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.
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.
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.
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.