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Shutterstock Images / Terrible company!

1 United States Review updated:
Contact information:
Phone: 866-663-3954

I purchased a 1 month shutterstock account (costing $200) because they are one of the biggest stock photo sellers out there, and it seemed alot more economical than IStockphoto which is currently very expensive. Don't get me wrong, they are a great value if you don't mind:

1. Quite a few 'error' situations that arise - some of the photos I tried to download were 'not available' or just plain errored out when I'd attempt to download them. It also sucked up one of my daily points that I was allocated for my 25 downloads a day. When I contacted them about the problem photos, they told me they could 'load them fine and it must just be me'... doubtful.

2. One day after my first complaint about the above, they shut down my account and everytime I tried to download photos a huge FBI warning screenshot came up. The treated me like a CRIMINAL for no reason. I called them and asked what the hell was going on. They said they got a charge back notice from my bank WHICH THEY DID NOT. They never gave me a reason for this 'error' and said 'oops, our mistake' then switched me back on. They also said this happens occasionally on 'various' accounts. What kind of crackheads do they have working for them!?

3. I had ordered a backup CD set before I closed my account (I really had it with their poor customer service). The CD set was supposed to be shipped within 7 days of the end of the 1 month account period ending. 7 days went by, then more days... I emailed them and asked them where my CDs went to! (Almost a month later). They did not give me an explanation and said we will 'reprint' you a set. 7 days later I did get my CD set and 2 of the CDs were severely damaged! (to the point of being unreadable) and it wasn't from shipping either, it was from the poor discs they used that the substrate was flaking off!! I called them back on the problem on 3/28/08 and spoke to 'Patrick' who refused to let me speak to a manager and said they can 'reprint' me a set taking another 7 days. I told him this was UNACCEPTABLE and I'd like a refund and my CDs shipped to me FedEx or something. So we'll wait and see if they actually intend to CARE about me as a customer... I seriously doubt it by their track record.

I would think twice before doing business with this weak a*s company.

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  • Re
      30th of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    I totally agree. Shutterstock is also horrible on the contributing end. I uploaded 18 videos to sell and they deleted them all and sent me a message "Bad Codec" but didn't say what was wrong. It took almost 4 hrs. to upload and they don't have clear instructions on their site of how they want the video files anyway. Their message board is full of complaints as well. There's so many other stock companies out there that don't have such poor customer/client service.

  • Lt
      4th of Jun, 2010
    +1 Votes

    I've had these EXACT same problems. I've subscribed for 2 different months (once in 2008 and once in 2009) and ran into the error issue, even ran into that FBI issue once and have waited over a year now for my backup CDs and their excuse for those is that their "CD Duplicator" is broken. I mean seriously? Their CD duplicator has been broken for the past YEAR, they can't possibly that anyone would believe that with the amount of money they pull in. They are liars with garbage customer service. DO NOT BOTHER WITH THEM.

  • Ra
      28th of Nov, 2012
    +1 Votes

    Shutterstock defaults to auto-renew the monthly subscription and they billed my credit card 3 days before my current month ends. I have been trying to contact their customer service for two days to cancel and the phone just rings and rings, and e-mails remain unanswered.

  • Ba
      11th of Dec, 2012
    +1 Votes

    The same thing happened to me!!!
    I needed photos for a presentation for a client and the best deal was the 1 month subscription. It charged me for another month 2 days before the end of my subscription! Now my account is overdrawn and I have to file a dispute through my bank. I've called and left messages and sent emails. Absolutely nowhere on the receipt does it say "your card will automatically be charged every month." What a rip off!! I was happy with this company up until I realized they were scamming people out of their hard earned money! Very disappointed.

  • Br
      11th of Dec, 2012
    0 Votes


  • Dh
      11th of May, 2013
    0 Votes is a terrible company. Same thing happen to me. I bout 3 images one year ago. Today i checked my bank statement and they charged me $49 to get 5 more image credits. I haven't been to the site in a year. After looking through the site to see what might have happen I notice they have auto-renew as a default. Don't do business with the company. Shady business practices.

  • Sh
      1st of Jun, 2013
    0 Votes

    I took out a one month subscription. I was very careful to select the options not to renew. Three days before mys one month subscription is up I receive an email from them saying that I am on their auto renew option. This is clearly fraud. This company should be shut down. They lie and steal from their customers.

  • An
      12th of Nov, 2013
    0 Votes

    Auto -renewal. What an absolute con in todays market. I wanted the 25 images, happy to pay, no issues. I select my images and download all 25, no dramas, log into my email - BAM, charged for another 25 images I didn't want nor need. C'mon, this is just a cheap scam! Why do that to your customer base? Check around on the internet before you deal with Shutterstock, there's just as good range, but non of this Snake Oil sales processes. And to Shutterstock, wake up and listen to your ciustomers!!!

