A 'Warm' Example of Customer Service?

I've been taught by my mum that if you are not happy with something and you know that you are right, then you should stand up for yourself. Today I had just such a situation occur, that left me shaking and almost in tears, but I stood my ground.

About two months ago I discovered the website Groupon which has some amazing deals on it. On the day that I found it, it was offering a photoshoot, ten 5"x4" photos and low-resolution unedited versions on a disc for £30 instead of £310. Knowing that we were intending to have some photographs taken for The Boy's 2nd birthday, and eager to save hundreds of pounds in comparison to past shoots, I snapped it up. We went and had the photographs taken in Revolve in House of Fraser, Cardiff.

The shoot went ok; it's a bit difficult to motivate a toddler to perform when there are minimal props and with angry, rap music (containing swearing) pumping out, but it's normally a 'makeover' studio so we tolerated it. I wasn't overly happy with the photos of me afterwards as I looked wan and a little bizarre, but there was a lovely family shot (including Oliver Monkey) and after all, we were wanting photos of The Boy primarily. We chose our ten, took our disc and paid £5 to have them delivered rather than going to the inconvenience of collecting them.

Today, hubby has an answerphone message telling us that our photos were ready for collection or we could have them sent out for £5. Yes, I know; we'd already paid. As it was, we were in town so called in to collect them and have our £5 refunded.

My heart sank when I saw the photos; they were horrendous. The images that we saw on the computer screen were far warmer and more lively than the photos we were presented with. I mentioned this and was told that it is written on the bottom of the order sheet that the human eye perceives colours differently to actual colour and that we had agreed to these photos when we viewed them. She showed me the photos on the computer screen, so reluctantly I accepted it and walked away.

I got fifty feet before the adrenaline kicked in and I decided that the photographer's explanation was not good enough. I went back and asked to speak to the manager. I explained that the colours on the photographs were appalling, they lacked saturation and vibrancy, and that my son looked like little more than a corpse in them. The manager reiterated that those were the photos we were shown, to which I replied that the ones we were shown were warmer and more 'alive' and that I would never have agreed to purchasing these. He disagreed with me and said he didn't see what the problem was. I explained again. He repeated himself. I explained myself again and highlighted that computer screen configurations sometimes are not indicative of the print-outs and that this was clearly the case here.

The manager began to get even more defensive at this point, telling me that they had no time to examine the photos on the computer now as this was their busiest day and time. There were three assistants standing at the front, listening in and doing absolutely nothing with no customers around. I didn't point this out, noting it and saving it if needed. He then had the audacity to state that we were Groupon customers and therefore… well I don't know what he was going to say because I cut him off by saying that it didn't matter where we were referred from, we were customers who had paid for a service which had not been delivered. He stood there again and said that he couldn't see what the problem was.

I produced my phone, connected to Facebook and showed him the low-resolution versions, explaining that in these versions The Boy looked warm and healthy. The manager told us that we were given the opportunity at the time to have high-resolution photos on a disc, and I confirmed this and that we chose not to as they were £30 each + VAT and that we didn't think we'd need them. He pointed out that the versions we had were unedited and that the look provided on the photos was the finish that was synonymous with their studio. Hubby turned the pushchair around and pointed out The Boy's complexion, while I highlighted the three exemplar photographs behind him on the wall exhibiting their typical style which featured children with the same colouring as The Boy. In those photos, the golden tones and peachy complexions were plain for all to see.

By this time I was shaking and only just holding it together (when I get wound up, I quite often cry; not through being upset but due to frustration). The manager said that he didn't know what I wanted him to do, so I explained that these were useless and I wanted a warmer reprint. I explained that we had these photos taken to celebrate The Boy's second birthday and that they would be going in the bin as I was that unhappy with them. Explaining that, I added that we'd had photo shoots in PixiFoto and Dawson Strange in the past many times and that I had never complained about a photograph before. The final point that I needed to make was that I was actually so upset about it that I could literally cry right there and then, which is at the point that he conceeded and took us through to the editing suite.

He brought up the three raw images and cropped them back down; offering us to have them reprinted and it would take three weeks. We were about to agree when he clearly decided something more was needed, or that actually that would take him quite some time to upload the files and enter our details, so he offered putting the high resolution versions onto a disc for us at a cost of £5 per image as opposed to the £30 + VAT they'd normally cost. I accepted immediately and it was at this point that I told him that I was a product reviewer and had been asked by a photo-printing company to review their photographic products. He suddenly became very nice and accommodating indeed, suggesting that we have the family photograph made onto a large canvas.

The whole process had taken twenty minutes; fifteen to argue my point and less than five minutes for him to 'edit' and write the disc with the three specific images on it that I was completely unhappy with. As an assistant took us to a till to pay she said to us "Well done, I was egging you on and willing you to win!"

Just so you don't think I was being fussy, these are the comparative pictures. The ones on the left are the edited images that they gave us, the ones on the right are the unedited images that we were given on a disc. I promise that I have not edited any of the four in any way apart from to crop them to highlight the differences.

I have several issues; the complete inability to understand my point, lack of wanting to provide a suitable solution without me threatening tears, and the audacity that he had in implying that because we were Groupon customers that we deserved less than the best.

Would you have settled for the images on the left?

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  1. Claire Farmer says

    The photos on the left are so poor! I am not surprised that you stood your ground. It doesn't matter that you were Groupon customers, you're entitled to a decent standard of service. (And your little boy is gorgeous!)

