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Vindictive former webmaster

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birdwatcher

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This is the situation in a short story:
The owner had a website and the webmaster of this former website got upset because the owner fired him because she did not want to pay what he wanted her to pay for something that should have been included in the original price and because the domain name was owned by this webmaster company and this webmaster has paid for the domain name and has updated it ever since he got fired in '09-the owner had a new website done in '10 with a domain name THAT SHE OWNED so she had control of everything. Apparenlty the old website comes up first and it will always come up first because the old webmaster refuses to close it down and keeps renewing the domain name and updating the website-why would anyone want to do that and more importantly-WHAT CAN WE LEGALLY DO ABOUT IT TO STOP IT! At the conerence we went to this old website will always be 1st on google, and we can't really do a count on how many people go to our website if this old one is first with no re-direct. There has to be something we can do to stop this webmaster from doing this.
We learned long ago-ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS-pay for your own domain name IN YOUR NAME not the web companies name-cause then they have complete control of your website.
Thanks in advance at this time we are going to e-mail the former webmaster and send a certified letter to cease and dissist-its truly false advertising and ruining our reputation and lastly may be loosing business.
 

swirt

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Sorry to hear of this mess. Thanks for sharing as this is an important lesson for everyone. I have always suggested keeping your hosting and your designer separate.
File a cease and desist notice. He may own the domain, but he does not own the name of the business (hopefully that has been field as a DBA or LLC or something that clearly identifies who the owner is. Hopefully the date on the DBA predates the domain ownership. If the website was paid for, and you can prove it was paid for, then not only does he have to relenquish control, he has to hand over the content too. And I think, in court he could be forced to transfer the domain.
The sticky part becomes if the bill was not paid, then it kind of becomes like a mechanic's lean. But those rules are more clearly defined for mechancis, than they are for websites.
 

Alibi Ike

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One thing you can do is to ensure your own site states clearly that 'this is the official 'My inn' website'. Kind of like a rock star has a bunch of people starting up sites purporting to be the real deal.
All of the links into your new site should help raise the new site slowly but surely. The old site won't have good links coming into it any longer. I would look to see what links are going in there and if they are valid links (ie- have something to do with your business) try to get the same links going to your own site. Keep updating your own site with value-added info. What's up and coming, etc. Any press releases, etc. If you find the other site copying any of that, you stand a better chance of having them shut down.
The old webmaster isn't going to PAY for good links coming in and they may just shoot themselves in the foot trying to keep the website high on the list by link farming.
Get your Google Places account set up. In that you might be able to prove to Google you are the valid owner of that address and business and that the other page is a fake. You might be able to get it taken down that way. Might. Something else to check into...is all of the info on the old domain name registration valid? Address and phone number of the owner? Name? If any of it is a lie they can get taken down for that.
More than likely they keep paying the pittance each year in the hopes your employer will eventually pay them to get the domain name. Maybe she owes them money. Most hosting companies won't want to get into the middle of a he said, she said dispute.
Obvious lesson, which you know and now your employer knows, is to never fire the person with the keys to the business until you have those keys in your hand.
We had to threaten to hire an IT attorney when a similar thing happened to us.
 

toddburme

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Trademark your name and you can then get his domain removed at least the content changed.
 

birdwatcher

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thanks to all-and i will tell owner all of this too. We cannot find the contract to the original website-and yes he updates everything on that site now even updating the room rates that changed although he has the names of the innkeepers that were here prior to us. Will update you on what will be going on.
The trademark is a good idea too, I thought about that as well and a copyright on the website itself may help as well.
I just don't get that at all, why do this? its not really benefiting that person at all. yup like you said its a website Lien...but if i try and fight this then I've learnd loads...
 

gillumhouse

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thanks to all-and i will tell owner all of this too. We cannot find the contract to the original website-and yes he updates everything on that site now even updating the room rates that changed although he has the names of the innkeepers that were here prior to us. Will update you on what will be going on.
The trademark is a good idea too, I thought about that as well and a copyright on the website itself may help as well.
I just don't get that at all, why do this? its not really benefiting that person at all. yup like you said its a website Lien...but if i try and fight this then I've learnd loads....
I just don't get that at all, why do this?
It is called revenge, getting even, making life miserable for someone is sometimes worth more than mere money. What this person does not "get" is that it does not really hurt the person he wants to hurt because she does not (I assume) know enough about the Internet to know or care what it is doing. Irt is the innkeeper - an innocent party trying to do a job - that is hurt. The pound of flesh is coming off the wrong body.
 

JBloggs

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I am always leery of hearsay. He said she said. I hope you don't have to be involved in third party disputes.
 

seashanty

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no offense birdwatcher, but this is not your battle.
contract wasn't between you and the webmaster but with the owner.
and she does not have a good track record for stellar relations with employees and vendors.
i have heard of webmasters holding sites and domains hostage because of non payment or not being paid in full.
i would steer clear of any involvment as best you can. the owner should be the one filing any cease and desist orders or whatever, not you.
it's a shame you have to be caught in the middle, but it is the owner's mess to clean up. i got panicked emails and calls from my buddy when she had a falling out with the realtor. such a familiar scenario! but i had registered the domain, not the realtor ... and was able to help her get back control of the domain. i had given her all the necessary information when i left ... what she did with it, i don't know. but when i was asked if i could rebuild the old site dismantled by the realtor i declined. ridiculous.
added ps ... it's still really good advice about retaining control ... all should keep that in mind.
 

