pancakes

MicrostockGroup Sponsors


Author Topic: Alamy Refund Policy - Totally Unacceptable  (Read 8134 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Goofy

« on: January 15, 2014, 23:11 »
+1
Just had a refund tonight! The customer purchased the image on November 12, 2013 and returned it on January 15, 2014. Than they repurchased it again thus get another free 30 plus days before they have to return which I am sure they will do!

Here is the email I fired off to them tonight- My blood pressure it through the sky right now. Had it with there LAME REFUND POLICY!  >:(

"The image purchase on the 12th of November of 2013 and refunded on January 15, 2014. First of all why the refund after it has passed the 30 day requirement.  Than it looks like you allowed the customer to keep it again for another 30 days? Please explain to me in great detail since this is totally unacceptable! "


« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2014, 23:49 »
-2
Alamy doesn't refund any more sales than anyone else. I don't like the refunds but I don't think they should lose customers to satisfy a 30 day policy. Don't worry, be happy.

« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2014, 11:13 »
+10
Alamy doesn't refund any more sales than anyone else. I don't like the refunds but I don't think they should lose customers to satisfy a 30 day policy. Don't worry, be happy.
Disagree on all points.

ShadySue

« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2014, 11:25 »
+4
Alamy doesn't refund any more sales than anyone else. I don't like the refunds but I don't think they should lose customers to satisfy a 30 day policy. Don't worry, be happy.
If I buy anything from a shop or website with a 30 day return policy, I don't get unhappy if I don't want it and don't return it within the 30 days - that's the deal. And that's (usually) having to either get a train up to Glasgow or wrapping it all up again and taking it to the Post Office to get proof of posting for a web return, both costing time and money. How difficult can it be to contact Alamy online within 30 days?

Goofy

« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 11:25 »
+1
I got a fast reply from Alamy Support today- basically, they told that is the way it is and to accept it. 

I ask them why I never get refunds from other companies where I have had thousands of sales.  Maybe I just have bad luck with them where others have never had refund.

« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2014, 11:52 »
+1
It's normal in the world in photography and especially RM. It's typical for people to be planning possible publishing ventures many months ahead. Microstock has given people very unrealistic expectations.

Suppose you are planning a text book. That is not going to happen over 30 days. The thing probably needs to be planned out months ahead even years sometimes. Long before you know where it is going to be printed. And then it might get cancelled.

You either let customers do refunds whenever or else you give them full-sized comps.

Goofy

« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2014, 12:01 »
0
Hi Bunhill,

This is a good education for me. Some of the things you mention were discussed in my response email from Alamy.

Thanks



ShadySue

« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2014, 12:03 »
+1
I got a fast reply from Alamy Support today- basically, they told that is the way it is and to accept it. 

I ask them why I never get refunds from other companies where I have had thousands of sales.  Maybe I just have bad luck with them where others have never had refund.

Is someone going to bother asking e.g. SS for a refund on a file which might have cost them c$1 and which they can use in future projects?

ShadySue

« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2014, 12:04 »
+2
You either let customers do refunds whenever or else you give them full-sized comps.
Alamy already has try-before-you-buy for approved buyers.

« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2014, 12:39 »
+10
The thing being missed in this discussion is that when a "buyer" gets an image free for months on end, it's very likely that the image is used to make money in some way.  If the "buyer" is a designer, that image might appear in presentations or mock-ups used to land prospective clients or new jobs.  Even if the customer ultimately goes with another image, your image helped make the sale. 

Or maybe your image, being part of a temporary version of something, ended up sparking ideas or being replaced by something amazingly similar, commissioned for that purpose,

You can argue that in such scenarios the designer wasn't the "customer", but I don't buy that.  In a real sense, someone made money from your image - and you didn't.   If Alamy charges some sort of fee for a returned image, what they actually did was rent that image without paying you a royalty.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 12:41 by stockastic »

Goofy

« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2014, 13:11 »
+1
stockastic-

Great reply!

« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2014, 13:34 »
+1
The thing being missed in this discussion is that when a "buyer" gets an image free for months on end, it's very likely that the image is used to make money in some way.  If the "buyer" is a designer, that image might appear in presentations or mock-ups used to land prospective clients or new jobs.  Even if the customer ultimately goes with another image, your image helped make the sale. 

