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Thursday, June 17, 2004


So, though Ofoto came highly recommended to me for quality printing, I can't recommend them to others. The printing is fine (though one photo came out with an odd greenish cast), but the system UI and their customer service receive failing marks.

I submitted my order originally on June 7th to get 15 pictures printed for my grandparent's anniversary party. They emailed me the next day having cancelled the order. I panicked momentarily and called them up at the number on their website, only to be directed from there to another 800 number. I called that and talked to a guy who went through the issues with me. Turns out, they believed that some of the photos might be copyrighted. He emailed me a consent form, and I filled it out and faxed it back to him. Meanwhile, I noticed that zoom and crop was set on all of my pictures. I said that I hadn't wanted that, and he said it was set by default and I said "Set where?" I went back to look at the order form. Turns out that it's in the lower left of the screen, away from all of the other data I was filling out, and I didn't have any idea I should be looking for it to keep it from cropping off the top of my grandma's head. That last part is the pretty important one from a UI standpoint for me. I had no idea that I should be worrying about that by default, so why would I go looking for a checkbox I had no clue was there, let alone checked? I discussed with him my other basic UI issue - by default, every photo would come printed as a 4x6. I wanted 8x10s, not 4x6, so first I went through and deleted 4x6 from each item and then added a 1 to each of the 8x10s. When one of the photos wasn't recommended for 8x10 printing, I had to go out and choose another, and when I came back, 4x6 was automatically filled in again on every photo. He said I should've unchecked the default 4x6. I said, "Checked where?" He pointed me to the Express Order box in the upper left corner. I hadn't even perceived that as relating to quantity because it wasn't in line with the quantity column. Well anyway, it turns out to get zoom and crop removed from my order, I'd have to resubmit it and get a new order number which should be written on the consent form which he was emailing which I would then need to fax back to them. Whew! All that done, form faxed twice (and we won't even get into how much I hate faxes because there's no confirmation that it worked and the recipient really got what you sent).

So the next day I checked in to find my order processing normally. I breathed a sigh of relief and called my mom to tell her it should arrive Monday.

It didn't arrive Monday.

I went back to Ofoto to follow up and found that my order had been cancelled AGAIN, this time without any email notice. I called up and talked to a guy who apologized, noted that yes, they had the consent form on file, created a new order number, and when I said, "You need to overnight this now," he said "Oh I think it should make it in time since we're in Emeryville and it's only going to Sacramento." I explained that I couldn't really take that risk since it needed to be there no later than Thursday. So he said he'd see if he could make that happen. I asked him to call me back as soon as he was sure. That was 8:30 in the morning. At 3:30, I called back to find out whether he'd handled it or not. The woman I talked to said that it was being processed and would be mailed out today. I said that I'd talked to Bing in the morning, and he'd been arranging to have it overnighted. She said that it was going postal. I explained why that was no longer acceptable, and she hemmed a bit, and put me on hold, and finally came back and said she could do that, but that she'd have to create a new order number. Somehow, I knew that was coming.

So, four order numbers and 3 phone calls later, the photos were finally overnighted to my mom. Everything worked out fine in the end, but really, Ofoto does not have it together. A customer shouldn't have to be that aggressive or vigilant to get a normal order processed in a normal way.


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