Venting about Costco

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by eurekaiv, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    Ok, I preface this by saying that I know it's cheap, and I'm fine with a level of quality commensurate with that but I had the most ridiculous experience today and I really needed to vent to some other photogs that might share my frustrations.

    I've been shooting a lot of half frame stuff lately and today, after returning from vacation dropped off 7 rolls of film for processing of which 3 were from half frame cameras. Now the first time I had them do a roll of half frame one of the 4 people who regularly work the "lab" told me that they didn't do half frame. Not knowing what that meant I asked him to explain and he said that they would come out two to a frame. I told him that's what I expected and that it would be fine to do it that way—he reluctantly took my roll of film and told me to come back in a couple of hours. Surprisingly, when I returned I discovered that my film had been scanned into lovely individual frames just as if I had shot it normally. I was very pleased by this as it makes a lot more sense to me this way. I can put together diptychs if I want or leave them as individual shots. So anyway, fast forward a couple weeks or so and another roll of film through my Pen FT. Drop this one off at Costco and tell the lady working the "lab" on this day that I have a roll of half frame. She immediately goes into the "we don't do half frame" defensive posture and I VERY calmly and politely mention that I had heard that but only a couple weeks prior dropped off a roll and had it done as individual frames and that if she could do that, I would really appreciate it. After a bit of friednly discussion she seemed to talk herself into being able to figure it out and said she would give it a shot. I was again pleasantly surprised when I got back and my scans were lovely and again in nicely framed individual files. Yay! So thinking everything is humming along and getting really excited about getting my holiday photos processed I roll into Costco this morning to drop of my pile. This time, the lady that manages the "lab" is working. I figure I should let her know I had some half frame stuff for her to do and immediately I get the same "we don't do half frame" spheil. Again, I VERY calmly and politely mention that I have had two rolls processed and that the results had been superb—scanned into lovely little individual files just as I would hope for. She very defensively started going on about how doing it that way might cause the machine to skip frames and that it would have problems with alignment (none of which were problems with the previous two rolls) and I said I wasn't concerned about that and that I would greatly appreciate it if she could do it that way instead of scanning them as individual frames since it had been done for me previously with excellent results. At this point she relented and said she would do it provided I promised not to make her re-scan them if there were frames missing. I said no problem as I was confident that equipment was capable of doing the right thing since I had seen the results first hand. Well, I picked up my film and you know what she did? She put them as two images in one 35mm frame, exactly what she said she was not going to do for me. And on top of that, the rolls are horribly misaligned. Exactly what wasn't a problem when the other people scanned my film as individual files and exactly what she said WOULD be a problem if she did it the way I asked her to. And of top of that, she scanned them at some garbage resolution and one roll of XP2 is actually blurry. I can't even see any grain in the damn film. I'm sure processing film is a bit of a pain for the people in the lab but you know, that's her job. And I'm consistently nice, friendly and polite and I get treated by this lady (the manager) like she's doing me a favor every time I go in therewith a couple rolls of film. I'm really tempted to complain to the store manager but I've got another couple of months before we move and I imagine getting her in trouble isn't going to help my case much. And I simply can't afford to pay for decent scans at a real lab when they're dollars per.

    :sad:
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I have wonderful service at my Costco, but I don't bring them anything exotic. Maybe you should find another lab -- the way you describe the folks at your Costco it sounds like they all have a case of permanent PMS. Or maybe since you are so calm and collected, just accept them for who they are and what they know. You are probably the only person on the face of the earth still shooting half frames. Cut them a little slack... you always seem to get what you want and need, don't you?
     
  3. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    find a new lab, your in cali, there is a bunch of great labs out there.
     
  4. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I love your quotes around the word Lab.
    :D
     
  5. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    Oh, I know. I've had great results with Fromex here in Long Beach but at 3 times the cost? I don't know... it's hard to stomach triple or more for processing and scans of some of my pics—unless I want web resolution. In that case I can pay double what Costco charges for a (normally) very good quality 3000x2000 scan.

    The nice lady that did my film (after actually trying and figuring out how to use her equipment) said she has been seeing a lot of it lately. Probably due to the popularity of some of the Lomo stuff. My Pen FT is probably my favorite camera right now too.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2012
  6. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    Buy your own scanner, do it yourself. All labs suck at scanning, even the expensive places. Places like Costco are even worse. Idiots making $7 an hour who barely know where the machine's ON switch is.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    sorry for your troubles,
    but ... if they said they don't do half frame ... did you expect anything other than the let-down they gave you?


    send your film either to warwick 1 hour photo here in rhode island, or blue moon, they both do great work !
     
