It was my first exploration into the brave new world of ordering photo-prints online.

I thought the experience would be simple…

  • Visit a website
  • Upload a bunch of photos I want printed
  • Choose the size and format
  • Enter my address and credit card details
  • Then forget about it a for a few days…
    …until “viola!” – crispy fresh photo prints in my mailbox!

Yeah right…

After a quick Google I found two websites in New Zealand offering online photo processing – FrogPrints and digitalmax.

The one problem with FrogPrints (from 70 cents per photo) was that their bulk upload tool works with Windows only (I have a Mac). Now I could have tried the one-image-at-a-time option, but I decided to check out the competition…

Digitalmax, while significantly cheaper (from 48 cents) had the same issue. Bulk uploads for Windows users only. They also had a Mac (and Linux) compatible tool – but the catch – you could only upload 5 photos per order (the postage would have cost more than the photos!).

40 cent real Kodak photos! (yeah, right...)

40 cent real Kodak photos! (yeah, right...)

So, back to Google. This time I find FotoPost.

The site is a bit garish, but look at the boldly advertised per-print cost – just 40 cents! And despite them having no Mac-friendly bulk-uploading tool I could instead upload as many photos as I wanted (one-at-a-time).

This looked like the better option, so I sign-up, then spend about an hour uploading about 50 photos – a laborious process, but I get there in the end.

I proceed to the checkout…

Hang on, it turns out I’m being charged 70 cents per photo (the homepage clearly stated 40 cents!). I duck off to read the fine print – bugger – it’s only 40 cents only if you “Become a member of the digital foto club…” AND “…when you use FREE Easyfoto software”. And, it turns out that you need Windows again (and then all the Easyfoto software does is burn the files to a CD).

An hour or so later… I feel annoyed.   But since I’ve spent an hour uploading the photos I carry on- credit card at the ready – then this gooblety-gook appears…

fotopost02

I try again – same message. I try closing the browser and logging in. Now I’m told that “Your email address or password is incorrect”. Oh really? I try again. Same message. I check my email to see if they’ve emailed me a different password. Nothing there.

I give up…

I’m pissed off…

An hour of my life has just been wasted…

FotoPost, FrogPrints and digitalmax – you’re all losing customers – here’s a few reasons why…

  • No extra software: Don’t make users download software so they can use your services. Visit Flickr and see the possibilities.
  • Mac users are gold: Support Mac users like me (they’re a significant percentage of photographers, graphic artists and home users).
  • Don’t ask if you don’t need it: Don’t ask for a users email address and password as a logon, and then not let them logon.
  • Be human: Don’t show incomprehensible error messages.
  • Build safety nets: If an error does occur then do something about it – FotoPost – you (supposedly) had already captured my email address and could have detected that I didn’t complete the transaction.
  • Don’t dupe customers: Be upfront about the real costs of your services.