is a web-based printing on demand company.  By this time you should be familiar with the concept so I’m not going to explain it.  I like their interface for making clothing as you can create on product and let the customer customize it.  I like the quality of their printing for my photographs.  I like their prices, especially when they have sales.  For printing photos Zazzle’s prices are competitive with local photo printers.

What I don’t like is their stupidity and desire to censor.

My first encounter with Zazzle censorship came over a political issue. They didn’t approve of my politically opinionated product so they killed it.  Truthfully, I was okay with that.  On one hand I have “freedom of speech” but then so does Zazzle.  They have the freedom to not use their equipment and employees to produce products which they find “offensive”.

I don’t want anyone showing up and forcing me to produce photographs which I find offensive.  I can’t expect Zazzle to produce things they find offensive.  Obviously Zazzle and I have different opinions about what is offensive but I can live with that.  This is how freedom, real freedom, works.  I am free to create “offensive” content and Zazzle is free to not reproduce that content.  I don’t like their decision but it’s their decision to make.

Furthermore other printing on demand companies produce this product with no problem.  It’s not a crisis.

My second encounter with Zazzle censorship came courtesy of Volkswagen. I published a series of 13 images taken in my Grandfather’s junkyard.  On of them had a Volkswagen Bug in it.  You can see the image below.

VW Bug: Censored!

Volkswagon owns the light bouncing off this automobile.

Damned if Volkswagen didn’t contact Zazzle and request them to censor the product.  Apparently Volkswagen owns the light which bounces off their automobiles.  What is really funny is that hippies who hate corporations and censorship drive VW Bugs.

Zazzle, knowing who has better lawyers between myself and Volkswagen, censored the image.  Ya know this is sad, but I can live with it.  I was a little pissed-off but I got over it.  I can see Zazzle’s position in this situation.  Furthermore other printing on demand companies produce this product with no problem.

Now we come to the third encounter.  The one that has me pissed-off-fucking-steaming.

I uploading some images from my last fashion shoot to have some posters printed.  Here are the images.

Mama Said Shoot!  Censored!

Yes, On The Fly Photography and these models are amazing.

Mama Said Shoot!  Censored!

Yes, my models are hotter than your models.

I received an email from Zazzle:

Thank you for your recent Zazzle order (Order 131-84477848-6735738) from  We have received your order and are looking forward to printing it for you as quickly as possible, but we have a quick question!  We’d like to be very careful.

We having trouble approving your Zazzle design titled “mss-x4-01 & mss-x4-02”  In order to assist us, would you please reply to this email with honest responses to the following question(s):

1. What is the source of this image? Where did you find it?
2. Who is the subject of this photo? Is this a close friend or relative?
3. Is this person a celebrity, politician or other famous person?
4. Do you have permission to use this image?

Thank you very much for your assistance. Your answers to these questions will help us to review your order and get your product to you as quickly as possible!

Best Regards,
Content Management Team, Inc.

So I sent a response.  I even controlled myself.  Mostly.  Here is the email I sent back.

1. My camera.  I found “it” there after I took the pictures.
2. They are models.
3. No.
4. Yes

Here is the response I wanted to send.

If I sent “dishonest” responses you wouldn’t know that because in order to know dishonest from honest you would have to have prior knowledge of what the honest responses would be.  I suggest a logic class at the nearest college.  If you had such prior knowledge you wouldn’t have to send this email requesting information from me.

1. Please learn the difference between singular and plural.  There are multiple images here, thus people who can speak and write English at least half-ass correctly would reference “them”.  This source of this image is the sun.  Light comes from the sun, hits an object and bounces off.  It passes thru my camera lens and is recorded as digital information by the camera.  I then post process the digital information in Adobe Lightroom 3.0 which is a slow POS and crashes often.  However since Adobe got their $100 from me they don’t really care.  Then I upload the digital information to your servers at which point you send me an annoying email like this because Volkswagen owns your asses.  That’s where I “found” “it”.