  8. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    Not initially, but after they actually did do my half frame film twice, and do it well, I was surprised yes. My ire is more at the manager who told me she would do one thing and then did another. And then didn't even do a decent job with the other.
     
  9. ROL

    ROL Member

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    There are many, many, and many threads on APUG about developing your own film, with much, much, and much help available almost instantly.

    On a totally separate note, I wonder if it is possible to start a new member designation category:

    Member
    Subscriber
    Advertiser
    Whiner?
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    sometimes it is 1 person who may do your film and do a really good job
    and if you go back, and it is someone else it is ...

    if you can do send-out, look into sending to fuji labs,
    i have send then lots of 1/2 frame stuff over the years
    and never had a problem ...

    nice juxtaposition on your flickr page !
    john
     
  11. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Your mistake was to ask a manager to do real work. Managers can't do any real work. In fact, in order to be a manager you must necessarily fail at doing real work. That's why people become managers. They can't do anything else.

    I would go back and ask one of the original two employees to do the job again and specifically forbid the manager from meddling except for having one of the two good employees teach her how to do the job right.

    Then, after you got the film back and it was done right, I would send a letter to Costco corporate headquarters via registered mail with return receipt requested which commends the two employees who did good work and which condemns the manager that gave you trouble. Use names, dates and receipt numbers whenever possible.

    I had a problem, several years ago, when I was getting my wife's Christmas Teddy Bear. I get her a special Teddy Bear from FAO Schwarz every Christmas.
    One year, I called them up to order the Christmas Bear and got a lot of flack and run-around. After two days of fussing around, trying to get that Bear, I was told that they had sold out!

    After I finished, I wrote a letter to the President of FAO Schwarz at corporate headquarters, addressed by name and sent via registered mail with return receipt. I named names, gave dates and times and quoted peoples' words. I explained that every since we were married, there has been a Teddy Bear from FAO Schwarz under our tree and that this would be the first year where there is no Teddy Bear.

    About a week later, a box arrived on our doorstep vie Fed-Ex. Inside there was the Teddy Bear we were hoping to buy, plus a hand written letter of apology from the store manager.

    Next year there will be ten Teddy Bears sitting under our tree at Christmas because I had the courage to complain to the right people. I think your situation is similar.

    I know it sounds like I'm being really harsh but this is not necessarily the case. You started out by asking politely but all you got was flack and hassles.
    It should be an easy thing to scan a piece of film and, in fact, it was done correctly two times before. It is nothing but sheer ineptitude when film is not done right and the people who can't do the job should not be rewarded for their ineptitude.

    Employers and businessmen are fond of saying things like, "With the economy being in the state it is, we can't afford to.... blah, blah, blah..."
    So, why do us customers have to be screwed by business when the economy is so bad? Don't you think it should be the other way around?
    "As a consumer, with the economy in the state it is, I can't afford to spend my hard-earned money at a store whose employees don't give me the service I need."

    I'm the kind of guy who'll stop off at the convenience store on the way home from work to pick up bread and milk but, when they don't have the brand of cigarettes I want, will put all the stuff back and leave the store. I would have to go to another store to get the brand I wanted, anyway. Why should I reward a store with my hard-earned money when I have to go somewhere else to get what I want? I'll just go to that other store and buy everything I need and give THEM my money.

    If more people would put their foot down, demand their money's worth and raise hell when they don't get what they want, it wouldn't be long before these companies wised up. As long as consumers act like sheep they'll be treated like sheep.

    Demand what you want. Don't take flack for an answer. Complain when you don't get what you want and take your money elsewhere if you don't get satisfaction.

    Okay... The next guy can have the soap box, now. :wink:
     
  12. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Thanks, I'll take you up on that offer.

    I can especially relate to the comments in your tenth paragraph. Here's funny (???) story, then I'll assume the soapbox top: I did that once in a small family-owned grocery store. In fact, I just handed the items to the owner who was standing near the check-out after he told me that he didn't have one of the key ingredients I was looking for but should have becuase it isn't an uncommon ingredient. He was livid. As politely as possible (I seem to have a much more gruff way of speaking than the OP) I told him that I'm an "all or nothing" kind of guy... and if I can't get it all from him I'll take nothing. He was LIVID. So I went to anotehr market a few miles away and got everything. As I was driving down my street I saw the guy, and it ends up he is one of my neighbors (three houses away), and I didn't know that, and he remembered me. Yeowww, how embarassing... but I wasn't sorry I did what I did.

