Snapfish Will Delete Your Account Unless You Buy Prints Now

Snapfish is threatening to delete Jim’s account unless he orders prints within the next 10 days, which is odd because Jim hasn’t uploaded photos to Snapfish. Read their weird threatening sales pitch, after the jump.

http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/snapfish_foff-thumb.jpg?w=463&h=470
Jim writes:
Snapfish, a site in which I don’t even put my own photos on, but only have an account to look at the photos sent to me by others, is now threatening to delete “my photos” and deactivate my account if I don’t buy prints from them.

What does that say about the popularity of the service if they have to threaten customers with photo deletion in order to get them to purchase photos on the site. (But keep in mind if you buy photos from HP links, that doesn’t count . . . even though Snapfish is owned by HP.) Does Flikr do this? Does Picasa Web Albums do this? No. Perhaps that is why I actually keep all my important photos on that service and not Snapfish.

Good riddance. Let your account lapse and bum a login from BugMeNot when you need to view your friends’ photos.

Comments

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  1. Fujikopez says:

    Are you sure this isn’t a phishing attempt to get a CC#?

  2. corthepirate says:

    The links look pretty legit to me…
    I’m just happy I never signed up with them.

  3. hypnotik_jello says:

    @corthepirate: The links look legit but often phishing HTML emails are crafted so the link’s HREF goes to a phishing site even if it looks like a legitimate link.

  4. sleepydumbdude says:

    I had an account with them because I got free prints from them once. I never used it again and got a email like this one. Mine’s probably deleted by now since I got the email a few months ago.

  5. Carey Alexander says:

    The email is from Snapfish and the links don’t offer any surprises.

  6. nrwfos says:

    If this were an email to me and I didn’t have an account with them…I would have trashed it without opening it. I don’t open email from places or people I don’t know. I would never have known I was being threatened.

  7. RenardRouge says:

    @corthepirate: You have to hover over the text to see where the link leads. The text could say the correct link but you need to check where the HTML tag leads you…

  8. astruc says:

    I received a similar email from Kodak Gallery some time back, but they never followed through on the threat to delete my pictures.

  9. humphrmi says:

    I store my pictures on a hard drive that I own. I only have to worry about crackers pwning my computer and holding it for ransom. I guess crackers and Snapfish are cut from the same cloth.

    Oh yeah I have my own website to share pics with friends if I become so possessed.

  10. chrisgoh says:

    Just another reason why Smugmug rocks.

  11. BigBoat says:

    I got exactly the same letter a month ago. I didn’t buy a thing. My photos are still there.

  12. jeblis says:

    They did that to me a long time ago…I wonder if they ever deleted the account.

  13. KogeLiz says:

    hmmm, i’ve haven’t rec’d this email (yet).
    I don’t believe I have uploaded photos, but I, too, have an account to see others. and have for the last year or so.

  14. spinachdip says:

    @nrwfos: Right, but the OP *does* have an account with Snapfish, just no uploaded photos for them to delete. It’s effectively an empty threat, but a customer-unfriendly threat, nonetheless.

  15. Thorny says:

    They aren’t a photo/file storage company, they are in the business of selling prints. So I can appreciate their policy in that sense. If nobody is buying the photos you’ve stored, why should they keep storing them?

    However if I were running Snapfish, I would market the company as a print seller AND photo storage company, especially since hard drive space is cheap.

  16. BugMeNot2 says:

    Bugmenot is very good. I use it all the time!
    hehe

  17. tdatl says:

    The email is legit. I’ve gotten several of these starting back in November, and if I go to their site now and login, I get the same warning. Earlier ones claimed my entire account would be deleted sometime in December, but it obviously never was, since that gives them no reason to try to get $$ out of me.

    I am another one of those who has an account only on there because I wanted to view some photos a relative had uploaded there… never uploaded anything myself.

