georges' blog

June 27, 2008

Phanfare Update: They don’t suck so bad…

Filed under: Technology — kendall @ 11:48 pm

I need to set the record straight. After taking pains to migrate my photo gallery to SmugMug, I contacted customer service at Phanfare to cancel my account. They did so quickly and painlessly but included this bit of information in the message:

I know you have likely moved your site, but I did want to tell you that as of June 1st, there will be an additional option in 2.0 to allow you to share your albums publicly (with everyone at your URL) without requiring a login or registration. Based on all the feedback, we decided to allow this change to make the system more useful for people who really did want an open URL. There is still a Phanfare header on the pages, but other than that, the pages are unchanged.

Just wanted to pass that along…

A few comments:

  1. I had moved my galleries–to smugmug. And it was not a painless process. I tried out both Migratr and Smugglr. And neither worked effortlessly. In the end I had two copies of every photo, so I had to manually delete the duplicates. Also, all the galleries were private. So I had to manually set each one to public. At least all the captions and album descriptions were imported.
  2. “Thank you, for finally listening and catching a clue!” I was pretty upset with the changes that came with 2.0, specifically that users could not share their galleries without registration. Based on the reactions on their forum and the few comments I received to my post, there were a lot of unhappy (and some down right angry) users out there. I knew I wasn’t alone. I was glad that they had come to their senses and responded favorably to the public outcry.
  3. “Could you have figured this out sooner and let me know sooner?” Apparently, I acted just days ahead of this going out to all Phanfare users.

So… what does that all mean?

I’ve already swallowed the pill of moving my galleries to SmugMug. I am still feeling burned by the whole thing.

Why would I even consider going back to Phanfare?

Here’s the deal…

On the positive side: Yes, I’ve moved my galleries to SmugMug. That’s a realatively done deal. Also, in the meantime, SmugMug upgraded the feature set for “power user.” This is the package that has the same annual price as Phanfare. They now offer custom URLs for their power user. Awesome. So, feature-wise, did I lose anything by moving to SmugMug?

On the negative side: SmugMug does not support sub-galleries. This made the migration and organization of my galleries clunky. Also, SmugMug’s uploader is simply primitive. Phanfare simply has the coolest upload and organization utility out there. Also, Phanfare offers a lifetime membership–pay for five years up front and you are good for life. That is a pretty good deal. With SmugMug you’ll be paying that annual membership until you die.

On balance, as I see it, Phanfare is simply better.

So, the question is, was I able to put my hurt behind me and trust Phanfare again?

I decided that I could give them another chance. But I wouldn’t make it easy for them. Let’s not forget, so far I’ve paid the price for Phanfare’s mistakes. I moved my stuff to SmugMug and I was beyond the two week money back guaranty window. I was out time and money. Phanfare would have to meet me half-way at least. I extended the olive branch. I wrote Phanfare customer support and said they could have me back as a customer if they’d reinstate my lifetime membership less the $59.99 I paid to SmugMug. They accepted. So, Phanfare got me back. They admitted they were wrong. They paid a small penalty for their mistakes. I was out some time, but not any money. And I got back on with a service that is nearly everything I am looking for in a photo host. I’ll give them a chance. I will trust again.

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