Flickr Quietly Backpedals out of Their PR Blunder

When is an apology *not* an apology? When it comes in the form of a sheepish form letter and omits any explanation as to what went wrong. Late last week flickr/Yahoo! and Rogers seemingly dissolved a long standing relationship that gave Rogers Internet subscribers a free flickr Pro account for as long as they remained Rogers subscribers. Why this agreement is no more is a little unclear as the only source of the news came from [flickr.com](http://www.flickr.com/ “Welcome to Flickr – Photo Sharing”) when I logged into my account and was presented with an AJAXIAN notification bubble informing me that my free Pro account would cease to be free and/or Pro by July 1, 2009. This information was additionally corroborated by my account FAQ page to which this notification directed me.

I have to admit I am fond of flickr and enjoy the service so I opted to renew then and there for another 2 years of service. Upon verbalizing my dismay to these recent events on [Twitter](http://twitter.com/seyDoggy “Twitter: What are you doing?”) I quickly learned that no all Rogers subscribers were reporting the same experience. Some were being told their accounts would expire on November 1st **2011**, nearly a full 2 years and 4 months ***after*** the date which was originally given to me.

So I went back to check my account, and there is was, the same notification bubble now displaying November 2011, ***not*** July 2009! Oh the FAQ still said 2009, but the notice now said 2011. So armed with these discrepancies (and the screen shots to prove them) I sent flickr/Yahoo! a scathing support query:
> This morning I get a notice from you (not Rogers) that my Flickr pro account that I enjoy as a Rogers customer will [no] longer be pro after July 1, 2009. This was confirmed but not elaborated on in the FAQ. After feeling I had no other choice I paid for the renewal. Shortly thereafter, and after hearing contradictory reports on the internet, I noticed the new warning that now says November 1, 2011. However the FAQ still says July 1, 2009.

> This is a fairly sizable blunder on your part and I think it was handled very unprofessionally. As a company who is one of the corner stones on the internet I would expect that you of all companies would know not to publish anything to the net before making sure you’ve got it all right down to the letter.

> I want my money back (or my in progress transaction canceled) if indeed my pro account is still valid until November 1, 2011. I expect a response of confirmation of action.

> Thank you.

> Adam Merrifield

To which I got the ineffectual and less then sympathetic response (pay close attention to the fourth paragraph about FAQ and discrepancies):
> Hello,

> Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Billing.

> I understand that you are contacting us to request a refund for your Flickr Pro account that you recently purchased.

> Any changes to your Flickr account pertaining to your Yahoo! Hi-Speed service package with Rogers are set to take place due to changes made by Rogers. Please contact Rogers regarding further details of this change.

> As per the FAQ found on Flickr.com, the Flickr Pro account included with your Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed service will change to a free Flickr account on July 1, 2009. There is not other information from Yahoo! that would support a November 1, [2011] date. I understand that this situation may be frustrating and apologize for the inconvenience.

> Unfortunately, as stated on the order page there are no refunds on pro accounts. If an account has been closed before the pro term is up it cannot be transferred to another account and the unused portion is non-refundable.

> Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Billing. If we can provide you with any further information, please reply to this email.

> Regards,

> Unnamed Female Support Personnel

> Yahoo! Billing

This just infuriated me! I proceeded to make a spectacle of them and myself by posting about there response [in as many places as I could](http://www.seydoggy.com/2009/05/19/complete-flickr-fail/ “seyDoggy Web and Graphic Design – seyDoggy weblog – my thoughts on the web and the mac”). I sent them a short and to the point letter and supporting screen shot:
> Uhhh… you work there right? And you can’t see what EVERYONE ELSE ON THE INTERNET SEES? See attached and don’t insult the intelligence of your users. Thanks.

> Adam Merrifield

Get it staight Flickr

I guess this sent the message in the tone required to get some action on the matter for today I got what I assume to be the last and finalizing letter in response to this whole fiasco:
> Hello Adam,

> Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Billing.

> I understand you have contacted us regarding your Flickr Pro service on your Yahoo! ID: xxxxxx@xxxx.com.

> After reviewing your account we have issued you a full refund for your Flickr order from 05/15/2009 for $47.99. Please allow 7 – 10 business days for the credit to post to your credit card.

> To view your billing history, please visit:

> https://billing.yahoo.com/

> and sign in to your account. Once you’ve signed in, you will be able to view all billing details regarding this Yahoo! account.

> We apologize for any inconvenience this issue has caused you.

> Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Billing. If we can provide you with any further information, please reply to this email.

> Regards,

> Unnamed Male Support Personnel

> Yahoo! Customer Care

What is the moral of the story? Don’t take it lying down! $50 is still $50 and I shouldn’t have to pay it because of a Yahoo! PR blunder and neither should you. Did you get burned by this? Does anyone know what the hell is going on yet? The notification still says November 2011 while the FAQ insists it’s July 2009. Will my account go dead in July? Who knows? We’ll fight that battle when the time comes.

[tags]flickr, Yahoo!, Rogers, internet[/tags]

 

Adam Merrifield

 

2 thoughts on “Flickr Quietly Backpedals out of Their PR Blunder

  1. Fight…. to the death!

    I was really disappointed when I saw that notification. You weren’t the only one who has the 2011 date, so you definitely have a case against Flickr/Yahoo for this issue.

    I really enjoy using Flickr! And I was so happy to be presented with a Pro account because I’m a Rogers customer. Seems that “bonus” only lasted two years. (Maybe not even that long?)

    Keep us updated!

  2. Good to see you stick to your guns. I got a similar run around with them (different issue than yours), and it’s all canned responses, no actual reply to specific questions the customer (the one who pays to support them last time I checked).

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