Or maybe your image, being part of a temporary version of something, ended up sparking ideas or being replaced by something amazingly similar, commissioned for that purpose,

You can argue that in such scenarios the designer wasn't the "customer", but I don't buy that.  In a real sense, someone made money from your image - and you didn't.   If Alamy charges some sort of fee for a returned image, what they actually did was rent that image without paying you a royalty.

I have no doubt whatsoever that any sort of refund requires a proper conversation. Especially if the refund takes places outside of the normal Alamy 30 days. So it isn't something which crafty designers are going to be able to casually regularly exploit.

Bottom line, especially with RM, is that buyers are paying for a specific use. If they end up not going with the image they should be entitled to a refund.

(Think about when you take something back to say an Apple store. There is a good chance that if you approach them right and are honest then the staff in the store will replace a thing even if it is outside of the warranty period. The staff are given a good degree of flexibility to provide a level of service which goes far beyond what the customer if necessarily entitled to under contract etc. And that is exactly how it should be. Because good customer service = repeat business.)

Ron

« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2014, 13:37 »
+4
Ow bunhill please. Its not normal at all. Especially with digital goods. Its not our problem you bought the wrong image or the project got cancelled. So I buy shoes for a wedding. The wedding is in 6 months. After 5 months the wedding is cancelled, even if the shoes are still in the box, there is no way in hell I will get a refund or get to pick different shoes. Tough luck.

« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2014, 13:49 »
+2
Ow bunhill please. Its not normal at all.

Yes it is. And it has always been like that. I worked in a picture library btw.

« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2014, 13:59 »
+6
I bought a new Nikon last year.   When I got it home I saw that someone else's name was already programmed in.  I dumped the shutter count and it was over 1,000.   The dealer was totally apologetic and embarrassed, and told me the camera was a return that had only been out for a few days but should have been sold as "refurbished".   In those cases, the dealer takes a hit.

Since I had the guy's name, and had bought from a local shop, I found his Facebook page.  Turned out he'd just gotten married and taken a honeymoon trip.  He "bought" the camera, used it for 3 or 4 days, posted some of the photos on FB, then "returned" it.

What a jerk.

Ron

« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2014, 14:40 »
+3
Ow bunhill please. Its not normal at all.

Yes it is. And it has always been like that. I worked in a picture library btw.

I work in e-commerce and it is not normal that digital goods are returned, let alone AFTER the refund period, and get refunded. Its absolutely not normal at all. Agencies try to make it sound like normal, but it isnt, all it does is line their pockets, and take it out of yours.

Agree to disagree.

« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2014, 15:03 »
0
Many books would not get published if publishing worked your way Ron. Especially some of those big coffee table editions which are produced more or less to go directly into the remaindered market.

Ron

« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2014, 15:22 »
+1
You know what, let me rephrase. I know little of image libraries, so it may be normal for them, but I manage a portfolio of 50 odd e-commerce merchants and refunds are not as common as it may be in image libraries. I think its ridiculous.

I know little about books. But I am not sure when you return a book after 6 months if you'll get a refund.

« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2014, 15:40 »
0
I know little of image libraries, so it may be normal for them, but I manage a portfolio of 50 odd e-commerce merchants and refunds are not as common as it may be in image libraries. I think its ridiculous.

I know little about books. But I am not sure when you return a book after 6 months if you'll get a refund.

Yep. People returning finished goods which they have bought online is a completely different thing. Sure you cannot send back a cheap toaster six months later unless it went wrong.

But think about how long it takes to put a book together. Imagine what goes into it as the layout comes together. And it's the final use which the customer would be licensing.

I think we need to be a little more flexible with our thinking and less all or nothing. What applies to say cheap RF, and especially subscription, it's going to be completely different when customers are potentially paying much more - perhaps ELs or RM.

Ron

« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2014, 15:45 »
0
But thats no longer the case Bunhill. Alamy sells RM for 20 dollar. And then refund it after more then 30 days. Is a book publisher really expecting their 20 dollar back after more then 30 days. I can understand if they bought an image for 1000 dollar. But thats not the case on Alamy. Istock refunds RF images bought for pennies. Its not right.  SS absorbs that cost.

« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2014, 15:56 »
0
SS absorbs that cost.


