Jacques Mattheij

Technology, Coding and Business

Moniker.com is being murdered

For many years I was a ‘bulkregister’ customer, I landed there after Network Solutions went mad. Then Bulkregister was bought by enom.com and it went from good to bad to worse in a very short time. I called around to my colleagues to see where they were registering their domains and they pointed me to a small but scrappy upstart registrar called Moniker, the brainchild of one Monte Cahn. Monte was awesome, he worked like a demon and rightfully claimed never to have lost a customers domain.

In 2005 Moniker changed hands for the first time, Seevast Corp bought it and I thought this was going to be the end. I decided to hold out for a while to see how things would go and - surprise - in spite of how most corporate take-overs are done Moniker appeared to be in good hands and I continued to be a customer. On occasion - when the support people were not able to help - Monte would step in to protect the good name of the company that he’d created. All was good.

Then in 2008 Moniker changed hands again. This time to Oversee.net. Again, I bided my time and was rewarded with a company that even though technically a small subsidiary of a larger mothership operated with some independence, and continuity was one of their prime focal points. So I stayed. Occasionally I had issues, most of these were resolved in time and competently, where that wasn’t the case we found ways to deal with it, just another customer-supplier relationship, no longer the personal treatment from the old days but that was to be expected. As these things go, for a company that had changed hands twice it could have been a whole lot worse.

In 2012 KeyDrive SA acquired Moniker.com. And in February 2014 Bonnie Wittenburg (already CEO of KeyDRive) was named CEO of Moniker. Wittenburg has apparently not heard of the age old mantra of computing systems that have been around for a while: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Full of fresh and vigourous energy the CEO declared in February that ‘they’ve gone back to the drawing board’. I wished they’d stayed there. Last week Moniker.com released it’s new and revamped interface, and it is - without exaggaration - an unmitigated disaster.

I’m a pretty loyal customer, but what’s happening at Moniker is at a scale that I’ve yet to see elsewhere. The number of problems, the severity of the issues and the incredible lack of openness with respect to what is going on has managed to completely trash the excellent reputation that the Moniker.com brand had for me in the space of a few days. I’ve been a customer there for almost a decade and I’m more than willing to excuse the occasional error but this is an extremely good example of how not to do a public roll-out of a revamped website. The words “On Monday, June 2nd, 2014, visit Moniker to experience the change for yourself.” in this moniker announcement turned out to be truly prophetic, I have unfortunately tried to visit moniker on June 2nd 2014 and ‘experienced the change for myself’. What was once one of the easiest and most reliable user interfaces used at a registrar has turned into a textbook example of how you alienate an existing customer base.

Let me give you a short listing of what I’ve been able to come across so far:

  • it’s all just change, no improvements

  • stuff has been moved around for no apparent reason, basic common sense design has been replaced by a ‘hunt and seek’ kind of user interface that is totally un-intuitive and does not in any way connect to the old interface, it’s a radical breach with how things were. Sometimes this can be a good thing but imagine Microsoft would re-arrange all the items in the menu system for ‘Word’ at random and would rename a couple for good measure.

  • it’s as if there was absolutely no testing whatsoever.

  • account history is gone (so, how do I do my bookkeeping?)

  • most commonly used functions (such as domain push) do not work

  • newly registered domains are not showing up in the interface (so how do I do my work?)

  • domains that are bought and paid for are stuck in ‘awaiting payment’ even though the invoices for those domains do show up

  • charges are made for domains that have been set to expire long ago (and even for some that had expired!)

  • domains are expiring that are set to auto-renew

  • support questions are going utterly unanswered

  • the support phone system is overloaded permanently, hours on hold without any help whatsoever

  • transfering domains out can only be done on a one-by-one basis

  • I wished I was the only person experiencing all this the comments here are telling

And on and on. Monte Cahn is probably getting quitely drunk somewhere, they’re murdering his baby and it seems there is not much that can be done about it. What a total mess. Imagine, you’re being given the reins over one of the most respected registrars and within 6 months of that you take a legacy like that and totally destroy it. There has to be a prize for something like that.

If they keep this up for a while they’ll be the proud owner of a reputation worse than GoDaddy’s, which I would not have thought possible.

Wittenburg should step down or be fired and someone competent brought back in or KeyDrive will find that they have paid the most money ever for just a single domain because there will be no customers left. As soon as I figure out how to (they definitely did not make this easier) I’ll be taking my business elsewhere. Gandi looks pretty good. I’m only about 1/1000th of the total volume of domains administered through moniker.com, so probably not enough for them to worry about.

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