Our review of stock image site JumpStory: don’t touch it with a bargepole!

Looking for a high quality stock image site? Find out why we recommend avoiding JumpStory at all costs in our review.

A few months ago we received an email inviting us to sign up to stock image site JumpStory with the promise of a three month free subscription.

For years we’ve used free stock image site Unsplash and love the quality of their photos. But with the high volume of posts we publish, we can sometimes run out of images to choose from.

Trethowans
Trethowans

So we were excited at the prospect of a new selection of images with this promise:

“JumpStory is platform with 25 million high-performing photos, videos, icons, illustrations, and vectors. We have happy users in 130 countries, and unlike our competitors we focus on authentic images, no complex licenses, AI-optimized search & other smart tools.”

And the site looked good:

So we accepted their offer and joined up with a three month free subscription plan. We looked forward to searching their image library, and were hopeful that we’d found a new source for high quality images for our site. If it worked out, we’d have been happy to continue after the three months and join a paid plan.

But from the start we were disappointed.

We could find most images on JumpStory for free on sites like Unsplash

Most of their images appeared to be the same as those we could already find for free (JumpStory charge a $25 a month subscription to use their services after the free trial) on sites like Unsplash, Pexels and more. And we thought that the images that weren’t freely available elsewhere were generally quite poor.

We gave the service a good go, optimistically looking several times over the next few weeks when our search on Unsplash didn’t turn up anything exciting. But we eventually gave up as we rarely found any photo on JumpStory we wanted to use that wasn’t already on Unsplash.

But that wasn’t the most disappointing or alarming part of our experience.

We were charged money by JumpStory without notification

While we were unimpressed by the image selection on JumpStory, we had nothing to lose. We were on a free three month subscription so weren’t paying money (we had to give our bank card details to sign up, with the reassurance they would not be used).

Towards the end of our free subscription we looked for a way to cancel it once it expired to ensure we weren’t charged, but couldn’t find the option.

We waited for some notification from JumpStory asking if we wished to continue with a paid subscription, but received nothing. Instead, they simply took the money from our bank account. And when we asked them to return the money they refused.

We’ll explain further down why this felt like a ‘subscription trap‘.

Our review: Why we recommend avoiding stock image site JumpStory

So, what’s our review of stock image site JumpStory? There are two key reasons why we recommend avoiding this company.

The first is the quality of their image bank. If you’re going to charge people to access your images, then you need to be able to compete effectively with free sites like Unsplash and Pexels, and offer something they don’t.

But most of JumpStory’s best images (in our opinion) can be found easily for free elsewhere, on sites you don’t even need to register for, let alone pay to use. The images that you can’t easily find elsewhere (or at least we didn’t come across on our searches of Unsplash) we don’t believe are that great.

They’re either poor quality shots (some look like people’s personal snapshots to us, rather than images shot by a professional photographer or even talented amateur photograher) or they’re the kind of cliched shots we use Unsplash to avoid.

Put simply, we believe that using JumpStory is a waste of time if you like high quality images. Most images you’d want to use you can easily find for free elsewhere, making the service pointless for us.

Is JumpStory a ‘subscription trap’?

The second reason why we recommend avoiding stock image site JumpStory is their ethics. As you can imagine with a business of our size, we subscribe to many different software companies, and most are transparent in their billing.

JumpStory, in our experience, does not act ethically. They invited us to sign up to a three month free subscription, and they asked us for our bank card details stating explicitly: “We will NOT charge anything on the card, but we need it for the account to work.”

It’s worth knowing that there are strict laws around signing up for renewing subscriptions online. According to Consumer Contracts Regulations which came into force in June 2014, a consumer needs to actively ‘tick’ a box to say they agree to any further payments (pre-ticked boxes are banned). And if a consumer is not made aware of any further charges, they are not liable for them.

JumpStory does not have this tick box on their sign up page, just a box stating that you agree to their business terms and conditions:

And when you click on their business terms and conditions, at no point does it state you are giving them permission to take money from your account after the free trial period has ended.

As you can see, their free trial sign up page even states:

“We will not charge you anything in your trial period, but we need a credit card/Paypal for the account to work.”

Why would they ‘need’ your payment details ‘for the account to work’ unless they planned to charge you? And again, they do not state that they will use your payment details without further communication with you, or permission from you. Why not? Surely, legal requirements aside, that would be the honest and ethical thing to do?

So, to sum up:

  • JumpStory insist on taking payment details for a free trial.
  • They told us that they would not take money from our account.
  • They don’t have a check box stating they will charge you after your free trial.
  • Their terms and conditions do not inform you they will automatically take money after your free trial.
  • They do not notify you they are going to start charging you.
  • And when you ask for your money back, they refuse.

We’re not the only ones to be caught out like this. Here’s a review of the company on Google:

And here are some of their latest reviews on Trustpilot:

To us, this feels very much like a subscription trap, and is a massive red flag for this company in our opinion. And, aside from the quality of their image library, is the main reason we recommend avoiding them.

Update: JumpStory refunded our subscription

After publishing this review, JumpStory sent us another email informing us that they have refunded our subscription in full.

While we’re grateful for that, we’re disappointed that it took the threat of publicity to do so! And we wonder where that leaves other people who don’t have this platform.

What would be a much-appreciated move on JumpStory’s part was if they were to revise their subscription process and make it clear people would be charged after the free trial ended, AND emailed them to let them know when it was ending, giving people the option to decide at that point whether they wished to allow their account to move to a paid subscription or to cancel.

We would be happy to revise this review accordingly if this was done.

Why JumpStory can learn from quiz builders Interact

To contrast our negative experience with JumpStory, here’s a story about how other businesses manage their free trials/subscription process.

Earlier this year we signed up to a 14-day free trial to online quiz builder software Interact. In the middle of the trial the first lockdown was announced, changing our plans. As a result we abandoned our quiz strategy as it felt too light hearted given what was happening in the world at that point.

But we forgot to cancel our trial, so after it ended we automatically went onto their paid plan.

This was completely our fault. Interact had emailed us three days before they started charging us (as an ethical company would, in our opinion) to remind us that our free trial was about to expire and we would be charged for the annual plan we had selected as a preference when we joined. But we missed the email.

When the payment notification email came through we emailed Interact to ask them if they’d mind cancelling the annual plan due to changed circumstances, and just charge us for a month under their monthly plan.

We had an immediate response that they were happy to refund us in full, and the money was in our bank within minutes. Interact had no obligation to do this – the mistake was all ours and we admitted it. And we would have been happy to take the hit of a month’s subscription.

So yes, they lost a single annual subscription but thanks to their excellent customer service they gained a fan for life. We’ve since recommended Interact to anyone looking into building quizzes and it will always be our go-to platform for them.

We feel like we were trapped into paying JumpStory

What a contrast to the poor customer service and feeling of being conned that we’ve had from JumpStory.

Their free subscription trial feels to us more like a trap. How many other businesses like ours have found themselves being charged for a service they didn’t not want, nor knowingly authorised payment for?

That’s not a business model we’d ever endorse, and a company that uses it is not one we’d want to work with. We believe that an ethical company would be open and transparent about taking payment, and make it easy for you to manage your account.

We don’t like being trapped, and we don’t admire companies that have to use what, quite frankly, feel like underhand methods to make money. This and their (in our opinion) disappointing selection of stock photos mean that we would never recommend signing up to JumpStory – even on a free subscription.

In fact, based on the above, our recommendation in this review is to avoid stock image site JumpStory at all costs.

Photo by Lisanto 李奕良