Snapfish Takes On Too Many Christmas Orders, Then Avoids Customer Contact

Stacey is a longtime customer of HP’s Snapfish service. She tells Consumerist that she wasn’t able to get her photo calendars ordered until December 19th. No worries, though: the shipping deadlines on the site said that they’d be able to get the calendar out in plenty of time if she paid for two-day shipping. Except this turned out to not be, strictly speaking, true. Stacey found herself without her palnned gifts and suck on the phone with a customer service agent whose entire job, it seemed, is to “listen to people complain and then to explain how busy HP is.”

I am writing to let you know of the astonishingly bad customer service I’ve had with Snapfish (operated by HP) this holiday season. I am a long-time customer of theirs and I order photo calendars for our kids to give their grandparents each Christmas.

This year, I wasn’t able to get the calendar created until the Sunday before Christmas, December 19. I checked all of Snapfish’s deadlines for product orders (these deadlines are hard to find, since their website has such poor functionality, but I persisted till I located them). According to their deadline charts, if I ordered by December 20 and paid for 2-day shipping, the order would arrive by December 24. That’s what I did. The 2-day shipping chargers were more than $20.

On December 20, my order was still being processed. I assumed it would still ship out by December 22 (today). I sent an email to customer service to make sure, and I got an automatic response indicating I would receive a reply within 24 hours. That was 48 hours ago, and still no reply.

On December 21, my order was still being processed, but when I clicked on it, it now indicated that it would ship on December 27! I sent another email to customer service. I tried many times throughout the day to access their “live chat” option, but it was never available (and still isn’t). I noticed that Snapfish was advertising that if you ordered that day (December 21) and paid for overnight shipping, it would arrive by December 24.

That night, December 21, I called their 800 number and waited 30 minutes to speak with a customer service representative at their office in India. She could not tell me why the order was still processing. She could not tell me when it would ship. She could not assure me that it would arrive by December 24. When I pressed her about why there was a problem, she used the excuse of it being Christmas. I told her that was unacceptable – HP knew that it was Christmas, and if they couldn’t meet customer demands, they should have changed their order deadlines accordingly. She explained to me they were filling millions of orders. I explained to her that, again, HP knew they would be filling millions of orders. They should not promote order deadlines with promises of shipping in time for Christmas if they could not fulfill those orders. They certainly shouldn’t continue to promote these deadlines if they were already behind in filling orders that had already been placed.

I asked multiple times if I could speak with someone who would assure me that my order would ship in time. She wouldn’t put me through to anyone else. She said she would forward my complaint to the technical service department. I asked when and how I would hear from them. She could not give me an answer. In terms of responsiveness, it was the worst customer service phone call I’ve ever had. I got the impression that her entire job was simply to listen to people complain and then to explain how busy HP is.

Today, my order remains “in process,” it still says it will ship on December 27, and I have not received any further response from customer service. Live chat is still unavailable. I have discovered many others, on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet, who have had similar experiences. For a company with as high a profile as HP, their customer service situation is appalling. I will never use Snapfish again.

Are you stuck in a similar predicament? Have you managed to get an answer out of HP other than “we’re super busy right now”? Please, let us know.

Snapfish Sends Another Copy Of Photo Book, No One Knows Why
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Edit Your Comment

  1. jrs45 says:

    My sister encountered something very similar, and she ordered (cards) even further ahead. They really hosed a lot of people’s xmas plans. They’ll lose a lot of customers!

  2. SG-Cleve says:

    I think she’ll get it in time. Sometimes Web sites will show a “worst case” date but the order is delivered sooner.

    Happened to me twice this year, one site where I ordered a gift showed that the order was still “processing” on December 22, the same day I received the shipment.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    If Hewlett Packard had hired me for only $1,000,000 a year, I would have told them that Christmas is a busy time of the year, they would have planned accordingly, and this never would have happened.

  4. Press1forDialTone says:

    Too much eggnog Laura :-)

    “without her palnned gifts and suck on the phone”

  5. ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

    I’ve never used an album creation website- but now I know where not to go when I do.

    • redrover189 says:

      If you’re looking for a place (or considering it), I really like MyPublisher. They offer TONS of coupon codes. My dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness recently, so I made him a photobook of all sorts of pictures he had taken throughout his life. It turned out amazing and the print quality was spectacular.

  6. AllanG54 says:

    While HP should have adjusted what was said on the website I’ll bet that the OP would still have used them for her order. While it’s not acceptable to her that an overload of Christmas orders backed everything up, it’s perfectly acceptable to her that she waited until the last minute to order this to begin with.

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:


    • nikfish says:

      She would not have placed the order if it would not deliver on time.

      It is acceptable that she ordered at the last minute. She relied on their schedule. She did not order late, but they may deliver late.

