PhotoPoint - the plot thickens!|
(Tuesday, December 18, 2001 - 23:25 EST)
Has the online photofinisher reached the end of the road...?
An email forwarded to us by IR reader 'Sandy' suggests that the outage at online photofinisher PhotoPoint might be more permanent than the many users who've emailed us since the site went down on Friday have been hoping. If you're not familiar with the situation, PhotoPoint.com was transferred to Pantellic Software Inc. from its prior owners last July, and at that time the site was down for several days. On Friday the site went down once more, and 4-5 days later it remains uncontactable - without any prior warning to customers whose images reside on the company's servers.
Our attempts to contact Pantellic, and to determine the cause of the outage, have thus far been unsuccessful. A week before the most recent outage, PhotoPoint disabled functionality on its site which allowed users to order prints and photo-customised items, referring them instead to third-party company EZPrints.com. 'Sandy' emailed EZPrints to enquire as to PhotoPoint's status, and received an email which seems to indicate that the company's problems may be more serious than we'd thought. A manager in the customer care department at EZPrints stated that PhotoPoint "will be down indefinitely", with "no word so far about when they plan to re-start their services again". The email went on to state that "albums and the images stored on them are currently on the photo point servers which are offline, we cannot promise that they will be transferred over to ez prints". This latter statement is most curious, as the only situation in which we could imagine PhotoPoint users' images being transferred to EZPrints is if the company assumes ownership of PhotoPoint, or if the company folds altogether and provides some mechanism to transfer users to EZPrints' service instead.
We really don't know whether there's a story to be told in this email, or whether it is merely the result of the confusion created by PhotoPoint's disappearance, so we would strongly suggest readers take it with a grain of salt for the time being. Obviously we won't know anything for sure until Pantellic comes out with a definitive statement or responds to inquiries such as our own into their status. If the company's hands are tied by legal proceedings precluding them from discussing the situation in public, to theorize, it could potentially take some time until such a statement is forthcoming.
In full, the email Sandy forwarded us follows. Note that the name of the individual behind the email has been removed intentionally by us. Also note that EZPrints is a separate company from PhotoPoint / Pantellic, and they will not be able to assist in any way with recovering images that are currently in limbo on the PhotoPoint servers.
"Good Morning, As we get further info on the outage, we will continue to provide updates. We still hope to receive a response from the contacts we have at Pantellic, but understand that they may not be able to tell us anything currently for reasons that will likely become apparent. As for users who potentially stand to lose images, we can only suggest checking your browser cache and temporary directories on your computers for duplicate copies of these files.
You have been referred over to our services by Photo Point which willbe down indefinitely, there has been no word so far about when they plan to re-start their services again. Ez prints has been one of the main photo and gift item fulfillment services associated with photo point, in fact most of the prints that you have received over the last year have come from our facilities. Your albums and the images stored on them are currently on the photo point servers which are offline, we cannot promise that they will be transferred over to ez prints. All other services previously offered on photo point like online photo auctions are suspended as well. We invite you to take this opportunity to explore the many services and product options available at www.ezprints.com we are sure you will find our services and products to your benefit. Its our commitment to quality that has made ez prints one of the leaders in the digital photo finishing industry. We sincerely apologize if this sudden change over has caused anyone an inconvenience we were just as surprised as many of you were when this occurred. Ez prints is ready to assist any and all photo point customer's our customer service is available from 8am to 8pm Mondays through Fridays, through either firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at 1-888-584-7040 exts 10 & 25. Thank you for contacting ez prints customer support we hope to serve you well, have a happy and joyous holiday season."
As we said the last time that PhotoPoint vanished, the only real answer is to understand that no online photofinisher is immune from problems - and that even the best-prepared company can potentially lose data or have unplanned outages. The answer is not to entrust the only copy of your valued images to a third-party in the first place - always keep a backup or better still two, and always ensure that these are in separate locations where even fires and the such like can't get every copy in one fell swoop. Online photofinishers can be a useful tool in your digital arsenal, but none makes a perfect solution to permanent archival of your images in our opinion...