Dreamhost acts as a sub-registrar in the case of .es
My take on what you have said here is that you have interacted with a dreamhost employee that has mis-diagnosed what is occurring.
Unfortunately auto renew does seem to be a problem with the tld is not .com. .net, .org, or .info -- I wonder why dreamhost doesn't either fix it, or disable the feature for non- .com. .net, .org, or .info domains.