The latest on Picture dot com

Well since I last mentioned Picture dot com I have been inundated with amazing offers to show off my fabulous photo. I’m just so good, I must be the best photographer in the World.

On Monday 28th January I received an email from someone telling me that if I go to the ‘2008 International Open Invitational Photography Contest!’ in Las Vegas they will present me with “A brand new digital camera”.

I have no idea how much it would cost me to get to Vegas, not including the amount of cash I would have to spend when I get there, but if they’re going to give me a free digital camera I might just go.

Click images for larger view.




Then on the 29th I had an email inviting me to join ‘The Photographers’ Workshop’.




Hang on a minute. A workshop? What does that mean then? Somewhere for me to improve my photography skills is my best guess. So one minute they’re throwing all these exclusive offers, that only the greatest photographers who get through the special selection rounds at Picture dot com are eligible for, at me and then the next day telling me I might want to go to a workshop to improve my photography? Surely I don’t need a workshop. I wonder, just out of curiosity, how much that workshop would cost me.

Now today, the latest thing they are offering me (considering I’m one of the ‘only 12%’ who receive such a something), at a very reasonable price I might add, a plaque. Not just any old plaque though, oh no, this is their “most exquisite and distinguished wall plaque ever.”




I think I should get a lot of these things, such as the plaque for example, free. I am supposed to be a great photographer (according to them) and my work is amazing and it has got through the first round of this & that and it’s going to be in a book, on a plaque, on cups & plates all around the world, mouse mats, T-shirts, in art galleries, on the side of the space shuttle, on the Queen’s mantel, hey maybe even on paper currency.

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Picture dot com – A warning

This entry is just a warning to anyone who is a keen photographer and might be thinking of places to post their photo’s to show off their skills and maybe get a little recognition.

We all know that there are some great sites around that are genuine and mean well. The majority are well organised, above board and generally very good.
However, even though many of us realise that there are also a lot of dodgy sites that are less than genuine and really out to rip you off or whatever, not every one of those sites are easy to spot. It’s an unfortunate thing when we have to rely on on other people’s misfortune and the fact that a few of those people actually let others know about such places.

Being a keen photographer myself I have registered on a couple of photography sites which have been fine. I have learned much from them and had fun sharing my photo’s with other like minded people.

The most recent place I registered is a place called picture dot com (I decided to spell this out so there is no chance of a link being displayed. Apart from what I am about to tell you concerning this site, McAfee site advisor has it’s own warning that the site has links to known ‘dangerous’ sites too). If you choose to look at the site, then that is your choice, but I would advise caution.

So anyway, this is the story.

I can’t remember how I found the site originally, but I saw it somewhere and decided to register.
What they claim is that you can post your photographs there and they are judged, by someone who has something to do with the site and there is a chance you can win prizes of various types ranging from your photo being printed in a book (called ‘Endless Journeys’) to gift vouchers & pin badges, medals etc.

I submitted just one picture to see how it went etc. It was a close-up of a caterpillar that I decided to call ‘Caterpillar, up close and personal’ – original eh?
It was a picture that had done rather well on another (reputable) site, so I thought I would start off with that one and see if there was any response.

About a week later I get an email. Click the following link to view the email.

Click here to view my first email from the site.

Woohoo, semi-finalist. Imagine my joy, my smug grin, my wonderful feeling of brilliance.
Well OK, I was quite pleased anyway.

Automatically entered into a competition where I can win one of many prizes including the $1,000 Grand prize or even the $10,000 Annual grand Prize. Ooh..

..But that’s not all.. Oh no… They also wish to publish my fantastically impressive photograph in their forthcoming (forthcoming.. that seems even funnier after reading some other people’s comments. Although I’m not entirely sure that funny is the word they would have chosen.) anthology series.. ‘Endless Journeys’.
I wont go on with the reasons for all this wonderful news, you can read for yourselves.

So, excited beyond rational thought I decided to go to the website and have a look a little more deeply at all this. As i entered the site, McAfee site advisor warns me again that I’m being foolish for entering this site. Having had this message every time I had been to the site I decided to check it out.
I click the site advisor button and choose to ‘view details’.
Well, one of the first things I am presented with is a huge list of complaints and warnings from other people who are also fantastic photographers that have been chosen and entered in the draw and the chance to have their photo’s entered into the Endless Journeys anthology series.. Well, there must be lots of great photographers around the world, so that’s not really surprising..

I know, why don’t you read some of the messages for yourself?

First a message from McAfee – “When we tested this site we found links to ephotograph.com, which our analysis found to be suspicious.”
“I am apparently a master photographer and never knew it hehe. I say this because I was nominated to join the International Society of Photographers Hall of Fame. Now I can get my picture back as a 16″ x 20″ in a gold frame for the low low price of 239.00. And they tell me that I’m awesome about twice a week so it must be true.”

“Avoid this site at all costs. Everything about this site is a complete scam. In addition, once they have your personal info, you will receive spam like crazy. To add insult to injury, this site also has excessive popups.”