  18. D-Bo says:

    Well that sure makes me want to do business with them…

  19. Every time I get an email from a friend to view their photos from a site where you have to log in to view, I tell them to use flickr, and then I’ll look at them.

  20. Maulleigh says:

    I have no love for snapfish. I hate it because every one of my friends with children take a ton of snaps, put them up on the site, and then I have to stupid register to view them.

    I love flickr so much I just signed up for another TWO years of pro. Although I do not get my pictures developed there. I find it kind of expensive.

    I get them developed at yorkphoto.com which Consumer Reports gave high ratings to YEARS ago. I don’t know how they are now but I’m a creature of habit.

  21. humphrmi says:

    @Thorny: While I don’t have any specific evidence about Snapfish, I have seen a lot of these companies market themselves exclusively as a picture sharing service. That is, to get you to sign up. Then it’s all about sales. You get their stupid ads now with cameras, and the “free” bloatware picture viewers on new PCs. And it’s all about “upload and share your pictures with your friends.” So while I don’t disagree with you, I question whether they are marketing themselves as such 100% of the time.

  22. hugowren says:

    I had a ton of pictures stored at snapfish (probably around 2000) and I had not used the site in a while because I switched from analog to digital cameras. Well they sent me a couple of these notices and my email program felt they were a little spammy so I didn’t see them until it was too late. I begged and pleaded with India to restore my account so I could access my images and they refused. I haven’t been to their website since.

  23. Mary says:

    @Fujikopez: No, it isn’t phishing, it’s in the terms and conditions you agree to when you sign up for an account.

    I use Snapfish for printing photos, not for sharing them. They’re still voted and rated the best for that, and honestly it’s about the same price and hassle as printing them at home. Every year or so (yes, it’s that infrequent) I have to order one, single, 9 cent print.

    This practice is their only downside. I’ve been using them for about five or six years. Only once have I received an email like this.

    Snapfish is not a photo sharing site, or at least it shouldn’t be viewed as one. They process and print photos. That’s very, very different.

  24. Do people actually print photos? We only ever print photos as gifts for our older relatives, with a Canon we bought 3 years ago. We store everything online so I can look at them at work, while traveling, anywhere I want.

    My favorite thing about Smugmug is the option to make password-protected galleries. Friends & family don’t need to sign up for an account to see the photos; they just need the password.

  25. acasto says:

    Wow, that’s pretty ridiculous. They could of at least tried to word it a little better. Sounds like they have an IP lawyer handling the PR while watching The Soprano’s.

  26. carlosdelvaca says:

    I got a couple such e-mails a few months back, and behold Snapfish DID delete all my pictures a few weeks ago. Fortunately I had moved all my stuff to Flickr in anticipation. I agree with Meiran–Snapfish is a very good site for getting prints, photo books, that kind of stuff. For just sharing your photos digitally, you can do much better.

  27. Maverickewu says:

    My pictures on snapfish should have been deleted in November, but I just logged in after reading this and they’re still there.

    I think people are over-reacting a little bit here honestly. The point is that snapfish isn’t like some other sites, it exists to be an online photo printing site. If you’re not buying anything, and storing photos online, then you are costing them money.

    The guy in this case doesn’t even have photos online, so what is he really losing if they deactivate his account and “delete all his photos?” Absolutely nothing.

    Just look at it like this. They agreed to hold onto people’s photo’s online cause they had the impression that they were gonna make money off of them. If they aren’t, what’s the incentive to keep holding them?

  28. Maverickewu says:

    @Thorny: Hard drive space is cheap. Running lots of servers to hold all those photos, not so cheap

  29. 3rding Smugmug. Especially since Flickr = Yahoo = (Evil Eavesdroppers for the Government) AT&T.

  30. sly100100 says:

    I got a snapfish email from them today but it was just a notice about a sale. I only have a few photos on there site. I signed up looking for the best quality photos as I am a photographer and I buy a lot of prints for my greeting cards and framed prints.
    The free prints are what drew me to snapfish. Although I didn’t think there color was very accurate. I use winkflash which is a not only cheaper for the prints but the shipping is a lot less. Shutterfly has great quality but the shipping will kill you.
    Glad I chose not to go with snapfish if this is the way they treat there customers.