I doubt that many SS customers download their monthly subscription quotas. Therefore I doubt that there is much to absorb.

Also they clearly do refunds:

http://submit.shutterstock.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2497822#2497822

Negative amounts on footage sales are now appearing on the earnings page at Shutterstock. Some people were questioning these amounts. Since SS dont do refunds, it was quite surprising to see the answer from Shutterstock.

Quote from: VincentJansen
Hi,

I asked the billing department for clarification and they confirmed that these are in fact refunds.

Goofy

« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2014, 15:57 »
0
all good points here! I feel that the MS (RF/RM) should do their best to minimize returns which I feel some do not compared to Shutter....

« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2014, 16:06 »
+3
Many books would not get published if publishing worked your way Ron. Especially some of those big coffee table editions which are produced more or less to go directly into the remaindered market.

But it's not my goal to simply help other people make money off of my photos, in any way I can.  My goal is to be paid for uses of those photos. 

Goofy

« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2014, 16:11 »
0
It looks like Alamy refund model really needs to be modified to suit the changing times. RM are no longer that pricy and folks can use the digital images without us every knowing...

« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2014, 17:29 »
+3
One valid reason for a return I feel is..... (especially when they purchase the same image - something I've had happen on Alamy).  Say they buy an image at size small then realize they need a larger size or more rights or something.  Returning their original purchase and buying the larger size makes total sense.

Goofy

« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2014, 17:37 »
0
Leaf you are so RIGHT ON!  ;)


« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2014, 19:48 »
+1
bunhill - your points are valid, I don't doubt there are times when a 'return' of an image would be allowed and would make sense.  It just seems like there's w-a-a-y too much of this happening at Alamy and it makes me very suspicious that Alamy profits from it and we don't.

ShadySue

« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2014, 19:56 »
+3
bunhill - your points are valid, I don't doubt there are times when a 'return' of an image would be allowed and would make sense.  It just seems like there's w-a-a-y too much of this happening at Alamy and it makes me very suspicious that Alamy profits from it and we don't.
Hard to say, but as I've posted here before, I had a file refunded after a year, well after it had been paid for; but it was a 50% refund. Support said it was a very good client and the project hadn't gone ahead. I've found it's my higher value sales that tend to get refunded, which is particularly cutting, but it's easy to understand why someone might want a refund on a file costing over $100 rather than a low value sub micro sale.

« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2014, 00:25 »
0
Bunhill's publishing experience jives with my own. I deal with publications a lot and they often need photos and written copy many months in advance. Often, the contract will include a negotiated price for a "kill fee" if the story doesn't move forward - but this is generally for assignment work - which is not the same as stock. The point is, even in that case you can do a lot of work - work that often can't be sold elsewhere - and end up getting less than you anticipated. The world of book and magazine publishing is run very differently than the world of small business buyers licensing photos for their websites for pennies on the dollar - and as Sue said, it's more likely that the refunds will be on the higher cost images because the client has more to lose. It's to Alamy's advantage to keep their customers happy and we can't fault them for that, even if losing the license profits are a big disappointment.

I had a return the first week in January last year, after the sale in December - of an image sold for over $250.00 - I contacted Alamy and they said the project was scrapped. I was bummed and angry - but just in general -  it wasn't a great way to start off the year but it wasn't Alamy's fault. Prices may be down, but Alamy is still a traditional agency dealing primarily with traditional buyers such as magazines and book publishers.

Ron

« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2014, 01:10 »
+2
Alamy needs to get with the times then, because its a traditional agency selling at modern prices. They themselves have said they discount up to 80% to make a sale. Refunds maybe makes sense when you sell actual photos, which CAN be returned, not when its cheap digital material. It can never be returned. There is nothing stopping a buyer from asking for a refund and still use the image. The system is inviting to be abused.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 01:13 by Ron »

« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2014, 05:04 »
0
There is nothing stopping a buyer from asking for a refund and still use the image. The system is inviting to be abused

No different from the era of prints and transparencies. You could not know that they had not used them before returning them either. The fact of things being digital makes no difference.

Business works on relationships and trust. I would assume that people at an agency would be aware enough to notice if some client did this more than seemed reasonable or typical.

Ron

« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2014, 05:20 »
+1
The fact that things are digital makes all the difference.

