I worked as a Photo Lab Supervisor for almost a year, and for most of it, it was a great experience. Recent CVS policies and a change in management changed the atmosphere tremendously, making it almost impossible for me to do my job in the photo lab efficiently. That brief gripe aside (for I could go on and on about the management and the district manager), I feel it's necessary to inform consumers about how the photo dept. is actually run at CVS.
First, you get little to NO training. I was two weeks into the job before the district trainer came into my store for ONE day of "training". I was forced to call either my Shift Supervisors or Assistant Manager up whenever I had a problem or question that needed addressing. My manager at the time, while listed as Kodak-Certified, could do little more than run a roll of film through the processor. The people in the photo department, while knowledgeable, would, rather than trying to adequately solve any problems, leave them for me deal with on my next shift.
Once, a customer was told they could not be given an 8x10 photo book because we were out of stock, when it truth, all she had to do was go back to the stock room and pull a new box off the shelf. If a machine went down, no phone call to Kodak was made, but instead, a quick sign was posted saying it was out of order, again, leaving me to deal with it the next day. In fairness, if a machine goes down on a weekend, it is almost impossible to make a repair call as you end up on the phone with Kodak forever and weekends are too busy to be on the phone with these people for over an hour.
The processors and kiosks are ANCIENT. CVS will not spring for new machines no matter what! After only one week on the job, I was instructed to call Kodak regarding a kiosk and told to get a new part. Well good luck on that! Kodak would rather sell you their first born than send you a new part! First you have to go through an almost hour-long diagnostic process which does nothing but confirm the problem that you called them about in the first place. This is assuming you get someone who knows what the heck they are talking about.
They are rude and indifferent, and when CVS upgraded recently, there were so many problems that Kodak stopped taking calls, leaving machines down all over the place. At one point, after having talked to three different people over three days, and doing three complete recoveries (which meant I had to reinstall ALL the software on the Kiosk), I found myself screaming over the phone that 'NO! I WASN'T GOING TO DO ANOTHER ** RECOVERY, GET ME A NEW PROCESSOR!!' Simply put, it is not the techs fault if the machines fail.
A CVS lab with consistently working kiosks is as rare as hen's teeth and calling Kodak takes more time than it should. If a film or print processor goes down, you have to call Kodak once again, where you get dispatch, who are required to page the service tech within a set time. This never happens. And if you do get a service tech to call you back, he is so backed up with other repairs, that he can't possibly get out to you till the next day. Stripes on your pictures? You might see him later in the week to clean the rollers, but unless you tell them your machine is completely down, forget it.
Problems in the photo labs boil down to understaffed, overworked, poorly trained techs (corporate issue and indifference) and antiquated machinery supposedly supported by a service department that can't solve a problem and has no desire to. If you had a computer at home that ran as slowly and with as many problems as these kiosks have, you'd have dumped the stupid thing years ago.
I was very proud of my performance as the Photo Lab Supervisor. The position had been empty for some time before I got there and had previously been filled by people who apparently didn't care. I took the overall Triple S score in that department from a dismal 67 to an 82 by the time I left, yet saw no support from store or district management. I had a loyal customer base who knew that I would solve any problems and if I couldn't would do whatever was necessary to make them happy, be it a free roll of film or a refund. I was called by training techs during the weekends and the dinner hour with problems and ended up back at the store to resolve them.
Yet no matter what I did, no matter how clean my department was, no matter how good my scores were, there was no support from Corporate for that department. CVS has cut hours so drastically that the Photo Sup or Tech is the only one on register in the front. If you get someone who does not know how to operate a kiosk, you cannot adequately help them because you can't be in two places at once: behind a register and in front of a kiosk.
One Hour Photo is supposed to be a big deal to CVS, but I have had customers come in with 8 rolls of film, and while it's possible to do that in 1 hour, you can only do it if you are dedicated to doing that and that alone, not handling the register by yourself as well. So your scores go down. You get called to task during a conference call, and when you try to explain the situation, they couldn't care less. Get 'em up, make it work, call Kodak, blah, blah, blah, all said by people who haven't worked retail a day in their lives.
