PhotoPoint: Is no news bad news?|
(Friday, December 28, 2001 - 18:57 EST)
Two weeks into the online photofinisher's outage, there's still no comment to customers or the media...
Regular readers will be well aware of the problems for online photo-sharing and photofinishing website PhotoPoint.com, which vanished without warning on Friday, December 14th - along with the website of parent company Pantellic Software Inc. Our efforts to contact anybody at the company have been thoroughly unsuccessful thus far, as have attempts by other media outlets such as CNet and local newspapers in Nova Scotia where the company is based... An initial response from Pantellic President and Director Dale Gass promised that he'd get in touch to detail the situation to us, but that never happened and subsequent emails to him have been queued on our server for days, unable to be delivered.
We continue to see many rumors around the 'net as to the status of the company, and few if any of these can be substantiated. People have told us that Pantellic / PhotoPoint's offices have been closed, and equipment switched off or removed altogether, or even that Pantellic's staff have abandoned the office to set up another photo-sharing company elsewhere. (We won't repeat the name of that company here as we don't want to be a part of spreading such rumors. Suffice to say that the company name we were given exists and is indeed headed up by Dale Gass, but according to the Nova Scotia Business Registry was founded in 1995 - some three years *before* Pantellic - and is registered to the same business address, which would tend to suggest that the rumor is based on a misunderstanding.)
One way or another though, after two weeks it doesn't look promising for Pantellic and we sympathise with users who've lost their images and are now facing a strong possiblity that they may not get an opportunity to retrieve them. "Always keep multiple backups of your digital negatives" has become a mantra of sorts for us, and if there is one moral to this sad story it is that these backups are vital. Should a photofinisher succumb to the tough realities of the market in which they operate and go out of business, you may still lose the time you spent uploading and captioning your images, but at least you'll have duplicates of the images themselves - far preferable to losing those memories altogether.
We have had numerous requests from readers that we refer them to a specific photofinisher who can provide certain capabilities that they enjoyed at PhotoPoint (for example batch uploading, to name just one) - and in much the same way that we can't easily tell you which digital camera is the best for your specific needs and budget, nor do we like to recommend a specific venue for your image hosting. That said, if you're searching for a replacement photo host, we can highly recommend the Guide to Online Photo Albums maintained by Dave Dyer of Andromeda Software, which offers a good impartial guide to the features available on a wide variety of sites.
As for users seeking some way to get a refund for the service they've paid for with PhotoPoint, we can only suggest that you speak to your credit card company (at least, assuming you've paid this way) and discuss with them whether you can dispute the charges for service that hasn't been received. We're not aware of the legal implications of this case, however Pantellic Software is still listed as an active business by the Nova Scotia Business Registry, so you may well be able to get fees refunded via your credit card company if you've recently paid for the service.
Should we find any further information on PhotoPoint and/or Pantellic, you'll see it on our news page, however at this stage it seems doubtful to us that service will be restored. Users of the PhotoPoint-hosted Epson PhotoCenter site will hopefully be more fortunate, as that is still scheduled to return to service as an in-house Epson operation on January 10th - let's hope that they can manage to access their users' images and transfer them from PhotoPoint's servers!