A few years ago, I had bought two domain names: virtualphilharmonic.com for my music, and rbehringer.com for myself. While living in the US, I had taken care of renewing the domain registration regularly, and I also did it once I had moved to the UK. But I did no maintenance of those sites, they just kept there remaining stale on the web, without new info... and I was not really interested in keeping them up to date, as this blog became my "main web site".
Last summer I checked just for fun the domain www.virtualphilharmonic.com, just to notice that there was an announcement that this domain is no longer available. I checked with the domain registrar, and indeed it had expired a few months earlier. My email address had been not valid anymore, that is why I did not get the notice about the expiry. I updated the email address, and when I checked a few days later, the domain seemed to work again - guiding to my own site, but with advertisement around it. When I wanted to renew the domain, I realised that someone new owned it: hotelsbycity.com. I assumed that they would want to sell it, because a hotel busines could have no use for the domain virtualphilharmonic.com. There was mention of making an offer for the domain name, but I did not bother... so I buried the domain name without further ado.
The other domain rbehringer.com worked at that time. Again, I was too lazy to check when it would expire...
As a few days ago I was curious what my old website was doing, I found that the domain too had been gone: instead there was now advertisement for various Behringer equipment, with a top line stating "this domain is for sale". I requested an offer: $380 was the response email which I received a day later. A regular .com domain registration costs just $14 per year... so this is definitely a rip-off.
Ok, I will not pursue this any further. But just a warning to anyone who has domain names and wants to keep them: check your renewal dates! There are crooks out there who are actually paying for those domains, even if they do not have an immediate use for them - just ro resell them at a higher price.
Well, these two buyers of my former domain names may keep them and spend the money on them, if they feel that someone wants to buy those names. I guess the virtualphilharmonic name has actually some value, and the first buyer was actually nice enough to link back to my site, as (s)he must have realised that my site would actually bring some traffic to their ads.