Kinkos has more than a few kinks to work out

Haven't needed to use Kinkos in a while. Good thing. I decided to try Kinkos's online ordering system to order photo greeting cards for use as invitations to my parents' golden wedding anniversary. I needed them delivered to my sister in Michigan at the very latest by Thursday night. According to everything I read on the website, this was a shoo-in.

The photo greeting cards are about $30 for a package of 25 cards and envelopes. You can only get them in sets of 25, which is fine by me. I created the card and labored over getting the six lines allocated for the text inside (an invitation to the anniversary party, in this case), ordered four sets of 25 cards with matching white envelopes, ordered overnight delivery (Fedex owns Kinkos now -- I figured it would be seamless), paid for them, everything was easy. I even got a prompt notice that my order would be sent directly to the Kinkos I'd selected to process it -- the one in Norwalk on Westport Avenue. Mainly because it's close to my house and I figured if necessary, I could go there to proof the cards.

I didn't think twice about it -- Kinkos should have the process down pat after all these years. This was on the 19th.

So I was pleased when, later that day, I got a message stating that the order had been processed and was being delivered. Since it was a Sunday, I figured the order would go out Monday and my sister would receive it on Tuesday. Sounds about right for overnight delivery, right?

Well, nothing on Tuesday. I figured I misunderstood what the message said. But, nope, my sister didn't get them on Wednesday, either. Ok, panic time.

I call. "Oh, yes, the order was processed, and it's here."

"What do you mean, 'it's here,' it's supposed to be in Dearborn Heights?" Flunky said he'd have his manager get back to me within 15 minutes. So, 30 minutes later, I called. "Oh," she said. "The order was done, but the guy who ran it put it in the wrong bin."

"So what are you going to do about it?" I asked, explaining that it was already supposed to be in Dearborn Heights. She gave me the runaround and said they'd get it out "tomorrow." I asked how it was possible for her to get it out on Thursday and get it delivered in Michigan by Thursday evening -- why couldn't she just get it out right then?

She refused, saying the cutoff time was 6:00. I told her that she was nuts, that there was a Fedex center downtown Norwalk and if she sent somebody right then, they'd make it in plenty of time. I heard her asking a staff if she knew where Fedex was, and then told me she'd send somebody over. She lied.

I didn't waste any time -- I called customer service, the 1-800-2kinkos phone number. When will companies realize that using words instead of numbers for customer service only makes things worse? I was angry to begin with and the annoyance of wasting more time trying to find the flipping microscopic letters on the keypad weren't making things any better.

Got through to customer service, where the rep first said the package could be shipped in the morning for evening delivery. Which would be fine -- the idea was to get it there by Thursday evening. Friday would be too late. But, the ninny of a manager, L, refused to ship it because, she told the rep, it would be too expensive. Oh, just what an irate customer wants to hear, right? The idiot manager basically said the screwup was a staff's fault, or my fault, definitely not her responsibility.

I told the rep that this answer was completely and totally unacceptable -- I think the rep agreed, because the rep put me on hold and tracked down the District Manager for the store. She told me that he just happened to be over at the Kinkos that was processing my order, and that he would call me. I told her thank you, and I called him, given Norwalk Kinkos's track record for returning phone calls.

He was nice, at least, and apologized and did not blame me or an underling for the screwup. He said he had a solution: since the order was digital, he would set it up so the Dearborn Heights (or Dearborn) store printed the order and would get it to my sister by 4:00 Thursday. Ok, fine -- the key was that she gets them by Thursday night so she could address them while on her trip to Washington so she could get them in the mail on Monday. He also told me that I could pick up the order sitting in the Norwalk Kinkos and do what I wanted to with it (there's no way I needed 200 invitations, but I did want to see what they looked like). I said I would be in to get the order Thursday some time. His solution was great -- and that explains why he's a District Manager and the store night manager is just a night manager and will never be anything more than a night manager.

I then got a message from the nincompoop manager later that evening letting me know that everything was set up for the job to be completed on Thursday.

I got a phone call from the Dearborn Kinkos on Thursday about 4:00 or so. They guy said, "Um, they're trying to deliver the package, but there's nobody home." Me: "Well of course there's nobody home -- they're at work. As long as it's not raining, you can just leave the package inside the storm door." "Uh, ok, I just wanted to confirm that we could leave the package."