« Reply #32 on: January 17, 2014, 05:36 »
0
The fact that things are digital makes all the difference.

What difference does it make ?

How is that different from the customer having a print or a duped transparency ? How could you tell previously that they had not already used it ? (You couldn't btw).

« Reply #33 on: January 17, 2014, 16:41 »
+1
Easier to tell today if it's been used than in the past since things can be found online - though I know at least back in 2009-2011 the folks at Alamy would be looking through magazines to see if images had been used. Trust can be abused but without it you'd have no customer relations. Alamy is still very different than the micros - people can call up Alamy, have them do searches for them, their clients buy fewer licenses for generally higher prices and most of them are buyers who are used to the traditional RM system.

We trust the agencies to tell us how many times they've licensed our photos and how much we've earned from it. Are they more trustworthy than Alamy's clients?

« Reply #34 on: January 17, 2014, 16:48 »
+1
We trust the agencies to tell us how many times they've licensed our photos and how much we've earned from it. Are they more trustworthy than Alamy's clients?

So true.  I think if we actually knew all the crazy games that other agencies are playing - or are planning to play - with our images, we'd pull out tomorrow.  Alamy basically lends images for periods of months before requiring payment.  The weird part is that they report this possible sale as a sale, then claw back the money later if the customer doesn't buy.   And the bad part would be if Alamy makes money off of what amounts to a rental, without sharing it with the contributor.  I haven't seen any statement from Alamy that this is not the case.

What they're all looking for is ways to make money off our photos without actually "selling" them - meaning no royalties have to be paid.  For example, SS just announced that fabulous deal with Facebook that pays "royalties" of around 35 cents, but I suspect the big money was in up-front payments which SS would claim they don't need to share with contributors.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 17:53 by stockastic »

Ron

« Reply #35 on: January 17, 2014, 17:14 »
0
Ok, not commenting on anything you say, but that 35 cent is wrong.

Not that it matters much, but FODs* are paid depending on your level.

0.25
0.33
0.36
0.38

*FOD = Facebook SOD  :)

« Reply #36 on: January 17, 2014, 17:54 »
0
Ok, not commenting on anything you say, but that 35 cent is wrong.

Not that it matters much, but FODs* are paid depending on your level.

0.25
0.33
0.36
0.38

*FOD = Facebook SOD  :)

Sigh.  Ok, I corrected my post.

« Reply #37 on: January 17, 2014, 18:45 »
0
The thing being missed in this discussion is that when a "buyer" gets an image free for months on end, it's very likely that the image is used to make money in some way.  If the "buyer" is a designer, that image might appear in presentations or mock-ups used to land prospective clients or new jobs.  Even if the customer ultimately goes with another image, your image helped make the sale. 

Or maybe your image, being part of a temporary version of something, ended up sparking ideas or being replaced by something amazingly similar, commissioned for that purpose,

You can argue that in such scenarios the designer wasn't the "customer", but I don't buy that.  In a real sense, someone made money from your image - and you didn't.   If Alamy charges some sort of fee for a returned image, what they actually did was rent that image without paying you a royalty.


I completely agree with this assessment. Comparing digital goods to store bought merchandise makes no sense. I have to ask myself, do I really believe that they didn't keep the image on their hard drive or didn't use it all after they asked for a refund a month later? No, I really don't. I don't care if traditional agency-partner relationships worked on such an honor system. I've seen enough abuses in the last several years which makes me wonder how much worse the abuses I don't know about are. I choose not to place blind trust in such a system.

I don't think the image should be digitally released until the customer decides they really want it. Let them use a lo-res mockup in the interim. Once you make the commitment, no returns. Hey I don't get to return an MP3 if I decide after 30 days that I don't like the song so much anymore.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 18:50 by djpadavona »

Goofy

« Reply #38 on: January 17, 2014, 21:14 »
0
at this point I am just glad Alamy didn't ask me for money  :(



Noedelhap

  • www.colincramm.com

« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2014, 20:50 »
+4
Because good customer service = repeat business.)

Who would want repeat business from a customer who returns his images after the 30-day warranty period?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 20:59 by Noedelhap »

« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2014, 21:34 »
+1
Just had a refund tonight! The customer purchased the image on November 12, 2013 and returned it on January 15, 2014. Than they repurchased it again thus get another free 30 plus days before they have to return which I am sure they will do!

