Domain registrar is refusing to renew a domain

This is strange. Someone I know just called me and said they accidentally let their domain name expire as of today. Their credit card was expired and no renewal failures came to his email.

He couldn't remember his registrar login, so he called their support (I'll keep their name confidential for now since he is supposedly waiting for a call back, and I don't want to muddy the waters).

He said the support person sounded very vague and "shady", speaking quietly and saying things like "I really can't do anything about that right now... There's a few things going on here today..."; things like that. The domain owner was told that someone would look into it, and call him back.

This is not a huge domain registrar, but they are well known.

I suggested he call back and see if he gets another support person. He was told that his domain has been locked until he writes a letter proving ownership. My contact said, "it sounds like you think I'm involved in some kind of illegal activity or something" and the reply is, " oh no, nothing like that".

Now, this is a domain that expired just today! It is a tiny Web site, and the real thing of value is that it is the person's email account.

In 20 years of involvement with domain name registration, I've never heard of anything so strange and suspicious.

Is there a possibility that something deeper is going on here on the part of the registrar?
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DaveWWWAsked:
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arnoldCommented:
That is BS, there is a grace period before the domain can be reregistered once expired.  During that time, the person can renew the domain.
He will not however, be able to renew it through a different registrar in this state.

Usually, there is a way to get the login credentials provided the email one used at the time of registration is still valid, or if the person has the account number from the registrar and use it for login/password recovery.

I think your friend's situation might be that info on the registrar record, email, etc. are no longer valid, if this is a business domain, a letter on company letter head would be sufficient, and it is not clear to me that the request the registrar is making is outlandish on the face of it.
My impression would be different, if other suspicious requests for ..... stuff were made.
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DaveWWWAuthor Commented:
Thanks Arnold. I know I've had occasion to call a registrar and renew over the phone. I have more than once made a payment for a client, and of course the registrar happily obliged even though I wasn't the domain owner, since I was not making any changes at all to the account. That's the weird bit - he wanted to pay for his own domain over the phone and they weren't permitting it, giving quiet elusive answers.

He did notice through whois that some of his info was outdated, though there would be no way the Registrar would know this.
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
"Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity"

One thing I would do before going through a ton of effort is simply wait until normal business hours on a Monday.  It may be as simple as Adrain's the worst-trained rep on the Sunday shift...
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DaveWWWAuthor Commented:
Thanks. It turned out to be a combination of a very long-expired credit card on file (he always paid with PayPal) causing some jitters for some reason, plus I'm not sure th3e support person knew exactly what he was doing.
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