I had some hope.

But it gets better. They delivered the cards, all 100-plus of them. And Jamie said they look great. But ... "Aren't there supposed to be envelopes?" she asked. Not an envelope to be found. I guess Kinkos assumed we would hand deliver all 100 of them.

Back on the phone to the Low IQ manager. Who not only was rude, she essentially told me to deal with it myself. She gave me the number and the name of the person handling it. She said, "I thought you were going to come in earlier for your order, I was going to follow up then." Why do I have to go in to handle anything for an automated order? The whole idea is ease ... but I digress.

I called Dearborn and asked what the deal was. The guy was courteous, but, he said, the other Dearborn store actually printed and delivered the job, not him. I asked him what we were supposed to do without envelopes, which were part of the deal. He said he'd check and see if he had them in stock. Fortunately, he did, and fortunately, my sister was able to go over to the store and get them since Kinkos doesn't deliver after 5:00.

So that ended well enough though why I had to spend so much time on the phone to get the job done right I don't know. Fedex Kinkos advertisements are a crock -- you can't turn stuff over to them and not worry about it.

Then I went to pick up the order trapped in Norwalk. One of the Kinkos drones went to get my order, and handed me a Fedex letter envelope with four cards, no card envelopes, in the fedex envelope. It wasn't even a pouch, just one of those business letter mailer packages. "Where is the rest of the order?" I asked. "This is the order," he said. I said it couldn't be -- I'd hardly pay $120 for four cards, especially cards without envelopes. He insisted that was the order.

I asked to speak with the manager immediately. Drone said, "She's in a meeting." Now, I could SEE the woman from where I stood and she wasn't even on the telephone, just rustling through some papers on her desk. I told the kid to stop lying and go get her now.

The dumbkopf manager came out. I explained to her that the District Manager said I could pick up my order. She said she knew nothing about that. I said, "Yes you do, he was talking to you while we were on the phone, I HEARD you." She handed me the four cards, said she had to keep the Fedex envelope. I asked where the other 96 cards were, and the envelopes. She said I was holding the complete order. I asked her if she was insane, pointing out that you can't even buy individual cards, only sets of 25. As in four sets of 25 cards.

She got even ruder, and insisted that the order said four. She ran and got some printout where she showed me the numeral 4. I said, "Yes, four SETS." I lost it, and yelled that I wanted my order and I wanted my refund for overnight delivery. I did not swear or use any phrase harsher than "you're screwing me over." She then tried to throw me out of the store, accusing me of swearing at her, and threatened to have me removed. I told her to go ahead, call the cops, but I wanted my order and my refund, and that shouting isn't swearing. I insisted that she call the district manager. She said didn't know his number. I asked if it was Kinkos policy to lie to customers. I could see I wasn't going to get anywhere with the ignoramus, so I got the spelling of the District Manager's name and left.

I told Stanley what had happened, handed him the four cards, and he burst out laughing. The level of incompetence, from the second the order hit the Westport Avenue Kinkos to finally getting the order completed, was breathtaking. I have never encountered quite this level of bumbling; it's as if Kinkos's corporate model is the Keystone Kops.

The manager needs some serious training in customer relations. Instead of blaming the drones, blaming the paperwork, and blaming me for the mess, taking not one iota of responsibility for the screwup, L should have just apologized profusely and made it right. I didn't even need a profuse apology, I just wanted the order done right. A simple, "I'm sorry, I'll fix it." would've been just fine. This company claims customer satisfaction is their top priority, so one would thing store managers would receive a least a booklet on "How to Deal with Irate Customers." Maybe they do train managers -- maybe this one is the proof of the Peter Principle.

When we got home from the library, I had some time before CSI started, so I decided to call customer service again so I could get a refund for the delivery fee and register a complaint about the nasty, rude schmuck manager, and ask what the kind of business they are running. Doesn't the store staff know what the hell Kinkos sells? But customer service had beaten me to the punch -- there was a message from them asking me to call.

