I tried to look up the owner of a domain this morning so I could notify them that their server had been hacked.  The standard tool for this is command-line WHOIS.  The registrar for the domain turned out to be ‘names4ever.com’, but when the utility tried to contact ‘whois.names4ever.com’, the connection repeatedly failed (indicating the WHOIS server was apparently down).  Taking it to the next logical step, I went to the registrar’s web site to try their web-based WHOIS, which gave me an incomplete WHOIS output (it didn’t have the contact names and/or email addresses).  I then attempted to contact the company directly to let them know their WHOIS server was down so they could fix it.  It turns out that ‘names4ever.com’ is owned by ‘Aplus.net’.  Their web site has a “Live Chat” feature, so I fired it up.  The people manning this Live Chat are rather clueless and clearly unable to read a simple question.  I started the chat with a question “Who do I report that your WHOIS server is broken to?”  Here’s the entire dialog I had with them (some names changed to protect the innocent):

Chat initiated with Aplus Live Technical Support on November 23, 2009 @ 9:00AM

You are now chatting with Julia

Julia: Hello, thank you for contacting Technical Support. Please wait one moment while I retrieve your account information.

John Q User: Why do you start off by assuming I have an account?? I don’t have an account with you.

Julia: Please specify your domain name

John Q User: names4ever.com

Julia: John please elaborate your issue. The names4ever.com like a Abacus America are Aplus.net Registrar identities

John Q User: What do you mean “…like a Abacus…”??

John Q User: Who do I report that your WHOIS server isn’t working to??

Julia: Can you specify your account number or domain name that is hosted with us?

Julia: I am trying to determined the issue with Registrar for your domain

John Q User: I am trying to retrieve the WHOIS information for the domain ‘GenericDomain.com‘.

Julia: One moment

<long delay>

John Q User: Yes???

Julia: The domain GenericDomain.com is set up with Registrar: ABACUS AMERICA. The full information is below.
Whois Server: whois.names4ever.com
Referral URL: http://www.names4ever.com
Status: ok

Julia: Please elaborate your issue with domain GenericDomain.com

John Q User: I saw that. I need the owner’s email address.

John Q User: Plus, I need to report the problem with your WHOIS server – who do I report that to????

Julia: What is the issue with Whois server?

John Q User: It doesn’t work. When I issue the WHOIS command line utility, the connection with whois.names4ever.com fails.

John Q User: Don’t tell me to use the web site – that’s NOT the point.

Julia: Do you need transfer domain or set up new email address in Whois? Please elaborate

John Q User: Do you have anyone there who is NOT a moron???

John Q User: I need the email address of the domain owner!

Julia: Please hold on. I will return shortly

John Q User: ICANN regulations REQUIRE that the contact email address be maintained and made available by the domain’s registrar, which is ‘names4ever.com’.

<another long delay>

Terri H has joined the conversation.

Julia has left the conversation.

Terri H: hi

John Q User: Yes?

John Q User: Can you help me since Julia apparently couldn’t?

Terri H: sure, i’ll assist you. just a min while i check your domain


Terri H: sorry

John Q User: Geez, you people are so single-minded!

Terri H: are you registered with aplus?

John Q User: Did you READ the previous dialog I had with Julia???

Terri H: yes i’m reading it now

<another long delay>

John Q User: The WHOIS server ‘whois.names4ever.com’ does not work. Who do I report that to so it can be fixed??? It’s not a hard question, is it??

Terri H: this account is with us, to update the whois, you can loginto your control pannel the url is :cp2.aplus.net


John Q User: No!

Terri H: enter your registration number which is AP3626928111

John Q User: You’re missing the point entirely!!

John Q User: Please read what I wrote!

John Q User: OK… I’ll type slowly…

John Q User: The WHOIS server ‘whois.names4ever.com’ does not work. Who do I report that to so it can be fixed??? It’s not a hard question, is it??

Terri H: then your password. if you don;t have the password, i can e-mail it to you i have your e-mail address as: bernd@maxnet.co.nz

John Q User: Are you on the same page as me yet, or are you continuing to ignore what I type??

Terri H: i’m letting you know how to fix it

John Q User: You don’t even understand what is broken!!

John Q User: I didn’t say anything about updating a domain, did I??

Terri H: you don’t go into the names4 ever, you can fix it through your control pannel

John Q User: I’m not trying to FIX a domain!!!

Terri H: no your information you told me is incorrect right?

John Q User: Will you PLEASE LISTEN???

John Q User: Are you ready to listen?? Or should I ask for a supervisor??

Terri H: go ahead

Terri H: i’m listening

John Q User: The WHOIS server ‘whois.names4ever.com’ does not work. Who do I report that to so it can be fixed??? It’s not a hard question, is it??

John Q User: Do you understand the question?

<another long delay>

John Q User: Hello?????

John Q User: Do you understand the question?

Terri H: sure i can update that information for you what do you want me to change?

John Q User: If not, please tell me which part is confusing you?

John Q User: Where in my question does it say anything about changing something?

John Q User: The primary question is this: “Who do I report that to so it can be fixed???”

John Q User: The PREMISE of the question is this: “The WHOIS server ‘whois.names4ever.com’ does not work.”

John Q User: OK… I’d like this session to be escalated to a supervisor or manager since you clearly don’t have a clue what I’m asking about, PLEASE.

<another long delay>

John Q User: Hello? Are you getting me a supervisor?

Terri H: if names4ever does not work, (and its not at this time) you can access your information through your control pannel.


John Q User: Geez, can’t you understand that?!?!

John Q User: I am trying to report a service that your company is COMPELLED to make available based on ICANN regulations and agreements that is NOT WORKING AT THIS TIME!!!

Terri H: everyone that is registered through names4ever has an aplus account.

John Q User: I AM NOT REGISTERED THROUGH names4ever!

John Q User: I am NOT YOUR CUSTOMER!!!!

Terri H: than why are you trying to access the names4ever site?

John Q User: I am a 3rd party…

John Q User: To let you know your WHOIS server is down!

John Q User: Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you if your web site was down??

John Q User: Well, this is similar!!!

John Q User: I don’t have to be your customer to want to tell you your system is broken so you can fix it, do I?

John Q User: Got it yet?? Or am I still wasting my time???

<another long delay>

John Q User: You ARE supposed to be the TECHNICAL SUPPORT people, aren’t you? With that designation, I assumed you have some TECHNICAL qualifications??? Am I assuming too much???

Terri H: i’m with domain services.

John Q User: Good, then you should understand what the WHOIS service is and why people who are NOT your customers might want to access that information?

John Q User: You do understand that there are reasons a 3rd party might want to contact the owner of a domain, don’t you?

John Q User: If not, what do you think the WHOIS database is for??

<another long delay>

John Q User: Hello?

Terri H: what do you want me do do for you sir? there are many domain lookups,


John Q User: The WHOIS server is broken.


John Q User: Give me an email address please.

Terri H: support@cs.aplus.net

John Q User: See, now was that so hard???

<another long delay>

John Q User: Never mind…

You be the judge… I’ve wasted enough time with these people!