Not Always the Technician's Fault
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.