I recently inadvertantly let my shadwell.eu domain lapse.
First I knew was that my blog was down, thanks to Barry Faulk who pointed this out to me. I quickly checked the registrar who was hosting the domain name for me. In this case it was EasyDNS. I have been a long time customer of EasyDNS and to date had never had a problem.
I went onto their site and checked the domain and sure enough it had lapsed. I immediately paid the $55.00 to renew but nothing happened. The money was taken but my domain was still not available.
I opened a support ticket and asked what was wrong. I got an email back saying that the domain had expired. I could however get the domain back and working if I paid an additional $100. I was provided with a secure link to approve the request and pay. As luck would have it, the link they sent went to a 404 page. I then decided to take matters into my own hands and looked up who managed the .eu Top Level Domain (TLD). It's an organisation called EurID. I found their website and created an account. It was quite simple, too simple, which had me worried but after confirming I was able to go in and see my domain. It was still available and I could even create a transfer code. So that's what I did, at no charge.
I then went to one of my other domain registrars, EuroDNS and signed in. I then created a transfer domain request, entered the domain name and transfer code, paid €11.99 and transferred the domain.
So no $100, I needn't of even paid the $55 to renew at EasyDNS. So I sent a request to EasyDNS support for a refund. I'm still waiting to hear.
My shadwell.eu domain has been up a week now and no emails from either EurID or EuroDNS saying that there's a problem, so I'm pretty happy.
So if you have an issue with a domain name being held to ransom by a dodgy domain registrar (and sadly there are 1 or 2) then go to where the domain's TLD is being managed and fix it there. It's generally not that difficult. I did something similar for my daughter last year with her .co.uk domain.
EasyDNS have kindly refunded the $55. I received an email from Mark Jeftovic, CEO and Founder of EasyDNS apologising for the "snafu" and they are investigating as to why it so easy for me to transfer my domain. I have to say, it raised a question for me too. If it was that easy for me to do, what's to stop other's doing such transfer for less legitimate reasons. They are investigating the situation and will come back to me.
One more thing, in the last paragraph I mentioned "dodgy domain registrars" I did not intend to imply EasyDNS was in this category, in fact as I mentioned, I have been a long and loyal customer until this point and will continue to keep some of my other domains with them.