Fortunately, this time through I’d erased my debit card number from Yahoo Wallet. (I had to use it to renew my Flickr a couple months ago, but I remembered to erase it again afterwards.) Not having anything to charge, they instead sent me a “Past-Due Payment Notice” demanding $35. For the domain I transferred last year!
(For those who don’t feel like clicking the link, the last time this happened they just charged me without warning, and I had to contest it on PayPal to get the money back – because, since I don’t actually have an account with Yahoo Small Business, Yahoo Small Business customer service won’t talk to me.)
To summarize Yahoo’s domain registration behavior thus far:
1) Yahoo offers a “private registration” option, which allows you to keep your real name and mailing address out of the WHOIS database. It is impossible to transfer one of these private domains to another registrar. Ever. (See my post from last year, or this guy’s post from 2007.)
To effect a transfer, you have to downgrade the domain to a non-private one, thus revealing your personal information. This means that if, for any reason, you’re in a position in which you can’t allow your real name and address to become public – say: you’re being stalked, you’ve expressed certain uncomplimentary ideas about your employer on your blog, you’re a Venezuelan political dissident, you’re an oil industry whistle blower, you’ve converted to Islam or Linux or come to some conclusions about your sexual orientation and your grandmother is an Old Regular Baptist Microsoft project manager who’s waiting in line for a heart transplant – you can’t leave Yahoo for another registrar.
2) According to this blogger, Yahoo will also expose your real name and address if you allow your domain registration to expire.
So, if for some reason you can’t allow your real name into WHOIS, you also can’t cancel a privately registered Yahoo domain.