Mistake? Accident?

Two things in my mind right now, and they may be related.

The first was the remark of Tony Fernandes about the accident with AirAsia flight QZ8501, the remark that the phone call he received about that was the worst thing in his life, no matter rehearsals or something. And at first that appeared weird to me, as, and don’t get me wrong, air crashes are part of life for any airline. I can’t imagine any airline not having dealt with or having to deal with a crashed plane in the past or the future, as accidents, including with planes, just happen. But then I realized that AirAsia is kind of the baby o fTony Fernandes, so I guess his feelings about an air crash would be different from the feelings of an ‘ordinary’ CEO of an airline. And I know he is kind of a people person, so of course his feelings would be with the crew, passengers and their family. But still, what he said and the way he said it surprised me. The worst moment of his life? And that he expected he would never forget it, that that phone call would stay with him for the rest of his life? That is quite something.

Then another accident happened. Or something like that. As it appeared that one of the domains of one of my customers has been expired. Which is kind of a deadly sin for a web development company, for someone delivering web services. And it started with an e-mail that looked like spam, an e-mail indicating that there was something wrong with the domain and that urgent action was required. And I get many e-mails like that, but as I remembered there was one domain about to expire I decided to check. And indeed it was the domain the e-mail was about. But the creation date was January 25, 2014, so still four days to go as normally domains are registered for one year. And the renewal date was January 30, 2015, so almost ten days to go.

So I decided to renew the domain, which is normally just a few clicks and also this time. But something appeared to have gone wrong as there was a message about the domain being in the redemption period. And I didn’t know exactly what redemption period means, so I just decided to contact the support through chat, only to find out that I was indeed too late with domain renewal and had to pay an additional  USD 200.00 to get the domain back. So of course I was very upset as this customer has financial problems and has kind of stopped all the work. And he has also indicated a while ago that he didn’t have money, but that he had paid a cash advance and that that should cover cost for a while. And as there were no real big expenses since that time I never bothered to make push my proposal and/or check whether the cash advance still covered my expenses. But it also means that I basically don’t earn anything from this customer, let alone USD 200.00 additional cost.

So I felt really bad as this month I basically don’t have any income and an additional USD 200.00 on top of normal living expenses is an awful lot of money. And as I am supposed to be the expert and also use that as a selling point I felt and feel obliged to pay for my mistake of not renewing the domain in time, even though it felt kind of unfair as I already advance a lot of expenses (like domains) for this customer and the USD 200.00 would mean I just lose money on this customer. So I am already hit very bad by hardly having any business for this customer, and now I even have to pay USD 200.00 for a mistake I made.

So I didn’t really know what to do, except explaining my situation to the customer support person and asking if they would be willing to help me, like waiving the additional USD 200.00 as I am dealing with domains for almost ten years now and this has never happened to me before. And how could I know there was a five day advance renewal required? Yes, being the expert I should investigate, but who would do that (and remember)?

And then I realized this was not just an ordinary mistake, but just like plane crashes, a lot of things had happened leading up to this event:

  • My business is not doing well, which means I don’t check my domain account as often as I used to.
  • Part of the reason my business is not doing so well is still the economy not doing so well.
  • And as I was not that busy I had time to move part of my domains to another registrar, also to save cost. If my business and/or economy had been better I would have probably not spent time on that.
  • Because my business is not doing so well I don’t have much cash, meaning I did not include this domain in my last domain renewal transaction earlier this month. Partly again because of my credit card cut off period that was after that transaction. Something I normally don’t mind so much about, but with slow economy and no cash…
  • I am used to getting quite some e-mails about domain renewal and normally domain registrars are very alert on this. Somehow I have the feeling I don’t get e-mails as often as before and not getting a serious warning before a domain gets in its redemption state is really weird.
  • However, again because business is down I don’t put so much attention to issues like having the feeling the e-mail warnings are not in time. Strange, but true.

So after realizing all this I also realized that all of this is more of an accident than a mistake. And what mistake did I actually make? The only mistake I made was not knowing that this type of domain needs to be renewed at least five days before it expired. But should I really blame myself for that? Yes, I consider myself an expert, but who would keep track of this type of thing without any warning? I couldn’t see that even anywhere in my screen and I didn’t get any warning, where normally the closer a renewal date is, the more e-mails I get, especially if you are about to lose a domain. And yes, I was late, later than I realized and then I wanted. But still, if you are used to warning e-mails?

And then I saw the site was even offline, which didn’t make any sense to me as the creation date was January 25, 2014, valid for one year, and the expiration date shown in the screen was January 30, 2015. So how can a site be cut off when the expiration date has not even been reached.

And then I realized there may be a real mistake, a mistake in the system of my domain registrar. As I understood from the support person that the domain needed to be renewed five days before the ‘real’ expiry date. And the expiry date in the screen showed January 30, 2015, so five days after January 25, 2015. So the real cause of the redemption of the domain may just be an error, a mistake, in the system of my registrar, which may also be the reason I didn’t get a warning message the domain was about to be lost.

Still, this post was and is not intended to discuss all kinds of technical issues. My main reason to write about this was that it felt very unfair that I was supposed to take a loss of USD 200.00 where I don’t even earn that much from my customer. And that somehow I took all the blame and responsibility and consequences for the solution of this issue. As I didn’t want to involve the customer in this. So one of my questions was and is if it is okay, in this type of case, to involve the customer in this and maybe even ask him to pay all or part of the cost.

And next to this, what are ‘mistakes’ and what are ‘accidents’ and who should take the consequence. And yes, I guess this all goes back that I am too soft to be a businessman. As I should have just pushed through with contract renewal and just let the customer pay what he has to pay, as I am quite sure he has an outstanding balance now.

So being too soft indeed can have far reaching consequences and is apparently not healthy for both parties.

And I am very tired now, so the end of this post is a bit chaotic and not to the point and well written. But the issue of ‘mistake’ and ‘accident’ is worthwhile to think about further.

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