My family's domain name was up for renewal, and I wanted to consolidate all the domains I run under one DNS provider for ease of maintenace. I was cautious because I didn't want there to be any time when my domain was unavailable. I wanted to know if I would be able to edit my domain's zonefile before the transfer was complete. In this way, when the root .com servers were updated with new nameserver (NS) records for my domain, those nameservers would have the proper A and MX records to give out.
I called the support folks at the new provider and they didn't seem to be able to answer this simple question. I figured they couldn't possibly screw this simple thing up, so I went ahead and did the transfer. Only then did I find out the answer to my question was 'Nope!'. The transfer was in now progress and my domain in the new provider's nameservers had some default records which pointed to servers run by the registration company (free advertising for them).
The control panel for this domain said something like 'we'll enable access to your zonefile within 24 hours after the transfer is completed'. In essense, this could mean that my existing domain would start directing people to the wrong servers sometime after the registrar transfer happened. Of course, that was unacceptable, not to mention rediculous.
I called the next morning and they offered to 'unlock' my domain's control panel. This let me set up my zonefile the way I wanted it, with all the proper address and mail exchanger records. Therefore, when the domain is transfered, everything should work seamlessly. I'm happy.
Each day that goes by has me checking my domain's nameserver records with the root servers and MXes in the new provider's servers so I'll know when the transfer takes place. After a few days, I see that the WHOIS records for my domain have changed. The NS records haven't changed yet, but the MXes at the new provider are still what I set them too. I assume things have worked and I'm very happy that it has all gone smoothly. I log into the control panel just to make sure that my personal information is mostly private and that my domain is in 'REGISTRAR-LOCK'. It is and I'm done. I don't bother to look at my zonefile because I know it's already set up properly...
Early the following morning I notice that something is wrong. I see that my domain is now pointing to the registrar's servers again. I quickly log into the control panel and yes, the records are all back to the default values (argh!!). I fix them.
I don't know how long it's been like that, and I don't know how much mail got bounced. I'm not happy.
I can imagine this is what happened. Once the domain transfer completed, their automatic processes unlocked my domain's control panel, which reset my domain's zonefile data to the defaults. It didn't seem to matter that it was already unlocked and had custom data. Yeah, that's a really stupid policy and I've contacted support to discuss it.
If they admit their mistakes, fix their bad policies, and make it up to me, you'll hear about it. If they brush me off, you'll hear about that too, and I'll also tell you the name of my new least favorite domain name registrar. So look here for updates if you care.
P.S. You'd think they would have sent me mail when the transfer was complete, but I didn't get one. Maybe they did send it, but it was after they reverted my zonefile. In that case, their mail server would have bounced it. The lesson here is you sould probably use an address that's not in the domain you are transfering.
Update 1: I received a mail from the new provider telling me about my transfer completing. It's probably 24 hours after the fact. I still haven't heard from them on why they hijacked my domain from me yet. Yes, hijacked.
Update 2: No reply to my mail after a week, so I use their web form to submit the case again. I get a bounced mail message back from them! *sigh*. I call them, tell them about the bouncing mail, and give them my details. The helper is sorry about what happend to me and promises to get right on it. That's good enough for me for now. Later, I realize I don't have a case number or anything yet. I'll call them again
this week and try to make them assign me one. In the meantime, I'm looking at switching to yet another DNS host. I have a test domain I can transfer to see if they can do it right or not. Fun!
Update 3: DomainDirect sux. The folks at DyDNS.com know their stuff, but they are pricey.