Thursday, November 09, 2006


Here is a recent exchange of letters between myself and Penney's Photo Studio Customer Service. I really appreciated their letter and wanted to share this with you. It is so easy to complain when something goes wrong, and I have complained about this. But now I want to move past that and appreciate the effort they are making to right the situation. This exchange will not mean we will return to that particular Peneny's, but it definitely will not leave us with a bad taste in our mouths regarding our experience.

October 28, 2006

Dear JCPenney Customer Service,

I am writing to share my portrait studio experience with you. My family and I drove 1 ½ hours today to the closest Penney's portrait studio to have a family photo made as well as some individual photos of our young daughters. We have chosen Penney's because of the good value - price for portraits, benefits through the Portrait Club and because we are always pleased with the quality of the portraits. These things combined have made it more worthwhile considering the distance we must travel.

However, we will not be returning as a Penney's portrait customer at the (city) location. (And, unless a closer studio opens - this will eliminate Penney's as a portrait option.) The only two times we have gone to this location as a family - we have had to wait a long time to get our photos taken and we always called ahead to make an appointment. Today, our appointment was at 11:20 a.m. and we were finally called in at 12:45 p.m.

We have also used the portrait studio in (city) and while we did have to wait - the overall experience was considerably more positive.

Families schedule these appointments at times that will work for their young children to be most pleasant for their photo. But, 1 ½ hour wait just makes everyone stressed by the time they get in there. I would gladly have walked away if we had not traveled so far. I simply ask you to consider this: when a customer makes an appointment and then respects the time of your employees enough to be prompt - it seems like a complete disregard of the customer's time and schedule. It is completely unrealistic to schedule families every ten minutes.

Our family had no outfit changes and kept our sitting as simple as possible and we were with the photographer twenty minutes.

I feel badly for the employees having to work under such stressful conditions and realize that none of this is a reflection on them. There were friendly although, there was no apology or even mention of the ridiculous wait. I was so frazzled by the time we saw our proofs - I could not even think about what I needed to order.

I have appreciated the quality and value of the photos we have had in the past, but our family will no longer be a Penney's portrait studio customer.


Monica Xxxxxx

Cc: Manager of JC Penney's (city)


November 7, 2006

Dear Ms. Xxxxxx,

Thank you for sending an email to JCPenney Portraits Customer Service; I apologize for the delay in responding to your recent email.

I am so sorry to hear about your recent experience at JCPenney Portraits. I understand how difficult it can be to prepare for a portrait sitting, and after the long drive to the studio, it must have been very frustrating for you to go through so much preparation to assure that you would have a great portrait session only to be so disappointed with the service you received. I have forwarded your email to the district manager who oversees this studio for further review.

I know you state you will not return to the studio, but as a way to apologize to you personally, I would be happy to order three additional sheets from this sitting at no charge for you. I know this does not erase the time and effort involved and the frustration you felt, but I hope it will demonstrate our good will and our desire to ensure your satisfaction.

Thank you for your patronage and for bringing these concerns to our attention. As a valued customer we appreciate your feedback regarding your experiences at the studio. Please let me know if you would like to take advantage of the complimentary portrait sheets!

Kxxxxx Gxxxxxxx


November 8, 2006
Dear Kxxxxxxx,

Thank you so much for your reply. It means a lot just to have someone say they understand and appreciate the frustration we experienced.

I also appreciate your offer of three extra portrait sheets - that would be great! I would especially enjoy it if they were of a couple of poses we did not order from. (Honestly I was so frazzled that my husband did the ordering - so I'm not even remembering all of what we will be getting.)

Thank you again for your kind reply. After I read it, I thought to myself, "They have the right person doing her job!".

Monica Xxxxxxx


Tessa said...

It is so nice to get customer service that actually makes an attempt to rectify the situation! I'm glad they offered *something* for your bad experience.

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica,

I'm pleased that you got a response from Penney's regarding your photo studio experience. Any response is better than none, and a positive one is even better!

I'm looking forward to seeing the photos taken that day...

Lots of love, Mom

Mary Ann said...

I'm glad they were so understanding and willing to try to at least offer something. Your letter was also very professional, polite, yet firm and to the point. I always hate voicing a complaint but can see from your letter and response that those in charge really do need to be made aware of these issues.
My husband and I went to Sears last fall for holiday pictures. For some reason, one of the employees had to have her preschool-age son there at work that day. It was total chaos as he kept trying to escape and would run through the studio and so on. All the employees were quite focused on keeping him out of trouble so the customer service was quite poor, to say the least. My husband has some trouble walking steadily due to a disability and it was hard for him to get around with all the barricades they had set up to keep the child in. Looking back, I really should have let someone in upper management know, but I didn't.
Anyways, your experience reminded me of that. :-) Thanks for letting us see your (right) way of handling situations such as these.

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica:

Good for you! I'm SO sorry about your bad experience with your family photos, but I'm thankful they are doing something to compensate you for your inconvenience. I thought our experience here was not the best this time, but yours was far worse.
I too am looking forward to seeing the photos.

Speaking of that, I'm SO sorry that you have not been able to see the ones we had made here yet. I am just SICK at heart about them being lost in the mail!
Hopefully they will turn up soon. I filled out a "lost mail" report today. I hope something comes of it.

Take care, my Dear.

Love, Grandma

thehomespunheart said...

Mary Ann - Like you, I have let things like this go in the past and then wished I had let someone know what our experience was. I know that I have a tendency to repeat the story if I've had a particularly negative experience and I have realized this time that doesn't help me or the company - I worked really hard at making this letter seem positive and to the point so that it would not just seem like a disgruntled customer who was blowing off steam. Thank you for thinking it was polite, yet firm - we all have things like this happen now and then and it is encouraging to get a response like this one.

My next goal: to write a letter of compliment when I have a great experience somewhere!

Mary Ann said...

My husband and FIL will call companies when they've received great service for no other reason than to compliment and thank them. I think it's a great habit! I find myself re-hashing events instead of telling the right people who could possibly do soemthing about it, too.

Anonymous said...

I had my children's holiday and birthday pictures at Penney's on 10-21. When we went to pick them up on 11-4 at the local Penney's who lost the film and now we have NO pictures. I was told accidents happen & given a refund. The manager would not even acknowldege me. Terrible customer service. Beware!

Anonymous said...

I had my children's pictures taken at JCPenney like we do every year at this time (for Christmas pics).
I was really frustrated, as our studio has changed to digital and you are not *allowed* to look at the actual photos you are ordering,
just the enhanced photos, which were not part of the coupon special. This is a scam, in my opinion, and I say buyer beware!!