If You are a Victim of Unauthorized Credit Card Charges by Webshots / Smile / Threefold Photos

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I am receiving numerous complaints regarding unauthorized charges by Threefold Photos, the company distributing Smile, Webshots Wallpaper & Screensaver and Message Bus – their cloud service that charges companies $1000 a month for the privilege of using email. (I wonder how their customers would react if they knew how careless they are with stored data – but that’s another story).

If you find an unauthorized charge (it will most likely be $2.99) by Webshots or Threefold Photos, please take the following steps:

1) Contact your credit card company (or bank if it is a debit card) to dispute the charge. Once the charge-back to your account is complete, have them block all future transactions from Webshots and Threefold Photos.

2) If the charge is in a pending status, contact your credit card company and tell them it is an unauthorized charge. Ask them to monitor the charge and contact you as soon as the charge finalizes. As soon as the charge goes through, have your credit card company place a block on all future transactions from Webshots and Threefold Photos and immediately follow-up with your bank to dispute the charge.

3) Optional but recommended: Put everything in writing. Email Narendra Rocherolle (narendra@threefoldphotos.com) and Mike Sitrin (mike@threefoldphotos.com) stating a) You did not authorize a subscription to Webshots Wallpaper b) You did not authorize charges to your credit card c) You have contacted your bank to dispute the charges and to block Webshots and Threefold Photos from any future transactions.

4) Continue monitoring your credit card and bank statement carefully each month to make sure you are not charged a recurring fee. With the transactions being blocked this should not occur, but it is better to be cautious.

Narendra Rocherolle in your computer taking your money.

I’m Narendra Rocherolle, founder of Smile by Webshots. I’m smiling because I’m inside your computer taking your money.

04-about-mike

I’m Mike Sitrin, President of Smile by Webshots. I’ll do anything Narendra tells me to do, including taking money from you without your permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Highly recommended: Report Threefold Photos to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has and will investigate companies for illegal billing practices if they receive enough complaints.

During the transition from Webshots to Smile, my attempts to find a lawyer willing to take on a class action suit against Threefold Photos were unsuccessful – mainly because those I contacted believed the company could claim incompetence as an excuse for the terrible way things were handled. But in this case, Threefold Photo’s management is fully aware they are billing people who no longer want anything to do with Smile or Webshots. This is theft and there are credit card statements to prove it, so it might be time to start putting out feelers again.

20 thoughts on “If You are a Victim of Unauthorized Credit Card Charges by Webshots / Smile / Threefold Photos

  1. I just noticed yesterday that I had a charge from Webshots to my credit card. I had already contacted my credit card company when I searched to see if my case was unique. I quickly found your page and saw the email addresses for the founder and the president of Smile by Webshots. By 5pm Sunday I sent an email to both of them and at 6:41 pm received a rather useless response from Mr. Rocherolle. By 7:47 pm I received a response from Mr. Sitrin that resolves the situation to my satisfaction. Here is his reply:
    ————–
    Roy,

    My apologies for all the frustration we’ve caused.
    I personally refunded your $2.99 payment and canceled your account.

    Regards,
    Mike Sitrin
    ————–
    Short and to the point. I give him credit for at least reacting properly when informed of the problem his company caused. Thank you for sharing the info you had.

    • I’m glad I could help. But since you shouldn’t have been billed for anything in the first place, I’m afraid I can’t give him credit for much of anything.

  2. Thank you very much for your advice in this matter.
    I was recently billed $2.99 for subsciption that I did NOT authorize.
    I followed all of the three steps you stated and I shall see what happens next!
    I can’t believe someone would do such a thing!

    Thanks very much, indeed!

    Paul Carter

  3. Thank you for your advice, I have followed it and will be interested to see what happens. As they have charged me twice, I requested a refund of $5.98 plus something extra to over the international transaction fee charged by my bank.

    Keith Smith

  4. I’ve sent them an email just now asking for a refund. When Smile came out, all Webshots customers were told (including me) that their Premium memberships would be deleted if they did not subscribe to Smile. Having no interest in Smile, I thought, “Fine. Let it end.”

    Didn’t think any more about it until I saw the September $2.99 charge on my paper statement today, and found one (online banking) pending for October. Wait, what? I didn’t authorize the billing! If I had wanted to continue a subscription, they should have waited for ME to ask, not just start billing!

    They assume too much. I just went through my email archives, and found two that I hadn’t read, figuring it was just an advertisement and I wasn’t interested in it. So I read them completely today. One was back in July “we are thrilled to welcome you as a subscriber” and in August “we’ll start billing”.

    Ummmm, no. I did NOT want to subscribe. The account was supposed to have been deleted when Webshots ended… when, last December? They could argue that they gave sufficient notice, but reactivating an account and billing without asking first if the customer wanted it, is unethical business at best.

    Calling the telephone number on the credit card charge on my credit card statement gets a voice recording along the lines of “email support at Webshots if you have a question”. You can’t reach a live person. If they’ve done this to ALL their former Webshots customers, they surely don’t want to have to deal with the barrage of angry/indignant/unhappy phone calls.