Here is the email I fired off to them tonight- My blood pressure it through the sky right now. Had it with there LAME REFUND POLICY!  >:(

"The image purchase on the 12th of November of 2013 and refunded on January 15, 2014. First of all why the refund after it has passed the 30 day requirement.  Than it looks like you allowed the customer to keep it again for another 30 days? Please explain to me in great detail since this is totally unacceptable! "

I posted this in another post early today. I hope this will make you feel a bit better. Depositphoto refunded more than $210 this morning. You are not alone and I know how it feels. It's sad but we have to accept it. That's just the game we play in.

Goofy

« Reply #41 on: January 21, 2014, 23:10 »
0
OMG $210! Heck, if they did this to me I would have to perform community service or go to jail time since I would OWE them money! 

timd35

« Reply #42 on: January 22, 2014, 11:20 »
0
OMG $210! Heck, if they did this to me I would have to perform community service or go to jail time since I would OWE them money!

That sounds like a good "How do I know when I am doing bad in the Microstock Business?"

- When your refunds add up to more than your sales    :)

« Reply #43 on: January 23, 2014, 10:07 »
0
Checking fotolia stats this morning. $51 dollars in return. 2014 couldn't start any better. -$101 Balance on Depositphotos and -$27 Balance on Fotolia. Might have to get a part time job to pay of my debts. 
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 10:40 by bspudd »

Ed

« Reply #44 on: January 23, 2014, 10:25 »
+1
This isn't specific to one agent...it's a part of the business and unfortunately, part of the times.

Fotolibra even blogged about it a couple of years ago....here's the scam and here's how it works...

http://blog.fotolibra.com/?p=727

This is something that has happened at the micros over and over and over again...the difference is the dollar amount involved.

I wouldn't be surprised if image libraries are seeing charges from credit card numbers that were recently stolen from Target - you should see those refunds coming through in late February or March.

« Reply #45 on: January 23, 2014, 10:39 »
0
This isn't specific to one agent...it's a part of the business and unfortunately, part of the times.

Fotolibra even blogged about it a couple of years ago....here's the scam and here's how it works...

http://blog.fotolibra.com/?p=727

This is something that has happened at the micros over and over and over again...the difference is the dollar amount involved.

I wouldn't be surprised if image libraries are seeing charges from credit card numbers that were recently stolen from Target - you should see those refunds coming through in late February or March.


Thank you for posting this blog post. I was just talking to a good friend of mine about exactly this. The charge back/return doesn't bother me what bothers me is that they have my photos/videos and probably will resell them on some sort of forum as a package with thousands of other stolen images/videos.


« Reply #46 on: January 23, 2014, 20:30 »
0
Just wanted to post a follow up. Just as Ed wrote the FBI has sent out a warning in regards to the Target fiasco.
http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/23/fbi-tells-retailers-to-expect-more-credit-card-data-theft/

« Reply #47 on: January 23, 2014, 22:16 »
0
I think the larger problem is from technology like these card skimmers that thieves place inside the pump.
http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/23/four-indicted-for-installing-undetectable-card-skimmers-inside-gas-pumps/

In the US is supposedly the worst in Florida and Texas.  The thieves commonly "rig" multiple gas stations on several exits in the same town, collect the data for several hours, then remove their hardware to avoid detection.  They discovered that most service station owners are too cheap to change out the universal locks on the pumps to custom ones, the thieves know this, use the universal key to put their "hardware" inside the pump where it can't be seen.

Last year near where I live in Florida, they rigged the end pumps at the Wal-mart gas station during a busy weekend.  Then like the target breach, they sell the collected numbers over the internet, so they rarely get caught.


 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
12 Replies
3318 Views
Last post January 04, 2013, 11:40
by brmonico
24 Replies
6749 Views
Last post July 07, 2014, 20:20
by Batman
3 Replies
2086 Views
Last post August 21, 2018, 14:29
by Orchidpoet
22 Replies
4378 Views
Last post November 26, 2018, 14:32
by Uncle Pete
18 Replies
1027 Views
Last post June 02, 2019, 21:20
by marthamarks

Sponsors

Microstock Poll Results