Tales of Customer Service Continued….

Time for more of the copyrighted feature, “Tales of Customer Service.” Actually, I’m ripping this concept off from another copyrighted feature, “Tales of Airport Security,” from Harry Shearer’s excellent weekly radio program “Le Show”on NPR. If you haven’t caught Harry when he’s not being Mr. Burns, Smithers, or the guy in Spinal Tap, you should catch Le Show.

First, the good news.

The guys at Camera Bits, creators of the best and fastest image browser in the universe, Photo Mechanic, continue to innovate, and to provide the best damn software support in the industry.

If you have a glitch or a hitch with a new version of PM, and you report it, you’ll get personal responses, and advice, from not one, but a bunch of different guys from Camera Bits, and your problem will be solved, post haste. No case numbers, no bizarre reporting rituals, no bullshit runarounds. Just solid answers and personal service.

If Photo Mechanic wasn’t already the best browser in the business, I would still follow these guys into the jaws of hell, just on the strength of their concern and followup with their customers.

Alas, for every great, there’s a grunt. And in the world of self-publishing, that grunt is Lulu.

I’ve been publishing my book, 101 Tips for Travel Photographers, with Lulu for some time now, and have not had a problem with quality control. Peggy, on the other hand, just wrote and published a book called On His Way Home, about our son, Jonathan, and her experience has not been a happy one.

On her first shipment of 100 books, 83 had smeared pages and blotched pictures. When we reported it, we got case numbers, order numbers, incident numbers and a couple weeks later, instructions to send pictures of the flaws. We snapped jpegs of several pages in a few books, and sent them off.

No response for another 10 days, then a report. We were supposed to line up all the books and photograph the flaws of all the books in one picture, one picture of each flaw in 80+ books!

Are you f’ing kidding me?

Now, I’m no still life photographer, but if you had to line up and open 83 6″x9″ books and photograph page spreads in one shot, you’d have to use a gigapan to get enough resolution to show the actual flaws.

This is a level of customer service bullshit the audacity and stupidity of which beggars belief.

Nobody messes with Peggy, so she packed up the 83 books and shipped them back to Lulu.  Now they can get first hand views of the flaws. And we’re shopping for another publisher, needless to say.

Got a tale of customer service? Vent it here in the comments….it’s therapeutic!

UPDATE: After receiving the books themselves, the customer support folks at Lulu say they are going to issue a refund for all the damaged pieces. Never underestimate the power of the grand gesture!  BK

This entry was posted in Ironies, Photo Techniques.

10 Comments

  1. Raleigh March 4, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    Hey Bob, I love the funny up above. Great post too. Keep sharing the funnies like that – they make my day. R

  2. Michael Tissington March 4, 2010 at 12:19 am #

    I’ve seen another great photographer who’s blog I follow give up on Lulu. And unlike you they had already lost all their hair.

    • Bob March 4, 2010 at 1:28 am #

      Michael: Fortunately, I lost mine too, otherwise I would have pulled it all out too! Bob

  3. Gary March 4, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    I saw a copy of a colleagues book (from a big publisher) that had the cover upside down and backwards. One of my books had a purple cover and green highlights in the text. In another book, you could not distinguish between the first and second level headings–poor type size and a dark blue that looks black. In a current edition, they selected a very funky typeface that for a blocked section that I think discredits the guest authors. All from major publishers.

    Gary

    • Bob March 4, 2010 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Gary: That they made a printing mistake is not the point….I’ve seen the same thing from major and minor publishers too. That they make it almost impossible for you, the customer, to get their printing errors corrected and replaced is the point. Everybody screws up once in a while, but a good company will make it easy, not hard, to rectify it. Bob

  4. JM March 4, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Too bad Amazon.com doesn’t do books. They are TRULY fabulous, and gracious in handling returns of any types.
    Best,
    J

    • Bob March 4, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

      I’ve experienced great customer service from Amazon as well. When my Kindle’s modem went bad, I had a replacement the next day. Bob

  5. Chris F. March 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    One good and one dreadful.

    In the world of software support there are few better than Mike Chaney at DDI Software (http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage/). Mike created Qimage, a photo printing program that is outstanding. Instead of having to resize every image separately, with Qimage you select the size you want and add the image to the que. It resizes and provides final print sharpening to the image as it spools to the printer. It is fully color-managed. I use it for printing to my Epson 2200 and for preparing files to print at Costco using the profiles from Dry Creek Photo. Here is the best thing about it, the cost for the Studio Version is $89.00 and once you purchase it the upgrades are free for life. Mike does an outstanding job of responding to critiques and questions.

    Here is the nightmare and the reason I try never to fly United Airlines if I can. In December 1997 my wife was pregnant with twins. We were flying into Chicago when a massive snow storm hit and we were diverted to Milwaukee. We sat on the runway for five hours in Milwaukee running out of food and water. They would not let us off the plane. Finally, we took off and eventually landed in Chicago at 1:00 AM. When we tried to book a new flight the United agent told us it would be 13 hours before another flight to our final destination. We were going to have to sleep on the floor for the night. When I explained that my wife had a high-risk pregnancy, the woman said, “There are other people with problems.” Not the response I was looking for. To add to the insult, we did sleep on the floor only to find out the next morning that the mayor of Chicago had provided cots for those stranded in the airport. The United agents never told us this.

    • Chris F. March 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

      P.S. – The twins are now 11 and very healthy!

  6. Mark March 7, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    I, too, have had unbelievably good customer service from Camera Bits, including immediate, personal responses from Dennis, the president and Kirk, the software engineer, when I had an issue with something. We are talking same day, within an hour, turnaround times. I would probably use Photo Mechanic anyway, since the program is so damn good, but I am now a supporter for life due to their concern for their customers.

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