    [soapbox] One thing to remember in situations like this is that one should not mistake poor training or failure to know unusual situations with being a defensive moronic idiot. These things happen. Not everyone knows everything despite clear desires for that to be true. I wish for it too at times. Perhaps it shouldn't be an "unusual situation" since there appears to have been such a resurgence in half-frame. I had no idea. One technique, though, would to be to ask a knowledgable clerk to tell you what exact instructions to write on the order to help the other clerks deliver what is wanted. That probably won't help with dust spots, etc... but it could help for getting one frame per scan. [/soapbox]

    I'm done; next....
     
  13. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    Wow. Did I piss in you cornflakes or something?
     
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  15. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I'm going to refrain from answering that, if you don't mind. :smile:
     
  16. David Brown

    David Brown Member

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    +1
     
  17. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    Well, thanks for all the comments (even the ones that were rude :whistling:) and respecting my need to vent a bit.

    I was a photography major in college so I have plenty of experience processing film. Back then the end result was simply a print and all the equipment was there for me to use in a nice, clean, spacious environment. Now I want my photos online—to share with friends, family or anyone else like me who enjoys seeing what other people find interesting, beautiful and/or artistic. So while I'd really love to have the money right now to be able to buy a decent film scanner and the space to comfortably process on my own, the reality is that it's not an option for me at this point. In the future, once we've relocated to our larger home I hope to be able to reevaluate that as a priority but as it stands, I'm going to have to deal with Costco or give up and I refuse to give up. I'll try a different Costco if that's what it comes down to. I'm not opposed to getting in the car and driving a bit—I am from SoCal after all. It's a away of life.
     
  18. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to pi$$ people off in order to get your point across.
    By the time I get to the point of being so impolite, I have probably asked the person for something two or three times with negative results. It isn't until that point when I go into "offence mode."

    The way corporate culture works, these days, you have to shake people up to get them to do things right.
    Employees are often used to being treated and acting like drones and it takes some effort to rattle them out of their cages.

    I have, on several occasions, said to the employee or within earshot of an employee, "I'm not going to reward this store with my money if they don't have what I want to buy."

    The thing that really gets me worked up is when I go to a store to buy a specific item and can't find it then, when I ask the employee, they tell me that it's not in stock but they'll order it for me. My answer is always, "I came here, burned up $5.00 worth of gas and endured crazy shopping mall traffic so I could buy something today. If I wanted to order it, I would have stayed home and used the internet!"

    Yes, I know these are line-level employees who don't usually have much say in the decision making process but they are the ones who are accessible to the customer. They are the ones who must face the customers' demands and they are the ones who must face the pressure when customers dont' get what they want. Unless and until we shake those customer service drones out of their comfortable little orbits, nothing will change.

    By the time I get into "offence mode" I have asked several times for what I want and have not gotten it. It is at this point when I specifically target that person behind the counter and TRY to get him so upset that he goes home cussing me out at the end of the day. I do my best to make them upset and uncomfortable. By the time I get this far, it's the only alternative.

    I don't expect people to be as brusque as I am but I really wish more consumers would stand up for themselves and demand the service they are paying their hard earned dollars for. If more people would do that, we wouldn't hear horror stories like this so often.
     
  19. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I think I'll take my 1964 Jag E-type with wire wheels to Costco for new tires, and hope they don't screw up the wheels and put the knock-off nuts back on cross threaded, and ruin the splines on the hubs, then bitch about it if they do.
    I bet they can put the oil filter element back together too. ha!

    I would have every right to bitch about it to my tweed cap wearing independant mechanic.

    ( I don't currently own an e-type.) I respect your right to be cranky BUT your cost-saving mind-set is the exact reason you might be looking for a lab in a couple years and not be able to find one. Same reason we can't expect a big company like Kodak to continue making Tri-x for a market that is 1/200th or even less than that.
     
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  20. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Scanning yourself and send the jpeg files to them would be better. I found that most places the prints do look like what I saw on my calibrated monitor. What I am wondering whether scanning yourself and send the lab the jpeg would be less or more expensive?
     
  21. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Go back when one of the more knowledgeable people are on duty.
     
  22. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    I call shenanigans. A 50k classic car that breaks every ten minutes—I had a wealthy family friend at one point that owned three so he could always be driving one—isn't really a fair analogy IMO. I don't get behind my camera and trust it won't blow up while I'm going 75 down the freeway on a thursday evening.

