Getting Screwed by Scribd – why I am deleting my account

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I liked Scribd and their recent upgrade including the addition of more social networking features are all welcome, even if the rendering on Chrome often comes out screwed up. 

I’d tell them about it but that’s where the trouble starts – support, or lack of. Then add on top their hidden appropriation of your property and the sudden demand for payment to view and they lost me.

A saga of support, or lack of it

It started when I made a simple support request about their alerts system which was filling my inbox with irrelevant references. Nothing complicated I just wanted to find out why it didn’t seem to work as I expected. Here’s the history:



  • sent and acknowledged 8 July – ticket #68653;
  • 13th July I reply with ticket # asking how it was going;
  • 15th July replied again with ticket # asking if someone was going to respond;
  • no response at all – nothing, dead;
  • about August 8th I decided to twitter @scridb with the details asking if there could be a response
  • August 10th I received an email:
  • ScribdGary, Aug 10 05:52 pm (PDT): I sincerely apologize for the delayed response. I have submitted a report to our engineering team to research this issue, and I appreciate your continued patience while they work to resolve the matter.

OK, frustrating, why did I bother, but I did at least get a reply to my Twitter effort which in itself is a bit of an experiment, and they are going to get back to me, thanks ScribdGary.

August 25th I saw an email from Scribd in my inbox, nice, I have an answer, let’s see what they say:

This is an e-mail to notify you that your request (#68653) has been pending for more than 14 days, and we have not received response. We are closing this ticket at this time. To re-open and update your request, please reply to this email. Cheers, Scribd Support.

Ah?! Scribd requested me to be patient, which I was, and then canceled my request because of “inactivity“, after I’ve been trying to get an answer for 7 weeks. Heck, this is worse than Linkedin “Support”, so I gave up on Scribd “Support”, deleted all my alerts, and decided that I must write a post about this experience.

Non-existent “support” wasn’t driving me away

Actually I wasn’t really that annoyed about the lack of support, even if I was frustrated. It gave me the topic for a blog post, and in that post I was potentially going to comment on how we have all become tolerant of a miserable level of support for our online services. Whether it be Google, or Microsoft Online, or Facebook, or Linkedin or Apple or Twitter or Scribd they’ve worn us down to accept non-existent support.

You can get some good response for the iTunes store and purchases, but try to get a response for other iTunes issues like software problems – the service providers all rely on their community to pick up the burden of answering you. Have you tried to get answers about Google’s Picasa for example? If you have you’ll know that you are just firing questions into a black hole, Google never appears, but their uber community members do try to sort you out.

So at this point I was frustrated but tolerant of Scribd’s lack of support, and intended to maintain my account. I just figured that they run on a shoestring so to expect very little of them in the future.

Secret appropriations of our documents was the killer blow

Scribd-download-payment However! Last week while searching a Linkedin Group I found a person had posted a link to a Scribd document they’d prepared, and said “feel free to download“. I went there, found it to be useful and then hit “download”. I got a message that I now had to pay!! In order to download I had to pay a daily or weekly or annual fee – up to US$59.

Now I was really frustrated, and confused:

  • Was this person just scamming me to get a commission on their “free” documents, using Linkedin to post link bait? That didn’t seem likely when I checked that person’s profile.
  • Where did this new “feature” come from and who is getting the money?
  • How about my documents that I had uploaded as “public” – can others still download them for free?

Then I hit Google to search, as others somehow must know all about this even if I am in the dark.

Scribd took our documents and made others pay



Sure enough – rage and anger

Here is the amazing answer:

  • Scribd decided arbitrarily to appropriate every subscribers public document and lock them into a “vault”;
  • The total 100% payment for others to download your public documents goes into Scribd’s bank account.

If that alone doesn’t stun you, then also consider that Scribd made no announcement and offered no opt-in. I kind of got the impression that they may have mentioned on their blog, but they certainly didn’t email subscribers and they certainly did not ask their consent and for a opt-in.

I guess the reason for not notifying and asking subscribers to opt-in is obvious:

Hi, This is your friendly team at Scribd. We’re offering a fabulous new feature whereby we want you to allow us to take control of all your public documents and sell downloads for a fee. Your share of fee will be zero (0)%. Please click this link to allow us to offer this service on your behalf.

Well… OK, I see the value in that for me ??!!

As a result of the flaming Scribd has come out in the last week and said something like “Sorry, we probably should have told you and also because you all seem so unhappy we’ve urgently implemented a feature giving you the ability to edit your uploaded documents one by one and opt them out of our vault”.

You’re welcome! So I have to edit my own documents OUT, one by one?

They are serious!!!!

So on the basis that Scribd has completely lost the plot I will be editing myself completely out of their system by deleting my account. You might get Scrod in Boston, but you will be Screwed by Scribd.

Goobye Scribd hullo Issuu

I’ll try Issuu and see how that works, it might be a blessing in disguise if they actually have Support that works!

Were you aware that Scribd had, or was planning to appropriate your documents?



How do you think they could have managed this objective better?

If you were Scribd, does this move make sense?

What do you use instead of Scribd, is Issuu the right choice?

9 COMMENTS

  1. I was also screwed up by Scribd. I downloaded 1 single document, but I sed let’s pay it for a moth maybe I will use it later also. They did not ask me and created a Recurring Payment at my PayPal account. I recognized after several months, that they taking money from me… that time I already forgotted what is Scribd, so payed for a sinle document several monthly payments.
    No more ….

  2. It’s now 2012 and I’m curious what’s happened with Scribd since you wrote this post in 2010. A business associate in South Africa recommended I use this to embed documents into my blogs. So far my preferred service is box.com

  3. Scribd has a lot of problems and bugs. Lets see the TOP list..
    1. The private and public status of a document doesnt work properly;
    2. The fullscreen links to o Scribd document doesnt work properly. It is not fullscreen :);
    3. My Scribd document links changed without knowing what happend;
    5. The view of an online Word.doc it is allways poorer than the original one.

  4. I can only tell you to stay away from Scribd. If you have something to sell, good luck getting your money. My book is the most popular one in its esoteric category. They put a button on the screen that allows the reader to download the book in its entirety for free. I have lost perhaps $32,000 and they’re not allowing me to make the book private. Need to get a lawyer at this point and spend money on that because Scribd says if anybody pays for your book, it must be made available to them. Who actually paid? I can’t find out. Where’s my money? I was told there weren’t enough sales to justify a check. STAY AWAY FROM THESE PEOPLE!

  5. even I am having problem with scribd. to download a document they ask you to either pay or upload a document. but sometimes when i upload smthn i am still unable to download the document. this is highly frustrating. on top of that my document is now available on scribd for others to see while i cant download what i wanted. this is a really bad practice. its not keeping your end of the bargain and not keeping your word. im really pissed at scribd. further i cant delete my uploaded document. even if i delete it frm my uploads section, it is still available on the scribd website.

  6. Downloaded app and started subscription.Reading books,and then all of a sudden…iOS update took everything away.Cant open scribd app as I can’t find it to re download.So I just stopped my subscription even though I’ve paid until end November.Good one scribd.

  7. I keep getting fraudulent $8.99 on bank statements and I have never signed up, nor used or agreed to any online resources from scribd.com, I am very unhappy with the constant monthly charges from my credit.debit card being hacked by this scribd.com company, I emailed them about it

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