Shutterfly Extends Access to Photos After Shocked User Reaches Out to NBC10 Boston

A West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, woman didn't see emails from Shutterfly about the change — she no longer used the email account the company had on file — and was devastated to find she couldn't access her old photos

NBC Universal, Inc.

A viewer reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds to ask for help getting records of her memories restored on the photo service Shutterfly.

The popular website that lets users turn their photos into cards, art, prints and more had a longstanding policy offering free and secure photo storage, but it modified the policy earlier this year, requiring users to make a purchase on the site every 18 months to keep the photos.

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But not all customers got the message, and found their memories deleted, they say, without adequate warning. Shutterfly said it is restoring all photos after NBC10 Consumer Investigator Leslie Gaydos started asking questions. 

A distraught Jodi Hahn of West Bridgewater had contacted NBC10 Boston Responds for help. She has used Shutterfly for about 20 years.

“It was the first way I learned how to deal with these digital images,” said Hahn. “First digital camera, first disc, I used Shutterfly from the first day.”

She said she routinely uploaded pictures on the Shutterfly app, had thousands stored on the site and had been putting together a photo project earlier this month when she realized her pictures were gone.

“I ended up getting through to a live chat rep and that rep told me that the photos were deleted,” said Hahn. “I was on the phone, I was hysterical, I was crying. I talked to six or seven different people over four hours, was transferred, told different things.”

She learned that Shutterfly changed its photo storage policy in January to provide unlimited photo storage only to active customers who make a purchase at least once every 18 months. The company emailed customers warning them that their photos would be deleted on March 29 if they didn’t make a purchase before then.   But Hahn never got the email.  It went to an old account that she rarely uses.

“It feels like a death, because everything is all there,” she said. “Everything I’ve done my kids birth in the hospital, every visitor they had, their first everything. Every Christmas morning, every school event...and it’s just all gone.”

She can’t understand why she didn’t see anything about the policy change on the website.

“I saw spring sale, and 10% off...why couldn’t they just have a banner, just have a pop-up, tell me I can’t save my project, disable my photos, anything?” she wondered.

Jodi contacted Shutterfly executives on LinkedIn begging for help and heard back from their customer success team that the deletion process was completed and that there were no longer options to retrieve photos or projects from her account.

Others in the same boat expressed their anger and frustration over social media. One started a petition to get Shutterfly to respond to people who lost all their memories.

“I’m completely devastated,” said Hahn. “And I don’t, I won’t give up. I don’t want to give up. I don’t really know what that means, but I can’t just accept that all my memories are gone.”

Hahn contacted NBC10 Boston Responds to see if we could help. We reached out to Shutterfly this week and they promised to do some research on the situation. On Thursday, the company delivered great news, issuing this statement:

In January 2023, we updated our photo storage policy to continue providing unlimited storage to active customers who make a purchase every 18 months. As part of this policy update, any photos stored in a customer’s inactive account would be removed from our servers. We sent several email notifications regarding this policy update to ensure that all our customers were informed of the changes. 

However, we understand that a small number of our customers may not have received these emails because they had outdated account information on file or were not checking the email accounts on file.

To ensure that all customers have plenty of time to access their photos and either make a purchase to keep their account active or download them to a personal device, we have extended the deadline to May 30, 2023. As always, we encourage all customers to review their account information and update it as necessary to ensure that they receive important updates in the future.

Hahn cried when she heard the news. 

“Oh my God, oh my God, I’m so happy,” she said. “That’s the best news ever. I can’t believe it. I’m so happy, thank you so much, Leslie. This is so important to me and my family and it’s such a big deal.”

Shutterfly said that some photos may not be visible immediately when people visit their accounts because it takes time for their system to restore images for all customers. If you don’t see your images restored by next week, reach out to Shutterfly’s customer service team.

NBC10 Boston Responds has helped to return more than $1.3 million back to our viewers, but it’s not all about the money. If you have a consumer problem of any kind, reach out to us and we will try to help.

A public records request revealed that 31 tickets had been issued in a tight, but metered, space in the Seaport for “no stopping or standing” violations from January 2020 to January 2023.
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