Stock Footage Scam

A Movie Guys once-over by Justin Bowler

A couple of months ago, I was preparing for a pitch meeting, and as part of my research I was searching for a legal download of a specific TV show. I was directed to a site called The download required me to try a 7 day free trial with “no further obligation” required. I entered my credit card number and proceeded. Sadly, the show had been removed from their content, so I continued researching. I found my download elsewhere.

Approximately two months later, I was going over my credit card bill for the period when I started my free trial, when I saw that I was charged “49.99” for my 7 day free trial on the very day that my free trial began. I immediately contacted VideoBlocks and asked for a refund. I googled VideoBlocks for contact info and as I typed in VideoBlocks, google offered “videoblocks ripoff” as the 3rd search option. I instantly knew I was in trouble.

After finding this link:
and this link
I realized the extent of how screwed I was.

Furthermore, it had been 69 days since I signed up for the “7 Day Free Trial”, so I had been charged 49.00 three times. I contacted Videoblocks with this email:

“I would like a refund to my CC. I did not realize you would AUTOMATICALLY charge me. I belive your site says “Completely FREE with NO OBLIGATION to pay anything.” Charging me without notification implies obligation to the letter of the law. So, please cancel the subscription I didn’t know I had and refund my money. Thank you.”

They responded with this email:

Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 12:32 PM
Subject: Cancellation Successful
Your account has been successfully cancelled and closed.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact us:
Phone: 866-282-5360

You will notice that there isn’t any mention of a refund. So, I sent this email.

Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 1:32 PM
Subject: Cancellation Successful
Thank you for canceling my subscription. When can expect my refund?
Thank you,
Justin Bowler

They sent me a confirmation that 49.99 was going to be refunded along with this email:

From: Nikki Jones
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 5:53 PM
Subject: VideoBlocks
A refund has been processed, please allow 2-3 business days for the funds to post back to your account. As stated on our Guarantee page you are only eligible for one month’s refund.
Thanks, and please let me know if you have any additional questions!
– Nikki
Nikki Jones
11160-C1 South Lakes Dr., Suite 262
Reston, VA 20191
(P) (866) 282-5360

So, I called the number listed and left a message voicing my frustration and the ill things written about them online. One week later I called and left another message. One week after that, I sent this email:

Nikki and Abbey,
Thank you for the refund of 49.99, but, I was charged that amount 3 times. So, when can I expect the other 99.98 to be refunded?
Thank you,
Justin Bowler

They responded with this email (notice the lack of salutation):

From: Nikki Jones
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2011 11:10 AM
Subject: Re: VideoBlocks
As stated on our Guarantee page you are only eligible for one month’s refund.

I responded with:

Your page says a lot of things, many of which are less than true. So, I’d please like you to refund my full amount. Should you not do so, I’ll have to take other action. The first of which will be an article on my website (5 million hits per month) about the untruths having to do with your website. Yes, I recognize that we are not a huge site, but we just happen to have the exact same target audience as you, so I figure we’ll be able to warn a good amount of people otherwise possibly inclined to use your service. Or, you could just refund my money as I asked you to, and the whole thing will be done with. Let me know.
Thank you,
Justin Bowler

I received the following (this time, not only did I not get the courtesy of a salutation, but also, I didn’t even get a greeting):

From: Nikki Jones
Sent: Thursday, September 1, 2011 8:04 AM
Subject: Re: VideoBlocks
I can only process a refund for 2 months. The earliest charge will not accept a refund.

So, apparently, I’m to believe it’s not Nikki Jones or Abbey Smith (if that’s her real name) who are keeping me from my refund; rather, it is the “uncontrollable evil refund machine.” Hmmmm.
I further responded with:

I’d be happy to accept a check or money order.
Please mail it to the following address by 9/20/11.
Thank you,
Justin Bowler

They responded with:

From: Nikki Jones
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 7:29 AM
Subject: Re: VideoBlocks
We do not send checks or money orders for refunds, we can process a refund through paypal.

