Thursday, June 04, 2015

Domain registrar transfer pains - something broken between eNom and Dreamhost (or me)

I've transferred several eNom domain with associated Google Apps services to Dreamhost. This is the first time I've been really stuck.

I'm trying to move from eNom to Dreamhost. Dreamhost already provides DNS services, so it's "simply" a registrar transfer. I've done several of those.

This time the process is failing after I get an "authorization key" (EPP) from eNom/Google and I complete the Dreamhost authorization key submission. Instead of receiving a Google email (takes 1-2 hours):
DOMAIN NAME TRANSFER - Confirmation of Registrar Transfer Request ...
I get radio silence. Tech support tells me Dreamhost's system shows a transfer status of denied ... Canceled - Invalid EPP/authorization key - Please contact current registrar to obtain correct key
We've been through this twice now with two keys. So I think something is broken (yes, user error cannot be ruled out, this is a complex process).

Unfortunately level one tech support doesn't know the details how this status shows up in their system. (They also can't explain why Dreamhost doesn't expose this status in the user accessible control panel or generate an email. I think there's a hole in their workflow process, but this could also be a bug in their system.)

At this point I'm hoping I can escalate to tier 2 support. Then I can interview somebody who should know how the status code is generated, and whether the bug is with Dreamhost (already known to have a process problem) or eNom (gonna be hard to talk to) or me (always possible).

Frustrating, but other than lost time worst likely outcome is I renew with eNom for another year. Then try again in 6 months and hope whatever is broken gets fixed.

Update 6/5/2015: Dreamhost tells me they're getting a formal transaction from eNom: "Invalid EPP/authorization key - Please contact current registrar to obtain correct key". So now I have to contact eNom at 425-274-4500. May the Force be with me.


  1. Admittedly, I just scanned the post so hopefully this wasn't mentioned. Make sure that your domain isn't "locked" (or in a similar state). This is supposed to prevent unauthorized transfers ... good for security, but a real PITA for when the owner legitimately needs to transfer the domain.

  2. Thanks Dan - on both attempts I received a message from eNom saying doman was unlocked, they send that prior to the EPP key.

    The mystery is how Dreamhost decides the transaction has failed. Do they get a failure message from eNom or do they have a timer that sets status if confirmation is not received?

    If Dreamhost does get a failure email from eNom then I can call eNom with that message.

    If they don't, then we really don't know if anything was sent from Dreamhost to eNom, failure could be on Dreamhost side.

    Transactional systems are a pain.