Photobucket Pisses Off 100 Million Customers

Photobucket Pisses Off 100 Million Customers

Late last week, Billions of photos all around the Internet started displaying the icon above instead of the actual photo. Software firm Photobucket started hosting images back in 2003 and currently has (or should I say had) about 100 Million users. These users are collectively managing about 10 Billion photos. The company’s software allows users to edit, organize, and share photos on the Internet. Last week, the company made a change to their policies that forbids hotlinking of photos to other sites around the web. Needless to say, this has caused an uproar amongst Photobucket users, some of which have used the site since it’s inception.

Fortunately, Photobucket has an answer for all of its angry customers… just upgrade your account. The company has four different subscription services ranging from FREE to $400/year. The latter is now the only one that can hotlink photos. So, let’s review… for over a decade, Photobucket has provided a free way to share images on the web. Now, they want tens of Millions of customers to start paying $400/year for what was free last week??? Hmmm. This isn’t ransomware, but it’s not far off. Photobucket’s policy change may actually be the best example of terrible customer service by an Internet-based company to date. We all thought the great Netflix debacle of 2011 was bad.

To top all that off, the company also will no longer allow any browser with ad blocking enabled to visit their site. So annoying! While there may be valid reasons the company made this move (hosting costs, ad revenue, etc), such a significant change all at once is bound to cause customer outrage. It would’ve been different if they’d started imposing limits, then lessened them, then made a change like this. Alas, Photobucket’s behavior sends a message that the company doesn’t care about its customers. This is a risky strategy because… with no customers, you don’t have a product. Photobucket may have just killed their own site.

About the Author

avatar KALE: A geek who works in the IT Security field and lives in Dallas, TX. He is also a music geek who has played in several local bands. Previous to his IT career, Kale worked as a photojournalist. He brings technical advice and artistic counterpoint to the podcast.