The rep on the phone was courteous, listened, is well-trained in dealing with super-irate customers. I wanted to know how they could have gotten the order so wrong and why the District Manager, who was in the store and saw my order since he knew what it was, didn't catch the obvious screw-up of four cards instead of four sets. I made him listen to it blow-by-blow (well, he asked for the story). He told me that Fedex was refunding the cost of the entire order to make amends for being so badly treated. I said I didn't need the whole thing refunded, just the shipping fee but he said that Fedex authorized the refund so a refund is what I was going to get (I got it -- more trouble for him to not refund it all). I told him I want an apology in writing from the moron manager, and I wanted to know from the District Manager how he could have missed such an obvious screwup when he was "investigating" my problem. Mr. Rep said he'd put that in the "report." I'm not holding my breath that I'll ever hear from Kinkos again.

I did tell the rep that I wanted to go on record as being pleased with the final product -- the invitations are beautiful -- they're able to print high-resolution images well. It's a pity that my experience with Kinkos was so bad that unless they're the ONLY company that can do something, I will never use any of their services again -- not for personal stuff or for business stuff. They wasted way, way too much of my time. I certainly wouldn't recommend them for Christmas cards or anything else like that. I wouldn't recommend the Norwalk Kinkos for ANYTHING unless they get a manager with a hint of intelligence in there.

I was beginning to think conspiracy thoughts -- there's a plot afoot to drive me insane ... because I also had trouble ordering photo stamps from We wanted to use another picture of my parents for the stamp, and though the price of the photo stamps are a bit on the high side, hey, this is a super special occasion, so ... and the advertising makes photo stamps seem so cool.

But you can't make photo stamps of anyone over the age of 12. Only they don't tell you that when ordering -- you just get a note that your order has been rejected and if you have the patience to read through the legal crap, you can figure out why. I spent a long time getting the image just right, so I was super ticked that wasted my time. I hope they fold, a possibility mentioned in the Wall Street Journal today.

I have one more biggish task for this celebration, no, I take that back, two tasks. But they're both tasks that I control so I don't have to worry about it -- I just need some time to do them. The designing part has been quite enjoyable. And I'm really looking forward to the first week in November -- it will be wonderful for all of us to be together at the same time. It's been longer than I can remember that all five of my sibs and I were in the same place with my parents at the same time. What makes it even better is that I LIKE my family.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/24/04 at 03:23 AM
  1. you should try the primates who work at the Kinkos on High Ridge Road in Stamford. I’ve been there a couple of times to pick up stuff for my wife or drop off a fed ex package.

    My personal favorite incident was one afternoon the dronebot at the counter just got up and left when there were at least six or seven people on line. He was on break and that was that. No one there to relieve him - the two other drones in the back were futzing with they copy machines and we all just stood there in line like idiots.

    Truly astounding when you consider how cheap and easy it’s getting to do custom printing on an ink jet printer at home. Or at least how easay and cheep it will be before long.

    Posted by david  on  09/24  at  04:40 PM
  2. I suspect there’s quite a large vein of Kinkos horror stories out there in the mines.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/24  at  05:09 PM
  3. I’m going to kick a dead horse with good reason— I’ve worked for kinko’s for way too long and granted, I can attest, there is many a time when kinko’s has screwed up orders and your situation is not unique…so, know that it will happen a million more times (and that’s a conservative estimate).. but what either you don’t realize or what you’re forgetting is that copies/printing are no longer anything special;even though they do begin with an original idea.  kinkos is not unique—-its mcdittos,read that again—mcdittos. Its corporate america and owned by just another mega-corporation and things will only get worse…There priority is making $$$ and I can tell you, it’s not going to the “dronebots…”  They hire people at minimum wage and kinko’s is retail—putting up with bullshit from people on a minute to minute basis; and everybody that crosses the threshold into any location worldwide has an idea of the final product; beit the quality or the customer service they EXPECT… and it’s completely subjective…Right now its rumored that at the first of the year they’re evolving into franchise locations—again just a rumor. Granted Lee, your order got screwed up and its was a stressor for you… I’m sure you’re busy, but another thing that I recognize is when someone who procratinates or is under a deadline—- but so is everyone else, so my hope is, should you venture into a kinko’s again that you’ll consider this—the people that are meticulous are few and when somebody is making a “copy” getting paid $7/hr to do it there’s rarely a sense of ownership…. Better luck next time & I empathize..  peace, R.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/26  at  03:45 AM
  4. You’re getting paid to do a job. So do your job. It’s not your place to judge the customer, just to do your job. And be glad that you have one.

    Posted by lee  on  10/30  at  05:23 AM
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