  31. savvy999 says:

    I have used Snapfish without incident (storing ~4GBs of photos, sharing with people, printing a couple here and there for framing around the house, etc) for 3+ years.

    That letter is weirdly out of character IMO.

  32. caj11 says:

    This happened to me. I’ve kind of used Snapfish as a storage place for photos from my digital camera, in part because I’m too damn lazy to get them developed and create an album out of them. I’d rather just show people my photos online. Last time I got one of these emails, I just elected to have one made into a postcard and sent it to the friend and her baby whose picture I’d taken. Cost me a little over a dollar with postage. Cheap price to pay for storage space.

  33. spinachdip says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: Seriously? Yahoo and AT&T happen to be partnering in broadband, so Flickr (which has been pretty much left alone after the login merge fiasco) is somehow complicit in wiretapping?

  34. VeeKaChu says:

    Hewlett-Packard is the devil. It’s a shame too, because they do make some really decent products now and then. But their service sucks, their websites have always been awful, diffucult to navigate messes, and they seem more concerned with wringing every penny out of their customers that they can.

    E.g., as recently as three or four years ago, I was looking for drivers for an HP scanner that was still not two years old at the time. Well, gee, what I actually found was a mealy-mouthed declaration that “due to storage limitations” they could not make drivers available for “obsolete” equipment, but they’d be happy to sell me the installation CD again.

    This sort of behavior on the part of Snapfish, an HP site, is just an extension of that “suck-em-dry” corporate culture.

  35. morydd says:

    I’ve been a snapfish customer for quite a while. I used their film developing because it was inexpensive. I got the “buy stuff or we’ll delete your pictures” too. I decided I’d go ahead and order the CD of my images so I’d have copies if anything did happen to my Snapfish account.
    After several attempts to place the order, in which I was told I needed to re-upload some of my pictures (the ones I didn’t have digital versions of) and customer service telling me it was browser problem (one that lasted more than a month and occurred with IE6, IE7, and Firefox on 3 different computers?) I finally was able to place an order for some of my images. 3 days later I got an e-mail saying I was receiving a credit (but no reason why). 3 days after that I got a message that said my order was canceled (but not a reason why). 10 days after that, the money was refunded to my card. Needless to say, I’m going to try to get my pictures, but I’m done with Snapfish.

  36. Snapfish deleted all my photos…in 2004…and I’m still getting the above email.

  37. BugMeNot2 says:

    Years ago Homestead.com used this same tactic with all of the websites they hosted – Sign up for $29.95/month hosting or we delete your site. Snapfish, Homestead and any other companies that rely on threats to make money will not be seeing any of mine.

  38. ian937262 says:

    @D-Bo:
    In what way does this effect why you would or would not do business with them? It’s one mistake.

  39. lestat730 says:

    I got the same email awhile back after I didn’t make a purchase for well over a year. Thing is, I got the notice 6 months ago and my account and all my uploaded photos are still active. When I login there is a little warning that basically says what the email said. They’ll probably kill my account eventually but I could really care less as I don’t use the service much.

  40. Phil says:

    The best part? This won’t cancel your account at all. I got that warning two years ago. My account still works fine when I periodically use it to print digital pictures.

  41. Elvisisdead says:

    Picasa’s online service is nice, because:
    a) it’s an online backup of my photos in addition to the external drive backup.
    b) anyone who wants to buy prints can from any vendor that they support
    c) the picasa app crossloads directly to several print vendors.

    The only thing I don’t like is that they can’t send to Adorama. You will get a better picture back from Adorama than just about any other online photo processor.

  42. @spinachdip: Not to my knowledge, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they “shared information to improve your user experience”. AT&T has already proven that they don’t give a rat’s ass about privacy and that they have no qualms about breaking the law. They’re the last company on earth I’d trust with a stockpile of my personal photos.

