Smilebox – Review of Greeting Cards and Media Authoring Software and Service Account Cancellation Customer Complaints of Fraud and Scam

25 October 2009

Relationships, Technology

Consumer DefenseRelationships | Technology

20091014we-smilebox-cancellation-customer-supportContact. This is a review of Smilebox. We are not Smilebox. To contact Smilebox call (425) 881 9475.

SummarySmilebox is an easy to use scrapbook and greeting card creation program from Hallmark for Apple and Windows computers.

Premium Smilebox Features. The free version of the program allows for basic greeting cards with animation and music. The advanced version allows for the following expanded features:

  • Over 850 premium designs
  • New designs added each week
  • Print keepsakes – both you and those you send to
  • Full screen playback with no ads
  • Choose from over 2000 songs + your own music
  • Burn your Smilebox creation to DVD

Reoccurring Annual Service Membership Fees. Once you subscribe to the premium Smilebox service, you will automatically be charged an annual membership fee of about $40 per year. For most people, automatic annual charges are something that go unnoticed, and most people, once charged, won’t notice or bother to request a refund. In fact, the Smilebox Terms of Use state “All payments are completely non-refundable. You may cancel the Services at any time, but Smilebox, Inc. will not refund any remaining portion of your subscription fees….” This means that a person may be charged an annual fee without an advance reminder (or noticing it), and then be refused the right to a refund. This seems a bit unfair since the $40 fee is for a complete year of use. The Club Smilebox Terms of Service indicate that you are responsible for all fees and late charges as well as any legal fees resulting from collection action.

Refund of Charges. The Smilebox Terms of Use document states, “You will not receive any refund or partial refund for any charges already billed to your account.” However, if you’ve unknowingly been charged a renewal fee for the coming year of service, and you’d like a refund, your credit card company will likely reverse the charges. The practice of charging people for something they’ve not yet received and then refusing to issue a refund is considered fraudulent.

No Customer Satisfaction. One of the first and most essential rules of customer satisfaction is to offer a money back satisfaction guarantee. This is a common practice for most businesses. However, Smilebox does not offer a money back satisfaction guarantee. In their agreements, in writing, they refuse to abide by this common practice.

Difficult to Contact Smilebox Customer Service. The Smilebox website does not readily provide a customer service contact phone number or email. The difficult to find customer service email address is support@smilebox.com (this isn’t available on the contact page). However, the address is readily available on the Hallmark Smilebox FAQ page. Nowhere on the Smilebox website is their phone number listed. Only after an extensive research background check of the company will one discover the unlisted number on a company profile page, which is (425) 881 9475. However, when calling that number, there is an answering machine that states Smilebox does not offer phone support. This seems like a paltry level of customer service for a company charging their customers about $40 per year. By comparison, the ResourcesForLife.com website has served millions of visitors without charging a single penny. Our contact page provides email, phone, postal address, and an online feedback form. Why can’t a company with the backing of Hallmark provide a similar level of service? Despite these issues, Smilebox continues to expand. In September 2009, Smilebox purchased Preclick.

Save Creations Before Cancelation. The Smilebox Terms of Use are a bit vague regarding what happens to content after you cancel premium service. The agreement states, “You understand that upon cancellation of the Services membership, any Premium content that you downloaded during your membership will revert to Basic content…” For this reason, if you decide to cancel your membership, you may want to save any sent or received Smilebox creations before canceling. To do this, exit the Smilebox program, view the webpage created for displaying you Smilebox creation(s) using the email notification link (each creation has a confirmation email), click on the Save This Smilebox button in the bottom right corner, Smilebox will automatically start and then save the current item. You should see a message Downloading the creation to My Creations. For some reason, if Smilebox is running when you click on the Save This Smilebox button, the Smilebox won’t be saved. Once you’ve saved the Smilebox creation, exit Smilebox, and view the next creation. Save it and repeat this process until all are saved. The content (music and photos) of these saved creations will be on your hard drive. For Apple users, the content will be in a folder called My Smilebox Creations. You might also prefer to use the feature that allows you to create a video of your Smilebox Creations prior to canceling your premium account and disabling the feature.

Smilebox Cancellation Shortcut. If you still have the Smilebox software on your computer, a shortcut to cancellation is to (1) start the Smilebox software and click on your email address under your name in the upper right corner of the Smilebox program, (2) sign-in with your email and password, (3) click on edit my account information, (4) click where indicated to change your Smilebox membership, and then (5) click the link to cancel your membership.

