had been bought by another company and was host to pornography. Daniel reported the issue to Heinz and wrote about the ordeal on social media platforms, including writing to the company advising them that “their ketchup is probably not for minors”. 

The Ketchup giants failed to renew their registration of the domain name and it slipped away by an opportunistic porn site. Heinz promptly apologised for the event and offered Mr Korell the chance to design his own label, whereas Fundorado (the company currently using the website) offered him a free year’s subscription.

Branding your business is everything. Carefully selecting the name of a business, designing a memorable logo, and building and stand-out website are key for brand recognition and marketing success. A simple domain name can be the difference between loyal or dissatisfied customers. Mesh Payments offers two easy methods to avoid losing your domain and keep at bay unwanted costs and embarrassments:

  1. Keep a reminder in either your online or hand-written planner. A simple note can serve as an easy and effective reminder to renew your domain on time.
  2. Auto renewals: Generating subscriptions cards can automatically renew your domain name periodically or per annum. These cards take away all stress in an easily manageable way to keep on top of not just your domain subscription, but also other SaaS subscriptions your business may have.