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Portrait Innovations photography studio is a RIP OFF, up-selling scam - Family portrait holiday photos
Posted by Westchaser on 11/14/2012
WESLEY CHAPEL, FLORIDA -- For the last five years, we've used a local JCPenny (owned & operated by LifeTouch Photography) for all of our family portraits. We've been generally happy with that service which, on average, costs $80 and includes a TON of photos PLUS 40 holiday cards. We are also able to purchase at a constant/set price all of the HI-RES images on CD from JCPenny including a copyright release form. This November 2012, we decided to try something different.

At the Wiregrass Mall in Wesley Chapel FL, a new photo studio named "Portrait Innovations" opened for business. In summary, our experience was unsatisfactory. We will never return there nor recommend it to anyone.

Here's a list of reasons:
1) Overcrowded studio. The place was PACKED to the point it was severely distracting on several levels. (A) All the children waiting with their families were LOUD, playing in the centrally-located play area as well as (B) throwing balls / toys into the open photo rooms which were currently in-session by different families. (C) It was very difficult to focus on the package choice process, due to the noise level and other customer sitting nearby and staring at the large monitors with all of our personal data displayed (name, home address, phone, etc). In comparison with JCPenny, there was never more than three families present; the customer currently being photographed, the prior customer choosing their package, and the customer waiting to be photographed next. The JCP studio was ALWAYS quiet and well-mannered.

2) Deceptive marketing. We were enticed by a low-price ad of $14.95. While most ads are designed to lure customers, this one was completely deceptive. When we first sat down to review our photo session, the sales rep's first pitch was for all of the photos taken. Cost? $494.00 USD. I nearly fell off the chair and had to restrain myself not to get up and walk out. When we asked what the advertisement was offering, we were told it was "CHOOSE ONE POSE ONLY" and have it printed on the variety of formats offered in the ad. This was despite their shooting over 70 images during our session. We definitely feel this was a scam, especially in comparison to our prior years' experience with JCPenny Portrait Studio who never attempted such deceptive marketing measures.

3) Three shots per pose. They only shot three photos of each pose, even if someone blinked or one family member wasn't looking directly at the camera. There was no obvious on-the-spot checking to see if the photographer captured the intended shot. This was not the case with JCP who had a nearby monitor in which they reviewed each and every shot before moving onto the next pose.

4) No placement of subjects / blocking faces. We kept expecting the so-called photographer to place us or, at least, advise us to adjust our positions in reference to the shot and others in our group. This did not occur and, as a result, we had shots where one person was blocking a significant portion of another person's face which destroyed the shot. Again, this is contrary to our experience with JCPenny portraits.

5) No training. When I asked our young photographer where they were trained, they confessed to having NO professional or commercial photography experience prior to working for Portrait Innovations in Wesley Chapel FL at the Wiregrass Mall. They said that the studio offered some training but it focused more on the "protocol" (as they put it; meaning the 3-shots-only as discussed above) and the proprietary software and up-selling process that followed. While I understand that we all have our first job with little to no experience, this does fully explain the other complaints I have mentioned in this blog.

6) No retouching. While many (but not all) of the shots were decent, they all were raw. Neither the sales process nor automated software performed any retouching whereby a photo is "softened" or processed in a way that reduces the wrinkles, blemishes or other imperfections one would get while shooting at the HI-RES (10MB and above) quality that their professional cameras captured. JCPenny Portrait Studio offered this non-intrusive processing on our prior years' photos and it only enhanced the holiday images that were chosen in our package. For those not understanding what I mean here; the high-resolution photos are intelligently processed by software that recognizes eyes, teeth and other features which are then protected from the "softening" process, so as to retain the crispness of those features. When performed properly, it beautifies the overall photograph.

7) Deceptive CD. (A) The package came with a CD but it only contains the LOW-RES images from the session. Moreover, each digital image has a footer with the studio's name and website address. The studio "encouraged" us to share the low-res images on Facebook and other social websites, clearly at their gain, thanks to the embedded marketing on OUR paid-for photos. Fortunately, using simple and no-cost tools such as WWW. GETPAINT. NET, one can easily and quickly crop off the marking footer from these photos.
(B) Following suit with 7A, the CD contains encrypted versions of the hi-res images, in a file-format ".PI2".

8) Digital images are not retained. Session photo images are NOT available on-line for reordering. In fact, Portrait Innovations was quick to inform us that ALL of our photographs would be DESTROYED after we left the studio. Hence, the CD being the only copy of the session and, regardless of how much money one spent, the images would REMAIN encrypted and would therefore require additional purchasing to order more/different copies .. and all this by revisiting the studio with CD in-hand. This is VERY different from JCPenny Portrait Studio who otherwise provide ALL of the session images on CD - in BOTH high-res and low-res - INCLUDING a digital COPYRIGHT RELEASE thereby allowing the purchaser or their extended families to make copies at any printing facility of their choice such as Walmart, Walgreens, etc.

In summary, we would never again use Portrait Innovations photo studio in Wesley Chapel Florida (nor any other location). Moreover, we would not recommend Portrait Innovations to anyone who would also be upset by the aforementioned issues, should they likely occur during their session .. or by having their precious keepsake digital memories held ransom for a cost.