Apparently, they have checks, they just won’t send one to me. Hmmmmm. I sent them an invoice through PayPal. They didn’t respond. Five days later, I sent them another and they, finally, refunded the money (of course, I was charged the standard fee PayPal requires to send an invoice) (this was one last final FU from VideoBlocks). So, after three months, I finally got back MOST of the money VideoBlocks took from me.

I will say in my research on this article, I did find some users defending them as a stock footage supplier:
I certainly would not use them for anything (considering what I’ve been through). Furthermore, there are some fantastic stock footage houses out there that I can recommend. Getty Images Stock Footage, for instance has a great selection and quite an extensive catalog. Find reviews for them HERE.
Also, is another I would recommend as would THIS REVIEW.
For niche footage, like historic news, variety shows, etc, try Historic Films Stock Footage. Reviews of the site can be found HERE.
Or Check out a review for them HERE.
Finally, for stock photos, I’d recommend Istockphoto, and if you’d like to know why, then check HERE. So, check any of these out and you’ll find there aren’t any complaints that jump out at the top of their google search, and they don’t have any google search options that offer “ripoff,” or “scam.”

So, basically, there isn’t any reason to do business with videoblocks (and if you are just skimming this article, then let me sum up my story).
I was prompted to their library for research on a show. Not only did they not have what they advertised, but also, I was required to sign up for “7 Day Free Trial” with “No Further Obligation” to find out that information. Then I was Charged 49.99 every month, without my knowledge, until I sent them an email to stop. Then they wouldn’t refund all of the money they took from me. This was because the evil refund machine wouldn’t let them. So, I had to send them an invoice using PayPal (which charged me money), to get them to refund the last of the money they owed me.
Basically, they misled me about having something, misled me about “no further obligation” and made it as difficult as possible for me to get back the money I did get back (which wasn’t the amount that was taken from me). All I can do is get the word out. Apparently, these are the horrendous business practices of Nikki Jones and Abbey Smith (if that’s her real name).


  1. Pond5 is a decent stock media resource, especially for video. Please keep in mind StockFuel as well for your video stock media demands. Cheaper and easier to manage than most. Also, a decent amount of quality video stock files.

  2. Well, I have just started using, I am in the trial period right now, but they only charged me $5.0 from my credit card, and now I can download 20 clips per day for 7 days. In rest nothing bad has happened, and I can say that they appear to offer a very very good deal, I mean consider the fact that for just only one clip another site would charge me something like 300$ or more, and from videoblocks I can take 120 clips in the trial period for nothing (that $5 is going to be returned to me) ! After the trial period I have to pay 80$/month and I can download without limits hundrets of videos that would cost me thousands of dollars if I was to buy them sepparatly. For 80 bucks I can download litteraly hundrets of clips and video soundtracks, and I don’t need more than a few days to download everything I need from the site, I have surfed through all the video pages (300 pages) and made a list of things I need, I ended up with a list of over 500 clips that I need ! The connection is good, I have downloaded 6 clips in paralel at 250-300 KB/s each, so, for 80$ I can download 500+ clips in probably 2 days. Now lets think what kind of sums of money I would need to pay on other stock footage sites… 🙂 In the order of tens of thousands of dollars !!! I don’t know how they were in the past, but now they appear to be OK, and the deal is really, really good ! I mean c’mon, for 80 bucks I get contend that has a value of thousands of dollars !

  3. I totally get you. these fellas are less than honest. I wanted to license a music track and asked for the composer’s details and their PRO status to fill in my cue sheet and they said to just put in their site’s name. I told them my local station wouldn’t allow that and required a name. They just couldn’t provide me with the information I needed plus they seemed to evade when I asked them about PRO information. I honestly don’t know where they get their stuff from or if it is really ok to use them. I am in serious business and I don’t want my customers to get in trouble. I did a search and yes there were many reported rip off cases. beware.

  4. I have the same experience. I signed up for the 7 day free trial. I read that if I failed to cancel, I will be automatically charged. I made a note to cancel on the 7th day, downloaded some clips and on the 7th day, I dutifully went to the “manage my account” page and cancelled my subscription. My screen showed a boxed reply from them about my cancellation. I was surprised therefore to discover that I was billed $79 because apparently, my subscription was still active. I went through the same process of cancelling my account (going to the same page and clicking the same buttons) and this time, I received an email about my cancellation. I did not receive an email the first time I cancelled.

