grinch

This is a story about the grinch (Jason Lynes, the owner and founder of Passionfruit Ads) that ruined ad hosting for me in 2016.

I’ve kept pretty quiet about this all year because I am not the kind of person who uses this blog to complain, throw people under the bus or generally be a bully, but I can’t keep quiet any longer because I am downright furious by someone who could not run his business with the least bit of professionalism. He hurt me and he has hurt many other bloggers including many folks here in the pen community, many who I recommended use the Passionfruit Ads service to manage their ad and sponsorships so in the end I feel partially responsible for other bloggers losing money to his trollish business practices. I mentioned it briefly in my year-end Cheers and Tears post but I decided that, with the deadline for the official closing of Passionfruit Ads having come and gone, I will finally speak out.

Passionfruit Ads offered a monthly subscription service to handle blog ad backend work, collecting funds from advertisers, providing statistics, a marketplace and other lovely services that made it a great service for bloggers and advertisers. Weekly, I would receive “payouts” from money collected from advertisers with a small percentage withheld for the service via PayPal. Easy peasy.

After using the service for several years, payments suddenly started to get a little haphazard in 2016, coming more monthly than weekly. Then they would list a projected payment date and would miss that. It started to get frustrating but its not my sole source of income and payments did eventually come so I didn’t sweat it. Too much.

Goodbye Passionfruit Screenshot

Then, in May, the screenshot above appeared without any fanfare, email announcement, tweets or other information. It seemed like things would be business as usual until December and I wanted to give the company the benefit of the doubt. Sure, he may be struggling and ready to move on but I didn’t realize things were dire. Little did I know, within a month or so, bad turned to worse.

passionfruit

This was also the same time almost all of my sponsors renew their ads. Payouts pretty much ceased completely. They sat in queue indefinitely for months. I sent email after email with no reply. May, then June than July passed and payouts never happened.

Passionfruit Ads contact info

By late summer, all lines of communication with Passionfruit Ads were removed from the site (the screenshot above shows all the info that used to appear at the bottom of the login pages on the Passionfruit Ads website when it still existed, all the accounts are now only visible via the Wayback Machine). Jason’s twitter account was closed, emails were no longer answered, his Instagram and Facebook accounts were closed as well. A private Facebook group was set up to help bloggers who were left struggling and to have a place to talk about what steps to take to try to get paid. In November, the whole Passionfruit Ads site was down. I had to frantically piece together the ads, email my sponsors and hosts the content directly on my site rather than through the javascript code I’d been using. Again, all without any notification from Passionfruit Ads. It was just gone — and way before Lynes had said it was going to be moved.

Fellow blogger, George Hahn, ended up posting a video on YouTube outing Jason Lyne and his seedy business practices which did, in the end, get him paid the money he was owed. Other bloggers have put together PayPal invoices and send daily reminders to Lyne in an effort to get paid. I know that has worked for one or two people. That is the tactic I’ve tried though it has not worked for me. I’m still waiting for my $450.

There’s been conversation amongst the bloggers who are still owed money about a class action lawsuit but, for most people only owed a couple hundred dollars, the legal fees would eat up what little money they’re owed. A couple hundred bucks is often a blogger’s operating expenses for a year for web hosting or the cost for a couple week’s groceries, but in the grand scheme of things, its chump change when you start talking legal fees and court costs.

So, anyway, I just thought I’d share one of the GIANT frustrations that has occupied both my time and my brain for the past six months — all for what might seem like a little (or a lot of) money, depending on your perspective. I don’t mean to be vindictive but sometimes its nice to know what goes on “behind the curtain”. I know not everyone wants to know how the blogging sausage gets made and in this case its probably best to become a blogging vegetarian. I certainly feel like I got put through the meat grinder this year.

16 comments on “Screwed By Passionfruit Ads”

  1. Good for you for showing transparency, Ana. Painful as the experience is/was, you’ve provided valuable information to our online community. MUCH appreciated and kudos to you!!!

  2. I’m sorry this happened and continues to be an ongoing source of frustration for you. I appreciate what you do for the pen community with your excellent blog and podcast, and I hope you get what you’re owed.

  3. I’m so sorry! That’s awful. I can understand why it would be very, very upsetting. It’s also a fair amount of money. Certainly not an amount you’d find forgotten in your pocket on laundry day. You delivered your end of the bargain, he should certainly deliver his. I really hope that you get the money that you are owed.

  4. So sorry this happened to you, Ana. Glad you spoke up and exposed this thief. It’s one thing to valiantly go under while trying like hell to pay off everybody you owe; it’s quite another to lie about it and just quietly disappear to avoid making payments. And all while backpedaling and making sorry excuses for inexcusable actions.

  5. Terrible crap. Someday the karma will catch up to him. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I hope 2017 will be a better year.

  6. It’s a terrible thing when someone takes your money and your trust. I offer this bit of advice for you: Small claims court. If I remember correctly you don’t need a lawyer, fees are minimal around $100 and you may be able to ask for court fees as a part of the amount your seeking. Of course you’ll need to find out what the process is in your state/county but it’s basically like Judge Judy.

  7. Welcome to the Internet. 1. Keep an absolute minimum number of steps between you and those that pay you. 2. Get liability insurance (and keep it a secret). There are lawyer sharks out there circling, looking for bloggers to sue for all sorts of crazy reasons.

  8. I am sorry about your troubles and I really hope you get the money soon…or has he gone bankrupt and will not pay you at all?
    After reading your story, I am not sure about my new years resolution.
    Friends and family have been bugging me to start a blog about paper crafting. Showing my tutorials, fountain pen tips & hits, if it’s paper, it would be on my blog.
    After seeing the trouble you are having, I am unsure if I want to now.
    I truly hope you get you get your compensation.
    Good luck!

  9. Gosh, I’m really sorry you had to go though this ordeal 🙁 I do hope that eventually you (and others) will get the money you are owed! I actually have been considering about an add service for my blog, but well, it always seemed like so much trouble. And I think that after hearing your story about this situation, I won’t be starting that up. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, even the most unfortunate ones because life isn’t always about sharing the highs. In low times, people need support, even more so. And you got that in spades from your readers!

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