  • Ri
      25th of Nov, 2013
    0 Votes

    I am sure that i selected the off button for Auto-renewal, how can they just simply ignore and charge my card for another month subscription? At the moment, Shutterstock is not responding to my email. How do i get my refund back, this is utterly frustrating for paying for something that you did not subscribe for!!!

  • Ma
      5th of Dec, 2013
    0 Votes

    I had the same problem, but in brazilian reais, and not dollars:

    Happened: I bought a package of images in the amount of $ 250 and turned off the automatic renewal, as I do NOT need another month of images . They still renewed my subscription and I called them give my money back to me . They did, but without interest for staying with money in those days . There was a difference in the dollar and I learned not to let these things quiet, so I asked this reversal as well, since I had not bought these new images and should not pay for something that is not my problem. They charged us wrong, they resolved that the cucumber. I talked with the representative of Brazil, who was refusing to refund the money, saying it was not their problem . I decided to try an agreement not to let it so great, saying I would accept 5 free downloads to forget this problem . Do you believe the chutzpah of the woman who added 3 downloads talking to me instead of 5 ? ? For them, this should give a 2 dollars difference ! They preferred to lose a customer rather than simply accept the agreement, and still felt that spit in my face when offering 3 images!!!

  • St
      16th of Jan, 2014
    0 Votes

    I am very happy to report that contrary to others Shutterstock has actually refunded my companies purchase for "25-A-Day Subscription, 1 Month, 25 Downloads per Day" and thank God in a very timely manner (1 day after email to I felt it was very un-consumer friendly that they hid the auto renewal in Account Details + the fact that I had no idea at purchase that I was auto oped into auto renewal + the only knowing about this after the fact that they charged the company credit card. HOWEVER, I could not have asked for speedier action on their part when I emailed them.
    Hopefully this is a sign of better things in 2014 vs what I read about above from 2009 - 2013. All I would suggest from Shutterstock in this instance is a much better way of either letting customers know AT PURCHASE that they are auto signed up for renewal with option to turn off right away, OR just give the option for them to sign up themselves if they want it.
    If their promised refund does not happen though within 5 business days as they stated though, expect more from me on this subject!

  • Ma
      2nd of Jul, 2014
    0 Votes

    They are total swindlers. I purchased two images from them using their on-demand plan. It's a lot for two images, but I didn't need more and didn't want to pay more money just to get more images I didn't need at a lower per-image price. Well, low and behold, their on demand plan is actually a subscription plan, too, but they don't advertise it that way. Once you download the allotted images, your card gets charged again for the same number of images. If I'd wanted more images, I would have bought that many to begin with. They send you an email to tell you they put you on an auto-renewal plan. But I'd already downloaded my images and been charged again before I could turn it off. Not to mention, turning it off is not easy either. Requires three more steps than it should really need. And it's not clear that you have to take those extra steps to turn it off. I complained and they did refund the charge, but that is a totally sleazy, ### business practice. I tried to tell the customer service rep this and he clearly did not care.

  • Ad
      27th of Jul, 2014
    +1 Votes

    I am a contributor or at least tried to be. I licence my photography through,,, and Although they are not always in unison they pretty much are in their approvals which is usually high for my shots.

    However, Shutterstock appears to be a boys club and if they take a dislike to you for e.g. protesting a rejected photo contributed they will make sure to make it as impossible as they can for you to pass their 7/10 success rule to be a contributor. I have contributed over 50 photos for approval and they accepted only...1. I had crystal clear shots they said were blurry, sharp shots taken on fast lenses they stated I over sharpened and car trail night shots they said were badly lit which is completely nonsense.

    I even had one photo that of a butterfly they said was badly composed and full of errors and when I asked them if they felt their decision was correct the examiner 'Rafael Orczy' said it was a bad photo, I replied and asked if he staked his reputation on it and he said 'yes'. When I then sent him the link to The Smithsonian who selected the photo for exhibition...I got no response.

    Simply because I complained about Rafael Orczy and their nazi level overly strict prejudice and agendas towards photographers who they take a dislike too they make it a point of rejecting ALL your photos (bar one for effect).

    I messaged Jon Oringer on Facebook with the following message detailed below. BTW it had a read stamp on it by him and still no response. Avoid shutterstock.

    "Mr. Oringer,

    I am sorry to contact you directly on Facebook and before you wonder if this is a case of sour grapes from a rejected photographer, no it is not. I have been a contributor to other competitor sites such as istockphoto, fotolia, bigstock et al. with few rejections and moderate sales at least.

    However, I am simply disgusted at the beyond ridiculous level of treatment I have received from your employees regarding submissions and earning (approval of 70% of 10). Last month I had photos that I would like to point you too that were taken on D800s that were crisp, well composed with (at 100%) no problems that were rejected. When I complained the reviewer was backed up.

