The Trials And Tribulations of Using a Chinese Auction House

Nov 19 2010

I’m going to be the first to admit I can’t read a lick of Chinese.  For all I know the headline at said  “The Home of Stealing American Money” but I really didn’t care.  All I knew is the types of domains that move through their site are the same types of names I love.  Evidently, the Chinese and I share the same “style” of domains.

Asian domainers love number dot coms.  Much more than the rest of the world.  They have certain numbers they like more than others but for the most part, if it’s a three or four number dot com , they’re in. has more of these type names up for auction than any other place in the world and that’s why I had to be part.  There are other names up for auction, dot cn , which I can’t own ,  CVCV dot coms,  which I like as well, tons of 4 character dot coms, and finally Chinese and asian words that I couldn’t tell you if they translate to Dirty Duck or a small town off the Yangtze, or both.

So my next adventure was to figure out how to buy these things.  My first step was to sign up for an account.  The entire process was in English so check, signed up.  Next step try and buy something.  I’m sure you’re saying “Why didn’t he try and fund his account first?”.   I figured I would try and put a bid in and see if the site allowed me to bid on the honor system.  If it did, then I knew I didn’t want to sell anything under those circumstances.  They hadn’t gathered up any information that proves I was legit so if they let me bid with no money then I knew the bidding system would be a mess.  Fortunately,  it wouldn’t let me bid without a certain percentage of the bid in my account.  Next step, fund my account.

While browsing the domains I saw that all transactions were in RMB.  To me that translates to “Chinese Money” but to the rest of the world it stands for Renminbi, the official currency of The People’s Republic of China. At it’s present exchange rate it’s 6.63 RMB to the dollar.  By the way, I keep the Google conversion widget nearby at all times.  Despite what you think, my calculator brain struggles once I get into the “thousandths” decimal.   I take a look at the different ways to fund my account.

First, there’s and only Chinese residents can use it.  Strike one.  Next there’s AliPay, which I have heard of because I used to invest in Chinese stocks but unfortunately, Chinese residents only. Strike two.  I see another button called “Other Online Payments”.   The first in this list is the “Bank of China”  Strike 2 and a half.  I’m not going to even try and set up a Chinese bank account. Next.  Ahhh, I see Paypal.   I certainly can use paypal.  The only requirement, the money has to come from a funded Paypal account.  Translation… send out money you have no legal recourse of getting your money back.  You can’t place a stop on your credit card with a balance funded payment and you have  a 0% chance of paypal refunding your money.  Oh they’ll act like they’re trying to help,  but they won’t. makes it even more uncomfortable by having the email address you send your paypal money to as   Who is goldenname?  This is a new player in the Chinese domain game equation.  I do a little Google homework and the name doesn’t come up in the “I’ve been scammed by” category and that’s good enough for an addicted domainer.   Hey it’s only money so I figure I’d chance it.  I send over $300

I anxiously await the response from Mrs. Goldenname.  Evidently Chinese customer service is more about action than communication.  Two or three days pass without anything happening.  I give them the a little lead way because it was Friday at 4 pm (I have no idea what day it was in China, maybe like Thursday at 7: 20 am or something).  Just to make sure they knew I was a very anxious player, I put a support ticket to remind them of my paypal address, how much I sent, and what account I had sent the money to fund.  Again, no response.  Then surprisingly, the money appeared in my account.  No emails or communication but later that day Bonnie, my account manager, did respond to my ticket.   Now I had money, time to buy some domains.

Again, I do a little due diligence and realized I had another snag.  Many of the domains for sale are registered with Chinese registrars.  Evidently, it’s a bitch to get a name transferred out of a Chinese registrar.  I do some homework and compile a list of registrars to AVOID. Registrars that look to be next to impossible to move out of without going to China, buying a home, and applying for citizenship. NOW, I’m ready to buy.  I find a few four number domains and get ready to pounce.  There is one in particular I like and decide to put a little bid in early, just to get a feel of the system before we get hot and heavy at the end.  I place my bid.  Up comes the error message “You don’t have enough RMB in your account to place a bid”.   Wait.  I have way over that.  I take a look at my account and realize the money is in USD. It looks like I need to have the money converted from USD to RMB.  In goes another support ticket.  I wait for Bonnie’s response.

Twenty four hours pass and yet again, no email but the money is converted.  I didn’t even take the time to check what conversion rate I got.  For all I know I got the same terrible exchange rate as I got one time from this  Mexican guy with a Bruce Springsteen jacket exchanging dollars for Pesos at the Tijuana to San Diego gate.  But like I said, I didn’t care, I just wanted to test this thing out.  Unfortunately I missed all the names I wanted to buy the first time so I was forced to wait for more names I liked.  On a side note, all four of the 4 number domains went for over $1000.  It got me thinking more about selling than buying.

So here’s where we are.  I haven’t purchased a name yet but I am 100% confident buying a name will be very easy.  I have read great things about the escrow part of their site.   I am now going to start selling numeric domains as well. I have paid $500 and under for most of my numerics and 95% of all of the auctions close higher than that. Since my names are all (almost all) at Godaddy, transferring them over to the new buyer should go quickly as well.   So although I have yet to do one transaction at I have confidence that I now have yet another platform to move my domains.  Flipping domains is all about liquidity and gives me complete liquidity for my four number dot coms.  I’ll fill you in if this turns out to be true.   If it’s not, I’ll have another interesting story to share with you.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Steve

    Great article. Translating Chinese names and triple checking translations which still may be kinda correct is imo “The Wild East”. Huge market. I also noticed .cc gets some decent attention on those sites. As you noted numbers are very popular and the right ones get big $$.

  2. Pat

    Shane, you are a wild man. Cool stuff.

    I have a that apparently gets a lot of Chinese traffic.

    Do you know of anywhere that will tell you what English letters might translate (however roughly) to Chinese characters or phrases? I’d love to know if it means anything.

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