Beware of Espace2001

2020-05-17

My review of Espace2001, a French domain registrar.

I'm writing this in the hopes that it might reach someone in the same position as I once was. The top level domain registries don't seem interested in sanctioning registrars who scam their customers, so the best thing we can do is publish reviews of bad registrars.

What?

Espace2001 is a French domain registrar. They offer rather cheap prices for a number of European TLDs, but notoriously bad customer service. Even if they are offering a good deal, I would strongly advise avoiding their service, because it may be difficult or impossible to switch away afterwards.

My experience

I turned to Espace2001 as they were listed as the cheapest registrar for .eu domain names back in 2017. I didn't put much thought into it at the time — a registrar is a registrar, right? Wrong. Some time later I needed to change the WHOIS contact information for the domain. Espace2001's web interface said I didn't have permission, so I filed a support ticket. And waited. And waited. Today, over three years later, that support ticket remains unanswered.

I could live with the inconvenience of WHOIS details frozen in time — they're fairly irrelevant now thanks to GDPR anyway — but this week I ran up against a bigger problem. I needed to change the nameservers associated with the domain, but when I logged into the control panel, it said the domain had expired. Wait, what? I checked my email, and sure enough, the receipt was there. I checked my bank account, and sure enough, the money had been paid. I checked dig in my terminal, and sure enough, the domain was active. The web interface was just incorrectly showing it as expired, making it impossible for me to change the nameservers associated with the domain. Unsure what do to, I filed a support ticket — this time, setting the priority to High. Surely that would get their attention. Days passed and... nothing. I had essentially no control over the domain I had paid to register with Espace2001.

What can you do?

Что делать?
What is to be done? — Vladimir Lenin, about to explain how to defeat bourgeois capitalism

If you're not an Espace2001 customer, that's great, I don't know why you're reading this.

If you are, I'd strongly recommend transferring your domains when they expire. There's an option to do this in the control panel, providing it's working for you, and it shouldn't require any contact with Espace2001's support team. It's important to do this before the domains actually expire. Cloudflare is a popular registrar offering many TLDs at wholesale prices.

If you, like me, have found yourself stuck with no access to your domains, don't worry. You will almost certainly be able to regain control by transferring them to another registrar.

What can you do? — Me, about to explain how to switch domain registrar

If Espace2001 won't answer your tickets, the best strategy is to get in touch with the top-level registry for your domain. Often, this can be found at nic.[domain], or if not, simply by Googling .[domain] registry. These people profit from your registration, so it's in their interests to help you save it.

In my case, EurID actually have an online system called My .eu which lets you directly request a transfer code, as long as you have access to the email address specified in the domain's WHOIS contact. Potential security nightmare? Yes. Lifesaver for me? Also yes. Now you know.

If your registry isn't quite as 'helpful' as mine, try contacting them by email, phone, Twitter, or all of the above. See if they can provide a transfer code, or at least get in touch with Espace2001 on your behalf. Good luck!

The end

Now that I've succeeded in recovering my domain, pouring out my pent-up rage into a blog post unlikely to be useful to any more than two people and learned a valuable lesson about the EurID registry, I'm left about €5 worse off. Don't make the same mistake as me. Beware of Espace2001.

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