  43. GrandizerGo says:

    I use them to print pics all the time.
    The only pics I leave there are the ones I want to print.

    If anyone leaves the ONLY copies they have on a site like this, or sites like Flickr, they are really no thinking…
    A DVD costs 30 cents, or less. How hard is it to back up the pics on a more stable medium then that?
    No passwords to forget, no threats to worry about.

    Use these sites ONLY to share pics.

  44. sgodun says:

    I had a comparable episode with SnapFish a few years ago. They were running a “package promotion” that offered something like 50 prints for one price. I ordered 35 and all was good. Then I started receiving MASSIVE amounts of spam from SnapFish (they had a unique email address that I gave only to SnapFish so I know it was coming from them). I complained bitterly to them and demanded I be removed from their spam list. They did, eventually. A few weeks later I went to use the last 15 prints I had paid for and discovered that SnapFish deleted my credits from their system. It took about an hour on the phone with them (as well as a threat to file a fraud report with my credit card company) to make them put my paid-for credits back.

    I will never ever patronize SnapFish ever again.

  45. timida83 says:

    I also had a bad experience with Snapfish. I ordered prints about 3 weeks before Christmas, and hadn’t received them by that date. After sending them 3 emails, I received my photos January 9th, without hearing back from them. No response, no acknowledgement of the delay, nothing. I have SnapFish credits that I will not be using.

  46. Swervo says:

    I haven’t received one of these from them yet, thankfully. However, I signed up with them using a one-off email address that I’ve only ever given to Snapfish. Recently, I’ve started getting a whole lot of pharmaceutical spam to that address, so it looks like they’re looking at a few ways to get that revenue up.

  47. Murph1908 says:

    @Thorny:

    Precisely. I see no problem with them saying, “buy something, or we’ll need to clear up our hard drive space.”

    Regardless of how cheap storage is, images can end up being very large.

    @Swervo:
    Not necessarily. If the email address is something common with a number after it, it’ll get hit by spam bots just sending to all the numbers. My murph####@isp.com address gets hit by a ton of these. Fortunately, most spam-bots catch those that are sent to ‘blanket numerics’ like that.

  48. opposablethumb says:

    I had a couple of friends who used Snapfish to share photos. After determining that I had to create an account in order to view the photos, I convinced the friends to take their photos elsewhere and they did. Any company that requires creating an account just to look at someone else’s photos isn’t to be trusted. Snapfish won’t survive much longer.

  49. Android8675 says:

    I’d like to put in my $.02 for Shutterfly.com, while I don’t like that they don’t allow you to access the original photos, at least their service is INCREDIBLY FAST (actually their corporate offices are a mile from where I live, but still) I usually get my photos the next day if I order them early enough the previous day, and so far I haven’t gotten any threats from them.

  50. arik says:

    It was quite surprising for me to find out that people who talk about Shutterfly as infinite storage possibility have never ever read their Terms & Conditions. Here is a snippet copied over for your info: “Canceling the service; discontinuing inactive accounts
    Shutterfly reserves the right to cancel the Service or to discontinue accounts that have been inactive for more than 180 days. We may do so at our discretion after sending an email warning to the address you used when you set up your account. If you do not respond to the email within 10 days, your account and the images contained in it may be removed”. Perhaps, they will not send a nagging email when cancelling an acount ;).
    By the way, storage costs for those photo-harring/selling sites costs millions of $ every month…

  51. yetiwisdom says:

    I was an early adopter of Snapfish in the late 90’s when it was the premiere site for photo sharing – before Picasa, Shutterfly, Kodak, etc. I was a huge advocate for the service. As time passed though, and Flickr and the other open API services came along, I wasn’t so thrilled. After reading similar stories and experiencing the “buy prints or be deactivated” ploy a couple of times I decided to cough up the $130+ to download all of my 3,000+ pics in high-res and move them elsewhere. Unfortunately, Snapfish caps downloads at 50 pictures each. Meaning, I’d have to download 600 sets of 50 to divorce myself from Snapfish – an activity that would take just slightly longer then peeling the entire upper layer of my epidermis off with a tweezer.