Complicated Cancellation Procedure. Since people often lose interest in software after their initial purchase, it’s common that those wishing to cancel their service a year after paying for it may have removed the software, or may have migrated to a new computer. For this reason, the above cancellation shortcut won’t work. The steps below are what a person might typically go through to cancel their Smilebox premium account, and this illustrates the difficulty that most people would have in attempting to figure out how to cancel their membership. In fact, the Smilebox Terms of Use, state that “You may cancel the Services by visiting Smilebox Customer Support at http://support.smilebox.com.” So, the following instructions are based on what Smilebox recommends.

  1. Go to the Smilebox.com website and scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the About Us link. No direct link to cancellation information is available here.
  2. Click on the Contact Us link and on the resulting page, click on the Smilebox Customer Support link.
  3. This will take you to Support Center Online which is a website offering a branded online customer support solution. If you wish to have direct contact with customer service, you should click the sign-in link. Otherwise, continue.
  4. The method for cancellation will not be readily available or visible on the main support page, so it’s necessary to perform a search on the word cancellation. This will result in two support documents.
  5. Click on the link How do I cancel my Club Smilebox subscription? There is no method of linking to the resulting document web page because it is hidden in their knowledge-base. However, the resulting support page will offer another link to a page where you can login and access your account information.
  6. Click on the link that says Click here to cancel your Club Smilebox subscription to be taken to the secure Smilebox login page.
  7. You probably won’t remember the password because it’s likely been months since you created the account. Hopefully you can remember the email account you used to create it, and hopefully you are still using that email address. If you’ve forgotten your Club Smilebox password, click on the Forgot Your Password? link and follow the steps to reset your password. An email will be sent to you with the new password.
  8. Login to your online Smilebox account using the email address and password for your account, and follow the three-step process for cancellation.

Smilebox CEO Comments. The CEO of Smilebox, Andrew Wright, contacted us regarding the statements made in the above review and had the following comments:

Your article about smilebox http://www.resourcesforlife.com/docs/item2137#respond is in accurate in a number of ways and i wanted to send a few clarifying points as the CEO. Firstly, you receive an email during singup for club smilebox that specifies how it works, what the cost is and when renewal happens.  It also provide a links to help cancel. 2) The cancellation process is easily reached from the help section in the club smilebox area.  95% of consumers use the client as that is where you are taken as a first and repeat user and the help section is located at the top right of the client. 3) Your creations are not deleted in any way when you cancel and in fact they stay premium if previously shared. 4) We also include a phone number on the credit card statement as an additional line of contact.

Your article about Smilebox is inaccurate in a number of ways and I wanted to send a few clarifying points as the CEO. Firstly, you receive an email during singup for club smilebox that specifies how it works, what the cost is and when renewal happens. It also provide a links to help cancel. (2) The cancellation process is easily reached from the help section in the club smilebox area. 95% of consumers use the client as that is where you are taken as a first and repeat user and the help section is located at the top right of the client. (3) Your creations are not deleted in any way when you cancel and in fact they stay premium if previously shared. (4) We also include a phone number on the credit card statement as an additional line of contact. The service does very well and we are not trying to hide anything.

Yahoo Answers. Despite Andrew Wright’s assurance that the cancellation process is easy for customers to find, there continues to be significant confusion among customers, to the point that they are going elsewhere for answers. For example, the Yahoo Answers website has a posting from 2008 where a Smilebox customer is wanting to know how to cancel their account. This is the answer posted by someone with experience in banking:

You need to put your request in writing. Send them a fax or a letter cancelling your membership with today’s date on it and keep a copy for your records. Watch your credit card statement for the following month. Unlike bank acounts, you can not put stop payments on a credit card. If they take a payment out after the date of your letter, contact your credit card company and tell them your would like it reversed due to “services not being rendered”. Explain the situation, send them a copy of the letter you sent and they will reverse the charges and any future ones they try to take. Hope this helps!

Comments. Please feel free to contact us if you have any feedback or suggestions for improving this page. Below are selected comments that we’ve received.

Your site and information was extremely helpful. I am an advocate of great customer service whether it be in person, via telephone or online. I found that Smilebox’s service was poor starting with their policy then continued with its lack of contact and/or cancellation information on their website. To me its just a scam and a means for them to make money by confusing and frustrating the customer, the person being charged every month by not being able to cancel. Honestly, if I had found your information earlier I would have canceled the service 3 or 4 months ago. Instead they were able to get at least thirty extra dollars ($30) from me, and probably lots of others. Thank you for your help. ~ Tiffany (26 October 2009)

About Gregory Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer in Iowa City and also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. He also manages IowaCityWebDesignArtist.com and many other topic specific websites.

View all posts by Gregory Johnson
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