Tuesday, January 25

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

I've always hated that phrase. Who wants to encourage complaining? When I think of the "squeaky wheels" I've known, the memories are not fond. BUT, I learned this week that, like it or not, the old adage is absolutely true.

A few weeks ago I shared a goal to make photo books from my travels in college. Guess how excited I was when I got an email a few days later advertising a huge deal at my favorite site for photo products? I've used My Publisher for several copies of my wedding album and a photo calendar for my grandmother, and couldn't be happier with the quality of each item. I love that their software allows me to choose the layout of each page, drag-and-drop each photo into it's place and customize the text, background, covers, etc. There are only two downsides: it's hugely time-consuming for someone as detail-oriented (nit-picky) as me, and they're reeeeally expensive. Thus the excitement over a 60% off deal. At least those were the only downsides I knew about...

So, my deadline was Sunday and my goal was to finish books from my trips to Mexico, Moldova, and Lebanon/Jordan. China will have to wait for another deal. I'd been working on my projects steadily, but still had a good chunk of work on Sunday, so I finished just before the 3 am deadline (the deal ended at midnight on the West Coast). However, I ran into some infuriating roadblocks along the way. 

I've previously only ordered one book at a time or several copies of the same book, and nowhere in their software does it mention that it is impossible to order more than one product from their company at one time. What?? My plan of saving hundreds on photo books was foiled! Even if I was willing to pay for shipping on each book separately, the software took two hours hours to upload my first project before I could start another order (and of course that finished well after 3 am). I was so mad and delusionally tired at this point that I wrote the following email to the "Contact Us" portion of the website. It's ok to laugh. I read it to my coworkers this morning for a bit of comic relief.

I am irate. Irate. An incredibly dissatisfied customer.
I've been working on three long photo books (75-100 pages each) for weeks and stayed up into the night tonight (I live on the east coast) only to take advantage of the 60% off deal. Too bad your website and emails didn't mention two very important things:
1. I can't order more than one item at a time, which means my order comes nowhere close to $200 and gets me 10% less of a discount than I had planned. I also will have to pay an additional $30-40 in shipping to get the two books I couldn't order tonight. In addition, I assumed that when you advertised a $20 "gift card" back-to-back with the %-off deals that they could be combined. Of course not, from now on I'll expect to be tricked by your company.
 2. It has taken over two hours for my book to upload on my lightning-fast wireless connection without refreshing the browser or anything of that nature. Since I worked on my books until late to pack the most into my order and my first book is still uploading, I missed the deal for my other two books (although I haven't decided if I'm going to pay you any more money, especially for shipping things in three orders that I should have gotten in one). You brag about chat support on your website, but I couldn't get anyone any time near the order deadline, which defeats the purpose of offering it. On top of all that, it's 3:30 in my timezone and I'm still staring at my computer waiting for a confirmation screen before I can go to bed.
I write a blog and I was planning on writing a glowing review of your software. I've told my friends to order their photo products from your site. But as soon as I've gotten half a night's sleep I will be changing my tune for all the world to hear. What I really want back is my time, which I've spent way too much of on your confusing site and glitchy software. But what you could do for me instead is give me back the money I'll have to pay in shipping three separate orders. I won't even request the difference between the sale price I was planning to pay and what I'll actually have to pay now for your absurdly overpriced products.

 What a dramatic grumpy-pants, huh? : ) I've never done anything remotely like this. In fact, I usually try to hide behind the buggy or slump over in the booth when someone near me complains about poor customer service. I worked in retail for a short time and I remember how helpless I felt when explaining nonsensical corporate policies. But somehow unleashing my fury via keyboard was much easier. I did feel compelled to repent of my anger the next day. It's funny what lack of sleep and losing (okay, not saving) money will do to a person. I should have added to my list of goals for the year to limit my personal investment in getting good deals. This can be a problem for me. 

Don't you worry - there's a happy ending to this story. As bad as I feel for Thom, the guy who read my diatribe, I'm doubly glad that he put on his big-boy pants and sent me an excellent, gracious reply. My Publisher is extending me two single-use coupon codes to get 60% off and reduced shipping on both of my remaining books. Awesome, right? While they say the "one product only" issue is addressed in the notice of special offers, I have yet to find it on their website or software. But now we all know. As mortifying as it is to see how such a small thing totally rocked my world, my "squeaking" will probably save me about $100 through this extended offer in addition to what I saved on my first order.

Now that I've caught up on sleep, (I slept 13 hours last night!!) I still love My Publisher's products, and will continue to order them only one item at a time. It doesn't mean I won't grumble about it, though. : )

So, what's your "squeaking" story??


  1. Haha! I mean, it's not funny, but I know how frustrating that can be! Do you guys have a Mac? I'm pretty sure iPhoto has an "auto-fill" and as long as your pics are in order, it saves a ton of time. Just fyi! :)

  2. I used to have a Mac and I never had much luck figuring out iPhoto! My Publisher has an autobuild option that loads pictures in chronological order, but not all mine were in order. Aaand I spent way too much time doing silly things like switching around page layouts and agonizing over which pictures were essential(I reached the page limit on one book). So glad to have that done!