Here is the email I just have received from iStockphoto.com:

Dear David ([iStock-username]),

Standards at iStockphoto are always evolving. Our team of editors has been examining the collection and have decided that your image no longer meets our current standards. We understand that no one wants to lose an image from their portfolio, but we think that the rest of your work is much better.

You have two options. You may deactivate the image now. Or you may leave it in our Dollar Bin. The Dollar Bin is a collection of images with similar legacy quality issues. Every file in the Bin is available for one credit at any size. Images remain in the bin for four weeks after their last download, at which point they are automatically deactivated. It’s a way of giving the image a last chance before finally removing it.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please address them to [email protected]

Go here if you like to deactivate your image:

http://www.istockphoto.com//file_closeup.php?id=XXXXXX

http://www.istockphoto.com//file_closeup.php?id=YYYYYY

Best Regards,
iStockphoto.com

Let me read you what is written in this message.

David, we do not like your images anymore. We liked them sometime ago, but not any more, sorry.
iStockphoto is just too good for your images. You either remove them or you remove them. If you do not like this choice we will remove them on our own.

Now, please tell me who was the marketing genius behind this correspondence. I just want to shake his (her?) hand. I am sure that anyone who got such a message feels upset after reading it.

So, iStockphoto wants to keep their microstock collection ‘clean’, containing only brilliant images. I see. No doubt this is a good target iStock should aim to. I just wonder why this stock photography agency prefer to lose money instead of making it, sending messages like this one above to tens thousands microstock contributors. Any iStocker will be shocked reading this text exactly like I was.

How much did you guys cost to bring in a new contributor who generates some sales? Now take this cost and multiply it by the number of photographers that will leave you now – this is the cost of such a marketing communication. I will not be surprised if many microstock shooters will just stop submitting their stock photos to iStock, which appears to be too good for their artwork, preferring submitting stock images to other microstock agencies that treat their contributing stock photographers differently.
Bravo iStock! – good work, great marketing, refreshing approach to the customers relationship. Thumbs up!

I especially loved “You have two options.” quote. I see it this way:
One dark night you meet a robber. He points his gun on you and says:
You have two options. You either give me your money and then I kill you or I first kill you and then I take your money.”
Being a good iStockphoto marketing person, the robber continues: “Do not you worry, my friend. The choice is yours!”.
And being polite the robber adds what iStock completely missed: “Oh, and thank you for doing business with us!”.


UPDATE

In a short time after this post has been published I got a personal message from iStockphoto staff, saying that the email discussed in this post was sent out by a mistake and they apologize for the misunderstanding.

According to iStock, what should be sent out was this message:

Dear Name (username),

An image of yours has been moved to the iStockphoto Dollar Bin.

You have two options:
1. Deactivate the image
or
2. Leave it in the Dollar Bin

The Dollar Bin is a collection of images available to our clients from one to seven credits, depending on size. We feel the Dollar Bin provides another chance for the file to be downloaded… at a lower price.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please address them to [email protected]

Click here to deactivate your image: http://www.istockphoto.com//file_closeup.php?id=xxxxxxx
Best Regards,
iStockphoto.com

Well, first I appreciate iStockphoto ability to react extremely fast. They understood their mistake and tried to fix it.

Obviously, this is a very different message to a contributor. There is no single word about image removals!

Mark Dennis, iStock commented out what happened with their Dollar Bin initiative at last: So the gremlins got into the auto email system again, and some people got an email saying that the files will be deleted after 30 days if they’re not selling.

Well, it seems that these gremlins, goblins and trolls were quite human and very intelligent, and really enjoyed what they did to the company, these cute little pets of iStockphoto.

I would suggest iStock to take the entire gremlins family out of the iStock email system once and forever. And please deduct the damages costs from the gremlins salary, just as a “lessons learned” action. Typically, it works at its best avoiding further similar communication with the customers. ;)

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