Alibi Ike

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no offense birdwatcher, but this is not your battle.
contract wasn't between you and the webmaster but with the owner.
and she does not have a good track record for stellar relations with employees and vendors.
i have heard of webmasters holding sites and domains hostage because of non payment or not being paid in full.
i would steer clear of any involvment as best you can. the owner should be the one filing any cease and desist orders or whatever, not you.
it's a shame you have to be caught in the middle, but it is the owner's mess to clean up. i got panicked emails and calls from my buddy when she had a falling out with the realtor. such a familiar scenario! but i had registered the domain, not the realtor ... and was able to help her get back control of the domain. i had given her all the necessary information when i left ... what she did with it, i don't know. but when i was asked if i could rebuild the old site dismantled by the realtor i declined. ridiculous.
added ps ... it's still really good advice about retaining control ... all should keep that in mind..
Excellent advice Seashanty.
 

birdwatcher

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thanks Seashanty-I was thinking the same thing, they don't have any kind of contract and she cant even remember WHY this webmaster is doing this-all Im gonna do is gather information and send it to her at this time-she's kind of flighty to begin with, but have to play until something better comes along..
Yup its not hurting the owner -per say, but it is not making it easy to get guests or gage how many hits we get on the website-it should have been dealt with then but owner did not want to listen-so goes the war.
 

Copperhead

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thanks to all-and i will tell owner all of this too. We cannot find the contract to the original website-and yes he updates everything on that site now even updating the room rates that changed although he has the names of the innkeepers that were here prior to us. Will update you on what will be going on.
The trademark is a good idea too, I thought about that as well and a copyright on the website itself may help as well.
I just don't get that at all, why do this? its not really benefiting that person at all. yup like you said its a website Lien...but if i try and fight this then I've learnd loads....
birdwatcher said:
We cannot find the contract to the original website
What about invoices with your records. The invoices may state that the owner paid X for the domain name & X for renewal. This may help if the owner wants to argue that the domain was paid for.
 

EmptyNest

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no offense birdwatcher, but this is not your battle.
contract wasn't between you and the webmaster but with the owner.
and she does not have a good track record for stellar relations with employees and vendors.
i have heard of webmasters holding sites and domains hostage because of non payment or not being paid in full.
i would steer clear of any involvment as best you can. the owner should be the one filing any cease and desist orders or whatever, not you.
it's a shame you have to be caught in the middle, but it is the owner's mess to clean up. i got panicked emails and calls from my buddy when she had a falling out with the realtor. such a familiar scenario! but i had registered the domain, not the realtor ... and was able to help her get back control of the domain. i had given her all the necessary information when i left ... what she did with it, i don't know. but when i was asked if i could rebuild the old site dismantled by the realtor i declined. ridiculous.
added ps ... it's still really good advice about retaining control ... all should keep that in mind..
I agree with Seashanty. It is the owner's problem..not yours. I would not touch this with a 10 foot pole. Let her deal with it. Anything else goes wrong and she'll blame you. Stay out of it.
 

swirt

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This is a bit of a stretch, only because it becomes more difficult to prove, but you could file a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) complaint with Google and Bing to get the site de-listed in the two major search engines.
 

Generic

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I own a lot of domains, even sold a few. And I've had clients stiff me and all I had left was the domain name.
Considering the legal costs, have you simply tried to make them an offer to purchase the domain from them? Might be worth making an offer and seeing if they will just relinquish it for a few hundred dollars rather than having to go through the legal steps. Figure out the costs of all these legal steps and offer them less and see if they bite. Sometimes it's just easier to take a bird in the hand.
 

Joey Camb

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I own a lot of domains, even sold a few. And I've had clients stiff me and all I had left was the domain name.
Considering the legal costs, have you simply tried to make them an offer to purchase the domain from them? Might be worth making an offer and seeing if they will just relinquish it for a few hundred dollars rather than having to go through the legal steps. Figure out the costs of all these legal steps and offer them less and see if they bite. Sometimes it's just easier to take a bird in the hand..
you don't know their boss lol I would bet she is the type of person who would rather pay out more to make a point!
 

birdwatcher

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YOU ARE SOOOOO right camber--but we will search and do what you said swirt
We searched evrywhere for invoices but have not been able to find anything. Frustrating as it seems it was all done before our watch and we had told her about it when we got here 8 months ago.
 

Joey Camb

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It is not the same situation but the PO's had a basic web site (nothing wrong with it) but we want some changes as it is not accurate ie says in big letters on the front page HOTEL! and I have rung them a million tim es about it and every time they swear they will but nothing has changed so I have given up and built my own.
 
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