     
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Posted by Anonymous on 2012-11-14:
To be honest, I had a strikingly similar experience the one and only time I used the JCPenny portrait studio. Well with the exception of the lousy prices, because I checked the prices beforehand, which you should of done too. The studio was extremely crowded and loud. Their were little kids running & playing and being loud, which was to be expected. But what I found unacceptable was that kids would come into the studio area and distract my daughter & nephew as we were trying to have their picture taken. And the computers were you view your proofs is right in the middle of the waiting area so it was very loud, we couldn't hear the salesperson and other people's kids kept bumping into us and grabbing us. That was the first and last time I used a portrait studio. I can't fathom why anyone would pay a non-professional at a "studio"? It's a waste of time and money. I'm fortunate enough to have a pro camera and photo editing software so I take my own pictures but when I don't want to do that or we want family photos, I pay a local professional photographer. Sure it costs more than a studio, but it's money well spent.
Posted by CowboyFan on 2012-11-14:
So the store would not help the OP be deceptive by making the pictures look better than the people do in reality, e.g. remove wrinkles, etc.- see paragraph 6. It reduces creditbility when one who wants to be deceptive and objects because others won't help them do so, then complains that others are deceptive.

If J.C. Penny's was so good, why didn't the OP continue to use them?
Posted by Frankie Boy on 2012-11-16:
Sounds like West wanted to try something different. Nothing wrong with that except Portrait Innovations sucks and he found out the hard way.
The article was well-written, detailed and honest. I appreciate that versus a lame rant which it clearly wasn't. I will definitely avoid Portrait Innovations and will share this article with family and friends.
Posted by Portrait Innovations Facebook Wesley Chapel on 2012-11-16:
I recently visited this same location and had the EXACT SAME feedback. That's how I found this blog. I only wish I searched before going to Portrait Innovations in Wesley Chapel Florida at the Wiregrass Mall and wasted my time and money. This place is EVERYTHING that West said it was - it's a disaster and, at the extravagant prices they charge, it's amazing to me that people are going there. They wanted to charge me $450 for a package?!!! That's more than I paid for my wedding photographer who, UNLIKE portrait innovations, IS a professional photographer. I'm sorry but taking pictures at portrait innovation doesn't make one a "pro" any more than working at Dunkin Donuts makes one a Barista. I am telling everyone I know on Facebook to AVOID this joke of an establishment. I seriously doubt that anyone would go there a second time. I am so upset but happy to have found this blog!!
Posted by Portrait Innovations Facebook Dislike on 2012-11-16:
I recently visited this same location and had the EXACT SAME feedback. That's how I found this blog. I only wish I searched before going to Portrait Innovations in Wesley Chapel Florida at the Wiregrass Mall and wasted my time and money. This place is EVERYTHING that West said it was - it's a disaster and, at the extravagant prices they charge, it's amazing to me that people are going there. They wanted to charge me $450 for a package?!!! That's more than I paid for my wedding photographer who, UNLIKE portrait innovations, IS a professional photographer. I'm sorry but taking pictures at portrait innovation doesn't make one a "pro" any more than working at Dunkin Donuts makes one a Barista. I am telling everyone I know on Facebook to AVOID this joke of an establishment. I seriously doubt that anyone would go there a second time. I am so upset but happy to have found this blog!!
Posted by Elizabeth on 2013-07-13:
We have used Portrait Innovations numerous times. You have to get the IP program, but our typical bill is about $125 which is way more pictures than we need but we only go yearly. We pick carefully and deliberately while the kids wait and pick them up an hour later. We don't really care for retouching as I think our family looks great! I tried a professional and they did have great photos from when we sat in an azalea bush, but one 5x6 was $59 and I already paid $40 for the sitting fee and we would never get proofs. Now that was a rip off.
Posted by Ashley on 2013-11-17:
Excellent review and my experience exactly at our PI here in Columbia. A complete ripoff.....everything you described happened exactly the same to my family.....overcrowding, no pose adjustments, three shots only, no copyright. Buyer beware.
Posted by Liz on 2013-11-21:
Then go back to JCPenny! Where they don't have training either!
Posted by AJ on 2013-12-08:
To all those above:

Remember that most professional photographers charge 150 for a sitting fee and at least 50 dollars per sheet. In order to get the prices this low, they have to bring in "untrained" people and train them. Also, they start with the highest package and go down. You don't have to go with that package. You can choose one that is better for you. They are just making sure they offer you all the packages available.

Another thing, they don't charge a sitting fee like a lot of places and you can get a CD with the 99 dollar package. Most places you have to spend 250 dollars.

The photographers on busy days have been asked a million times "when are we next?" This only adds to them beingbehind.
Posted by Rippinghawk on 2013-12-20:
This business does trap customers with a sole source product and never informs them of that nature. You MUST get all prints at that store/chain. I sat through the exact same store. They take multiple photos per sitting and then jerk your heart strings to get you to pick a $500 package and then look at you as if you are evil. There is NO option to buy high resolution images.

To all of the people screaming copyright, copyright. Yes, there is not a contract that is signed before you take photos that states they buy the images from you, the subject. This is a misinterpretation of the copyright law. Does an artist always own the apple he paints or still shoots? No. If an artists is paid to take a photo, that is paid a commission to take a photo and then provide the photo.
Why must I return to that same photog / chain / store to print my photo? He/she owns my image forever? No. I will never use them again. Every single other studio I have went to has offered the ability to get the images.

