Tag: news

Screwed By Passionfruit Ads

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.

Fountain Pen Day Giveaway Winners!

Happy Fountain Pen Day

Holy Cow! We had so many entries into the Fountain Pen Day giveaway it was mind boggling! I am so excited to be able to give away so many great prizes and so much interest and enthusiasm around Fountain Pen Day.  So much so that I drew an extra name and put together a bonus package of goodies including a JetPens mini fountain pen, a notebook and a few other goodies to help spread more Fountain Pen Day love so there are even more giveaway winners!

winners

Each winner was notified by email so congrats to everyone and have a great and fountain pen-tastic Fountain Pen Day!

November Spawned A Monster Project

October was all about Inktober, the inky-related drawing project, but November is the start of new month-long projects. The biggest is NaNoWriMo and I know a lot of people are already in the throes of preparation for this epic project to try to write a novel in a month. This is a big deal for a lot of folks in our community. They get their notebooks prepped, their pens and pencils out and then they plan out how many pages they will need to write each day to accomplish their goal.

I will be participating in another project in November, known as NaKniSweMo, National Knit A Sweater In A Month. This will be my seventh year (I think) and while its probably not as epic as writing a novel, its a challenge I look forward doing every year. So much so that my friend Laura and I have become the de facto hostesses of the Ravelry group. So, starting tomorrow, I will begin knitting my “Breathing Space” pullover from yarn dyed by a local friend and a contrasting yarn acquired on my recent trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. I will be cheering on all the writers out there and resting my drawing hand, having finished my Inktober challenge.

Congrats to all the artists who participated in Inktober and three cheers for the writers who are setting off on NaNoWriMo and to all the knitters out there, may your yarns not get tangled and your gauge swatches be accurate in November!

Winners: Denik Notebook Giveaway

Denik Notebooks 2

Holy Cow (to quote my favorite Cubs announcer)! We have a lot of winners to announce in the Denik notebook giveaway. So here’s the list of lucky winners:

  • Marie E.
  • Brian N.
  • Brenda
  • Rose
  • Alan T.
  • Dave M.
  • KF
  • Nick VZ
  • Heidi
  • Vivian

You have each been contacted by email to get your mailing address. If I don’t hear from you within a week, I’ll have to draw new names. Okay? Time (and notebooks) don’t wait for slow pokes! Check your junk mail filters! Congrats to the winners and big thanks to Denik for their generosity!

 

 

Off The Grid: Up To My Ears In Fluff

alpaca-and-ana

Just wanted to let everyone know I’m taking a little vacation. I’ll be off the grid in upstate New York for the rest of the week, communing with knitters, nature and hopefully a few alpacas like my friend above at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival. Hope you all can survive without me and don’t steal the hubcaps off the blog while I’m gone.

I’ll be back next week for a late edition of Link Love and some much-anticipated pen and ink reviews. I’ll do my best to keep up my Inktober drawings while I’m gone so check out my Instagram. I’ll try to post if I get any cell reception or if I can squeeze any bandwidth from the other enthusiastic social media mavens.

Day 2 "A is also for Alpaca"

The Unspeakable: Theft at Dromgoole’s in Houston

On Tuesday, just days before the Dallas Pen Show, the unspeakable happened to Dromgoole’s Fine Writing in Houston — a man walked into their shop and jammed $7000 worth of Montblanc pens into his pockets and walked out while Dromgoole and his wife were busy with other customers. And it all happened in less than 60 seconds.

But Dromgoole’s came to the Dallas Pen Show and made a good showing with lots of great products and everyone — customers and other retailers alike — were supportive of them and the terrible loss they suffered prior to the show.

We normally think of the pen community as a place full of amazing people and it is. This one guy isn’t part of our community. He’s an interloper and an ass and he will be caught. If you happen to see anyone trying to sell any Montblancs without packaging or you suspect it might have come from this theft, send the info you have to Dromgoole’s so they can forward it on to the local investigators. Don’t engage the suspects yourself.

And if you local pen shop has lax security, doesn’t lock up their cases or might need to upgrade their security system, let them know you care about their success and protection. Get them to move those cabinet keys and take the expensive pens out of the windows at night, etc. I’d hate to see a shop go out of business because a crime like this left them stretched beyond their means.

News: Podcast Update & Dallas Pen Show

housekeepingI’ve got two pieces of news to share.

First, there was a podcast snafu last night when we recorded Art Supply Posse. As a result, we are having to re-record the whole show again tonight. So, Episode 16 will not be posting until late on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Sorry for the delay.

As Heather said last night, we were riding the struggle bus yesterday in a big way. Technical difficulties were the word of the day! Everybody cross your fingers that tonight we catch the express bus.

Because….

lisa-ana

My second piece of news is that I’m headed to Dallas tomorrow for the Dallas Pen Show! If you’re in the area, come by and say hello! I’ll be working at the Vanness Pens table with the always delightful Lisa Vanness and her crew. We’ll be selling gallons of awesome inks like KWZ, Callifolio, Robert Oster, and many more along with pens, paper and accessories. Admission is just $5 a day Friday and Saturday so come on… you know you want to! Friday the show is open until 8pm so bail out of work early and come by. As always, you can find me at the hotel bar after hours, I’ll be the one with the inky fingers.