How Costco Let Me Down

December 27, 2010 at 10:42 am (Pet Photography, Photography, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I really thought I could count on them.  I have ordered specialty photography items from them for clients several times before.  Especially when clients are concerned with price.  But price isn’t everything, and Costco has pretty decent products and competitive turn-around times.  Customer service has been great in the occasion when there has been a problem.  However, let me warn you about ordering from Costco when they use another vendor to supply the product.  Things don’t go as planned.

I have a client that wanted a specialty calendar, featuring her dog on each month of the year.  This was to be a Christmas gift.  Well, I had already done the photography earlier in the year, so despite the fact that she asked me in the early part of December, I didn’t see a problem.  Calendar formats generally take horizontal oriented images, and nearly all of the images I had shot were verticals.  I needed to be pretty creative to accomodate her, but creative I was indeed.  I designed each page as a horizontal layout, featuring vertical shots, coupled with some clever graphics and dog quotations that fit the image.  Pretty slick, huh? 


My client opted for the larger, more delux calendar option, which would take 5 to 10 business days to process, and having ordered it early enough, there was nothing to do but wait with anticipation as Christmas drew nearer.  After only three days in processing, I received the e-mail saying that it had been shipped.  Shipping actually took more time than anticipated and I watched each day as shipping was delayed, most likely due to weather.  No problem there.  Still plenty of time.

Then the big day came.  December 21st.  It arrived and as I freed the calendar from the packaging to proof it, I was immediately impressed.  The cardstock was heavy and the photo parts of the calendar laminted.  The quality was absolutely up to par with a higher end product.  I flipped through the months, one at a time, inspecting the quality of the printing.  Colors represtented well.  My layouts translated well.  They included all of the custom calendar dates as I had instructed.  Happiness!



But wait.  Something is amiss, or should I say, a-missing!  There is no October.  Well, that isn’t strictly true.  The month is certainly there, but the photo has vanished.  Consternation.  Embarrassment.  What will my client think?

I got on the phone immediately with customer service.  After a brief battle with a lower-level minion, I asked to speak with a manager.  Nick greeted me pleasantly enough and assured me that the calendar would be reprinted and overnighted to me in time for me to present the product for Christmas delivery to my client.  This, he explained, was a mistake made by their supplier, but Costco will stand behind this service and make things right.

Phew!  I call my client and explain to her voicemail what has happened and assure her that Costco has assured me that the problem will be rectified to my satisfaction.  I expect to recieve the corrected calendar perhaps by the 23rd, or even the 24th, and I make plans to arrange a special delivery, from my anxious hands to hers, just hours before the deadline.

Well, you know what happens when you make plans, right?  Hah.  The universe has other ideas.

When it began looking like Costco was going to let me down, I delivered the defective product to my client as a “place holder”.  She was actually thrilled with the calendar, which was relief, because  one of my goals is to couple my name and products with quality and reliability.

 I will trade the calendars out so that she has the best quality product I can offer, as soon as I receive it, which by the way, I have not yet recieved.  So much for Costco’s promises.  As far as I know, the calendar hasn’t yet shipped, two days after the deadline. 

Wonder if I will ever recieve it.  Next time I will deal with a company that has more control of the process.  Lesson learned.


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