    We’ll see what happens. Webshots used to be a good thing, but if the current owners are going to pull stuff like this, I want no part of it.

    • Thinking on it a little more, I even went to the Webshots website (before it supposedly vanished) and hit Cancel Subscription, just to be sure I wouldn’t be billed further. And yet they retained my credit card information and reactivated my account without my express permission!

      • One more follow-up: at least they responded promptly to my email, though they blamed me for what they did. Here’s what their customer service said:

        “Thank you for the email. I’ve cancelled your account registered to (my email address) and issued both refunds of $2.99 back to the card that was charged. You should see this refund within 7-10 business days. Processing time my very [sic] depending on your bank or credit card company.

        When Webshots.com closed last year in October, your membership was transferred to Smile and then paused until Smile had a billable product for Wallpaper & Screensavers. Now that the new Webshots Wallpaper & Screensaver software has been released , all premium memberships that were recurring are starting to rebill at $2.99 a month for premium membership. You should have received several emails to the email address registered to your premium account prior to billing at (my email address) We gave everyone a 30 day trail [sic] period, so users could opt in or our of the service before the account was actually billed.”

        “Membership transferred”? News to me. Going from memory, we were told that Webshots subscribers needed to sign up with Smile. Which I did not do.

        I’m still unhappy that they didn’t let customers specifically say YES to their deal, but assumed that no response gave them permission to bill. I’d already cancelled and thought I was finished with Webshots last year.

        Am waiting to see if the refunds get posted, but I can always call my credit card company again if the refunds aren’t issued.

        THANK YOU for creating this blog, so folks can post their experiences, and help others who might also have gotten unexpectedly billed for a product they did not want.

        • You are very welcome. After you get your refund I would suggest calling your credit card company to see if they can place a permanent block on Webshots / Threefold Photos.

  5. I have had this experience recently, too. I have been charged $2.99 in September and October. I have now called my credit card company to cancel any future claims for payment from these people, and will contact both the people mentioned in your article for a refund. I used to love Webshots, especially the daily pro photos, but Smile wasn’t anything I wanted a part of. Interesting that they still use/abuse the name Webshots. If they have done this to thousands of people, some of whom may not even notice the debit, imagine how much money they are making! Thanks for the info!

  6. I just noticed the 2.99 charge on my card & thought I had forgotten I had enrolled in it. Viewing all your posts now I know that isn’t the case. I haven’t yet asked for a refund but will do so.

    When I tried to unenroll, their site told me to unenroll through the desktop settings, so I loaded it to my mac. It looks like I am now unenrolled, but now I can’t get it off my mac…when I try to move it to trash, it says it cannot do it because the application is open. How do I close the application? Grrr….

    Thanks for all your posts. I’ll be monitoring next month’s bill.

    • The program leaves running services and processes that are preventing you from removing from the application from your computer. Unfortunately I am not familiar with Macs so I don’t know the equivalent procedure for stopping these services and processes on a Mac. These are the instructions for removing the application from Windows PC: http://smilebywebshotssucks.com/smilebegone/

      The instructions to stop the services and processes may be different, but the names should be the same (‘AGCore service’, ’smile*’, ‘websh*’, ‘wallscr*’, ’webscr*’ ‘webshotsupplant*’). Worst case scenario – you will need to contact a technician specializing in Macs to get this completely off you computer.

      If the charge was within the past 60 days, please contact your credit card company to dispute the charges. You were billed illegally and should not have to contact the company for a refund. Once your credit card company has reversed the charges, ask them to block any future transactions from Webshots. The management of Webshots are con men using the membership list purchased from American Greetings to scam people into paying recurring charges for a application they never signed up for – no legitimate company makes a person install software in order to unenroll in a service – so even when your credit card company places a block on Webshots, please make sure you monitor your credit card statement carefully for the next few months.

      • Thanks for your reply. I had to cancel that card due to another fraud on it & that’s when I noticed the webshots charges. I’ll contact the bank to dispute the charges. It’s only $5.98 but there is a principle involved. If I figure out how to uninstall it on the Mac I’ll post the instructions.

        • You’re welcome. Although it is only a small amount for one person, the people perpetuating this scam have a list containing thousands of ex-members of Webshots – including credit card information. They are hoping most people will either disregard or not notice the minimal charges because they stand to collect millions of dollars through these unauthorized recurring charges.

  7. I got lucky. I couldn’t find any of the services you mentioned but I right clicked on the app in applications and clicked on ‘show package contents’. I deleted the folders there, rebooted and it then allowed me to drag the app into the trash.

  8. I was a long time Webshots user prior to the company being taken over by Smile. My e-mail addresses changed and they had my new e-mail address. I never received any e-mails recently about any charges. My wife said a $2.99 charge to our credit card appeared in late January, 2014. I used to pay about $25 per year for a Webshots Premium account. The Smile software wasn’t anywhere close to the old Webshots software. I have contacted the credit card issuer and had them dispute the charge and stop allowing subsequent charges. I tried calling the company and only got a recording. What a joke on me.

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