Monthly Archives: January 2012

Service, products going downhill at Kodak Gallery

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?

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Bad coupon experience a reminder to “know before you go”

Happy 2012 to all! Now that the rush of the holidays is over, I’ll be back to posting detailed blog entries on a regular basis. In addition to coupon codes and sale deals like those offered at Christmas, I’ll post information on other ways to save money and avoid customer service headaches.

For me, 2011 ended with a disappointing customer service experience at Meijer, a grocery store chain serving Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan. I don’t normally shop there because I live closer to another chain store, but I went to Meijer because it sells a brand of yogurt my regular store does not. I had a set of coupons expiring soon, and I wanted to take advantage of the store’s double coupon program to get a good deal.

The yogurt was $1 per container, and my coupons had a face value of 50 cents off two containers. When the coupon was doubled, my final cost would be 50 cents per container, a great deal for Greek yogurt. I grabbed 12 containers of yogurt, pulled six coupons from my folder and headed to the self-checkout lane. As I scanned the first couple of coupons, I watched the monitor to be sure they were doubling. Then, I scanned the remainder, paid the checkout total and left.

When I got to my car, I looked over my receipt and realized only two of the six coupons had been doubled. I went back into the store and asked the customer service staff why this was the case. The woman who assisted me explained that Meijer only doubles the first two coupons for a set of like items. So, whether I bought two yogurt or 20, only two coupons would be doubled, unless I purchased the containers in separate transactions. She said Meijer mentions this in the fine print in its newspaper ads.

This experience was a good reminder to me to review the coupon policies of stores at which you rarely shop before heading there to make a purchase. However, when I checked Meijer’s coupon policy online today, I couldn’t find a mention of the limitations on double coupons; in fact, there’s no mention of double coupons at all. Another page on the site states the store doesn’t regularly double coupons at all, information that should be included in the coupon policy itself. This is poor customer service; even a shopper who attempts to be informed can’t easily find accurate information on the store’s website.

To be sure you know all the provisions of a store’s policy, call or stop by the customer service desk before you begin filling your shopping cart. Ask about specifics that apply to your shopping scenario, such as a limit on the number of coupons you can use or when those coupons will be doubled. Also, find out if you are allowed to use a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item.

What “lessons learned” have you experienced while couponing? Please share your advice so others can avoid the same headaches.

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Filed under Customer service, Saving money