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UPDATE ISP Tiscali UK Leaves Bank Holiday Users Without Email

Posted: 14th Apr, 2009 By: MarkJ
Broadband ISP Tiscali UK has left some of its customers without an email service for nearly a whole week after addresses associated with their Screaming.net domain suddenly stopped working around 7th April. A similar issue cropped up twice in March, preventing users from either sending or receiving email, although those "only" took several hours to correct.

Screaming.net itself relates to one of Tiscali UK's many earlier ISP acquisitions. Tiscali has in the past allowed this domain to expire and failed to renew it, thus disrupting any related email and webspace services. However the domain, which is registered via Network Solutions, does not presently appear due to expire until 25th February 2010.

Curiously a look at the latest WHOIS data for the domain turns up some unusual information (look at the bottom name servers - in bold):

Registrant:
Pending Renewal or Deletion
P.O. Box 430
Herndon, VA. US 20172-0447

Domain Name: SCREAMING.NET

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Pending Renewal or Deletion
P.O. Box 430
Herndon, VA 20172-0447
US
570-708-8786

Record expires on 25-Feb-2010.
Record created on 25-Feb-1999.
Database last updated on 13-Apr-2009 03:53:36 EDT.

Domain servers in listed order:

NS1.PENDINGRENEWALDELETION.COM 205.178.190.51
NS2.PENDINGRENEWALDELETION.COM 205.178.144.51

It's understood that the domain last "expired on 25/02/2009", though this was thought to have been corrected in March, hence the new expiry date above. Typically Tiscali's Service Status page has not been updated to reflect the problems. One of Tiscali's customers has since been able to get a reply from Network Solutions about the issue, which suggests that Tiscali has indeed failed to renew the domain (usually only costs a few pounds per year - hardly a serious cost):

A Network Solutions tech support agent said: "Regarding your concern, multiple expiration notices were sent to [TISCALI] by Network Solutions prior to, and after the domain name registration expired. When we did not receive [TISCALIS] renewal fee by the expiration date, [THEIR] domain name registration services were deactivated.

However, rather than delete the domain name at that point, we sent additional renewal notices and provided a grace period of more than 30 days. Because we did not receive [TISCALIS] renewal fees by the end of the grace period, your domain name services were terminated in accordance with our Service Agreement and the domain name was registered by another registrant.
"

Tiscali itself has apparently been "investigating" the issue for several days, as is evident by some of their support staff postings in THIS TOPIC on their member forums. Sadly the bank holiday appears to be having a serious impact on their ability to resolve the issue and seemingly their competence too.

UPDATE @ 11:51am :

Tiscali has issued us with the following statement on the matter:

"We are aware there has been an issue with users accessing screaming.net email. We have identified this as an issue with our domain partner and are pursuing this as a matter of urgency today."


UPDATE @ 15th April - 08:28am :

Since yesterdays news the domain WHOIS records have been updated to show, and apparently confirm, that Screaming.net's new owner is an individual going by the name of Robert Simpson. Tiscali had promised us an update for yesterday afternoon, though this never came.

This morning we have requested an updated statement from Tiscali concerning what they are doing to rectify the situation. We have also questioned why their Service Status page has not been updated to reflect the problems.

It's worth pointing out that there are rules in place to dispute domain registration situations like this, though it could take awhile to resolve and may not necessarily rule in favour of the original owner.

UPDATE @ 15th April - 4:25pm :

Tiscali has so far refused to tell us how many customers are being affected by the problems, why their service status page hasn't been updated or what they are doing to rectify it. But in their latest statement they have at least apologised:

"We are still working with our domain partner to restore the screaming.net domain. We apologise to email users affected by this, and will provide an update as soon as we can. We can also assure customers that their legacy email is secure."


UPDATE @ 16th April - 08:25am :

Some of Tiscali's customers inform us that they are now starting to receive email messages again, though others still appear to be experiencing problems. Elsewhere the latest Screaming.net domain WHOIS data indicates that Tiscali appears to have regained some control:
ICANN Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.
Created: 1999-02-25
Expires: 2010-02-25
Updated: 2009-04-15
Registrar Status: clientTransferProhibited
Name Server: NS0.AS9105.COM
Name Server: NS0.TISCALI.CO.UK

UPDATE @ 16th April - 6:35pm :

Tiscali has confirmed the above and issued the following statement, which is probably their final one:

"We are now pleased to report that the recent issue with screaming.net email is now resolved. Tiscali maintains over 15,000 domains and unfortunately due to human error the screaming.net domain lapsed on 7 April. We have now resolved this with our domain partner and mail was restored from yesterday afternoon (15 April).

This affected a very small proportion of our email users. However we can reassure these users that no mail has been lost or compromised but any mail sent to them in the last seven days would have bounced a message back to the sender as undelivered.

Any user who is concerned about mail they were expecting should contact the sender. We do apologise to users affected and we are already undertaking measures to ensure this will not happen again.
"
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