To those who state the photog should get paid, the photog is not getting paid for the reprints. ever. The corporation does. Then removing my choice of who I do business with is a blackmail tactic. Had I had the time to read the add my wife got suckered into, I would never have went. Burned once. I have dozens of CD's here WITH COPYRIGHT releases on them. They are of my/family images, NOT the photog or the stores images. The PHOTOG can't sue us if we use the image, no one knows who the photog is.
Posted by Connie on 2014-01-06:
We went to P I in Granger Indiana. Overbooked crowded and expensive. Will never go back. Also hear they treat their employees very bad. They are all about the money advertising specials to get people in and hooked
Posted by photog on 2014-01-20:
To Rippinghawk above - you are way off base concerning copyright Law. The Artist owns the image that is created. In photography, they may offer you the hi-res file with a "print release" meaning you can then print that image on certain items. Those releases can be limited or not. Then there is Copyright, which is ownership of the image. Copyright gives the maker of the image the right to say who, where amd how it can be used. The maker can resell the image as well as use it in commerce. A model release which is permission from the subject is used in those settings. If a photog gives you am image with a copyright release then they are giving all ownership to you, thereby releasing their ability to earn a living based on sales of that image. That is just STUPID. I am no fan of PI but you need to think...they dont charge a sitting fee or per person. Theymake their money by selling prints and products. Those studios and equipment cost a lot of money. They dont charge for that CD either. So you can go in there, avail yourself of their talent and equipment at no cost to you and walk out having spent only 19,99 (or less!). You cant get a portrait ANYWHERE for that cheap. They only offer one type of session then you can choose what to buy. Its a risk model for them but that is the product they offer. The grocery store offers a variety too but do you complain about there being too many enticing selection, maybe too many damn choices of canned corn for you to pick just one? PI sucks for many reasons but there are just as many unreasonable customers that seem to think they (and most photographers) are some kind of drive thru make it my way, just click the shutter service provider.
Posted by EmJ on 2014-02-27:
I have gone to Portrait Innovations Several times in Ohio and I love it. I go in knowing what package I am getting and that is what I stick to. I know that any portrait studio you go to offer many packages but I stick to MY plan. The PI that I visit have great staff who work hard to position those in the photo. It stinks that there are studios that don't do that. I have also been to many other studios that are relatively similar in the prices and workers however, I hate waiting to get my pictures back... and hour opposed to weeks is a deal breaker for me.
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Will Never Go Back
Posted by Cmccahill on 01/04/2014
GRANGER, INDIANA -- I have been going to PI for 4 years They overbook and the wait time is awful but we loved our photographer Heidi. I have learned they FIRED her because her productivity dropped when her mother died unexpectedly! She is by far the best photographer they had. They are all about the money and have no heart or compassion. I will never go back and will spend hundreds of dollars elsewhere. Terrible management!
     
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"Bait & Switch" - A Promotion That Entices & POW the $443.00 Real Cost for a Few Extra Photos :(
Posted by Hangyfam on 12/24/2013
NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK -- I had a horrific experience with Portrait Innovations on Niagara Falls Blvd, Niagara Falls, NY. The photographer was as personable as a wet paper towel. The lack of experience and/or knowledge in placement and lighting in the poses was terrible; Her resistance to any suggestion of poses was unprecedented to me. I have 4 grown children and have utilized private photographers and chain photographers...Never have I been subject to such unprofessional & coldness to a customer. She possessed ZERO people skills but was terrific with the pressure tactic to upsell, upsell & upsell... pushing the $449.00 pkg.

The quick double talk was almost comical. I had to demand her to slow down so that I may comprehend what she was presenting. That was met with an eyeball roll, a huff and annoyance. I held firm but hopefully this will warn those who are not as strong against the only purpose in taking pictures...double talk and then UPSELL, UPSELL & UPSELL! I was there to get my two grandchildren's (two separate families, parents were present) Christmas Photos w/the $19.95 promo for each family 'as advertised' only to find out that to have a photo of each child and then a joint picture is an additional $20 per page, single pose for each page. $$$$ Then I am asked to chose which child the package will apply to and ONLY on one (01) single pose. (Both grandchildren where right beside me when this decision was presented. Shame on you.

Waiting was terrible, props for the holiday was just short of nonexistent (Christmas Tree & a few boxes). So to top off this terrible experience the coupon said that you are entitled to a "FREE" Coffee Mug and Key chain....then you are informed these are FREE with ONLY $5.95 shipping and handling for each. LOL! Firstly, I explained to this ungrateful young lady then they are not FREE, because FREE means FREE. I declined their FREE offer. Not only will I never return to Portrait Innovations but I have made sure to tell anyone and everyone I know to NEVER go to any of their studios.
     
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Posted by Danielle on 2014-01-08:
Actually the shipping on the mug is free. It's just the handling fee and Portrait Innovations has no control over that.
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Poor Experience; Not Kid Friendly
Posted by Dankatiew on 09/01/2013
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS -- We went to the College Station, TX location to take my photos of my 2 year old & 3 month old daughters. It was one of the worst experiences imaginable!

Our 2 year old is very typical for her age; curious about her surroundings & can be difficult to pin her down for some great shots. The girls taking the photos had no idea how to get her attention & when she did cooperate, they did not have the camera ready! Things were a little better with the baby, but she can't move much!

