Saying Goodbye to Phanfare


Awhile back I wrote a post about how much I liked Phanfare and until now I have been really happy with having them host my photos and videos. It gave my family a way to keep in touch with us and provided a window into the events of our lives that they were not able to be there for. Unfortunately Phanfare has decided that in order for them to continue to exist, they need to charge a minimum of $100/yr regardless of your usage. This is just for the basic hosting package. So it seems that it costs them as much to hold onto my 5GB of data as it does for someone else to store 50GB. This price increase is almost DOUBLE the amount that I have been paying up until this point. Possibly the worst part is the lack of notification to their existing customers. I found out, not from any correspondence from them, but through a little notification in my account settings that I happened to stumble onto.
It is unfortunate that they decided to go this route, and not consider the people who don’t store a ton of information on their servers. I felt that I paid them a lot of money for the space I was actually using, and I did it because they had some of the best photo and video management packages I have seen to date. In the end it doesn’t matter how good an application they have if I can’t afford to use it.
So with that I have downloaded my information off of Phanfare and will be cancelling my account with them before they automatically bill me for another year. I am really unhappy to have to find another site, when I felt I had finally found a solution that worked so perfectly for me. Thanks Phanfare…it was good while it lasted.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Saying Goodbye to Phanfare

  1. We are sorry to see you go. We did notify existing customers though. We email every customer prior to renewal and also about 30 days prior to that with another letter. We use an external email provider for one communication to increase the likelihood that get the msg all the way into the inbox.

    We also informed customers on our blog, over twitter and via facebook back in June 2010 when we increased prices.

    Nobody likes price increase, and we certainly did not want to raise prices. It was simply an economic necessity.

    My blog post explaining the price increase gives a little more color on why we made the decision.

    The good news is that Phanfare is now profitable and hence sustainable. For the vast majority of customers who stayed with us across this price increase, this is great news. The largest investment our customers make in Phanfare is not their money; it’s their time. It takes a long time to put up a collection and maintain it.

    BTW, don’t worry about getting re-billed. We offer a full refund within 30 days and a prorated refund after that. We are not trying to hold your media hostage and try hard to be customer friendly. Long term, I truly want to lower prices as we enjoy the benefits of scale and lower technology costs.

    Andrew Erlichson
    CEO & Co-founder
    Phanfare

  2. Foto

    Andrew,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment and explain your stance on the price increase. I do understand the business side of it and can only trust that it’s something you needed to do to continue operating. I just can’t justify the increased cost with the rather small amount of content I have stored with Phanfare.
    SmugMug offers similar functionality and style for $60/yr and a Flickr Pro account is only $25/yr. I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer the Phanfare desktop app and even the photo and video organizing capability of Phanfare to SmugMug or Flickr. In fact, I have done a lot of research and I honestly can’t find anyone who does it better. In the end though, it doesn’t matter how good it is if it is too expensive to use. Maybe in the future, there will be a time when $50 and $100 don’t seem so far apart, but that time isn’t now. This increase comes at a particularly bad time financially for a lot of people.
    As you said though, you had a large majority of people who were willing to stay with you even after doubling your cost so I guess in the end it makes sense for you. It’s just disappointing to see a decision like this which takes away something I was once so excited about.
    I am encouraged by your interest in lowering prices in the long term , and hope that this is something that you’re able to accomplish. While you may not get as much revenue from each customer, I would hope that a lower cost would cause more people to utilize your service.

  3. For us, at the size we are today, the economics required the higher price. But there are lots of reasons to expect that we can lower prices in the future. I am hoping that after this adjustment, we can deliver price decreases over time, not increases.

    I do think there is a lot of value to Phanfare. Decent generic web hosting is hard to get for less than $20/month, and this is highly specialized web hosting with unlimited storage.

    We do have a referral program that offers 20% (essentially $20) for every customer your refer.

    But at the end of the day, it comes down to what you can afford and what makes sense to you, so I certainly get where you are coming from and we are sorry to see you go.

    Note that we did try a tiered pricing plan at one point that charged small accounts less but the market was not much interested. I think it’s just too hard for most people to gauge how much storage they want or need.

    Feel free to email me personally (aje at phanfare.com) if you want to discuss it further.

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