Yesterday, I made an exception and lambasted Shutterfly. Just so that my blog isn’t a place to post negative product reviews, I’d like to do a positive one. It wasn’t that long ago I started a blog on three of my websites. Like most of us who are new to the world of blogging, I used WordPress, the most popular of blogging software. I was still in the process of doing test blog entries, when the flood started. I cannot fathom how spammers can locate a blog so early in its development, but they do. There was a plugin installed by default to deal with spam, so I tried it. The Akismet plugin’s failure to stop the flood, was what made me look for alternatives. Cleantalk was highly rated, so many people had installed it, and it was reasonably priced. So I tried it. Since installing it, not a single spam account has snuck through. See, I can say nice things too.
I don’t usually use my blogging platform to say negative things about a product, but this time I am making an exception. Shutterfly is the main player for getting physical output of our craft. Their prices are reasonable. For the most part their quality is good, but they have some serious issues that taint their product as a whole,
First, all orders placed on mobile devices cannot be handled by the staff of the only phone number supplied for customer support. Any problem requires the caller to transferred into a second “queue”, for the mobile apps order. Simply publishing a second phone number that went to the correct department would fix the problem, for essentially no cost whatsoever. I had to wait 25 minutes before someone from customer support answered my call. I was told she couldn’t even bring up any orders placed on a mobile device. I asked for the direct phone number to that department, and was told there is none. It is the same phone number that I called. I was told the wait time for a representative in the mobile orders department was only six minutes. It was actually twenty minutes. Which brings us to the reason for the call.
On my cell phone I received a promotional code of NEWYEAR101 for 101 4×6 prints for free. So I took the time to upload 144 images, which is no mean feat. I choose 101 of my favorites to be printed. The code said it ended Tuesday. So far every code I’ve used ended on 11:59 pm of whatever day advertised. After spending all evening working on uploading, choosing, and placing the order, I get to the checkout portion of the app. I enter the NEWYEAR101 code, and am told that it is invalid, but the app goes ahead and gives me a $15.15 credit. So it tells me if I place the order, I will be charged $8.29. A short time later, I receive an email with each of the 101 pictures itemized, and a total bill that is four times what I was told I would be charged. I check my bank through its online app, and I have been charged $24.42. I explain this to the mobile orders representative, who says he has to put me on hold, to see if there is anything he can do. I am put on hold for five minutes, and he comes back and says they will not honor the promotional code, but they would cancel the order. He made it seem like he was really doing me a favor. I explained that I was told by their software that I would be charged one price, but was actually charged almost 400% more. How is that something that would require special consideration? He said that he could understand me wanting to cancel the order. I asked that an email be sent to confirm that the order was cancelled, and was assured that I would receive one.
The next day, I checked and the order has been removed from Shutterfly, but I have received no email that the order was cancelled. More importantly, Shutterfly has not refunded the money from the order to my bank. It appears I will have to go to my bank to dispute the order, and spend even more time. But the real kicker, is that I received a new email today from Shutterfly that the NEWYEAR101 promotional code has been extended another day. After getting kicked in the teeth once, there is no way I would subject myself to the almost guaranteed headaches of dealing with an essentially non-functional ordering system and even worse customer support system.
Shutterfly has an excellent marketing department, which offers great promotional price codes. Sadly, many of them do not work as advertised. That may be in some part due to the payment software/programming that doesn’t work, and a customer support organization that is flawed by design. No matter how good your product, people are ten times more likely to share negative experiences than they are positive ones. If this was a one time incident, it would be forgivable. But of the past five orders that I have placed with Shutterfly, I have had to spend an hour or more with customer support trying to get problems resolved on four of them.