Bloggers, BEWARE Passionfruit Ads
I’m livid. My blood is seriously boiling. And what’s worse, after doing a little bit of digging, I’ve realized that I am not the only one.
When I first started blogging in early 2015, one of the first things I jumped into was creating a sponsorship program for my sidebar of my blog. I’ll admit, I was anxious to make a little money off of my blog as fast as I could so I could buy some equipment I wanted for my camera and running a sponsorship program seemed like the easiest and fastest way to monetize. (A sponsorship program is when other bloggers pay a small fee to put an ad on the sidebar of someone else’s blog and have that blogger promote their content on their own social media channels.) I started off by doing a couple swaps and then proceeded to signup for PassionFruit Ads, a website that worked as the middleman for those running sponsorship programs. Almost ALL of my blogging friends were on the platform, it was receiving tons of amazing reviews and it took out a lot of the legwork.
Here’s how it worked: You signed up and paid a monthly fee (I paid 3 dollars a month) to have your blog on the marketplace. You picked the different sized ads on your blog, what came with them and then advertised it where you wanted. Someone who wanted to sponsor your blog would be directed to Passionfruit, add the spot to their cart and pay to Passionfruit. Passionfruit would take care of coding the ad to your sidebar and would then pay you out every week that you made money. It was easy, it was fast, it was professional and it was organized.
I didn’t have any problems with my account when I first started using it. The customer service team responded fast to any questions I had and I happily went about running my sponsorship program without any issues from April of 2015-December 2015.
Why I cancelled my Membership
In January, I decided that I was putting in way more time into a sponsorship program then was worth my time. I didn’t like how cluttered my sidebar was looking, I didn’t like having complete control over what blog posts I needed to promote and I wasn’t into sending my audience away from my site to other sites. I wanted them to stay a while. So, as I got ready to relaunch Hey There, Chelsie, I canceled my account with Passionfruit Ads. I had other means of monetizing my site to keep it running that were far more conducive to my business and future goals.
In March, as Dustin and I looked over our finances to prepare for our move, I noticed that I had been charged the $3.00 for February and March for my PassionFruit Ads shop. Perplexed, I logged on to the Passionfruit site to make sure I had canceled my account. I had. There was nowhere for me to remove any credit card information or even log into my old account. So, I sent an email off to customer service and didn’t think much of it for the next couple of weeks since I was more preoccupied with moving.
After we got to LA, I realized that I had been charged AGAIN by PassionFruit Ads for an account I canceled and did not have. I sent another, more pointed email to customer service. Nothing. I sent several tweets out to their accounts. Radio silence. So, I waited to see if it would resolve itself or if I would have to take more drastic measures.
And of course, a month later, I was charged AGAIN! I was pretty upset that my credit card was being charged and I had NO control over stopping the charges. I called my credit card company and filed a dispute. They refunded me the money for the last 5 months, put a stop to all future requests and even issued me a new credit card/number. Frustrated, but relieved, I finally felt like I could move forward.
So, imagine my anger when my husband and I saw a pending charge today, on my NEW credit card number, from Passionfruit Ads. I was actually shaking, I was so angry. I’m pretty sure everyone in our apartment could hear me roaring “HOW DID PASSIONFRUIT ADS GET MY NEW CREDIT CARD NUMBER?!?!?!”
Now, I’m not going to lie, I can be a little bit dramatic when things get me riled up and I may have overreacted, because I called my credit card company in a rage and they explained that the charge was pending and since I had filed a dispute, the charge should drop off in the next few days instead of posting to the account. And, they also explained that reoccurring charges can transfer from old cards to new cards. So, while it looks like I may not be charged this month after all, I’m still raging at the fact that Passionfruit Ads tried to charge me. Again. And I had to say something about it.
It’s Not Just Me:
I’ve been doing some digging recently and found that I’m not the only one who has been completely ripped off by Passionfruit Ads. Not only have people been having the same issue with Passionfruit charging them for accounts after canceling, but now Passionfruit is not paying out the money that it owes to bloggers who are still using their interface. Here are just a handful of tweets from the last TWO WEEKS alone about it:
“Passionfruit Ads owes me over $50 for over charging me monthly LAST YEAR! & they have yet to pay me for the ads on my blog.”
” I still have not received payments for last three weeks and no response to any of my messages to you guys? What is going on?”
@passionfruitads has stolen over $100 from me. Anyone have an ad platform/network they love? I need to switch ASAP”
“I’m so over
@passionfruitads! I canceled my membership 4 months ago and they are still taking money out of my paypal.”
So, rumor has it that Passionfruit Ads has gone bankrupt. I’ve done extensive research to see if I could find anything concrete, like an article or news release to confirm it, but there is nothing out there about it.
Listen, I get it. Some companies go under. That’s rough. That happens. Not all dreams work out. That sucks. But, that does not give ANYONE the right to continue to run their site as if everything is fine and dandy on the front end and to allow others to continue to sign up as if it’s still a viable company!
It would be a totally different situation if Passionfruit Ads reached out to their customers, sent an email explaining what was going on, took down their site and responded to the customers who were having issues with their money. It would be a totally different situation if they were at least present and responding to those who have been trying for MONTHS to reach out to them.
But that’s not the situation at all. Instead, we have three twitter accounts connected to Passionfruit Ads that have not been active since October of 2015. We have bloggers who are continually being charged for accounts that they have cancelled months ago. We have bloggers who are still on Passionfruit Ads and who have made money through them not being paid the money that is owed to them. And we have new bloggers who can still create an account with them, set up shop and have their money stolen!
What Can We Do?
If you are on Passionfruit Ads, cancel, right away. Seriously, stop reading this post for a second and cancel. There are other avenues for you to run a sponsorship program through, like AdProval, or you can run it yourself using PayPal. Just get out before you wake up one day and the site is completely gone and you can’t even cancel your account and get proof of cancellation in the email.
SAVE THE CANCELLATION EMAIL and print it out, so you have documentation that you cancelled.
If you see a charge on your credit card after you cancel, contact your bank IMMEDIATELY and dispute the charge. Also, request that they put a stop to all other requests from the company.
Share this post. We, as bloggers, should have each others’ backs. There are some of us who rely on our blogs as a huge part of our income and there are others who enjoy making a little bit of fun money off of it. Regardless, it is not okay for this company to take advantage of us, to rip us off and to steal our hard earned money. Because that’s what this is. It’s fraud. It’s a scam. It’s theft.
Let me know your experience with Passionfruit below, and please, share this with anyone who might still be on the platform to save them from a months long headache.