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March 03, 2008

The $165,990 Domain Name Mistake

Last month, I watched with fascination and amazement as the domain name shoppers.com expired and was then purchased at auction on Pool.com.

While it was impressive what the expired domain name sold for - $166,000 (USD) - what really blew me away was that the original registrant (owner) of this domain name let it expire. That's right, instead of paying a mere $10-20 to renew this terrific generic domain name, they somehow let the domain expire and ultimately end up in the hands of one of the domain dropcatching services (Pool.com), who then put the name up for auction.

What was the original registrant of this domain name thinking? How the heck did they let this domain name expire? And what must it be like for them to discover after the fact that a domain name they could have renewed for a few dollars sold for a small fortune?

As far as I can tell, the expiry and subsequent purchase of this expired name followed the proper channels - nothing shady took place - but I am still very curious to know how anyone could let such an amazing name slip through their hands. (I don't know who the new owners of shoppers.com are, but the domain redirects to the site of etailer ShoppersChoice.com.)

I think there are some lessons to be learned here for any individual or business that owns a domain name or two.

First of all, for the domain names you intend to hang on to, are you sure you know when the domain names are coming up for renewal? Have you put the renewal date in your calendar to ensure you renew the domains in time?

And if you are planning to NOT renew a domain name, are you aware of the potential value of that domain name on the aftermarket? Rather than let it just drop, have you thought about pro-actively putting the domain name up for sale?

Most people only dream about owning domain names that would sell for six-figures, but that's no excuse for not paying close attention to these valuable assets. Had the original owners of shoppers.com followed this advice, they'd have avoided making a $165,990 mistake.


It's possible that the owner of the domain "expired" before the domain registration did the same. Still, it would be interesting to know what really happened.

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