    I calmly waited for 2 weeks and resubmitted and received a response within hours (normally days) that 9 of 10 were rejected for the most fabricated of reasons. Shots that were not sharpened were accused of being over sharpened, shots at F3.2 were accused of having noise were there was none. Shots that were well composed were accused of bad cropping. I had one light trails shot 2 weeks ago that was a wonderful shot which was crisp and illuminated perfectly which was accused of poor lighting, blurriness and grain.

    One photo of a Great Swallowtail Butterfly was selected by The Smithsonian and is on display now on their website was accused of noise and grain and blurriness with bad composition.

    These are all photos that were accepted and still sell well on competitor sites.

    I do feel that your employees standards and critiques are beyond ridiculous and now amongst photographer friends your company is referred to simply as 'the S.S.' referring to Nazis because of the treatment from your reviewers. I do feel because I have protested before directly to your reviewing department I am now being targeted with pure lies and fabrication. I have shown the emails to professional photographer colleagues and friends with the photo and they have stated the feedback is beyond pathetic.

    Is it possible I could just take a moment of your time and send you a few of my submissions that have been rejected for your own feedback.

    Also I have asked your employee to state to me about how to communicate on added effects such as grain. He pointed to a write up on your site about faded and effect added in pp photography. However, even when I state in the description that effects such as grain have been added for mood, I still get accused of having a grainy photo and is rejected despite your website selling such photographs.

    I do feel this is a case of bullying and I have been targeted by immature, vindictive subordinates trying to display some sense of false power over others unnecessarily.

    I can be contacted at or directly here but I would like to send you a small selection of samples if you would permit myself.

    Thank you,


  • Mo
      22nd of Oct, 2014
    0 Votes

    Make sure you never make a mistake and download the wrong image, even if you call within 1 minute they refuse to refund you. Meanwhile Istock is very helpful and will refund you. They are not customer friendly at all.

  • Ch
      10th of Nov, 2014
    0 Votes

    I too have now fallen victim to the subscription plan that I have to turn off because they automatically enrolled me in it. I made a complaint to the BBB who were very on top of the problem, they contacted Shutterstock the same day the the Shutterstock legal dept. contacted me. They told me the auto renewal is because graphic designers don't want an interruption in their service and just want to keep on buying pics. This is so wrong on so many levels!! What about those of use that aren't graphic designers. I asked her why isn't it turned off THEN the customer can go in and turn it on if they want-I was met with complete silence. For me, luckily, it was only a loss of $10, but it was the principle of it. Since legal called I went back in to see just where the first notice of the auto renewal is and it's on the page after you press download and the security code-way too late, you are screwed because you've bought the pic and the renewal kicks in. What a piss poor way to do business!

  • Mm
      30th of Jan, 2015
    0 Votes

    Shame on me for neglecting to uncheck the auto-renew option, shame on Shutterstock for employing such a weaselly practice to extort more money from their paying customers. This feature is of NO value to the customer, just a very transparent and very devious moneymaking scheme. That said, great prices on stock, just be sure you aren't "enrolled" in the auto-renewal game.

  • Or
      4th of May, 2015
    -1 Votes

    I was booted from Shutterstock for what they termed "a violation of TOS rules". They accused me of using reference photos that I did not own the copyright to. I am an artist, doing vector art. Vector art in an of itself is different from photoshop and you cannot copy from photos, the program itself requires a different process then drawing or painting as in photoshop. However, I have never, ever violated anyones rights by copying their images or ideas. I do however, use many photos to reference, just like 80% of other artists out there in the world.
    In addition, Shutterstock, decided to close my account 2 days before the end of the month for a record selling month for me. I would have been owned $160+. They will probably deny me that payment. I am talking with a lawyer now about these issues.
    I have also read, that this seems to be happening rampantly amongst other art contributors. Shutterstock acts as accuser, judge and jury and do not allow your defense. They sent me a letter telling me I was shut down and why, I sent them 3 letters back, they did not respond, they did not offer me a chance to speak. They sent me the second letter telling me all communication was cut off from that point on. I found this behavior nothing short of Nazism. I was glad to find this page to let others know. I think what they are doing is wrong, offensive and I do hope it is either addressed or they go down sooner then later.

  • Pa
      8th of Nov, 2015
    0 Votes

    it happened to me too, shutterstock is a fxxking cheater as they renewed my plan automatically and charged me without my agreement! fxxk them!

  • Dj
      1st of Feb, 2016
    0 Votes

    My shutterstock account was "hacked" (I suspect by an employee) and about $200 of extra images downloaded of subjects I never needed to an email address that wasn't mine. They had no interest in my complaint and I instructed my bank to block all transactions to them. Truly dreadful company - will never use them again.

  • Ad
      2nd of Feb, 2016
    0 Votes

    Hey Guys,
    I ran a similar problem with them by getting charged for purchases I didn't make. But because I use stock images very often, we made Dashmote. A platform which combines multiple providers in one search and you don't need a subscription or complicated credit system, you can buy the images individually when you want. Try it out

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