The backgrounds and props they chose were pretty awful with their outfits. They even tried to make the 2 year old sit still on a 4 foot high backless stool. Needless to say, that did not happen!

I was also disappointed with the picture selection process. They kept trying to push extra products on me that I kept saying I did not want. The coupon code we had from the Internet would not work. Lastly, the pictures did not come out well. There were some major defects that I could not see on the computer screen when choosing the poses that showed up in print (a huge snot bubble was one of them). The lighting in the photos was also poor.

Honestly, I had better success with Walmart photos, but the studio here closed recently. Guess we will be driving to Houston or pay a lot more at a better local studio next time... :(

     
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Portrait Innovations Lied to Us
Posted by Sarah582 on 11/28/2012
PLEASANT PRAIRIE, WISCONSIN -- On a trip to meet my new niece in Illinois, I talked my sister-in-law into taking our three children to Portrait Innovations for pictures together. I have been using Portrait Innovations for over 8 years, originally in Colorado, and most recently in Arkansas.

At the studio in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, on November 10, 2012, our studio session went great! The photographer was nice, even though her camera battery died just as the infant gave us her best smile of the day - figures, right?

As we were selecting our photos for purchase, I point-blank asked the photographer which package was the smallest package with a CD. She told me the 6 pose package for $129.99 (plus $15 for the gimmick package)was the smallest with a CD. I'll admit my husband is the one with the good memory and he wasn't with me, but I thought that seemed like a little more than we'd selected a few weeks earlier at our Arkansas studio. After selecting our 6 poses, I again asked the photographer if this was the smallest package with a CD. She said yes.

That evening I called my husband to tell him what a great time we had and asked if he remembered what package we'd bought a few weeks earlier in Arkansas. He did better than that - he pulled out the receipt. We had purchased a THREE pose package with a CD for $69.99 on September 23, 2012.

I called the Wisconsin studio the next morning and asked for our photographer. I thought it right to give her an opportunity to explain herself, rather than attacking her to her manager. She said that the 3 pose package had been discontinued. I asked her when that was and she said it was about a month before, when the Christmas backgrounds began being offered. Still not completely trusting the photographer, I called our Arkansas studio and asked if (1) all the studios had the same packages (they said yes) and (2) if they were still offering the 3 pose package with a CD. They said yes again.

This time I called the manager at Pleasant Prairie. She got on the phone and I explained how upset I was that our photographer lied to us! She made no apology!!! I couldn't believe it!!! In fact, she said that her photographer was just trying to help us get a better deal, but that if we wanted to bring three of our poses back she'd refund $15. She said the 3 pose package had increased from $69.99 to $114.99 from September to November! So the price difference from the 3 pose package to the 6 pose package was $15. Furthermore, I couldn't get my refund until the calendars they ordered for us, all poses our photographer selected, arrived via mail!

I decided to eat the $15 rather than drive from Arkansas to Wisconsin to return their items. However, I've learned my lesson. I'm taking bets on how long a company that was great 8 years ago can survive with employees and policies like these. The CD quality has completely deteriorated and they've added an advertisement to the bottom of each picture on the CD. I had been telling my friends in Arkansas about this great studio we'd loved in Colorado that had finally made it's way to us in Arkansas. Not anymore. IF I darken the door of a Portrait Innovations again (solely due to the honesty of the local studio) it will be only for the $15 gimmick package - until they change that too!

Be warned - Portrait Innovations lies with no apology!!!
     
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Posted by Anonymous on 2012-11-29:
Do they not have a flyer or a brochure for you to look at? I don't understand why on earth the "photographer" would be giving verbal quotes? The one and only time I went to a portrait studio (JC penny), we were given a flyer with their package and al a cart prices when it came time to review the poses and if I remember correctly, it was also displayed on the computer as we made our selection.
Posted by Current employee on 2012-12-12:
Please do not hold this lying associate and manager accountable for the whole company. Most of us are honest and this should be reported to the corporate office.
Posted by DollieDeathray on 2013-07-23:
We just had a similar experience at the Fort Worth location. We were verbally quoted package prices and when I cut to the chase and asked her what the cheapest package was she said she was required to go through all of them. When she finally got to the three pose package she quoted us $129.99. We called corporate later today about a separate problem that we encountered and were told that that package is $99 and that we were told an incorrect price by Fort Worth staff. I think these jackasses just make up their prices as they go along!
Posted by Anon on 2013-08-05:
I used to work at a PI. The photographers lie to you the entire session because if they told you the truth and their manager overheard, they would probably be screamed at if not fired. Example, you need to buy the CD because they dont keep anything on file. LIE. Your pics are on that computer for anywhere from a month to a whole year.
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On-Site Manager Pulled "Race Card"; Didn't Offer Apology
Posted by Rtripp159 on 12/11/2011
RIDGELAND, MISSISSIPPI -- Portrait Innovations, Ridgeland, MS. This past Tuesday, December 6, I had a 5:10pm appointment but on arrival at 5:00pm we were informed they were running behind. The place was packed; there were four sittings w/children before me. Manager (Andrea) advised that I “go around the corner and have a seat, we’ll get to you shortly”. At 6:28 they had still not gotten to us; but based on how things were going, we were next up… until of course here in Madison County, Mississippi – Andrea, plays the “race card”; took a white family before me.