2. They are called girls.  Maybe you have never seen one except for on Star Trek.  No we are not related.  No we are not “close friends” a phrase which is nebulous to sufficient extent that I could say we are close friends and the answer would be no less valid.  Again, this subject of your excuses for sentences should be plural not singular.

3. If “this person” (I don’t know, maybe they all look alike to someone who has only seen a girl on Star Trek) were a celebrity or famous person . . . you would fucking recognize them.  That’s pretty damn much the definition of “celebrity” and “famous”.  If you are famous or a celebrity then people know who you are.  As to the question of are they politicians.  I could do so much with this I’m not even going to touch it.

4. Yes I fucking have permission.  You can check with Volkswagen if you like.  They are my photographs.  I hold the copyright and can use them.  I also have a model release but you will notice the posters are not posted for public sale.  I’m printing them for my personal use.  Thus the fact that I am the copyright holder is sufficient.  If in the future you are going to require proof of model release you need to make that known and set up a method for handling that process at the time the image is uploaded.

So you can see how nice I was.

Now some of you are saying “Skippy, don’t be such as asshole.  This is a form letter (email) that’s why the nouns are singular not plural.”  Nice try.  If you are communicating with your customers – especially when dealing with problems – via form letters then that is a fail.  A big fail.

The next day I got this email.  That’s when Zazzle achieved fail status beyond all doubt.

We are sorry, but we are unable to process your order 131-84477848-6735738 due to a conflict with one or more of our acceptable content guidelines.
Your entire order has been cancelled; all of the items in your order will not be shipped.
A refund for the full amount of your order has been issued to your credit card/PayPal account. We apologize for any disappointment or inconvenience this may have caused.
For these reasons, we were unable to process your original order:

Title: MSS-x4-02
Product Link: 228306329362061941
Result: Not Approved
Content Issues:
— The source, subject matter, or ownership of the design cannot be verified at this time. We attempted to contact you via email but unfortunately we were not able to reach you to verify your design.

Title: MSS-x4-01
Product Link: 228664012243909036
Result: Not Approved
Content Issues:
— The source, subject matter, or ownership of the design cannot be verified at this time. We attempted to contact you via email but unfortunately we were not able to reach you to verify your design.

They canceled my order because “We attempted to contact you via email but unfortunately we were not able to reach you to verify your design.”  Really asshole?  Did you try READING YOUR FUCKING EMAIL! Or were you too busy servicing (you know what I’m talking about) Volkswagen and watching Star Trek in order to see what a girl looks like?  Maybe my ability to use singular and plural noun forms appropriately confused you?

Note it’s not because my response tagged me as an asshole.  I am an asshole.  Not because my response was too vague.  It might be considered too vague in spite of them asking yes/no questions.  No.  Zazzle’s form letter claims I didn’t contact them at all.

Also note they were unable to “verify your design”.  Really?  The “design” is right in front of you.  What they mean is they were unable to verify my legal right to authorize reproduction of the images.  However when you are linguistically challenged close enough is apparently close enough.

This is just about as lame as it gets.  But hey . . . someone else will print them for me.

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Zazzle = Fail — 2 Comments

  1. Wow. I had no idea Zazzle was this way until this week. I had in the past created some t-shirt products that were not favorable to the current US administration. Zazzle didn’t post them. OK. Now they are blocking “bitch” and “fuck” from new products even though there are many, many prducts on Zazzle that say these things. As some of their prodcts say “WTF?”

  2. Hi Alan;

    It’s true Zazzle is a bit protective of The Messiah. Apparently they don’t have faith in Him to defend Himself.

    Another suggestion, when you do your keywords leave out anything that might catch their attention. That makes it more difficult for your product to be found, but might also keep your product listed. At least until some filthy liberal who supports free speech sees it and emails Zazzle asking them to censor you.

    Liberals who claim to support free speech just crack me up.

    And don’t fuck with VW whatever you do. :)

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