    I emailed their CS about a Bulk Download option and got a canned response. Called their CS and was told “sorry, the limit is 50 per set”. I haven’t bothered yet to try an exec-mail but it’s on my to-do list.

    Lesson: don’t do business with Snapfish. They’re a web 1.0 company in a 2.0 world and their attitude towards customers is still in beta.

    Fun Fact: Snapfish is owned by HP!
    TIP: Use BugMeNot for Snapfish and other member-only photo sites – it’s a blast to check out all the other albums too!

  52. Elle Rayne says:

    I haven’t gotten that email from Snapfish, but there’s so much I hate about them. In fact, I’m considering writing to the Consumerist about it. A couple of things I hate:
    1. To change your email address, you have to re-enter your credit card information, and they’d charge a temporary $1 authorization charge. I wrote to complain about this ridiculousness, and got a nice email assuring me the charge was temporary. I wrote back, Why should I have to give my credit card info to change my email address anyway? And since it’s the same card, why does it have to be re-authorized.
    2. There’s no way to opt out of the barrage of promotional emails . Doesn’t matter how many prints you’ve bought from them…they’ll keep spamming you.. Hello, Gmail filter…straight into Deleted Items.

  53. SayAhh says:

    I have accounts at: Snapfish, Picasa, Shutterfly, KodakEasyShare Gallery, Yahoo!Photos (until it died; I didn’t port over to flickr), and Costco Photo Center (powered by Snapfish).

    My Snapfish account sent out buy-or-lose-all-your-pictures warnings and indeed all my photos are gone; the only albums left are “friend’s/shared albums” from friend’s whose account haven’t been shutdown due to lack of usage (err..purchase). I had duplicate albums (triplicate if you count my desktop hard drive) at both Snapfish and CostcoPhotoCenter, but I haven’t gone back to Snapfish since they wiped my albums.

    So far, I’ve been HAPPIEST at Costco Photo Center because you can upload AS MUCH AS YOU WANT, and they’ll never delete your photos, unless:
    A) their database (main and backup) crashed or blew up or,
    B) WalMart/Sam’s Club completes a hostile takeover of Costco and starts charging or,
    C) you cancel your Costco membership (I’m not sure if this is true, though, because I’m still a member) and save two cents (+tax) per picture.

    FYI: It costs less if you upload the photos at the warehouse (15 cents plus tax) than if you upload them online (17 cents plus tax). The technician (probably just a cashier) said that there shouldn’t be any difference in quality whether you uploaded them or brought them in but I didn’t do a comparison test to find out because I’m not that finicky. Of course, you don’t get to access your photos if you order them at the warehouse, but you can always do both and have them online, as well.

    If you wanted alternatives to your will-soon-be-defunct Snapfish account, here’s a list of photo sharing sites (some aren’t free, but those won’t delete your photos):
    [www.bestwebbuys.com]
    Adoramapix, Mpix, Photoworks and Smugmug are all terrific, if my memory serves me correctly.

    Also, here is a detailed comparison of four major services for both amateur and professional photographers: [www.gorillasites.com]

  54. Trick says:

    I had photo’s there at one time… I can’t remember why they were there but they were and they were copies… all of a sudden after a very long time I get a notice that I need to do something with my account in order to keep it.

    Fair enough…

    I didn’t need the service so why bother buying something…

    My account was probably deleted. Don’t know, don’t care…

    If I had cared, I would have paid for the service.

  55. Kayyyy says:

    Huge fan of Shutterfly. And the storage is indeed infinite!!!! I’ve
    had my photos at Shutterfly for 3 years and called to confirm the
    infinite storage — yep, it is true!