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PhotoPoint's logo. Click here to visit the PhotoPoint website! Troubles at PhotoPoint! (updated Sunday PM) (UPDATED)
(Friday, July 13, 2001 - 14:49 EDT)

Well-known online photofinisher's site is down - will it be back?

PhotoPoint.com, the online photofinishing website which in April announced that it was switching to a fee-based structure, seems to have problems of a new kind now. The site has intermittently been down for the last day or so, with no response at all from any PhotoPoint servers, and no warning to users that downtime was on the way. Not surprisingly, we're seeing speculation as to whether this is a simple case of a hardware or software failure, or something worse... With the sudden collapse of online photo rival Zing.com still fresh in people's minds, concern is that perhaps PhotoPoint too has reached the end of the line.

We're endeavouring to get hold of anybody at PhotoPoint to confirm the situation, but a suggestion of the true situation could lie in the responses people have been receiving when the site is up, with messages stating that "PhotoPoint.Com is currently offline", or even more ominously:
"Dear Member,

We are not accepting photo submissions at
this time.

Thank you,
The PhotoPoint Family"
When PhotoPoint first announced their new pay structure we felt that the company might have a hard time convincing customers used to receiving the service for free that they should hand over their hard-earned cash for the privilege. Could it be that the company hasn't converted enough users to paying memberships to cover its costs? Time will tell - watch this space and as soon as we hear anything from PhotoPoint you'll see it here.

If you can throw any light on the situation at PhotoPoint either officially or anonymously, click here and get in touch with Mike!

UPDATED 2001-07-13 16:50ET: We've still been unable to get hold of anybody at PhotoPoint for comment. The company's California telephone number answers, but at 13:50PT, there is no operator available and nor is the voicemail operating.

Meanwhile, Pantellic Software, the company that founded and runs PhotoPoint also has no operator answering, although the voicemail at their Nova Scotia office is working and we've left a message there. The number we have for their Ontario office meanwhile is listed as disconnected, and is probably outdated.

As we said earlier, as soon as we can confirm PhotoPoint's status, we'll let you know here...

UPDATED 2001-07-13 18:23ET: We managed to get through to the voicemail of Pantellic Software's Colin S. (we've removed Colin's surname - see our final update for why), and found a message stating that:
"If you're calling about the site being down, we are working on it diligently and expect it to be back up by the end of the day. We look forward to you being a future member."

UPDATED 2001-07-13 18:56ET: During the course of the day, we've seen rumors (and we'd stress that word) attributed to PhotoPoint company officials stating that the situation is in the hands of lawyers, and that the site may switch ownership, or may not come back at all. We have however spoken to an anonymous source close to the company who has told us that PhotoPoint's San Francisco office will be closing entirely, but the Pantellic office in Nova Scotia will remain in business. Because the servers themselves are managed by Pantellic, we expect them to be back up shortly as per the voicemail we mentioned previously. What this means overall for PhotoPoint's photo-sharing and photofinishing services, however, remains unknown.

UPDATED 2001-07-13 23:26ET: PhotoPoint's site has been bouncing up and down for the last hour or so according to our tracking software. We've been unable to get into the site when we've tried ourselves, but it looks like it may soon be restored...

UPDATED 2001-07-15 20:16ET: We've been receiving quite a flood of emails on the PhotoPoint outage from readers, a large portion of whom seem to use the site for hosting their Ebay auction images. From these emails, we feel that a few points do need to be made:
  • PhotoPoint has yet to make any official statement that we've seen in regards to the outage. As noted earlier, a statement that the site would be back was left on a Pantellic Software voicemail, however we have not been able to confirm rumors that we have read elsewhere attributed to PhotoPoint / Pantellic staff, and these rumors may or may not be accurate.
  • It remains perfectly possible that PhotoPoint's site may indeed have suffered some kind of hardware or software failure, or indeed that some other cause beyond the company's control is causing this outage.
  • Until the true situation is known, we feel that talk amongst users of lawsuits and claims that the company has vanished with anybody's money are completely unwarranted. If you have an urgent need for your photos to be online, there are other sites available which you can use. If/when PhotoPoint returns then users will be able to seek redress for the downtime with them; if the site doesn't come back then simply contacting your credit card company and disputing the charges will resolve the situation.
  • PhotoPoint has not evolved into another site called Epson PhotoCenter; Epson's site is indeed hosted by PhotoPoint and has been for some time. The two sites do share a gallery between them, and if your PhotoPoint images have been shown in that gallery then they may be visible from the Epson site as well, but the Epson site has separate user and image databases.
  • Ebay users should note that the popular auction site offers means for users to both update auctions to add new links to their images on another site, or to cancel auctions completely and then relist them. Obviously if you weren't aware of the PhotoPoint problems initially, this may not be of help, but no internet service can claim 100% reliability and as such any user who has critical data stored online should be taking an interest in whether it is secure and accessible, and keeping backups of that data.
Hopefully, the start of a new week will shed further light on this situation. In the meantime, we're crossing our fingers that PhotoPoint's troubles will soon be fixed and the site will return to service. We have seen the site come back up although it is near impossible to get into. Several times we've managed to load the main entrance page, where the graphic below is visible:

PhotoPoint entry page. Courtesy of PhotoPoint / Pantellic Software.

The fact that this front page is occasionally accessible does tend to suggest that Pantellic is working to get the site back online, and hopefully they will succeed quickly. A lot of users are obviously very upset about the lengthy outage, and quite understandably so.

UPDATED 2001-07-15 23:03ET: Emails continue to come in about the situation at PhotoPoint. One in particular struck us as interesting; IR reader Robert M. Wooley, who is in the San Francisco area himself, reported that he visited PhotoPoint's San Francisco office in person to find out what the situation was. He tells us that whilst the lobby board still listed PhotoPoint as a tenant, the office had been vacated and a new tenant was in the process of moving in. This would gel with what our anonymous source told us earlier - that the San Francisco office was closing, but that Pantellic should be continuing in business from their Nova Scotia office where the servers are hosted. Meanwhile, we do believe that there should be more news on this story tomorrow - watch the news page and as soon as we hear anything official we'll post a new item with all the details! Thanks to Robert for getting in touch!

UPDATED 2001-07-16 12:54ET: We've removed the surname of Pantellic Software's Colin S. in our earlier update, after he contacted us. Quite unbelievably, people had been calling Colin at home regarding the situation at PhotoPoint. This is clearly unacceptable, and we would ask readers please to respect Colin and his family's privacy. Colin tells us that he and his colleagues are still working to resolve the PhotoPoint issues.

In our opinion, the best thing that readers can do at the moment is to keep an eye on our news page for more news as it develops; calling PhotoPoint or Pantellic will serve no purpose other than to sap their manpower and possibly delay things even more... As we have more news to share, you will hear it on the news page!

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