When I stood to question “Why is that family that came in after me now going before me?” She replied, “your name was called but no one answered”. My response, ""IF" you called my name while still standing at the front desk, then no I did not hear you. As packed as this place is, good customer service is to walk the floor and make sure the customer is
(1) not in the dressing room;
(2) not in the bathroom; or
(3) simply not hearing you.

I further stated, "there are 20 people here. Children running, screaming, smacking Legos and you think I can hear you above all this?”

Her reply....there was not one, complete silence. No reply, no apology, nothing.

Finally Samantha came out to say, “as soon as the current group finished in Room 1, I’ll get you started”. For the record, Samantha happens to be black. Andrea (the Manager) made the mistake but she sent Samantha to correct her series of mistakes, the first being that she did not walk the floor to ensure my presence, the second - she offered no apology.

In anything you do or anyplace you go - "THINGS" happen, so the least she should have done was offer an apology.

When Samantha did start working with us, it's now closing time (my original appointment was at 5:10) and Samantha, while trying to put forward a good front, appeared rushed and impatient thereby leading a very unsatisfactory Portrait Innovation experience.

Portrait Innovations is a customer service based business and if Andrea does not have a desire to work with African American clients – she should not be representing this company. African Americans are paying customers too.
     
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Posted by trmn8r on 2011-12-11:
You say it was very loud in the area, and that the reason you were given for taking the family that came in after you before you is that allegedly your name was called and you didn't answer.

Based on the facts related alone, the explanation sounds plausible. Feeling the race card was played is a lot easier than describing how it was played to another person. Maybe the race card WAS dealt, but I'm not sure it's possible for the reader to know.

I understand that you wanted an apology. In this situation, where you had waited an hour and a half, it would have been nice.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-11:
That sounds like a typical scenario at a portrait studio this time of year. Cranky kids, anxious parents and overworked employees. It's not surprising that people couldn't hear their names being called, but if the employees had to seek out each customer, they would have never gotten to everyone before the store closed.
Posted by ticia232 on 2011-12-11:
So you want people going through everyone asking are you so and so? I went through that once at a hospital, and I got angry because they did not believe me.

What if someone had the same name? (that is what most places use.) They might have wrongfully thought that it was their place. (My brother's have very common names and get that at times in Dr's Offices.)
Posted by JayByJay on 2011-12-11:
You played the race card, not the manager.
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2011-12-11:
Imagine how much later your appointment would have been behind if they had to check the dressing rooms and bathrooms for every customer there. It's their busy season and you have to expect delays and if it's noisey, you have to move up where you can hear names being called. Did you hear other names being called? If not, that would have been a good indication that you would not hear yours called as well. I see no race card being played by them. The fact that you stated they should check the bathrooms and dressing rooms tell me you were wondering off from the area where they told you to wait and that's why you missed your name being called. If I was sitting there waiting, I wouldn' even think to come up with 'they should check the bathrooms and dressing rooms'...unless of course that was where I was because them checking those places when they called you woudn't have made a differenced IF you weren't in them...not their fault.
Posted by clutzycook on 2011-12-11:
Just an FYI, OP. "Playing the race card" happens when the offended person determines that their poor treatment occurred because of their race. The manager was unprofessional, certainly. But the fact that the group that she called back were white was likely pure coincidence.

If it were me, I don't think I would have sat there for nearly 90 minutes past my appointment time without asking for an update, just MHO.
Posted by trmn8r on 2011-12-11:
JayByJay and clutzy said what was on my mind. in this situation, if you don't check every 10-15 minutes, it is possible you are going to be passed over. If it is a zoo, it isn't realistic unfortunately for the CSR to walk around the entire place to find each party. They probably have some that give up and walk away after 30-60 minutes, complicating matters.
Posted by lexophiliac on 2011-12-11:
And to think a simple I'm sorry would have made everything alright. Good review.
Posted by ??? on 2011-12-12:
"Playing a race card" is when you ACCUSE someone of treating you differently because of race.

Therefore the *manager* did not play a race card.


Although on another site I saw the most PERFECT reply to someone playing a race card. You say back to the person, "You're only calling me racist because I'm "

Sometimes race has nothing to do with it... except to the person accusing the employee of racism.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-12:
Lexo, I don't think so. The OP believes an employee should locate the next party when they don't respond to their name being called. That is never going to happen. It's just too time consuming.
Posted by lexophiliac on 2011-12-12:
I disagree Venice. She mentions an apology in the body of her complaint 3 times. Leaving me with the distinct impression that the OP is hurt more than anything.

"Her reply....there was not one, complete silence. No reply, no apology, nothing.

Finally Samantha came out to say, “as soon as the current group finished in Room 1, I’ll get you started”. For the record, Samantha happens to be black. Andrea (the Manager) made the mistake but she sent Samantha to correct her series of mistakes, the first being that she did not walk the floor to ensure my presence, the second - she offered no apology.

In anything you do or anyplace you go - "THINGS" happen, so the least she should have done was offer an apology."
- I think this last sentence sums up the crux of the matter as far as the OP is concerned.
I happen to agree with the OP - If I was told to sit around a corner - somebody d@mn well better come around that corner and call my name.
Posted by Churro on 2011-12-12:
Lexo has the correct answer here.

