Building your own website is an increasingly popular pastime, but when the hosting company for your site has problems it can be a real nightmare, as Mark Cowan discovered.
"I found I was not the administration contact for my domain name registered with Bargainhost as the company had put itself down as the contact," he told me.
What this meant was that Mr Cowan couldn't easily change to another host which he wanted to do after the company's servers were hit by recent hack attacks.
"I made repeated requests to Bargainhost asking them to change this admin detail but they didn't respond. They were effectively holding me hostage," he said.
This is a very common problem but as Ken Sorrie, director of registrar Internetters, points out not many people are aware that this is a detail they have to watch out for.
While there is nothing illegal in a company selling domain names and putting itself down as the admin contact and registrant, it makes life very difficult for the customer.
You are not in control of transactions such as renewal or transfers, and many of these domain hosting companies will also charge you for the privilege of changing these details.
For someone such as Mr Cowan, whose livelihood depends to a great extent on having a functioning website and email facility, this was disastrous.
I have dealt with cases like Mr Cowan's before and they often end in tears. But in this instance because he did some detective work, Mr Cowan has managed to change his details. But he could have done without the aggravation.
I asked Bargainhost's IT manager James Innes why the company, which is still registering new domain names with itself as the admin contact, doesn't make the customer the admin contact.
He told me that this would be too much work for the company, but that it would change the details if the customer wanted. For a fee of £25, according to users of its service.
So if you have registered, or are about to buy a domain name, check the details.
The problem with the domain name selling industry is the lack of a code of practice and no real protection to shield consumers from the growing number of people who set themselves up as domain name resellers.
Internetters has produced a guide to what it believes should be adopted by the industry.
But first and foremost when registering a domain name the consumer must ensure that they are the admin contact and that the admin contact email address on the domain name record is theirs.
This will ensure that you keep control over when and with whom you want to re-register the domain.
And it is just as important to make sure that you are also named as the registrant, otherwise you will not 'own' your domain name but merely 'rent' it from the seller who doesn't have to let you keep it when it is time to renew the name.
Ensuring that your name is listed as both admin contact and registrant will also avoid domain names becoming trapped by domain name registration companies that have gone out of business or have disappeared into the ether.
Keep your receipt
Barrie Cooper wrote to me with a slightly unusual problem. He had bought a Medion notebook computer from Aldi that came with Microsoft Works installed.
When he had problems with Autoroute 2002 and decided to reinstall from the disk he found that he needed to take a crash course in French.
"Do you parlez vous Français?" he asked me, after discovering that this was the language in which the disk was written.
Trying to speak a common language about a replacement in English with Aldi didn't get him very far so I asked the company to investigate. Then we hit another snag.
According to Aldi, Mr Cooper didn't have the receipt for the computer to prove where he bought it from.
Aldi did contact Medion, which has agreed to send a new disk in English, but the company asked me to point out that holding on to receipts is vital.
"The trouble is that we had no proof as to where Mr Cooper bought the machine," an Aldi spokeswoman told me.
"Although it is possible this was a mistake on Medion's part and the wrong disk was included, could you tell readers that it is important they keep receipts as Medion is not allowed by its contract with Microsoft just to hand over new disks."
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