Monday, July 18, 2011

The JC Penney "Memories in the Making" scam

There are things about having a baby that are delightful and wonderful.  Seeing Lucy giggle in the morning over nothing more than a new clean diaper is a treat.  I'm sure in time this will wear off as a novelty, but these days she's very appreciative.

Dressing our little bundle in all the fabulous outfits that have been generously donated by grandmas, friends and wanna-be grandmas is also really fun.   Dressing Lucy in the occasional skull & cross bones subversive outfit is also something we get a bolt of parental happiness over.

The obligatory trip to the JC Penney photo studio to capture our special princess in all her stunning baby glory is NOT one of those activities.  The photo studio people started out on the wrong foot after their fourth email confirmation and then phone call to confirm that we were coming at 10:40 am.  Appointment times are firm, so don't be late.

You have to know that when they were "running behind" when we arrived that I was less than pleased.  We had timed the photo session in such a way that were in the perfect post bottle, no nap needed moment for our peanut.  She was all dolled up in clothes that she wasn't exactly comfortable in it was hot in the studio.  Waiting was not a welcome activity.  But, for 20 minutes wait we did.  That was just long enough for Lucy to decide she was profoundly unhappy.

I'll give the studio "photographer" some credit as she captured some decent photos of my unhappy baby, but most of them looked like this:
(I had to take a picture of this from their website - and I'll get into that in a moment.)

They took a total of 16 pictures and then all hell broke loose.  Lucy had an instantaneous"Get me out of this dress", "I need a Gosh Damned Bottle RIGHT NOW" and a STINKY DIAPER alarm at the same time.  Usually these are timed so that you don't have wait on one activity for the other, but not at JC Penney.  At JC Penney Lucy had all bio functions alarm at once. 

I tried to focus on the photo lady while Jason dropped to the floor to unclothe Angry Lucy, refresh the diaper and apply a bottle to reduce the head spins.

So, in a "sales pitch" situation it is best if you give me the facts up front.  My "scam" alarm goes up when my requests for the actual price of things is delayed.  I knew something was amiss when they took the cutest picture of Lucy, dropped it onto a background and I cooed with delight.  Then the photo lady - turned car salesman couldn't get off that photo on the screen to save her life.  She wanted to show me the image on t-shirts, purses, a decal for our car (not true mom, so don't even think it.) 

When I FINALLY got her to cough up the pricing for the photos it turns out she wanted us to hand over $250 bucks for the digital images and the "adorable" Lucy on the background photos.  Wow, I love my kid.  I think she's rather photogenic, but I have over 600 digital shots at home many of which are on par with the pictures of Angry Lucy in their packet.  So, we (I, as Jason was still trying to calm the Peanut) decided to go with the cheap persons photo package.  We could choose two different pictures for 8x10's and 3 for 5x7's and another for wallet photos that no one will ever use.  I tried to select the sweet picture on the background and was promptly told that I couldn't select "the premium" pictures for that album.   This really irked me because I understand how printing works... once the image is created (which she did right there in front of me) printing is the same cost and effort no matter what is on the file. 

Thinking quickly I asked how much to purchase the digital images and was told $150.  Hmmm.... $150 for what really amounts to three or four cute-ish pictures.  Sorry, not interested.  For that kind of money, we could skip the 6 month, and 1 year professional photos and buy an awesome light and make our own studio at home.  Heck, I have a dirty sheet and once Lucy is sitting on her own won't need the fancy baby prop thingies that are under the dirty sheet she is sitting on.

We settled on our order, and then got the hell out of the store.  I left with an unsavory taste in my mouth. 

Oh, and here's the other thing that was irritating.  When we scheduled online for our (apparently flexible) prompt studio time I had to give our address, phone number and email.  They had the information for the 4 confirmation emails and phone call, but was it in their system at the store so we could place our order quickly?  NO...  After the parental manipulator (photograper/salesperson) bungled our last name I asked if I could simply enter the data myself.  She seemed hesitant to hand over the key board to let me type my own address, as if customers can't be trusted to do such things for themselves.

If we do professional photos again, I might spring for a real studio with real proofs and a photographer who is not a salesperson.  The prices will be more, but the experience will be more savory as well.  We'll see, Jason HATES the photography session event, so don't hold your breath for stunning studio photos of my beautiful family.

1 comment:

MWR said...

If I were ever to set foot inside a Penney's, one of the last reasons would be for the professional photography services they provide. They don't even know how to make Frangos--how the hell do you expect them to know how to make good photographs?

Actually, you should always trust your precious memories to the professionals at SEARS (yes, I know that they too don't even know how to make Frangos, but that's somehow less important). By doing so, you will get Lucy accustomed to being dragged to SEARS on a regular basis against her wishes and better judgment, and she will gradually resign herself to such treatment. In a few years, after her will has been sufficiently ground down, she will not have the strength to resist when you suddenly start buying her Toughskins.