So have some patience with your photo department if you can. Some of them don't care, I'll grant you that...I've worked with a few, but most do care, but they are hamstrung by a corporation that treats their employees like dirt, machinery that was made before they invented rope, and a technical support system that make the call centers in India look good. Your techs are as frustrated as you are for the most part. Some things are just out of their control.
WEST COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA -- Horrible customer service. I stopped in to pick up my pictures, nobody was on duty up front. There was a rude little man on what looked like his private phone, speaking very rudely to someone. He saw me but ignored me. I walked back and forth and said, "is there anyone here to help someone up front". He cut me a nasty look and turned his back to me. He finished arguing with the person on the phone and claimed he did not see me. I said, "no, you did...the private call was occupying you". He claimed it was another store and he was the manager. Rude man.
He could not find my pictures. Finally, he found them sitting in the machine, but would not give me the internet-quoted price. He did not know how to look this up. Then an equally unhelpful older man came and also said I must pay full price. He did not know how to access my account.
CVS emails me specials and I ordered the photos online. Then the local store will not honor the deal. I had been standing there now almost 15 to 20 minutes for what should have been a quick transaction. They said it would take time to figure out what coupon they would let me have. I had to leave my pictures. I had family waiting in the car and an appointment to get to. These people are rude and incompetent! (Emmanuel Church Street Store)
INDIANA, PENNSYLVANIA -- I have always taken my passport photo at CVS. I went in to take one today at 7:30 pm and I had the worst experience ever. The photo first taken and printed was the worst I have ever seen. It made me look like I had a beard. The two lady staff members who attended to me appeared to be bothered that I wanted another picture taken. It was after the fourth attempt that I was satisfied. I hate to say this but I don't want to experience that again so I don't think I will be using the Indiana, PA CVS store on 2501 Warren Road, ever again.
MONTCLAIRE, VIRGINIA -- On December 15th, I went into CVS in Montclaire, Virginia to scan a picture and make multiple copies. With my cart, I began my wait in line behind one young male teenager and his mother. He had begun to make books on the machine. It was the only working machine available. After a few minutes, his mother left the store. For nearly 2 hours, I stood with single picture in hand, waiting for the machine. Meanwhile, he talked on his cell phone which had slowed his progress. I asked him if he had more books to do, and he told me that he was working on his last one.
Unfortunately, he was not only oblivious to the needs of anyone but himself, but he was dishonest. He continued to make several more books. I had spoken to the manager after having waited the first hour. After that, neither the manager or the photo clerk came near the machine or me. After 2 hours, I spoke again with the manager, who said, "He's a paying customer. I can't take his cell phone away." I hadn't asked him to take it away. I had asked that he at least ask the child to put it away while he was using the photo machine. He refused. I told him that I had never had worse customer service in entire life.
I left my entire cart of merchandise, including video camera, and walked out of the store. Today I will be spreading the word to friends, neighbors and to those at my job. A penny's worth of customer service would have saved the store hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars in sales. I only wish that the parent of the young customer had taught him common courtesy. Allowing a woman to stand for two hours with a single picture in hand while using the only machine available, and while using the cell phone which delayed completion of his multiple projects, was unkind and extremely rude.
Perhaps the store shouldn't allow unsupervised minors to remain for long periods of time. As there were very few customers in the store, it was obvious that the child was no longer accompanied by an adult. P.S: I went right to Target, where my entire transaction was finished in less than 8 minutes. I was treated with respect there, and the customer service was excellent. The manager of CVS should try shopping at Target. Customer service abounds there.
INDIAN TRAIL, NORTH CAROLINA -- I needed photos printed out so I went online to CVS' website. I uploaded all of my photos and printed out my confirmation that they would be ready at 3:41 pm for pickup. I drove the 10 minutes up the street to CVS and was greeted at the photo counter by a CVS worker. I gave him my last name and he could not find my pictures. He then asked me if I wanted to pick them up here or have them shipped to me. I explained that I had done it online for pickup in the store at 3:41.
He then explained to me that they were downloaded to an off-site company in Atlanta and that I could pick them up in 3-4 days when they are shipped to the store via UPS. I asked if there was any way for him to download the pictures to his computer as he could see the order in his computer. He then explained that the only thing I could do is go back home and re-download the pictures and try again.