This yet another complaint spawned by front line wokers with a complete lack of 'people skills'. It's really not that hard to charm people if you try.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-12:
"the first being that she did not walk the floor to ensure my presence, the second - she offered no apology."

An apology should have been given, and yes it would have helped, but I think the OP would have still felt wronged and complained about the customer service because "good customer service is to walk the floor and make sure the customer is
(1) not in the dressing room;
(2) not in the bathroom; or
(3) simply not hearing you."

I just can't imagine that happening at a busy portrait studio.

I actually think this was an honest mistake, and that the OP overreacted and Andrea was embarrassed. But there's no way of knowing.

Everyone is entitled to their feelings even if there's a misunderstanding.
Posted by Churro on 2011-12-12:
I would never pretend to know how somebody else is going to react or be so bold as to substitute my character assessment of a person I only know by a few paragraphs on a gripe site for the actual statements of that person. Clairvoyance is a skill I simply lack and one best left for parlor tricks. I do however know that by the only firsthand account available that this situation was handled poorly by the staff of Portrait Innovations. This I know for sure. The rest is mere speculation.
Posted by lexophiliac on 2011-12-12:
Life is speculation. *James Keene agrees*
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-12:
Everything here is speculation.
Posted by SteveWiginowski on 2011-12-12:
When you go to a restaurant on the weekends and it's busy they start a waiting list. They start calling out names, they say "Dufresne, party of two. Dufresne, party of two." And if no one answers they'll say their name again. "Dufresne, party of two, Dufresne, party of two." But then if no one answers they'll just go right on to the next name. "Bush, party of three." Yeah, what happened to the Dufresnes? No one seems to care. Who can eat at a time like this? People are missing! You people are selfish. The Dufresnes are in someone's trunk right now, with duct tape over their mouths. And they're hungry. That's a double whammy. Bush, search party of three, you can eat when you find the Dufresnes.

-Mitch Hedberg
Posted by CowboyFan on 2011-12-12:
Somehow the white family heard their name called, because they went up. If the OP could see them go up, they must have been in the op's sight, which means the white family was seated in the same area as the op. How is it the white family was able to hear their name, while the op could not - inattention, cell phone - it is unclear from the post.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-12-12:
SteveWiginowski> Too funny! I was actually watching his stand-up routines on Youtube this weekend.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-12-12:
I don't think you'll find any store that will walk the entire floor, including dressing rooms, calling out each person's name. However, in complete agreement with Ript, if I were asked to sit around the corner from the main desk, then they at least owe us the courtesy of walking around that same corner to call our name.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-12:
I would agree, too, except I was thinking along the same line as CowboyFan. If the OP saw the other party get up, they must have been seated in the same area. So why didn't the OP hear her name being called? Maybe she was in the dressing room or bathroom.
Posted by Churro on 2011-12-12:
" I had a 5:10pm appointment "

" At 6:28 they had still not gotten to us;"

Enuf said.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-12:
Ever been to a portrait studio at Christmastime, Churro? Waiting is not unusual, even with an appointment. Imagine if the employees had to walk the store to find each customer.
Posted by Churro on 2011-12-12:
Imagine if the employees knew how to properly schedule appointments. Probably wouldn't have complaint here.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-12-12:
Churro> You're spot on with your assessments today, and the defending champion on the Caption Contest...if that isn't grounds for Member of the Month nominee selection, then I don't know what is.
Posted by JayByJay on 2011-12-12:
Churro, imagine company policy that forces employees to stack appointments at unreasonable times.

I work in a portrait studio, won't say which, and we have to schedule appointments every 10 minutes if it gets busy enough. And that's with just one camera.
Not the employees fault.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-12:
Try explaining appointments to babies and toddlers. They are not exactly cooperative when getting their picture taken. And the parents aren't much better, driving the photographer crazy until they get the 'perfect' shot! The employees do their best with what they have. I feel sorry for them.
Posted by trmn8r on 2011-12-12:
Oh come on Venice. Why not berate the employee? The customer is always right, and should take every opportunity to remind lowly workers of that.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-12:
Silly me. I keep forgetting that the customer is always right.

There's a reason I've never worked in retail.
Posted by Churro on 2011-12-12:
Whether or not a baby or toddler understands scheduling or any other concept is not my concern. I do however expect when I have a 5:10PM appointment that I won't be left waiting around for over an hour. That's a reasonable expectation. I'm sure if a customer showed up at this place an hour late for an appointment this business wouldn't be as accommodating as they expect the customer to be.

Eh, it were me I'd have walked out after 20 minutes. I for one will not enable bad customer service.
Posted by JayByJay on 2011-12-12:
Now that is a far more reasonable response.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-12-12:
If parents want the pictures badly enough, they do whatever it takes because they realize that this time of year is extremely busy and waiting goes with the territory. If they don't want to wait, then they don't get the pictures. It's that simple.

I'm sure there are professional photographers that give much better service for a price. But most parents are not willing to pay that price.
Posted by SteveWiginowski on 2011-12-12:
Churro, that is part of your concern. If you are the portrait place and take appointments, you have a reasonable expectation for how long each appointment will go. If an appointment is going to go long, what do you do?

Have you ever been to a doctor or dentist office and had to wait before seeing the doctor? What's the longest you've had to wait?

I'm not saying it's good service to have to wait, but things happen and other appointments sometimes take longer than expected. The simple answer is to schedule less appointments. The problem with that is if they're in demand, they don't want to tell someone they can't come in on a certain day because they might be backed up with longer than expected appointments.

