We just wanted to let you know…
Lifephoto values its customers and their privacy.
Recent news reports about the online practices of a large photo site revealed troubling news about customer confidentiality and alleged “trickery.” Customers appear to have been baited, after their transaction, to click on a box offering a deal or something free. Later those customers discovered that their credit card information was given to a third party vendor who then charged monthly fees to their credit card for a “membership.” The original photo site received payment by the third party in exchange for the credit card information. We are saddened by the actions of this large photo company and hope their actions do not reflect on our industry as a whole.
Lifephoto appreciates your photo gift business and values your right to confidentiality.
Lifephoto is a homegrown Midwestern company with strong Midwestern values. You can be assured that we have not and would never participate in deceptive Web practices for financial gain. We’re certainly not as big as other online photo stores/photo sharing sites, many of which are located in the Silicon Valley. But Lifephoto is every bit as competitive without the backing of Fortune 100 dollars. We use high tech production methods and the latest software technology to give our customers excellent photo gift products at competitive prices. We’re proud of who we are and the local talent we employ — people who give their best to actually produce your photo gifts and personally respond to your customer service requests. And we make our money the old fashioned way — not by engaging in deceptive Web tactics. Please don’t mistrust all online digital photo printing stores and photo sharing sites. Lifephoto.com is asking you to maintain trust in the online photo industry. We’d be pleased if you’d share your thoughts about this as a comment on this post.
Here are two news sources that carried the story:
November 17, 2009 — Transcript from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. LISA MYERS, NBC SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ann McKie (ph) had been on Shutterfly buying photos, and later found some unwanted charges on her credit card, monthly fees for a membership club called Reservation Rewards. ANN MCKIE: This was going for a service which I did not want, did not need, and had no knowledge of getting. MYERS: Today, a Senate committee said millions of consumers have unwittingly signed up for these clubs. And investigators accuse the companies involved of aggressive sales tactics intentionally designed to mislead online shoppers. SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV), CHAIRMAN, COMMERCE COMMITTEE: Tricking customers into buying goods and services that they do not want is not OK. MYERS: An expert showed us how it works. After you buy something on many popular Web sites, another offer pops up. It looks like a coupon from the retailer, but it’s actually from a third-party company. Click on, and you’ll be billed every month for a discount membership club, a fact often disclosed only in the small print. BENJAMIN EDELMAN, HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL: What’s most deceptive is that your credit card is charged without you ever typing in your credit card number. MYERS: That’s right. When you click, the retailer simply gives your credit card number to the membership club, in return for a fee. Investigators say hundreds of retailers, sites for travel and hotels, movie tickets and flowers, have collectively earned almost $800 million by participating in these deals. SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), COMMERCE COMMITTEE: Reputable sites are actually being reimbursed by the companies that are scamming you. MYERS: The CEO of one membership company, Web Loyalty, insists there is no trickery, and in August started requiring customers to submit the last four digits of their credit card number. (on camera): The investigators claim that your ads are deliberately deceptive. RICK FERNANDES, CEO, WEBLOYALTY: That’s not true. We’ve worked hard over time to try to make our sign-up process clear, to ensure that people understand what they’re signing up for. MYERS: The membership club companies insist their offers are clear and unambiguous and require affirmative steps. The retailers who allow their sites to be used also say the offers are completely clear and claim that they get very few complaints. Lisa Myers, NBC News, New York.