ThemeForest.net Review and Custom Deposit Amount Hack

A couple weeks ago TechCrunch covered a story about a company by the name of Envato launching a service that would allow users to buy and sell website templates - ThemeForest.  I think it’s actually been around for a while but that’s the first coverage I saw (I later found something from early September – linked above).  When I initially looked it was mostly WordPress themes but when I checked the other day there seems to be more generic web templates.

I’m always in the market for great WordPress themes.  I’ve changed the theme for this blog a couple times and each time I find something I don’t care for.  I started looking for themes on ThemeForest and found a WordPress theme that I thought would work well for the site (I’ve since purchased it but I haven’t finished customizing it yet – expect a rollout in a week or two).   I also found a generic website template that I wanted to buy.

In order to purchase templates you have to deposit money into your ThemeForest account…you can’t pay for each transaction individually after you find your design.  No ‘shopping cart’ functionality but they do allow you to bookmark themes you like.  I think that’s a mistake from a usability standpoint but if people want the theme bad enough, they’ll succomb to the poor process design.

So I start the process to deposit money and find that I can only give them money in multiples of $20.  Slightly confused/turned-off by yet another usability problem I contact customer service and ask if there is another way to make this happen.  I get a response a few hours later (great turn around by the way, seriously, I was impressed) tell me that their system can only handle the amounts displayed but that “although your money does expire after a year it can easily be renewed by emailing Support, so in actual fact you can keep the remaining credit in the account indefinatly.”

That’s great except for the fact that I may never use that money.  I ask if they offered refunds after a year but was shot down on that as well.  I mean it’s only $5 (my combined total was going to be $35) but why should I give you a free $5 because you have a poor design.

Frustrated, I set out to find a way around this but told myself I’d dedicate no more than 15 minutes to the effort.  I know PayPal can handle any amounts you throw at them so I figure I would explore bypassing their absurd “checks”.  Luckily, I know enough about web development and form submissions that I figure I would try a couple elementary hacks.  After locating the script on their server they submit to before sending to PayPal I locate the variable names and amount format and proceed to deposit exactly $35.  Here’s a shot of my deposit history for all you doubters…details on the hack are below the image.

ThemeForest.net Deposit Amount Hack

Hack Details

1) Locate the themes you want to purchase and calculate your total

2) Translate your total into a 4-character non-currency format.  For example, my $35.00 deposit was translated to an amount of “3500

3) Login to your ThemeForest.net account

4) Once logged in, enter the following URL in your browsers address bar and change XXXX to your amount determined in step 2: http://themeforest.net/accounts/confirm_deposit/?amount=XXXX.  For example, the URL for my $35.00 transaction was “http://themeforest.net/accounts/confirm_deposit/?amount=3500″

5) Once redirected to the PayPal website, confirm that your user id is referenced in the description and that the amount is right.  Your user id should be within the red rectangle on the image below

Confirm User ID

6) Once you complete the PayPal transaction you’ll be redirected back to your ThemeForest account where you can purchase your templates

NOTE: Use this hack at your own risk.  I don’t claim to be huge in the blogosphere but once the hack is public it’s possible ThemeForest will close the loop-hole.  I make no claims or warranties that the hack will work as described and can not be held liable for any losses you may incur.  Also, I did not ‘hack’ into their system to prepare this.  ’Hack’ in this context means ‘manual work around’ and all I did to determine how to accomplish this was review the HTML source sent to my browser by their server.

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