Overall, in the photo case, it's a shame that it happened. Personally, I would have checked after 30 minutes to see how much longer (asking for a time estimate), then waiting for a few minutes after that estimate how much longer it would be.

What happened here was a case of miscommunication and unexpected delays.
Posted by photog on 2014-01-20:
Yeah i work at a studio that shall not be named. It was packed and my session was next. I could.not find.her even after checking twice (asking everyone). People waiting all too often dont pay attention even when you are right in front of them, saying their name. So i decide to call her contact number, thinking wont we both look silly when she sticks her arm up out of the crowd (yes we were that packed). She amswers and i say, where are you? She says oh, im on Route 1. Im like, whaat? She evemtually reveals that she's a couple miles up the road. She was told there were a few families ahead of her and she had stuff to do. Thing is, she didnt tell anyone, im stepping out for a minute, call me when im getting close (we did that for parents sitting in cars with kids etc). Needless to say she missed her appointment.
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Horrible Customer Service
Posted by Katarina46 on 04/22/2011
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA -- I am disappointed in the services provided because the photo session was of very low quality and the resultant pictures were not up to the quality we have come to expect. As suggested by the Portrait Innovations website, we arrived five minutes early for our appointment, but then waited an additional 20 until our session started. Since I have a young child, I had specifically chosen this appointment time to avoid naps and feedings and on a Friday to avoid excessive weekend crowds, so I was very frustrated to start so late for an appointment that I had so carefully chosen. Additionally, after starting significantly late for our appointment, we were rushed through our photo session. In fact, the photographer only took four pictures in one pose for one outfit.

The photographer, while very friendly, did not listen to what we wanted from the session. The purpose of this session, as told to the agent when we made the appointment, was for my daughter’s 8 month pictures. We wanted pictures of her playing with different spring and Easter related props. We even brought a few toys with us to help with the session. However, we only got one pose with a prop and the backgrounds chosen by the photographer did not reflect spring very well. In fact, one background was red with a rose lighting that made my daughter look like she had sunburn! Additionally, several pictures were unusable since the photographer either cut off part of my daughter’s chin or were so off center they could not be fixed.

Normally I leave the studio feeling like I could have spent several hundred more dollars and having had a very difficult time choosing between so many great pictures. This time however, it was very difficult to find even six good poses.

When we picked up our pictures, thankfully we checked our package before getting all the way home since we were given another family’s pictures. We had to return to the store to correct the mistake and luckily, our photos were still there. This final mistake just made working with that company that much more disappointing.

We ended up spending over $100, but should have just walked away with the $10 special instead of wasting more time and money. We will be looking for another photography studio to do our daughter’s 1 year pictures and all of our holiday and special event pictures from now on. In fact, we were so upset about our experience, we will be sure to tell everyone we know to avoid spending their money there.
     
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Posted by DebtorBasher on 2011-04-23:
Didn't they offer you some proofs to look over before you ordered the pictures? Sounds like they were behind schedule a bit and rushed you to make up for the lost time.

I'm not sure how good you are with photoshopping programs, but if you have a nice photo of your little girl, you can use that photo and put it to any kind of Easter backgrounds yourself. It really isn't difficult at all to do if you know the basics of photochopping. I've done it with pictures of my nieces and nephews and they turned out as if they were actually posing in front of those backgrounds.
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Appreciate Their Work
Posted by Nana Suzie on 10/24/2010
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS -- My daughter had an accident on the way to get pictures taken. We were an hr. late, but they were very understanding and patient with 4 kids that were getting pics taken way to close to their nap times and with the adults that were still in shock from the car accident. My daughter doesn't live in town and I am thankful we were able to get the pics while she was here thanks to the patience of the photographers and their co-workers. Will visit them again.

     
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Posted by Venice09 on 2010-10-24:
This is a great testimonial. Some of these portrait places can be short on patience. Having pictures taken with the kids is stressful enough. An accident would make it even worse. I'm glad they were so accommodating and that you got the pictures!
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Bad Customer Service - and Bad Attitudes
Posted by Emmye27 on 05/03/2010
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS -- I have used PI before in the DFW area and have had nothing but good experiences. We were going to be in College Station visiting family and decided to try out the new location that was just opened. I wanted a very specific pose, which I had gotten the same picture taken of my son when he was the age of my daughter. I told them I did not want the spring background because I would not order the pictures. I am pretty sure this made them mad. So I am not sure if this is what happened to the photographer's attitude or what. Also my daughter is 7 months old, she does not like strangers and the "helper" was in her face scaring her to death. We only got maybe 2 or 3 good pictures out of the whole session. We then moved to the other room to do an outfit change and take more pictures. My daughter can sit up very well. They put her in a rocking chair. I wanted to stay very close so that incase she moved too much I could catch her. The photographer kept telling me to move back so that she could get her shot and that is when my daughter fell out of the chair and burned her face on the material of the back drop. She was screaming and the session was over. All I got was "poor baby" out of the photographer.

As I stated I went in to get the special and then one other poise. I was very disappointed at the pictures. They scared her from the beginnings and I could not get her in the grove after that. I did not even end up with the poise I wanted. I paid way too much for the quality of pictures. I never got a sorry or anything out of anyone there.

