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PhotoPoint's logo. Click here to visit the PhotoPoint website! PhotoPoint: Archive CD's finally available! (UPDATED)
(Friday, April 5, 2002 - 15:20 EST)

Defunct online photofinisher offers members a chance to retrieve their images - some 3½ months after the site vanished...

Online photofinisher PhotoPoint.com has finally begun accepting orders for backup CDs containing a members' account, some 3½ months after the company collapsed last December, and four weeks later than it was first planned to start the process. Our question as to whether the price of $24.95 was for all images in the account has now been answered - readers who had large quantities of images hosted at PhotoPoint will be pleased to find that they have to pay $24.95 for as many CDs as are required to backup their account, regardless of size.

PhotoPoint's site notes that this is a limited time offer, currently available only through April 30th (that's 25 days from now) - so if you want to get your images back, act quickly. Whilst it is possible the deadline could be extended, we'd still recommend acting swiftly. Both non-secure and secure ordering pages are available, answering the criticism that PhotoPoint's request for comments required passwords to be given in plain text.

Prices, at first glance, appear to be good for users with large quantities of images - but for users with only a handful of pictures in their albums the cost of retrieving them really looks pretty bad. A comparison with the other main photo sites offering archive CDs follows:

Archive CD Costs
  PhotoPoint Club Photo Ofoto SnapFish


80¢ / MB
$1 / MB
$1 / MB
Full CD‡ $24.95
4.2¢ / MB
8.3¢ / MB
6.7¢ / MB
16.3¢ / MB
2 Full CDs‡ $24.95
2.1¢ / MB
4.2¢ / MB
4.6¢ / MB
16.1¢ / MB
†Minimum CD assumed to have 10 images of approximately 1MB each (should equate to the highest cost/MB on one CD)
‡ Full CD assumed to consist of 600 images, approximately 1MB each (should equate to the lowest cost/MB on one CD)

PhotoPoint's shipping costs (regardless of how many CDs are ordered) are an astronomical $9.95 - almost 7 times the cost of delivering an Archive CD from Ofoto, which charges users $1.49 for US Postal Service standard delivery. Also, users outside of the US and Canada are currently shut out - a note from PhotoPoint states:
"Unfortunately, due to varied and prohibitive international shipping costs, we are currently only shipping to addresses within Canada and the United States at this time.

Please enter your email address below, how much you would be willing to pay for shipping, and click on submit. We will notify you if and when other international shipping options become available."
This really doesn't make very much sense, since Ofoto (the only site we could find Canadian/International shipping info on) can afford to charge only $4.99 for overseas orders. That's still only half the cost of what PhotoPoint is charging US customers! A complete comparison with competing services follows:

Shipping Costs
  PhotoPoint Club Photo Ofoto SnapFish
US $9.95 $1.99 $1.49 $1.99
Canada $9.95 Unknown $2.99 Unknown
Overseas Not Available Unknown $4.99 Unknown

So - taking these shipping costs into account, what's the final story? Well, PhotoPoint's costs for users with large accounts still looks pretty favorable, as the comparison including US shipping costs below indicates. The company is far and away the cheapest option assuming one or two CDs with 600 one-megabyte images on each, although not by as far as it seemed before shipping costs were counted. For users with only a few dozen images though, after shipping things look even worse than ever, with PhotoPoint's archive CD potentially costing three times as much as those from Club Photo, Ofoto and Snapfish!

(Note that to be fair to Club Photo, for low volumes we compared their Album CD product which allows only up to 60 images. Had we compared the archive CD which is flat-rate, they would've been even more expensive than PhotoPoint. At least they offer a cheaper alternative though - PhotoPoint doesn't!)

Total Costs Including Shipping
  PhotoPoint Club Photo Ofoto SnapFish


$1/ MB
$1.1 / MB
$1.2 / MB
Full CD‡ $34.90
5.8¢ / MB
8.7¢ / MB
6.9¢ / MB
16.6¢ / MB
2 Full CDs‡ $34.90
2.9¢ / MB
4.3¢ / MB
4.7¢ / MB
16.3¢ / MB
†Minimum CD assumed to have 10 images of approximately 1MB each (should equate to the highest cost/MB on one CD)
‡ Full CD assumed to consist of 600 images, approximately 1MB each (should equate to the lowest cost/MB on one CD)

So - has the final word been had here? Not really - international customers still have no way to retrieve their photos unless a friend in the US or Canada can receive a CD on their behalf. PhotoPoint is at least making progress though, and US / Canadian customers can get back their lost images - for a price. Whether the price is favorable is up to the individual... Remember though, there's potentially as little as 25 days to get your order in!

UPDATED 2002-04-07 16:19ET: Dale Gass, CEO of the now-defunct Pantellic Software (and an understandably difficult man to get hold of recently - we're sure he's flooded with emails), replied with comments on this news item. He firstly noted that the ordering page was ambiguous and has been updated. The cost of backing up an account onto CD is per account, and not per CD required - our item has been updated in several places to reflect this fact, and our thanks to Dale for clarifying this.

Dale also noted that one of the reasons for the significantly higher shipping cost than found from other online photo-sharing sites is due to the fact that all CDs are being sent via trackeable shipping methods:
"Regarding the shipping pricing; we decided to go with a *trackable* option, to avoid any confusion about lost or missing CD's; we thought this important as it is likely a bit of a "last chance" for people to get their photos, and we wanted to make sure everyone had them in their hands.

Unfortunately, shipping costs from Canada to the US are rather high; to California is $14, shipping Canada Post Expedited. The other shipping options are only slightly less expensive, and don't allow for tracking or receipt confirmation. The volume of expected orders just isn't high enough for us to get any significant pricing break.

Similarly, our inquiries into pricing for shipping to Europe were similarly shocking; close to $25 to ship to England, similar pricing for Germany, in the two examples we priced out. So far, we've only had a single inquiry from overseas; we will do what it takes to find a way to help out folks overseas. It depends upon the level of interest, and the sampling of countries represented, to determine how we proceed, though. I think it's safe to say we will find some way for international members to get their photos back. Judging from the relatively small demand, it will probably be handled on a case-by-case basis."

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