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May 7, 2011
May 7, 2011
Walmart Photo Quality Control almost non-existent and getting worse...
This review is relavent specifically to Walmart Photo Processing, ordering and quality control via their website.
I have used Walmart photo processing, in store and online for the past 11 years. A consumer reporting agency rated their processing quality at the top of consumer level digital photo/print providers. That's what got me started, a good print at very low cost.
I generally order prints 8x10 and larger, up to their 20x30 Poster size (both photo and poster paper).
All was going well... then, over the past year (beginning in 2010) quality control issues became the norm and I was spending more time returning photos, posters and canvas prints for the following reasons:
1- Color quality and value range took a dive... consistently darker images and profound loss of detail in shadow and hi-light areas.
2- Inaccurate cutting of the print. (9 returns in the past six months for this problem alone) 20 x 30 prints were ordered and what was received would be off by as much a 1.25 inches... a 20 x 30 would arrive and be 19.5 x 28.25" it was clear that there is no meaningful quality control wherever they are contracting their processing.
3- Gallery wrapped canvas prints (fine in the past) now arrive with incomplete wrap and haphazard stapling on the back (some staples not completely driven in and at odd angles with wide gaps between). The point of a gallery wrap, is to have the image cover the front and sides of the stretchers. My latest shipment had the image off center and strips of white visible on two sides and the entire image was out of square. Canvas cuts on the back were irregular and the entire thing appeared rushed. Canvas wooden stretcher bars are often warped and bow out in the center by as much as 1/4" if placed flat against the wall.
Returns were always accepted and credits given for replacements. At one point six 20 x 30 prints were returned only to have the replacements cut even worse than those returned. If you are on any sort of time schedule, returns blow that out of the water of course.
Prints at 8 x 10 or smaller are still a good deal and the quality is as one would expect for that bargain pricing.
I cannot continue to use Walmart as the prints also represent me, good or bad.
The online uploading and print ordering system is convenient and inexpensive, plus you can retain album after album online for future ordering. Payment options are excellent, including PayPal which I prefer to use.
Walmart still shines in the book category, offering several hard and soft bound books that you customize. Leather or full image covers are nicely priced and the image quality and general build are very good for the money.
In summary, books and prints 8x10 and smaller... pretty ok, large prints, canvas, poster are all pot-luck and you never know what will be delivered... often something well off the mark in quality and image accuracy.
Walmart seems to give photo processing a back seat to their other services "in store" as they have fewer trained personnel in this area and often you will find the photo center by the bathrooms and storage areas in my neck of the woods. Even managers were puzzled as to how to handle a returned photo order, in one case ultimately simply accepting the returns as a "lost receipt" even though return paperwork accompanied the order.
Not a very good showing on any front.