The Problem with Customer Service


Click to enlarge the image at right. And excuse the dust on the cards I photographed.

I've decided to get some new business cards printed. And after going through far too many rounds of indecisiveness (Sorry Craig)  I ended up deciding on cards with images on them.  That way if people don't know my work, well they've got a sample right on the back of the card.

The thing is, I couldn't decide on one image to represent my work, then I remembered Moo.  About a year ago, I printed a few of my Drabbles images on cards through Moo just to have a set of them in my pocket to show people if they were interested, and they came out quite well. Not perfect perfect, but considering the size of a card and the quantity of jobs they must do, I gave them the smallest of passes. This is the top card at left.

There was a problem however. Moo let you upload a bunch of images which it would shuffle up for the card front, but for the back you were limited to 4 lines of text in one of a handful of their selected fonts. This was fine for my Drabbles cards last year, but I wanted to do a full design with my 'WILLIAM GEORGE WADMAN' logo on the back so that wasn't going to do.  Fortunately for me, in the past year they have added the ability to upload a back for the card as well.  I had found my ideal setup.  Multiple images, designed back, and not crazy expensive.

So I collected 10 or so images I though best showed my work, including a couple drabbles and sent them off to be printed.  What I got back on the first batch sank my stomach. Every one of them was too dark, like the equivalent of a stop or more.  These were nothing like last year. The thing that really confused me was that they were the same version of the same images as last year. Something wasn't right.

I sent an email into customer support and got into a back and forth with the guy over there. To their credit, they were very prompt and polite. However even though I sent a photo of the two cards sitting next to each other as proof, they guy apparently following a script, proceeded to tell me that my images are too dark and that's the problem. I'm at fault in other words.  Being magnanimous however, he offered to reprint them with their "auto-enhance" process turned on.  Something I had, and always, explicitly turn off.

I know what my images look like.  I'm a very anal photographer with an excellent monitor that's calibrated to a delta-E of 0.6 at 120 lumens.  To tell me that my images are too dark is frankly a pretty big disrespect. I've sent the same files to my preferred printer (who is El-Co Color in NJ btw) and the prints I got back looked just like my files and hung in a gallery show last September. And then to tell me that all will be fixed by turning on the magical "stupid people" process is beyond condescending.

All that said, I agreed to let them print them with auto-enhance and got the results back on Friday. You can see the results as the bottom card in the image. As I expected, they were worse than the previous. Much worse.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but not only are they auto-leveled to within an inch of their life, but also so over sharpened and full of artifacts that they look like they were printed from thumbnails off the well. Yuck.

Now I don't know what to do. I know they can print them right, as they did the first time out.  But how do I convince the guy that something when wrong in the batch that they were too dark?  And this is the crux of the matter.  That customer service people treat people equally and that's a problem because we're not all equal.  If I've got a problem with a Dell machine, I don't need the guy who's going to ask me if I've got it plugged in, or if I've tried restarting the computer. I've been building my own computers for 20 years.  I try desperately to find an answer any other way than calling them if at all possible.  I'm reasonably sure that I've tried everything on the next 3 hours of your script at least twice and then some other things you didn't even think of.

It's almost like there needs to be some kind of passcode that you can give the first person you talk to so that you can jump up to the people who know the answers.  A passcode for people who know what they're talking about.  Maybe we need some kind of certification system or something. But it's driving me nuts. The guy at Moo is treating me the same way he'd treat my mom by telling me to lighten my photos.  But I'm not my mother and I have a legitimate gripe. One which falls on deaf ears because it's the same thing everyone who complains says "My pictures came out dark". There's got to be a better way.