Problems At Snapfish Lead To Pre-Christmas Photo Scramble, Angry Customers

shapfish_elvesFive years ago, shortly before Christmas 2010, a reader complained to us that the photo-printing service Snapfish over-promised on their Christmas shipping deadlines, running late on her calendars and failing to get them to her before the holiday. This year, they seem to be doing the same on a massive scale, missing their advertised shipping dates due to “unprecedented volume.”

Snapfish has long been owned by Hewlett-Packard. It probably seemed like a good acquisition at the time, but as HP decided to split into two separate companies, one business-focused and one consumer-focused, it seemed like a good time to send Snapfish out on its own. The company lets users order prints of their digital photos, including prints on calendars, books, ornaments, mugs and other items that can have photos printed on them.

The new owner is District Photo, a commercial printing business based in Maryland. Snapfish’s first holiday season with its new parent company is not going smoothly. Customers report long waits in customer service chat queues, orders canceled by the company without customers’ knowing about it, and orders promised weeks ago that are significantly delayed.

Gwendolyn, for example, ordered prints from photos that were already uploaded to the service, then simply assumed that the company would print and send them. Two weeks later, she learned that her order had been canceled, and she received no notification.

She needed them for an event on Saturday, and a customer service rep promised that if she placed the order again with overnight shipping, she would receive a refund. Then the photos in the new order were delayed again, and a different customer service representative told her that they may or may not arrive on Friday with overnight shipping.

A social media representative responded to her complaint, and they began a conversation through private messages. This person apologized for not responding sooner, and expressed sympathy, wishing that he or she could help “in some way.” That’s nice, but that’s not the answer that Gwendolyn wanted.

“How was I able to buy prints of photos you no longer had stored in the proper format?” she responded to their message in part. “How did my order get canceled without explaining to me why? Why do your customers service reps end chats with customers before the customer is done speaking with them? Why did the customer service rep tell me there was a problem with ONE photo when clearly there was a problem with multiple?”

Since this exchange happened over Facebook, she knows that the company saw her message and hasn’t responded to it. That probably isn’t because of any malice on their part, but because the person responsible for answering Facebook messages simply doesn’t have the answers to her questions.

She isn’t alone in experiencing problems with Snapfish, though. The company posted this acknowledgement on their Facebook page over the weekend:

We are currently experiencing some slight delays with card orders due to unprecedented volume. We apologize for any delay and are working hard to get all orders produced and delivered to customers as soon as possible. As soon as your order ships you will receive a shipping confirmation email. In the meantime, we sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,
The Snapfish elves

Their fans responded with a parade of customer service misery. “Why do you say slight delays?” wrote one customer. “I placed two orders on November 30th, and they are both ‘still in process.'”

We left messages for Snapfish and for their parent company, and they haven’t yet responded. If you’re waiting for an order and encountering problems like this and want to share your story, let us know at tips@consumerist.com!