So I drive the 10 minutes back home to grab the USB card and drive back to the store. Upon arriving, there is no one in the photo area so I proceeded to use the kiosk. I insert the USB card and the kiosk cannot find it. I tried it a second time - with the exact same luck, it still couldn't see the USB card.
Thoroughly frustrated at this time I leave CVS and drive 10 minutes down the street to Walgreen's (that review to follow). As I sat down at the computer when I got home, I went to CVS' website but the only way for me to contact them is by phone or snail mail. No email address offered. I am not going to waste my time on hold for 10 minutes to talk to someone or waste a stamp writing a letter. I am however going to choose to do all of my printing at Walgreen's from now on.
I ordered photos online from the store close to my office. I went to pick them up one hour later and was told the machine had been out of service for over a week. The two clerks working that day had no knowledge of the photo section and were not helpful at all, plus a little rude. Why didn't they call and let me know? I called the Customer Service number and was told they could re-route my order to another store and gave me 20 free prints for my trouble.
When I went to the second store, not only did the not have my pictures ready, but they didn't even have my order. I called Customer Service again and was told I could have another free 20 prints ($3.00) for my troubles. What good are free prints if I can't get them printed? I asked for my order to be cancelled. I tried to order again using the free prints I had already, the free prints they gave me, and a promo code I had. I figured I might as well use all of the free prints I was offered.
I was told that I couldn't use two offers at the same time even though I had on the first order. Meaning I would have to pay for double the amount of pictures to get the 'free' prints. Not so free after all. The customer service person told me I was 'LUCKY' it went through the first time. I'll consider myself lucky when I am holding pictures. Now I have cancelled the order and cannot make the phone calls and emails stop that are letting me know my order is ready. The clerk at the store is actually frustrated with me because I want to cancel the WHOLE order and not deal with this anymore. I will not be using their service again.
WOODBRIDGE, VIRGINIA -- This was my first time ordering a picture from CVS. They got it printed off on time and the people were all very friendly. However, when I opened the picture envelope, there were black lines and dots on the picture!!! I am very disappointed, especially since it was for a friend's birthday. I will try to take it back later, but it won't be in time for her birthday. :(
NATIONAL -- I spent almost 2 hours creating a photo book for my grandmother's birthday only to be told when arriving to pick it up, that the photo machine at the CVS store I chose was broken. No problem, there are 2 other CVS stores in my city. Then I couldn't change my store location online because the website kept coming back with an error message. As it turns out, there was only ONE store in my town that had the correct kind of printer for the photo album -- WHAT!?! Are you kidding!
And then the online support person told me there was also only one store in a town close by with the right kind of printer when that town has 12 CVS stores. REALLY, ONLY ONE OUT OF 12! So I asked the online support to go ahead and cancel my order. I will not give my money to a company that can't provide the information upfront that there are limited availability and now I've wasted 3 hours and have nothing.
ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA -- I was just married. I took my photos, that were on a CD, with the copy release in the last box. At the end of my pictures, it states that I own the copy of the pictures, with the release date. The photo guy who always gives me a hard time and always rude to all the customers so he can have his smoke break every 10 mins, stated I need a signature stating that I own them. WTHeck. In Las Vegas, people don't do business like in Erie, PA. CVS you need to can ** AT THE CVS LOCATED AT PINE AVE. AND EAST 38TH...HE HAS NO BUSINESS WORKING IN CUSTOMER SERVICE.
FALL RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS -- I have used CVS photo for prints quite a few times, always by ordering online. I can get over the fact that the online process is extremely slow. I can get over the fact that I have to crop every single picture since they're all distorted for whatever reason. I can even get over the fact that they're pricier than surrounding photo labs. I chose CVS for the convenience.
This Christmas, my first Christmas with my husband, I ordered a single card in which I specifically called a week before Christmas to see if it would be done in time. I was told yes. I have been to CVS three times (after receiving the confirmation e-mail saying that it had shipped) and each time no one could find the card for my husband. Needless to say, my husband went card-less on Christmas when I was hoping he could open the card I had put so much thought into.
I just called CVS again, it's January 7, and still no card. I was told they can "see it" in the computer and could put the order through again, but I declined. I didn't receive an apology, but they were plenty apathetic enough for me to decide that I won't ever be using this service again. If you want quality photos and service, I suggest taking your business elsewhere.