    • shawnyshawna says:

      It is absolutely acceptable to order something “at the last minute” if a company says it will be there by a certain date. It is ridiculous to say that it’s the OP’s fault for believing the company’s shipping dates. I ordered on December 18th with 2 day shipping and went on the customer chat and asked SEVERAL times to verify that it would ABSOLUTELY be here by the 24th if I ordered because I’d never used snapfish before. They were emphatic about it. In fact, earlier they were still telling me I would absolutely have my order by tomorrow (which is now today since it is 1:22 am). There is no possible way these products will get here on time. IF it’s ridiculous of me to expect to have something by the date a company says I will (regardless of the timing…which is completely irrelevant since this is about promised deadlines), then that company needs to cease operations.

  7. Hi_Hello says:

    OP should’ve known it’s is xmas and EVERYTHING get bogged down.
    What OP should’ve done was called snapfish before placing the order. And after waiting 30 min and thinking 30 min is a long wait, choose to not place the order.

    The fact that it was hard to find the deadline dates, makes me think, they were not PROMOTING the dates.

    If she did called and they said he order will be process and ship in time, then it wasn’t, she might have a case.

    She basically put herself in the situation. And days before the holiday, if I have to an online purchase, I would only use places I know has a fast processing time and use shipper that I know will be able to get my stuff on time.

    As for HP. They are crap. Assuming OP reads consumerist, she should’ve not used Snapfish.
    HP isn’t selling stuff for holiday basis sales. Unlike or their system wasn’t design to make certain deadlines. IF HP was a customer base company, who wants to provide good services to customers, and they wanted to target holiday shopper they should created a calendar feature and process like or

    If I was the person on the line, working for HP, I would’ve just told the OP, I’ll take a look at it and see about getting your order sent the overnight. If I could, I would personally hand delivery it to you. Tell her I’ll call back once everything is done. Then hang up. The OP failed to realized the person she was on the phone with has no control to get her order process faster.

  8. hills says:

    I ordered my xmas cards from Shutterfly and got them days ahead of their estimated arrival – great!

  9. GameHen says:

    That really sucks and I feel bad for the OP. I ordered 5 (identical) 25-page photo albums from Snapfish the 2nd week of December. They were processed and shipped within a day, which was much faster than I expected. Perhaps Snapfish is placing priority on the higher-ticket items?

    • jojobreckinridge says:

      I ordered 2 identical 28-page photobooks and a smaller book on the 13th. I found an error on the small book, corrected it, and ordered another on the 14th. Both orders arrived in 1 week.

  10. Beeker26 says:

    She forgot to include “and I’ll never buy anything from them ever again.” That’s really the most important part about a rant. How are we supposed to take you seriously when you leave out the requisite parts?

    Tho she did manage to gets the kids and Grandma in there, so kudos for that.

  11. brit2380 says:

    Order earlier then! A lot of procrastinators are going to complain because they waited too late.

    • MMD says:

      It’s easy to judge people when you don’t RTFA and ignore the fact that Snapfish claimed they could process the order in time.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      So let’s say she had her photos ready on 1 December, and the website said that orders placed by 2 December should be DELIVERED by 24 December, and then they changed her expected SHIP date to 27 December after she completed her order. She’d have ordered earlier and Snapfish still wouldn’t have lived up to the delivery expectation they set. The point is that they didn’t do what they promised, not that she didn’t allow for adequate time for them to renege.

  12. kathyl says:

    Snapfish’s whole website is buggy. Beware if you have promotional items that are applied to your account to use “whenever you’d like”. (Instead of getting a code that is entered at the time of your order.) Their system will pick a promotion on your account seemingly at random and apply that, even if there is one much more applicable to your order. There is no way to change the promotion that’s being applied. You can’t do it, their customer service can’t do it, they can’t remove the promotion causing the trouble on your account so that the system might apply the one you wanted to use.

    Their solution? Submit the order, and then they will use up BOTH promotions, and then issue you a credit for the difference that will take 5-7 business days to show up on your credit card. So yes, you pay them the larger amount, they nuke the promo you DIDN’T want to use as well as the one you DID want to use, and then they refund you the difference at their leisure.

    I just gave up at that point. That isn’t the behavior of a company that wants my current or future business. There are several notable competitors to Snapfish and they all produce products of roughly the same quality. I’ll just use one of them rather than get caught in a buggy system and customer service that thinks they can shrug their shoulders at you and you’ll just take it. The poor customer service experience the OP had doesn’t shock me. The two CS reps I spoke to (one via chat, one via phone) were equally ineffectual and didn’t seem to care that the “solutions” or excuses they were offering do not represent acceptable customer service.

  13. CompyPaq says:
    They are still advertising the shipping deadlines.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      oh snap. she should’ve just cancel her order, and if she still wanted to use snap fish. place the order and pick it up at the store. she still have time.