    I realize of course that video blocks would have friends all over who will be defending it. I see the same glowing praises for video blocks after every complaint. All I know for sure is that I’m one customer cheated out of my money by video blocks.

  5. I tried to sign up for their “FREE” trial, but was declined due to “INSUFFICIENT FUNDS”. Funny that…
    I have a hybrid card that I use specifically for online purchases. It is identified as a credit card, but will only allow purchases to the value of whatever funds are in the account, much like a debit card. I find it rather useful, precisely for situations like this!

  6. So I joined these jokers as well but I also used a hybrid card and was informed about the 5 dollars
    surcharge after which i began downloading clips but my problem began when I attempted to use the clips in imovie HD. I imported a clip and it loaded but as a white screen with the actual footage
    only playing in the last seconds, I read a few articles on the Video Blocks rip off and the dishonest
    practices but I have yet to find any thing that will give me some insight to the actual usage of the clips, if anyone out there can assist me in this it would be greatly appreciated.

    -Camp Cougar

  7. Be fair and treat people fair in business seems to be the motto here. Anistock has been in business since 2007 and feel free to take a look or contact me.


  8. Yea i always cancel RIGHT BEFORE the 7 days. Mainly cause they’re idiots and you can’t cancel ON the 7th day. Also, beware they’re not FULL royalty free. You still have to pay bulk liscencing for their content if you’re using it commercially…

    So you basically are paying 200 or more for a fee for use, plus your 99 a year? PEH.

    plus it gets instant content matches on youtube.

  9. J’tais abonné a videoblokcs depuis septembre 2011… chaque mois j’étais prélevé convenablement entre les 15 ou 17 du mois… puis en Aout 2013 j’ai commencé a constater es prélèvements non justifies DE 139$ 89$ ..80$ à chaque fois non sans difficulté j’ai étais crédité grasse au échanges meil par un amis qui perle et écrit en anglais… ( moi pas)

    En décembre sans me demander mon avis il modifie mon abonnement et le porte à 6 mois pour 89 $… j’acceptais, je ne pouvais faire autrement… le 2 décembre soit trois ou quatre jour après avoir fais le prélèvent de 6 mois pour 89 $, j(‘étais à nouveau prélevé de 80$… la j’ai fait intervenir ma banque déposé un recours pour utilisation abusive de ma carte visa, dans la nuit j’était créditée des sommes de 89 + 80 $ mais sans aucune excuse mon compte a était fermé…. je tant de traiter un nouveau contrat avec la dite firme mais cette fois ci avec une carte spéciales visa ELECTROn ce qi évite tout prélèvement abusifs… mais attention votre compte ne doit pas être très approvisionné… le prélèvement sera refusé , mais vous ne serrez pas pénalisé par votre banque pour cessation de prélèvement par manque de fonds sur votre comte…

    Je vais voir ce qui va se passer…. mais ma pensé reste que Videoblocks n’est pas sérieux sur le plan fiancier..

  10. I find it disheartening that your review never mentioned the quality of clips or the economic viability of being able to use the music collection (or after effects templates) to save $$$ or grow your business. I found about 20 songs I could use and about 20 video clips – but for me that was worth the $50/60 yearly membership.

    Perhaps they weren’t clear back when you wrote this post, but they (and a myriad of other services that let you try their paid services for a period of time for free) are pretty clear that if you don’t cancel the account before the end of the free trial then your account will remain active and your card will (expectedly) be charged for the appropriate amount.

    The trick is to cancel the account, then wait a week until they send you the emails saying “we want you as a member – would you join with an annual membership of $99”? I got a $99 yearly membership plus a $40 or 50 Amazon gift card (can’t remember).

    I’ll be cancelling my account when it comes up for renewal because they stopped updating the music gallery and are focused on a new site AudioBlocks. If they add enough to it – I’ll transfer my membership. But – like I said – they don’t have a ton of stock music or video’s I’d use. And they allow you to download as much as you want and then cancel your account and keep using it.