I will be calling the main office and complaining about this store and the employees. They were not kid friendly. Also they need to know that if someone comes in for something specific do it, don't try to push all the "scheduled" poises on them.

I will never return to this location.
     
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Posted by Venice09 on 2010-05-03:
Leaving a seven-month old baby alone in a rocking chair is a bad idea. I'm surprised they did that, and that you agreed to it. There's a limit to how close you can get to the baby without being in the shot, so your chances of catching her if she fell were slim.

I don't know why they would be mad or have an attitude just because you didn't want the Spring background. Unless it required a lot of work to change the background, which I don't think it does, why would they care?

I think you were expecting the same experience you had with your son, but it sounds like your daughter has a different personality. If she doesn't like strangers at this point in time, maybe it would have been a better idea to wait a little longer before having photos taken.

It seems like nothing was going as planned right from the beginning, and I don't understand why you paid for pictures that did not meet your satisfaction.
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Worst Customer Service Ever
Posted by on 04/16/2010
HOUSTON, TEXAS -- Where do I begin? I walked in NOT liking this place. Shadows on the pictures, dirty chairs, disinterested employees, cheesy, dirty props, open studio and NO privacy. No one welcomed me to their studio, asked me, May I help you? Nothing. I said, I'm here to take senior pics for my daughter. Manager thought he was being funny by saying, YOU can't use our studio and equipment. YOU aren't the photographer. WE take the pics, not YOU, etc. etc. I actually had to tell him to SHUT UP. During our session, when my daughter left for three minutes to change an outfit, the photographer said, we are going to step out for a minute. I said, are you going out to have a smoke while my daughter changes? NO...ANOTHER CLIENT CAME EARLY AND WE ARE GOING TO GIVE HER YOUR ROOM WHILE YOUR DAUGHTER CHANGES. My daughter came out no more than one minute later, so we sat there for fifteen minutes while another EARLY client used OUR room with MY private possessions in it. I was SO irritated, and finally, seeing the look on my face, the photographer said, What's wrong? and I said I am REALLY irritated. He just said, oh, I'm sorry, and walked away. I have never been so pissed off at a place in my life and will NOT recommend this place to ANYONE unless you LIKE crummy photography studios.

The website also has NO customer contact email address. This is a nationwide chain, and have read complaints from all over the country.
     
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Posted by goduke on 2010-04-16:
So there were dirty chair, cheesy props, no on greeted you, no privacy. What, pray tell, convinced you to stay around for the photo shoot session?
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-04-16:
I would have politely told them that the group showing up early will just have to wait, since we've already started our session. If they refuse, say fine. Take your daughter and your money elsewhere. End of story.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-04-16:
well this portrait innovations certainly doesn't know how to keep and retain customers do they? I gotta tell ya neville82, I am wondering the same as goduke. portraits are spendy. why give any cash to a dump like this?
Posted by PepperElf on 2010-04-16:
you know... i'd suggest looking around at some modeling sites.
sometimes you'll find someone who will rent out his or her studio for another photographer to use. let me know if you want some links to them.

my boyfriend rented one in japan. the studio turned out to be in the other photographer's apartment, but that's not unusual in japan and it turned out to be a very good photo shoot.


Out of curiosity, how experienced are you with photography?
i'm just thinking of the college class i took last summer. you may want to consider trying other settings for the photos too; sometimes an outdoor setting can work really well, although obviously you can't change as much unless you've made preparations.

then again, i know how bloody expensive the photography gear is. it's MUCH cheaper to rent the studio & use theirs vs buying all the props yourself. and i don't just mean backdrops but the real gear props like flashes, bounces, stands, more flashes, etc.
Posted by momsey on 2010-04-16:
Pepper, I don't think the OP was looking to actually use the photography equipment. I might be wrong, but I think she just said "I'm here to take senior pics for my daughter" meaning "I'm here to have my daughter's pictures taken" and the photographer went off on that as if she wanted to take the photos.
Posted by igwt on 2010-07-10:
To answer why we didn't leave, my senior daughter insisted that we stay. I had been packing up my purse and tote bag, getting my keys out, etc. when the "photographer" asked me what was wrong, and immediately after that our room miraculously became available. I didn't discover the chairs were filthy until in the middle of the shoot while we were waiting for the other people to get the heck out of our room. I still think this is the most unprofessional studio I have ever been in and will never be back.
Posted by mullinszone on 2010-07-21:
I went there today and left feeling like I had been slimed. I only wanted the $9 package and thought I would splurge on one of the special $30 sheets. I ended up spending 86 dollars and honestly wasn't sure what was going to show up in the envelope I got. The lady taking the pictures seemed to view me as a nuisance. She also didn't want to set up the pictures the way I wanted them. I kept asking for a black background on the special effects and she was pushing the white. She tried to force her favorite poses on me. Personally I think it is stupid to take a picture of a 3 month old on a boogie board that looked like it washed up on Galveston beach yesterday. After she rang me up she got out her calculator and kept messing with it and seemed to be talking to the manager about me. Maybe she was figuring her commission?? I was prepared for a hard sell but I wasn't prepared to be treated rudely and confused to the point I didn't know what I was buying. I shouldn't have given in that easily...I did fight her from $400 to $86 but I let my emotions talk me into stopping at that point and just take what she sold me. I would go again but I will stick to my guns and just get what I came for.
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