  2. says

    Thats appalling! I am so glad you stood your ground. If I were you I would still write to head office and explain how his attitude soon changed once he knew you were a product reviewer and that the pictures you were first presented with were totally unacceptable. Can not believe it, I would also inform groupon that groupon customers are getting a below par service.. sorry that really wound me up. No such thing as the customer is right these days, and I tell you I rear up when things such as this happens there is no need! It probably doesnt cost them much to print photos. The first set you were presented with, i can take better photos on my phone and print them off better on my pc. Sorry for kind of ranting but my big pet hate is bad customer service!!

  3. says

    Well done you! *claps* You are great, I'm never that good at complaining in person, much preferring to write stroppy letters I can take my time over. I'm so glad you got the result you wanted 🙂 Boy is gorgeous in any case but of course the right hand pics are better. Enjoy them! X

  4. says

    No I would have done exactly as you did (and yes I am also a fellow sufferer of crying when I get angry through frustration)

    Groupon or not you are a customer and I really wonder what has happened to 'the customer is always right' philosophy – well done you x

  5. Fayc says

    Well done! You have been brilliant. The before images are dreadful and not worth the money. I agree you should still complain to head office because the difference is too much

  6. Lisa Troccoli says

    Well done for standing your ground there is such a difference in the good photos to those white awful ones on the left, funny how companies only seem to help if you threaten them with watchdog etc, what happened to people being nice and helpful?

  7. twopointfourchildren says

    well done for standing your ground, they look like they are trying to do venture style photographs but failing. The photos on the right are lovely, those on the left are terrible.
    Groupon or not they offered a service and should have followed through.

  8. says

    Well done for standing your ground! You were totally in the right. In fact I would still report them back to Groupon. (though Groupon might be the reason they are doing this: Groupon looks a good opportunity for businesses, but then they realise they miscalculate and hardly make any money on the deals, they become bitter and thus don't even capitalise on repeat business) I suspect they are doing it to lots of Groupon customers.

    I find it appalling that one has to namedrop to get a positive response.

  9. says

    Good on you for standing your ground, it sounds like they put up quite a defence and a lot of people would have given in and gone home with the crappy pics. I cry through frustration too and would have probably gone home and stewed about it for a while afterwards. Agree with the comments above too, complaining to the head office would be completely justified.

  10. says

    Well done on standing your ground. The images on the left are of such poor quality that it's completely ridiculous. I am amazed that House of Fraser have such bad customer service. I would complain to the store manager, head office and Groupon or maybe just send them all a link to this so that they can see for themselves!!!! x

  11. says

    No I bloody wouldn't! Sorry, I just can't get over the images on the left they are worse then poor. Bottom left u can't even see the chair his sitting on! Gosh how do they sleep at night ripping off families in this way. I am so pleased you went back in and stood your ground, u did well!! Have you emailed Groupon to? I would as they will likely use them again, resulting in the same issues for other families! BTW how adorable is your little guy. Floppy blonde hair, Massive big eyes and a cheeky smile bless him, u gotta b proud.x

  12. says

    The difference in the photos is shocking. I know so many people that have had problems with Groupon vouchers, to the stage where they have had to complain and are not going to use Groupon again. Companies seem to have a different set of rules for their other customers. I think its worth complaining to Groupon as well. Well done for standing your ground and getting it sorted, the new photos are very cute 🙂 x

  13. Hayley says

    I would have gone nuts if those were the images I had been presented with! weather your a Groupon customer or not makes no difference and I can't believe he even attempted to use that as an excuse! Your still a paying customer!

  14. says

    Well done you for standing your ground! As if they tried to fob you off with that load of tosh. I have RT'd your post, the more people who know about this appalling customer service the better. The first photos are terrible, you had every right to complain!

  15. The Rambling Pages says

    That is disgusting. I can't believe the difference in quality or the fact the manager claimed he couldn't see the problem was the man nearly blind? Well done you though for standing up for yourself. I use to but have become the type that gets hyped up after the event and wishes I'd said something. I would be very proud myself for the result you got especially without telling him you were a product reviewer earlier on.

  16. Dia says

    I'm so glad you stood your ground. I also often end up crying when frustrated and angry – but usually just suck it up and move on. Next time, I'll definitely hold my own 🙂 Your boy is gorgeous and the original prints really suck!

  17. says

    I am soooo glad you stood up for yourself. Those images on the left were shocking to say the least! I don't think anyone in their right mind would be happy with them and it's great that you atleast got some images you wanted in the end but what a hassle to get there. Stupid man, doesn't he know that the customer is always right?

  18. Kate Pennell says

    HELP ME! I am going through the exact same experience almost word for word. It's like I have you have written my story for me. I picked up my photos and like you – they were horrendous. I was so excited about having photos of myself with my two children yet the quality is so poor that I can't use them. Initially I was reluctant to take them home but the girl at the desk insisted I do so. Having then said I would like to return them for a refund I was quoted company policy and ownership regulations. Not once has anyone apologised or even picked up the telephone. I have offered to go back to the studio but was advised this would not be necessary. I have been told that my photos have not been edited and they are the exact ones that I saw immediately after the shoot. If that were so I would not have ordered them. They have sent me re-edited photos and included a disc but the quality is equally poor. The battle goes on but I am losing the will…. I also don't have the clout of being a product reviewer. I am so angry and so disappointed.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I'd get on the phone to Citizens Advice Bureau and Trading Standards. Don't take no for an answer!


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