    The free trial allows 20 downloads per day for 7 days (140 files free – which you can use in commercial projects – that’s quite valuable considering the cost of commercial licenses for music these days).


    ps. I have no connection to VideoBlocks besides being a customer. Good luck!

  11. Not trying to defend these people but.. at least now, not sure about what it looked liked when this happened, it’s pretty CLEAR, when they ask for your card, that you will be charged after 7 days. When I do a deal with folks that have that plan, the first thing I do is set my calendar to send me an alert two days BERORE that start charging. Then, I cancel. Don’t wait til the last day because some will start the process a day earlier so they get your money ON the day they say charges begin.

    Getting charged the day of your sign up is crazy, should never happen, I”ll agree.

    I was just about to signup and when I got here, I put on the brakes and looked up “videoblocks scam” and found several. I won’t take a chance with them now. Here’s the place where they ask for your credit card info and tell you the plan . I guess this wasn’t clear before when people were signing up. Or, did they just NOT READ it? It’s possible that some folks read it and said, I’ll just get my free videos and get out, and forgot to do it, and are claiming scam now. I think that’s really the whole point of these kinds of offers. I do them all the time and have had very little problem using my “calendar alert” method. Hey.. CALL them two days before the cancellation date to make sure they got your cancellation email too. Never hurts.

  12. I signed up for their free trial period. I also READ ALL of their stipulations. They CLEARLY stated that after the 7 day period I would be charged a monthly fee of $49.99, unless I canceled my subscription before the 7 day free trial period. By now, the vast majority of “adults” should know how ADVERTISING works. They will ALWAYS promise something so incredible that it is just too good to be true, or to pass up for that matter. But see, most of us want to play the naive role and think that any business offering a deal is legit and honest. ALL businesses have a clause they don’t put out front, but it is accessible to all those that are diligent in their search before they sign the dotted line. The problem is we have all become LAZY, and rather than put in the extra work to become knowledgeable about a service, we want to place our OWN (be it from ignorance or not) blame on the source that acted in accordance to their stipulated rules and regulations.

    I was so pleased with VideoBlocks’ free trial, I went ahead and opted in for a full year subscription and was pleasantly satisfied. Hell they even charged me for an extra year (just got off the phone with them) when I had canceled my subscription (but because of my browser settings the cancellation did not go through) 2 days before my subscription was due. I called them, explained that I had canceled it, the representative spoke to her manager, and I was offered my full refund back. Even if they wouldn’t have refunded me, I would’ve kept the service, not too happy, but at least I would’ve had another year of great stock footage, which by the way is very vast and amazing.

    The expression “Don’t take it personal, it’s just business,” is SUCH a BS expression, because we all take business matters personally whenever it rubs us the wrong way. Business has always been about one thing: self-gain. Knowing that, always look for the business’s angle of profit before you get down to business, no pun intended.

  13. Darn! They just charge me again! 149USD!!! I forgot to unsubscribe and they don’t have the option of one time payment. It is automatically recurring and if I cancel now I will loose the rest of the valid days. THIS IS A TOTAL BOGUS! I had file a complain to my CC, submit a report to Mastercard, and soon will do more report on how this website rob you smoothly!

    I’ll have to let go even thou I really need the money. Let them live with my money this one more year. My bank will give me a new card so they cannot charge me anymore.

  14. I’ve spent a few hours looking through forums and posts about video blocks after I just attempted to cancel my annual account and was entirely blocked from doing so online. Their service was nice, but their billing tactics are heinous. DO NOT FALL FOR THEIR SCAM. Today I had to use google to even find my account page (since they’ve now changed to story blocks and become even more of a scam) and after attempting to cancel, I was hit with multiple pages of ‘Don’t go!’ tactics with attempts to get me to click the wrong thing before landing on a page that forced me to call an 800 number to cancel. Well, if you call that number you’re presented with a real person from an ‘answering service’ who will take your information and provide it to video blocks so that someone can get back to you in 24-72 hours! ;D Thank goodness my card I was using with them had been cancelled because there’s no way they’re letting me cancel before my subscription is auto renewed in 3 days at the new rate of $150 a year. Good luck if you try to deal with them, but giving your money to companies with this lack of ethics is harming everyone even if you can get away unscathed.

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