My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

An open response to the Snapfish account deletion email

Dear Snapfish,

This is an open response to your email of September 14, 2015, in which you ask me to buy something from you to keep my account open:

To keep our promise of unlimited, free photo sharing and storage, we ask our customers to make at least one purchase every 12 months. To keep your Snapfish account open, please place an order by October 14.

You even helpfully include a link to “special offers” and a big, insistent “Shop now!” button. Somewhat ironically, the slogan “At Snapfish, your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed” appears at the bottom of the email. (It’s an image.)

This is bullshit.

Look, Snapfish, I completely acknowledge you are within your rights to terminate my account, at any time, for whatever reason you wish. It’s your business model; if you want to burn it to the ground, you are free to do so. The Internet isn’t going to stand in your way: we’ll watch and warm our hands on the flames. You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain.

I also want to go on record as saying that I love the service you’ve given me. Seriously, you were exactly what I needed, when I needed it. I don’t often print photos, but when I do, I go to you, Snapfish. Because you’re inexpensive, simple to use, and considering you’re an online service shipping to Thunder Bay, you are actually amazingly fast.

Yes, it’s true I could email my photos to my local Wal-Mart, which is less than five minutes away, and go pick them up. But I am lazy in a way that only online shopping can epitomize, and I am never in such a hurry that I need my photos that fast. Plus, you offer far more cool options than any other place. Do I want a custom throw pillow of this picture of a papier-mâché pig piñata my friends and I made one summer when we were theoretically being paid to do math research? I do now.

Sadly, I’m not going to buy that throw pillow, or anything else from you, for a long, long time. Maybe never.

I understand that storing high quality originals of photos can take up space. My archive of photos on my computer goes back to 2004 and is about 22 GB, and I’m sure that many people have much larger repositories than me. So I understand that it costs money for you to host people’s photos after they upload them to you.

But I’m not hosting 22 GB of photos with you. I pay Yahoo! for the privilege of a Flickr Pro account so they won’t pull any of this shenanigans on me. I have 94 photos uploaded on my Snapfish account at the moment, which doesn’t run to that much space. And I would be happy to remove the oldest ones, or even all of them, if you just asked me. Or you could do it yourself, without closing my account.

Indeed, since your business strategy folks appear to have collectively gone skydiving without parachutes, please allow me to suggest an alternative solution to your pressing storage issue rather than trying to guilt people into buying things from you:

Dear valued Snapfish customer,

We see you haven’t placed an order in over a year! Perhaps you could take a moment of your time to give us some feedback on your previous experience and whether we could be doing anything differently to meet your needs.

Here are some great deals we're currently offering. We just launched a new website—check it out and see if any of our new products catch your eye.

If you're still not interested in shopping right now, we understand. Life's busy, and you don't always have time to stop and print photos. However, in order to keep our file storage a free service for all our users, we reserve the right to delete photos that haven't been used in an order in over a year.

Your account information and order history will always be available. Our new uploading tools mean that even if you have to re-upload photos in the future, it'll be a snap!

We appreciate your understanding in this matter. If you don't already have your photos backed up elsewhere, please make sure you download them by [Date Here]. Keep your memories safe!

Hope to see you back with us soon!

Was that so hard? Makes me feel like a family member you haven’t heard from in a while, but one who is always welcome back at your table. Way better than making me feel like a wallet whose only purpose is to give you money on an annual basis. I get that you’re not a storage service, so there’s no expectation that you’ll keep my photos around forever. But the idea that you’re going to delete my entire account just because I haven’t slipped you some money in a while boggles my mind. Why would you make it harder for me to give you money in the future?

Here’s how awesome I thought you were before you sent me that email, Snapfish: after reading that email, my initial reaction was, “Oh yeah, I haven’t ordered anything from Snapfish in ages—I should do that!”

Then I came to my senses and realized you were basically holding my account for ransom, and that is not cool.

Snapfish, you know it used to be mad love. So take a look what you’ve done. ’Cause baby, now we got bad blood.