PUTTING TOGETHER A PITCH VIDEO? DON’T GO HERE
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 videoblocks.com. 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.
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 VideoBlocks.com account has been successfully cancelled and closed.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact us:
You will notice that there isn’t any mention of a refund. So, I sent this email.
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
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!
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:
They responded with this email (notice the lack of salutation):
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 www.TheMovieGuys.net (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.
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):
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:
They responded with:
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, Artbeats.com 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 Pond5.com. 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).