dubious

All posts tagged dubious

I don’t get it. Do I attract it or something? I got into another one of those situations.
For a couple of years now I’ve been taking part in photography competitions from the Color Awards (Photography Masters Cup) and the Black and White Spider Awards. Last year I received a mail from a website The Photo Paper, which announced a magazine bundling all the winners and nominees from these competitions. Aside from my own excellent photography (ahem) it’d be great to see the best of these together in magazines. There really are some great images among them.

Photo Paper

image courtesy of The Photo Paper

I signed up and paid for the subscription and was looking forward to receiving the first issue, as was announced to be released in June of 2010. June came. June went. But no Photo Paper in my mailbox. July came and went, too. Also without any Photo Paper (see a pattern forming?).
August came, and I decided to try to get some info. I checked the website for a contact address and found it. It’s a good website (gotta give them that!). I sent a mail to the given email address and, my Life took a hopeful turn, I received a prompt reply from a very friendly lady, who apologized for the delay, but reassured me that the first issue of the magazine would be shipped still that very month, so in August.

August went. September came. September went. October came and went. November (see that pattern again?)… And even though that on the website there was now one place which (still) said that the first issue would come out in June 2010, in a second place it said it would come out in November, it didn’t, hadn’t, wouldn’t.
December… was the month in which I thought that four months patience is sufficient to justify another mail. That hopeful turn had made a solid U-turn in the mean time and that was emphasized by the fact that this time the prompt reply didn’t come. No sign of life, whatsoever.
I sent a mail to another address on the website, to no avail. December went, and I was too busy with work to follow up. In January, however, I felt like I needed to do something about it and so I thought I’d poke with the stick in the anthill.

I sent a new mail. But now to a number of big names that were in the partner-list on the website, with a CC: to the addresses I sent my first emails to. The first replies came in immediately. Automated responses about how they value customer service etc. etc. and they’d get back to me as soon as they can. Not immediately, though fairly quickly, came another reply, from PDN. Very short, but very clear (names are XXXXXX-ed):

We are not a sponsor of the PhotoPaper
Send me the url if it says something different
Best
XXXXX XXXXXXXX

Ouch… So I sent the URL and got a prompt reply back:

Dear Arno
This is what it says below and it lists XXXXXX XXXXX who works for
us who judged one of their contests years ago. XXXXXX is going to
contact them to have our name removed but I really don’t know
what is going on. Thanks for contacting us and bringing this to our
attention. Sorry we can not be more helpful
XXXXXXX

Our industry partners are made up of a collective Judging Panel of
over eighty of the most recognized industry experts who participate
on the panels of PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERS CUP and BLACK &
WHITE SPIDER AWARDS.

So… Gets you thinking, doesn’t it? I started wondering how many of those so-called partners were actually aware of being made partners. But in any case, this didn’t bring me much closer to knowing when I would get my first issue. I didn’t get any replies from the other “partners”, but I was surprised when I found a mail from, yes!, The Photo Paper in my mailbox today.
It was a reply to the mail I sent on December 4th and it read the following:

Dear Arno,
To confirm, your subscription to The PHOTO Paper has been
cancelled and your payment of $XX has been refunded to your
credit card.

Sincerely,
XXXXXXXXXX

To which I pretty much concluded that they have no idea when this magazine will be published. I decided to go check out the website and the first thing that opened was a pop-up window saying

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
The first issue of The PHOTO Paper will be released February
along with the launch of a new website.

I scrolled on to the partners page and also noticed that indeed the PDN entry has been removed…

Oh, and I stated in my second mail to them that they’d either refund my money OR give me a concrete release date. The fact that they (say they have) refunded the money makes me believe that this whole thing is still rather uncertain. If it’s actually released in February, I’ll check if the magazine comes to the stores and buy it from there. If not… I might consider signing up again… Or not…

But first… Let’s see if I’m actually going to get that refund to my credit card or if I have to start chasing that, too…
Maybe “to be continued…”

Being in graphics I frequently find myself on the look-out for cheap(er) ways to get stuff printed. If things need to be really good and well-produced, I of course turn to a local offset printer for the best results. If, however, it’s more about the quantity/price and not the quality, I try to find the best price/result balance.
I have a good number of options on my list, and one of them is (or used to be) Vista Print. I had never used them before, but I know a few who have, and I probably would’ve tried them out at some point, had I not come across a post in a forum the other day.

And sure, after doing a bit of research, there were a good number of links that were warning about Vista Print’s affiliates that would charge credit cards without authorization.

I tried a few things myself, went all the way to payment terms in the order process (without actually ordering), and read through the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy several times. In the ordering process there are about six pages with additional optional orders, subscriptions, and discounts, but there’s nothing sneaky or secret about those: it’s clearly stated, if you check this it’s free the first month (or whatever period), after that it’ll cost. They are just an obligatory annoying path through check-out and you need not select any of those.
I really can’t find anything that would give someone the option to check or uncheck a box for Vista Print’s affiliates to add some monthly subscription to the order you’re placing or anything along those lines, so it’s a really dubious case. Or then I really do read before I click accept. I’ve been mentioning that already before in this blog.

Obviously I unchecked Vista Print from my list of possible printers. And I’d advise everyone who has or will do business with Vista Print to be very cautious and READ. Read carefully!