While I didn’t live among dinosaurs, I am old enough to remember the days when film cameras were your only option for capturing life’s memorable moments. Back then, Kodak developed a reputation as the “gold standard” for film processing and delivered reliable results in the form of beautiful prints.
My fondness for Kodak continued into the digital era. Instead of printing photos at a drugstore kiosk, I uploaded files and ordered photo prints from the online Kodak Gallery and was rarely disappointed. I even purchased photo mugs, self-designed calendars and other products sold by Kodak’s website. A few years ago, I printed digital photos at a local drugstore instead of through Kodak and was very disappointed in the quality, reaffirming my decision to stick with Kodak Gallery.
Unfortunately, the last few months have changed my opinion of Kodak. The company finds itself in the midst of well-publicized financial troubles, and I wonder if these are affecting the quality of its products and service. Three different incidents involving Christmas gifts have changed my opinion of the photography giant.
First, a recent visit to my mother’s home revealed that the Kodak digital photo frame my sister and I gave her for Christmas in 2009 wasn’t working. With some testing, my sister verified the problem is the frame and not the power adapter. The warranty expired after a year, so our $100+ frame is now useless. It displayed beautiful photos while it worked, but a life expectancy of less than two years is not acceptable for a product of this type.
On Christmas Day 2010, my mom received a Kodak wireless printer from my father. It worked fine for a while, then began having problems recognizing her home network, meaning the only way it would print was when my mom strung a USB cable across her desk to reach the printer on the other side. Multiple calls to Kodak ended with the company sending a refurbished printer as a replacement. They promised to send a new one when one became available, but after three months of waiting, my mom still has not received one. Replacing a faulty product that’s still under warranty with a refurbished model does not deliver the type of customer service I expect from a large company like Kodak.
Finally, this Christmas, I created my annual family-photo-filled calendar as a Christmas gift for my dad. I ordered it well in advance of the holiday shipping deadline, and the tracking number provided showed it would arrive by Dec. 15. When it didn’t arrive by the 17th, I emailed Kodak and asked them to ship a replacement, but the customer service representative refused and said the item would arrive by the 23rd. A day or two later, I initiated an online chat with another Kodak representative, and he agreed to ship a replacement. In the end, both calendars arrived, and the differences in color between the two were quite striking. I compared them page by page. One version appeared to have been printed when the ink supply was reaching the end of its useful life; some photos were streaked, and the background on the pages was much lighter than those on the other calendar. On the other hand, the colors in the second calendar seemed oversaturated, with too much red in several of the photos. Neither was of the quality level I am accustomed to receiving from Kodak.
The old saying “three strikes and you’re out” seems appropriate for my business relationship with Kodak. I am going to turn to another company for my photo prints and gifts. Which one would you recommend?