    The lack of demand for the technology and the service is what has put film and labs on the endangered species list. So I completely disagree that Costco having a Noritsu mini-lab has anything to do with Kodak killing Tri-X and analog photography going the way of the dinosaurs. And believe me, if I could get the same service from my local lab for even 50% more, I'd MUCH rather use them. Actually I do use them... just not for scanning C-41. They do my E-6 stuff. They do a nice job and I pay about $4 more a roll then I would to send it out ($15 give or take). But they want $15 plus the cost of processing (I think around $4-5) to do what Costco charges $6 total for, on the same equipment no less. So to me, that's pretty ridiculous and not something I'm willing to chalk up to supporting the small guy.

    But ok, if you feel like I'm whinging too much thanks for pointing it out in a sarcastic manner. Sarcasm is something I can comprehend and respect. :D

    To put some closure to this, I decided that the best course of action was to go back and try and build a respectful dialog with the manager instead of going apeshit. It's honestly not my strong suit remaining calm in these sorts of situations but in the end, we were able to sort everything out and I'm happy to report that they're currently re-doing my scans the way I would like and I'll be able to use them for the same service in the future. So in the end, everything worked out fine.
     
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  23. c.d.ewen

    c.d.ewen Subscriber

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    Just a quick story about the great service I had with Costco:

    Last Christmas, just before the hordes of grandchildren descended on us, we bought a big flatscreen from Costco. Within a day of the little tykes arrival, the TV's remote went missing. Following the post-Christmas clean-up, it was still missing. I called Costco customer service to find out about getting a replacement. I was connected to what they called their Concierge Service, where a nice young lady called the manufacturer (with me on the line, too), and explained the situation. The manufacturer's rep said they could send a replacement out, and the Costco wpman dropped out of the conversation.

    Nothing exciting, yet, huh? What surprised me was that a week later, the Concierge lady called me up and asked if the remote had arrived. It hadn't. With me on the line, she called the manufacturer again. Got another promise. A week after that follow-up, the Concierge lady called again. Still no remote. She called the manufacturer again. The remote arrived the next week, just before the Concierge lady called for the third time. I thanked her profusely.

    YMMV

    Charley
     
  24. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I agree with all above and agree that british cars are nightmares. WHAT I did want to point out and WAS LOST (others pointed out too) that Costco said up front they didn't want to piss around with his special stuff. Just as a Costco Manager should say to the owner of the e-type... we are likely to "Fu##" up your car as our tire machine isn't made (or any) made to put tires and tubes on those rims without lug-nuts... of and we don't stock that oil filter either.
     
  25. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Yes, but the fly in the ointment is that, even when they claimed that they could not do the work, they were able to do it correctly, not once but two times.

    It was not until the third time when the inept manager tried to do the job when trouble occurred. She was told that it was possible and that it had been done twice before. What she should have done was to ask somebody else who knew how to do the job right.

    A good manager is not necessarily the best line-employee. A good manager knows who the best employees are and knows how to utilize each employee to the best of his abilities to get jobs done and further the company's goals. If that manager at Costco was a good manager, she would have known which employees were capable of running the equipment correctly and would have either given the job to them or asked them how to do it.

    Knowing that Costco is a discount store and that not every employee is as proficient at running all the equipment as they should be, it would be reasonable for the manager to say that "employee-X" isn't working at the moment and it might be reasonable to ask the customer to either wait or come back at another time.

    When you're talking about a classic car, the owner should know whether the shop is capable of doing the repairs and it's not fair to expect Costco to be able to handle it but we're talking about film, here. I should be able to go up to my projection booth and get some film, take it to Costco and expect them to do a reasonable scan of it. Film is film.

    What if some random customer dropped off a roll of film and DIDN'T advise the technician that the images were half-frame? It is reasonable to think that this could happen. Isn't it? In such a case, it is reasonable to expect that the technician to do a reasonably good job of handling it.

    If the technician can't figure out how to do the job it is his responsibility to figure it out, to ask somebody who can or to talk to the customer to work out a solution agreeable to both parties.

    The problem here is not whether Costco can or can't do the job. They can. Experience has proven that.

    The problem here is that the employees refuse to do the job correctly or to find out how to do the job correctly and they try to blame their deficiencies on the customer instead of themselves.
     
  26. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I was green with envy and hating you until I read this confession of yours. I've lusted after that car since I first had one in 1964 or 65... as a Matchbox toy! :laugh: