Having A Picture Scanned At OfficeMax Is Like Being On A Game Show

Adam and his wife never know what they’re going to be charged for scanning services at OfficeMax’s ImPress print center. I like to imagine that the ImPress employee stands in front of them holding a very long microphone, and tries to build tension before a coworker flips over the Actual Price card.

OfficeMax’s Impress must like charging a random amount for color scans. My wife is painting our Christmas cards this year, so she took a small, original water-color painting to OfficeMax to have it scanned so we could print them out at home. The employee did a great job and charged us $1.99. We figured that was fair price, and went on our way. My wife then decided she didn’t like part of what she painted and made a few touch ups, so we went back that same evening to have it scanned again. A different person was working, did a fine job and charged us only 25 cents. We didn’t ask about the price difference (maybe we should have?). The next day, she decided to paint yet another picture, exact same size as the previous one. We went back, a third time, for a color scan. Yet another person was working, and the price this time was $7.99! We couldn’t believe it. We mentioned the two scans from the day before, and they apologized and gave the third scan to us for 25 cents, which was awesome, but I can’t get over the crazy price differences. In the end we’re satisfied, but totally confused.

It’s nice of OfficeMax to give them the lower price, but it might also be good for them to pick a price and just list it somewhere where everyone can see.

(Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.)

Update: Commenter Scoobatz has solved the mystery!

Easy answer. OfficeMax employees have a keen eye for artwork and can see the subtle differences in the paintings. Seems like the wife did an OK job the first time, a terrible job the second time, then finally got her act together.


Edit Your Comment

  1. diasdiem says:

    Be happy the wheel didn’t land on “Auntie’s Choice” or “Gulag”

  2. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    I totally thought you were going for “Let’s Make a Deal”, what with the three doors and all, so you really threw me off with that last line.

    • Chris Walters says:

      I couldn’t find a good Price Is Right photo that was licensed for us to use, so I had to make something quickly.

    • mobiuschic42 says:

      Yeah, and now I’m thinking about the crazy probability stuff with the three doors and how that always makes my head hurt.

      • huadpe says:

        The three doors is simple. Always switch. Always.

        Monty Hall is not opening a random door. Opening the door gives you new information, and so you should switch.

    • DangerMouth says:

      (has a moment of silence for the lovely Carol Merril)

  3. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    How were these scans given to the OP? CD, Flash drive, DVD, etc… Maybe that has something to do with it?

  4. Scoobatz says:

    Easy answer. OfficeMax employees have a keen eye for artwork and can see the subtle differences in the paintings. Seems like the wife did an OK job the first time, a terrible job the second time, then finally got her act together.

  5. outlulz says:

    Charging for scanning is such BS anyway. There’s absolutely no cost in doing it other than the 30 seconds of wage for the employee scanning.

    • diasdiem says:

      Well, they could stop offering the service and just make you buy your own scanner, I guess.

      • vastrightwing says:

        I did that because every time I went to Kinkos, their printers left marks on my prints. I simply decided to purchase my own large format printer. In the end, it was cheaper for me.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      So why should they put a scanner and hire someone for their print center if they can’t charge for it?

    • Kitamura says:

      I don’t know if I really agree with that. They’re providing a service for people who don’t have the equipment (or know how) to do it themselves. Lots of things that only take a few seconds cost loads. Want some RAM installed in your PC? For that whole 60 seconds of work, they just charged you $50 in labour.

    • ryan89 says:

      Well, except they have to pay for the equipment they used to scan the painting, which likely wasn’t a $40 scanner.

      • tripnman says:

        +1 to you.

        High-end drum scanners can run a quarter mil + to purchase. My tiny company can’t afford that, so we routinely pay $50 – $200 for high quality scans. It is not a 30 second operation – the scanning itself is a slow process, plus there is the processing time, color correction, burning to DVD, etc. There is a lot more than the employee’s labor involved.

    • Skankingmike says:

      I know how to cook a steak where do they get off charging me 30 dollars to do it!

  6. crichton007 says:

    I understand the need to make a profit but even $1.99 for a single scan is pretty ridiculous. If these guys ever need another scan then can stop by my house and I’ll do it for free.

  7. Mira Mi Huevo!!! says:

    I used to be a graphic designer for Officemax PDS (Print and Document Services) a couple of years back. The scanning price is based on the scanner you use to scan what the customers bring you. 7.99 for the first scan and 1.99 each additional page on stand alone scanner and 25 cents for mass scanning with a copier.

    They have a book with all the pricing for services and their barcodes next to them with very little of a description.

    They also must have had a jump drive because burning a data cd is 9.99 if I remember correctly (Officemax Provides the CD).

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      That’s a rip. 25c cd and about 2 minutes (if that) to burn it. Are they paying you (does some math…) $120/hr?

  8. psiphiorg says:

    When I worked at CopyMax back in 1997, we had multiple listings on our price sheet for color copies. For 11″x17″, the price for a one-color copy was 17 cents, and the price for a full-color copy was $2.89.

    One day, a customer wanted a copy of a large, sepia-toned photograph that he had brought in. Since there was basically only one color in the photo, I figured that would be the best option. The color copier had a “one-color” mode, so I changed it to use that mode, then made the 11″x17″ copy. I filled out a price sheet for 17 cents (back then, you paid at the front of the store; I don’t know if it’s still that way or if you can pay in the copy center now), and sent him on his way.

    About ten minutes later, my manager called me to the front of the store, and chewed me out in front of other customers and my co-workers for not charging him $2.89. I pointed out that the price sheet said we only charge 17 cents for single-color copies, and she yelled “We don’t do those!” I was so embarrassed by the whole thing that I didn’t push the issue, but I really wish I had asked her why they were even listed in the first place.

    So I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a similar issue here. There may be multiple prices listed for color scans depending on whether it’s a single-color scan or a full-color one; if so, then one employee might have been told to always charge the full-color price, and another might have read the price sheet and charged the correct amount. I don’t know what the third price would be for, though.

  9. H3ion says:

    Why would I want to spay or neuter Bob Barker?

  10. Skankingmike says:

    Would you like the real reason (at least from experience in this industry) There are various charges for various types of scanning.

    1.) If you have simple regular paper and it can be fed through the ADF then you are charged usually a low price.

    2.) If you have none coopretive paper, photos, art work or any thing non traditional in the sense of documents, then there is a higher charge for glass placement as it requries more work.

    3.) Then there is the OCR scanning which is more time consuming and often costs the same as hand placement or another price entirely.

    4.) Oversize scanning BW vs Color will often carry different charges or the same depends the company. they are often much more money as most people (and companies) do not have this capability especially color.

    Finally there is often charges if you want the file saved on a disk.

    I hope this helps.

    • katstermonster says:

      They were scanning the exact. Same. Item. In the exact. Same. Way. Every time. The only thing not accounted for is the storage media. Nice try, though.

      Reading is fun!

  11. t0ph says:

    My Gf was the MoH at ther friends Hawaii wedding this summer and she made a nice 8 page , 2 sided booklet for all the guests to receive. The booklet had tips and cool things to do, like a condensed and concentrated guidebook, since she had been there a bunch of times. So….we go to Staples to get it printed, and there are no prices posted anywhere. The clerk takes out order, and then a minute or two later, I ask how much it was going to be. He said something like $230. I told him he ought to stop the copier because there is no way we were paying that. he asked “What would you like to pay?” My gf replied “Not even a quarter of that price” and in seconds the register now says that $51 is due. Absolutely blew my mind that he didnt even blink an eye, and didn’t seem to care. I think it happens all the time, they just make shit up.

    And there us a chance that since he already started our job, he didn’t want to lose the sale. But with no prices posted, I truly think they just try and get whatever they can.