“This site is a totale scam……………They send you all these letters saying they love your picture and stuff…………………but please dont send them the money for the so called book ok!!! you will never get it.!”

“all your photos get selected… and the say how good of a photographer you are and want you to pay for books that never arrive and tons of $ on shipping of prizes that you already won by being a great photographer like a 300 throphy or medal… SCAM, you never receive the books or anything is worth the money”

“I also fell for it and send the $60 something dollars for the ENDLESS JOURNEYS book… I should have read all the scam posted online but I recieved a letter and not an email so I did not bother to look it up til months went by and I haven’t received the book yet but the did cash the check of course… and I still receive tons of emails from them!!! SCAM… DONT SEND ANY MONEY”

“I too was told my photo would be published in “Endless Journeys” and when I ordered in late 2006, it said it would be published in March of 07. I still have no book even though I paid for it and cannot find any contact info on the website to inquire about it. Obviously a fraudulant site. Now I am receiving emails to send in another photo to enter a contest based on my other great photo. Needless to say I will not be sending them anything ever again and would like my money back for the book that I doubt ever will be published. If anyone finds a way to contact them about getting a refund for this non-existent book, please let me know!”
That’s a selection, I’m sure you get the idea.

The next email I received looked like this:


So without any contact from me at all, I have progressed from just being a fantastic photographer to a distinguished member. How did that happen?

Somewhere along the way I clicked a link they provided me with so i could have another look at my amazing photograph actually on their site. What I found was that despite their claims that my photo had reached whatever stage of semi-finals and was so good they wanted to use it here, there & everywhere, this was the actual truth, maybe…


Then, still with no response from me whatsoever, about four or five days later I get this:

This was looking good. I could give the link to my friends so that they could rate my photograph and help me to win. Great!

I sent the link to a single friend first. They sent me a message asking where my picture was.
How strange, when I clicked the link they gave me that was supposed to take me to my photograph, what actually happened was that I was taken to someone else’s picture, of a Flamingo.
I asked my friend if they had seen the Flamingo, but they had apparently seen a sleeping cat photo. Weird!
I tried the link again and this time I got a photo of some clouds. My friend tried it again and got a photo of a child with a bucket on their head.
Quite clearly the link directs you to a different picture each time, none of which were mine. Curious!

This time I decided to reply to their email. My reply is as follows:

“Hi, Thanks for the email.
I read several pages of people’s comments about that book you sell that you told me my pic (Caterpillar up close & personal) would be in and they all seem to agree that they never received the book. They all say that every picture they entered had the same result, that it was selected as exceptional etc etc. Also this link you provided me with for my friends to vote for my picture, doesn’t even lead them to my picture. Not only that but it reveals a different picture every time I click it.
What’s that all about.
Any advice is appreciated.
Regards
S. Jones”

Within an hour I had received an email with the title “Thank you for your reply”.
This naturally led me to assume that they had received my reply. Well you would think that wouldn’t you?

This is what the email said:

“Your inquiries and questions are very important to us. Please call us at 410-363-4800 and a dedicated customer service representative will be able to assist you.

Sincerely,

picture.com”

Right, so my inquiries and questions are very important to them.
So important that about fifteen minutes later I get another email, this time with the title “Undeliverable: Re: Caterpillar up close & personal Could Be Featu red On Picture.com’s Homepage!”

How weird is that. They reply to me and several minutes later..

“Your message

To: email@picture.com
Subject: Re: Caterpillar up close & personal Could Be Featured On
Picture.com’s Homepage!
Sent: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 17:16:33 -0500

did not reach the following recipient(s):

email@picture.com on Thu, 10 Jan 2008 17:15:43 -0500
The recipient name is not recognized”

So what would you think?
I know what I think. I think they read the email, didn’t like what I had said or didn’t know how to respond, so tried to pull the wool over my eyes with the lame attempt to make me believe that the email never reached them.
Surely if the first email I received thanking me for my reply and them telling me how important I am etc got there, how do they explain the undeliverable message arriving after that?
It just seems to reinforce the comments made by other people that have been conned, that the site is a huge scam.

By this time I had of course decided that it was not worth bothering about and I certainly would not be sending any money. I was actually quite annoyed that they still have my picture, but what can you do?

The very next day I received yet another email from them. So far they told me my photo is great, so great that they want to award me everything, put it in a book, maybe on the front page of the site too. When I click links they provide, first I am presented with a screen that says they haven’t even reviewed my photo yet (They must have just assumed it would be a great photo I suppose), another link for my friends to vote for my photo did not lead to my photo. I get two replies from their email department, one telling me I am important and they value my questions etc and another telling me that the email they have already replied to didn’t actually get delivered. Some weird space & time problem going on here I think, some kind of warp or whatever.
Then, after realising that I surely must be suspicious of them already, they send this..



Truly unbelievable.

Anyway, that’s all so far. I have not bothered emailing them again. I imagine I will get plenty of this type of spam, as one previous disgruntled member has already mentioned. I shall most likely end up blocking them and hopefully forgetting about them.

After reading this entry I would recommend you forget them too, as soon as you read this last line.