Wal-Mart Photo Processing At The Impossible Price Of 9 Cents A Print ? Don’t Bet On It.

screenshot from walmart.com

Order 4″ x 6″ prints of your digital photos at walmart.com for only 9 cents each.

Impossible you say?

You’d be right. In fact, it appears that nobody ever paid 9 cents for a photo printed at Wal-Mart, regardless of how long they were willing to wait for it, or whether they picked it up or had it delivered.

Now, is it just us (we’ll admit to not always being the sharpest tool in the shed), or is this deceptive and illegal advertising ? Is this what you expect from Wal-Mart ? You be the judge.

Walmart’s online photo processing is actually provided by Hewlett-Packard’s Snapfish service, rebranded with the Wal-Mart name. If you choose the 1-hour processing option, Snapfish transmits your photos to the Wal-Mart store you select, where they are printed by Wal-Mart’s in-store minilab using FujiFilm equipment and FujiFilm photo paper. If you choose one of the two less expensive options, your photos are processed by Snapfish. They were reportedly processing these photos using Noritsu equipment and Kodak photo paper, but it appears that they may now be using FujiFilm equipment and paper for these orders also. Depending on the option chosen, Snapfish ships them to your local Wal-Mart store for pick-up within a few days, or mails them to your home.

Snapfish rebrands their website and processing service for many different retailers, not just Wal-Mart. Uploading your photos to the Wal-Mart/Snapfish website, and having them delivered to your local Wal-Mart, or to your mailbox, is certainly convenient. And we’re sure that regardless of whether Snapfish or Wal-Mart prints them, you’ll get good quality photos.

It’s interesting to note that whether your prints are processed on a Noritsu or FujiFilm minilab, the hardware was probably made by Noritsu, since they also supply hardware to FujiFilm. That’s what you call market penetration. In the automobile industry, that would be like Toyota supplying the engine and chassis to Honda for them to produce their cars with.

We can understand the “snap” in Snapfish, but why that name? Why not snapturtle.com, or snapdog.com, or snapcat.com, or snapcow.com, or snappy.com, or snapit.com, etc., etc., etc. There is a type of fish called the Red Snapper, but is there also a fish called the Snapfish? And even if there is, why choose that name? Just curious. After all, there’s a ton of strange names that have become popular Web destinations… ebay, google, yahoo, etc. We guess Snapfish is OK. Strange, but OK. Actually, in the Web universe, the rule seems to be the more ridiculous (and the shorter) the name is, the better the chance of success.

As shown above, Wal-Mart advertises 4″ x 6″ prints as low as 9 cents each. The problem is that there is no way to actually get them for 9 cents. The most expensive 1-hour option, with processing and pickup at a Wal-Mart store is 19 cents a print. The process-by-snapfish and pick-up at Wal-Mart option is 15 cents a print. The least expensive option, processed by snapfish and mailed to your home, is 9 cents a print, plus shipping. Shipping charges range from 14 cents a print (total cost of 23 cents a print) when ordering 10 prints, to 5 cents a print (total cost of 14 cents a print) when ordering 100 prints. We checked the cost for orders up to 600 prints, and it never dropped below a total cost of 13 cents a print, including shipping.

There appears to be no way to actually get 4 x 6 prints, in any quantity, for the advertised price of “from 9 cents” each. That holds true even if you are willing to pick them up at a Wal-Mart store, and even if you are willing to wait a week, or forever, for that matter.

Now, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to be charging for shipping. After all, they do have to pay for postage. But is it fair (or legal) to advertise the 9 cent per print price, when you can’t actually get them for that amount, even if you are willing to wait a week, and pick them up at your local Wal-Mart? We don’t think so.

…And don’t forget to add the sales tax, which is added to your total, regardless of the pickup or delivery option you choose.

Maybe we could swallow their pricing claims if they charged 9 cents a print when you choose in-store pickup (in days, not in 1-hour). The fact of the matter is that for either of their least expensive processing options, you’ll pay a total of 15 cents a print, plus tax (based on an order of 50 prints… even more per print for small orders).

We think a retailer such as Wal-Mart, who is the largest retailer in the world (as well as the largest private-sector employer in the United States), should be more forthright in their advertising.

Get the picture?

The true cost of printing your photos at walmart.com should be coming into focus now.

– RoutingByRumor



Filed under Business, Consumerism, Deception Engineering, Digital Photography, Hewlett-Packard, Money, Retail, Retailers, Routing by Rumor, Scams, Shopping, Walmart, Your Money

3 responses to “Wal-Mart Photo Processing At The Impossible Price Of 9 Cents A Print ? Don’t Bet On It.

  1. Janice Earnest

    Kodak.com is offering 150 prints for $15 (or .10 per print) and free shipping. Their shipping is also free for any order over $4.99.

    – Richmond, Kentucky

  2. Justin

    I agree with the sentiment of your article. I just uploaded a bunch of pictures to walmart only to find that shipping was going to add about 17 dollars to the total order. The shipping charge is much higher than I would expect. As you say in the article shipping adds 5 to 14 cents per print. That seems like a lot to me.

    – Spokane, Washington

  3. Michel Jean Paller

    I just read your article on Wal Mart offering 4×6 photos at 9cents a print. You state that it is impossible and then go into the snapfish/fujiifilm issues. I’ve been doing professional photography for over thirty years and I keep a close watch on this stuff.

    You can’t fault wal mart for advertising their per print price which by law must exclude the shipping and handling and taxation charges. Those are totally separate items and do not get factored in to the per print price. There are some juicy issues that relate to your article – though not specifically to wal mart. For instance, there is no standard shipping and handling charge from one company to another and that is especially inconvenient on the web when you want to order a large amount of prints and have to go through the arduous task of uploading all those prints and then selecting them and then going almost all the way through to finalizing the order before their computer will calculate the shipping charges. There are a few web sites that give you a chart that you can refer to before doing all that work and that is a much fairer way to go.
    Why aren’t there some standards to go by?

    (moved from mail ( to comments)

    Response from Routing By Rumor…

    Well, we’re not convinced about the existence of a law (in which state(s)?) which says that retailers are not allowed to include shipping and handling charges in an advertised price. Can you cite a pertinent state statute ? We would believe, however, that if there was a mandatory shipping or handling charge which was not included in the advertised price, that a retailer would be required to clearly state that fact. But even assuming that your take on the law is correct, we think Wal-Mart should qualify their advertised pricing by including language like “plus shipping & handling charges and applicable taxes” or “price does not include applicable shipping and handling charges”, with their retail price. Wal-Mart chose not do this when they decided not to add any qualifiers their 9-cents-per-print advertised price. We could give you countless examples where retailers add language like “plus tax”, “exclusive of shipping”, “does not include tax, title, license or destination charges”, or other disclaimers to their advertised price. With the exception of taxes, we would characterize these as “hidden charges”. And as we mentioned, we couldn’t get the prints for 9 cents each (plus tax), even if we were willing to pick them up at a Wal-Mart store. That was perhaps the biggest factor in our formulating an opinion that Wal-Mart’s advertising is deceptive.

    We wholeheartedly agree with your desire to see retailers post additional charges (especially online retailers) where they are easily accessible by customers. We’ll call it “truth in advertising”. When we were on Wal-Mart’s website, the only way we were able to find the TOTAL delivered price for prints was to go through the checkout process. We don’t think that is fair to their customers.

    – Routing By Rumor

    P.S. – Here’s a totally unsolicited plug…
    Michel Jean Paller’s Flickr photostream can be viewed here. Nice photos !

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