Phostorian, a San Antonio based company, claiming to be “The #1 fastest growing social network dedicated to preserving and sharing your precious family photos” has become the focus of a BBB investigation.
The business provides a free online membership platform that allows its users to create digital albums of family photos and videos, which can then be shared among people in your Phostorian network.
In addition to the free membership, the company’s website advertised an opportunity to invest in the Phostorian franchise for $3,997. The company’s claim: “You will make at least $9000 in your first 90 days or YOUR MONEY BACK!”
According to the company’s advertisement, the investment included a high-speed scanner, laptop, and travel carrying case. The company referred to it as the complete “Business in a Box”, which would provide franchisees everything needed to start their own in-home scanning business.
The company recently changed the advertised franchise opportunity to read “We are not currently bringing on new Phostorians.” However, the change didn’t occur until after BBB’s investigation found dozens of consumers claiming the company had failed to deliver on its previous claims.
Within the last 6 months, BBB has received 34 complaints and reviews from consumers in 22 states, 33 of which invested in the Phostorian franchise.
Consumers allege the company immediately took their money and either never delivered their “Business in a Box” items or are unable to reach the company to request the money back guarantee.
Combined, these 34 consumers allege paying Phostorian over $120,000.
BBB’s attempts to contact Phostorian were repeatedly unsuccessful. The company has not responded to emails, its voicemail box is full, and certified mail was returned as undeliverable.
As a result, BBB went to Phostorian’s advertised address, which according to the company’s website, is a “18,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility.”
BBB’s visit to Phostorian’s office during normal business hours found a vacant parking lot and what appeared to be an empty office space. Contrary to the photo on Phostorians website, there was only a small Phostorian business logo on the window.
According to BBB records, Phostorian has not responded to 30 of the 34 complaints and customer reviews BBB has received.
Mrs. Shane Little of Millsboro, Delaware is among the 34 consumers who filed a complaint with BBB.
Mrs. Little alleged using her only savings to pay the company nearly $4000 after being pursued daily by a Phostorian recruiter. Mrs. Little stated that once payment was made, “she [the recruiter] basically fell off the face of the earth.”
Mrs. Little claimed she never received her “Business in a Box” items, but that she was able get her savings money back after disputing the charge with her credit card company.
Consumers who have not received their products or a refund from Phostorian should consider disputing the charges with their credit card company.
BBB serving the Heart of Texas offers these tips to help consumers avoid falling victim to this type of scheme:
- Check bbb.org.Before giving money to a company, check its BBB Business Profile to find out more about the business marketplace practices.
- Be wary of the “perfect offer.” A company that requires upfront fees for business opportunities that guarantee specific earnings must be able to substantiate their claims.
- Know your rights. If a company advertises a satisfaction guarantee, they must fulfill their guaranteed promise.
To report a scam, go to our BBB Scam Tracker page at BBB.org/scamtracker. It helps BBB keep track of what’s going on and warn other consumers.
For additional information the Federal Trade Commission has a detailed guide about compliance information and franchisor rules.