On Friday afternoon I brushed C and Little L’s hair, made sure they were wearing cute dresses, and headed to the nearby mall for their annual-it’s-time-for-Father’s-Day photo shoot.
We had an appointment and we were a full week away from Father’s Day so I thought we were in great shape to get in and get out fast.
I arrived 15 minutes early, moments after a woman who was explaining to the cashier that she was there way early for her appointment.
1st mistake – assuming that they’d honor my appointment time
45 minutes after our appointment time we were finally ushered into a photo studio (20 minutes after the family whose appointment was after ours). By now we’d been there for a full hour and the kids were bouncing off the walls. I was beyond grumpy. At no point did anyone apologize for the wait or thank us for our patience.
2nd mistake – Letting the photographer call the shots.
She was bossy and had us pose in various ways, barely tolerating my advice and antics to get my kids to stop making fake “cheese” smiles and in 10 minutes we were done. I hate all the shots she took of the three of us.
3rd mistake – Assuming they’d listen to reason
So there I was, tired, cranky, and really done with trying to keep my active kids contained. So…. brilliant mom that I am… I realized that I could take them home and come back the next day without them to review the photos in peace and make smart choices. I could even look at the photos online and decide from the comfort of my couch!
No. According to the Picture People employee, that couldn’t happen.
You see, there’s a new policy at the Picture People.
They delete all photos at the end of the day. If you’re a member they give you a full week. So generous.
4th mistake – Assuming that they’d be smart and modern.
Even better. They no longer give you the option to view your photos online or to buy prints at other stores.
So there I am, two hyper kids who’ve already been in the store for an hour and a half, being told we have to wait to see our photos, and that we have no option.
5th mistake – not admitting defeat.
I couldn’t exactly admit defeat, so we stayed put.
And then more frustration ensued.
They no longer let you view the pictures on your own. The staffer has to sit there with you, manning the mouse, giving you the endless sales pitch. You know, despite the kids begging to go home, scaling your body like a jungle gym, and whining louder and louder.
I wasn’t my most patient and nice.
You’d think the story ends there wouldn’t you?
We got our photos (after waiting more for them to be printed). Paid for the damn membership so I’d be able to come back and get prints for my mother-in-law and went home.
6th mistake – GOING BACK for more abuse.
Yesterday I went back to get her prints.
You’d think that to simply get prints I would have been in and out in 10 minutes.
You’d be wrong.
It took over an hour for a staffer to be able to sit with me and look at the pictures. (You know, because God forbid I should be allowed to man a mouse by myself.) Took 20 minutes to go through the damn sales pitch again. Another 15 for them to print the photos. And yet another 10 for them to reprint the photos I had actually asked for.
When I finally left the store I could barely speak I was so mad.
Four hours to get pictures – from a place that promises photos in under an hour.
Staffers who were so frazzled from dealing with irate customers that they could no longer function correctly.
And photos that are cute… but nothing mind-blowing and that I overspent on because of the overbearing marketing tactics being used on me and the threat of imminent deletion.
As for my increasingly irate tweets and Facebook messages? They’ve been completely ignored by the Picture People social media team.
SOLUTION TO THIS MADNESS
I’ve always resisted going to a professional photographer because it always seemed easier to just hop over to the mall and be done in under an hour. After 6 years of doing this annual shoot and watching the Picture People customer service and care go slowly from mediocre to bad to worse, I’m officially done and telling everyone I can.
Skip the Picture People. Find a local photographer. Give one of your community members the business and take back the joy that should be a part of a family photo shoot. You’ll thank me in the end.