I am not one to take things lying down, but yesterday I found myself in a situation with my 6 year old at my side and decided to set a good example instead of letting every instinct in my body take over. In the end, she was very proud of how I handled things and loves to tell the story of how mommy was so nice and “they” were so mean.
I walked out of Colourgenics, a professional print house in Toronto, thinking even if it were the last print house in the city, I will never give them another cent of my hard earned money. I would rather shut down my business than be forced to bring anymore of my business to them. The unassuming employee, Emily Lockhart made a spectacle of herself; yelling and screaming at me as the owners of Colourgenics, who were hiding within earshot , did nothing. It was the most unprofessional and inappropriate display of customer care I have ever experienced. And that says a lot if you know me, I have a lifetime of good stories to tell.
I have been using Colourgenics for all my client and personal photography printing needs for a year and half. I have to admit after test driving other print shops in the city , Colourgenenics does a nice job, however there was something askew from the very beginning. They don’t make you feel warm and fuzzy inside when you drop hundreds of dollars each visit. I always felt like I was inconveniencing them and they had bigger fish to fry. Also, it is a super easy template that we use on Colourgenics website to drop in our images, simply click the image size we want printed and press “add to order”. EVERY other print house in the city uses the same application. So I was getting frustrated right off the bat, when my orders were not being processed properly. First, I was told they had a glitch in their system when it came to Mac computers, then I was told that I wasn’t submitting my orders properly. I literally took my laptop in and asked the owner to show me what I was doing wrong…..nothing…..he couldn’t figure out why all these mistakes were happening. Hmmmm…….
This has gone on and on…..I honestly don’t think Colourgenics has ever gotten one order correct of mine. This last order, which was as simple as simple gets, seemed to be the most confusing and difficult order this company has ever received. I was constantly getting phone calls and emails asking me to confirm my order. They even sent back my order, image by image, with the image size underneath for confirmation. I of course confirmed for the 5th time and made it crystal clear what I needed and when. The owner even phoned and asked if I would like matte or glossy. I got voice messages and emails saying my order is ready for pick up. I walk in only to find they once again have messed up my order. Then Karen Chiu, the owner, tells me my files were corrupt and they don’t have any images of mine on file for printing. But miraculously they managed to locate the largest and most expensive print image and have that ready for me to pay for. Karen then tells me they can not make the order right because the files are corrupt, she completely dismisses our 3 phone conversations and countless emails about the two most important images I needed for a wedding today. She then goes in the back and by some miracle appears with the right sized image……minutes later. Meanwhile, Emily, the employee goes on to tell me I am high maintenance and they can’t afford to spend anymore time on me. They have wasted so much time over this order, they don’t find it worth their while. I said “Pardon??” I quietly explain that I use their template on their website and mistakes on their end happen again and again. I politely said to Emily, “I think we should stop talking, I can certainly take my business elsewhere so there is nothing left to say.” Oh no….she continues at a high volume that if I don’t like what she has to say I can wait outside in the hall. I asked her numerous times to stop speaking like that in front of my daughter, but that just got her going even more. She wouldn’t stop long enough to take a breath, I turned my back on her, I went and started looking at images on display, but she was still trying to antagonize me. My daughter even took it upon herself to go out in the hallway to get away from her incessant outrage. I was so disappointed and shocked that the entire print house could hear how a client was being treated and no one said anything. I figured nothing I said was going to help this girl understand that clients keep businesses in business. And this industry is so small and word of mouth is a powerful tool. She is young and needed to feel powerful in a situation her bosses were too afraid to face, I get that and understand that, I’ve been there myself. But my most influential boss, who happens to be my best friend, would have never stood by and allowed me to speak to a client like that regardless if the client was wrong. Then, I quickly understood why Emily will go through life thinking this behaviour is okay, when her boss Karen came out with the correct sized print, she asks Emily, “Has Kimberly paid, because she can’t have this until she has paid for everything?”. I assured her, that I was paid in full, she then reached in to my envelope and took back the small 4×6 print that they misprinted and said “Well, you didn’t pay for this one, so we’ll just keep that”. I smiled politely and said good day!
That kind of treatment is unacceptable and just reinforced my philosophy on how I will continue to treat my clients. Summer is a busy time for everyone and the wedding I am shooting today involves two people who found each other in times of trouble and will finally get their happy ending. They both have children from previous marriages and are creating a blended family today. I offered to shoot their first official family portrait so they could display the photograph for guests today at their wedding. Time was running out, we were all busy, but we managed to schedule a quick shoot in Unionville in the nick of time. I got the images on a gallery for them to view, they chose their favourite image and I sent it off to be printed. These are the images that caused the problems with Colourgenics, but as you can see….I went above and beyond for my client and made sure they will not be disappointed. Now THAT’S how you run a business.