It's a sign of the times. The competition is extreme and if you're going to compete on price then customers can only get what they pay for. The reality is that the majority of the staff simply aren't paid enough to give a damn. If you're competing with say CVS at 20 cents a print you have a problem with quality. The chains, for example, don't, (or didn't) have to purchase paper and chemistry - they paid Kodak by the print. They don't have to pay for maintenance of the processors - they buy enough to get that free. It's like the Nikon FM10 - made to a price - not a quality level. So the downward spiral goes. Cheap[er staff, cut maintenance corners etc.
I had a small camera store and studio until a few years ago. You couldn't compete on equipment sales. You'd spend hours with people discussing the right camera etc with them - then they'd come back with the camera you recommended from Best Buy or whatever and ask you to show them how to use it! Plus the box stores would sell this stuff for less than it cost me to buy it. The $100 more that a camera cost from me was the entire gross margin - which on a $1,200 piece of equipment ain't a lot!
CVS would send people in to me to get jammed film out of their cameras. Then they'd take the film back to CVS for the processing.
My niche became B&W film and paper. I worked with all the school kids who would come in for supplies. Evaluate their technique etc. I'd even go to schools and repair and align their enlargers. Then the local Wally World decided to stock Tri-X and 5x7 paper at prices about 10% below my cost! Didn't stop people coming in for help and advice - stopped 'em buying from me though!
One summer my son worked in the photo dept. at Best Buy - he was written up for spending too much time with customers! Apparently his job was not to help customers - it was to sell them stuff!!
"It's "brave new world" out there and and seven days a week of 12 hour days fighting a losing battle just wasn't worth it. Guess what? I'm a part time commercial photographer now!
You guys just had to get me going! Didn't you?