  14. Jevia says:

    I had a similar problem with Harry & David. I wanted to buy a gift, but when their local store closed, I had to use their online service. Had a problem with the order, but when I tried to contact customer service to correct it, it took them a week to respond to my email (couldn’t get through on the phone either) and by then it was too late to correct the problem. Of course, the excuse was “its Christmas, we’re busy.”

    These companies know that Christmas is busy. Why didn’t they oh maybe take a stab at lowering the unemployment rate (even if just temporarily) and hire more people so they could fix orders, or get orders out on time, etc.? Maybe they’ll make nice big profits this year, but they’re losing a lot of future customer orders in the process.

  15. EmDeeEm says:

    My wife is in the same boat. She ordered a calendar on Dec 15th. Two calls (and an hour and a half later), she has “assurances” that we will get it before Christmas, but not much else.

    An interesting side note, the hold music is frequently interrupted to talk about how great HP is.

  16. coren says:

    HP’s Snapfish

    I think I found the problem here

  17. PLATTWORX says:

    “I asked multiple times if I could speak with someone who would assure me that my order would ship in time. She wouldn’t put me through to anyone else. She said she would forward my complaint to the technical service department. I asked when and how I would hear from them. She could not give me an answer.”

    YUP, that is the key problem with foreign call centers. They can’t do more than read from scripts given to them for the top 20 problems, they can’t think outside the box, they have no authority to do more than A, B or C and can’t transfer you to someone who can.

    The amount of bad PR and lost customers companies who outsource their call centers has to be staggering.

  18. kimmie says:

    I had this EXACT issue last Xmas. They refunded me half the cost of my prints, but it didn’t really make up for the fact that I didn’t have all of the gifts I intended to give for Xmas.

  19. Michael the Great says:

    Took them forever to get our Christmas Cards to us too. So they’ll be new year’s cards… So yeah, haven’t had a good experience with them myself this Christmas. Will pay more for shutterfly next time especially since shutterfly’s print quality was better too!

  20. jedifarfy says:

    First, there’s a misspelling in the description of the article. SPELL CHECK. IT’S NOT HARD.

    Second, I’d call, demand a refund, cancel the whole thing, and make sure you get your shipping charge refunded. Then look for a photo shop (not like Target or the grocery store, but a proper photo store like Kits or something). See if they can do a photo calendar and how quickly. It’s possible! :D

  21. shawnyshawna says:

    I also ordered on the 19th with two day shipping. I have been told that it will definitely be here tomorrow…when I pressed to say there is no way it can be here tomorrow if it hasn’t shipped, I was told it will be here tomorrow via overnight shipping and “might” be shipped later tonight. I wish I would have went with Shutterfly like I normally do.

  22. Broke_Daddy says:

    I’ve lost all faith in HP. While I still have one in the downstairs office, I bought a Canon that I use much more and is less expensive to operate.
    I ordered calendar merchandise from this year. Delivered as promised and terrific quality.
    Got the same service and quality from for a photo book I made.
    I’d rather take a chance with a smaller company that wants more business than big companies who could give a rip about their customer base.

  23. thedude says:

    We ordered our Christmas cards from on November 29 with a promised arrival date of no later than December 4. We just got the cards yesterday. My wife and I spent probably 6 hours on the phone with CSRs over the last couple of weeks. Each time we were reassured that the cards had been printed and that they would ship shortly. They never did. We were told that we would receive shipping tracking numbers by email. We never did. We were told told that managers would call us back. They never did. Finally, my wife found the CEO of on Facebook and contacted him there to explain the situation. We finally got the cards, but they weren’t ready to mail (stuffed, sealed, etc.) upon arrival. At least had the decency to give us a refund. We’ve ordered from them for the past 7 or 8 years. I don’t expect that we will be ordering from them again next year.

  24. gman863 says:

    If the OP used a credit card (not debit card) to pay for the transaction she should file a dispute with the card issuer as soon as the bill arrives, based on the item not being shipped in the timeframe promised. Even if the item arrives late, she is due (at a minimum) a refund of the shipping charges. Given the hell she has gone through she really deserves the items for free. Even if HP/Snapfish has the balls to fight the chargeback, it will be payback since their someone in their US accounting department will have to spend an hour or two on the paperwork in an attempt to reverse it.

  25. gnetmike says:

    I ordered several photobooks two days before the Christmas deadline & noticed last Wednesday Dec 22nd that they hadn’t shipped out yet. I did the online chat where I was told they would be sent overnight to make it by the 24th. When I called customer service to confirm this I spoke with people who barely spoke english. Both sounded like a broken record only saying “the order is being processed”. I then asked where they were located and they told me 100% of customer service is now in India. I insisted on talking to a manager in the states and they said they don’t have any offices here anymore. They also admitted there was a problem with a vendor sending things out on time. So guess what? The albums didn’t get there on time and now it’s the 27th and I just got an email saying they are shipping out. The next issue is they didn’t even overnight them so it will still be a few more days. Christmas is ruined. Thanks Snapfish for ruining the holiday!