Tag Archives: Hewlett-Packard

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

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

What Are They Smoking Over At Blockbuster ?

What are they smoking over at Blockbuster ?

…because whatever it is, I want some.

Previously, we wrote about how Circuit City Stores, Inc. was basically, a dead company walking. We believe that the management of Circuit City irreparably damaged their company and their brand, by their really, really dumb decisions. Not only were they terrible choices from a business perspective, but they also proved that the company lacked a conscience and a soul. Circuit City sealed their own fate just over a year ago. We wrote that we would never again set foot in a Circuit City store, and that vow applies regardless of who buys the company, or what they might rename it. We think the American public feels the same way about Circuit City. They’re done.

It’s over for Circuit City. We’re as surprised as anyone that they are still in business today. If someone pays a nickel for the company, they’re paying about five cents too much. Besides, we think that buying Circuit City at this juncture, with the hope of turning it around, is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Aside from being an incredibly stupid business decision, any company that tries to breathe new life into Circuit City is also being terribly inhumane. We think the best and most compassionate thing at this point would be euthanasia. We’ve already said our goodbyes and gotten over Circuit City.

As incredible as it seems, Blockbuster is actually talking $1 billion for Circuit City (see “Is Circuit City Up For Sale?”, Businessweek, April 8, 2008, and “Blockbuster Weighing Options To Fund Circuit City Bid”, Reuters, April 21, 2008). Reminds us of eBay’s $2.6 billion purchase of Skype. If I was a Blockbuster shareholder, I’d be running for the nearest exit right about now. About the only idea in the past 100 years more ill-conceived than Blockbuster’s interest in Circuit City, was Circuit City’s interest in DIVX. Consumers quickly drove a stake thru the heart of DIVX.

This whole thing reminds us of a comment that Sun Microsystems’ Scott McNealy once made about the then-proposed merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq… “It’s like two garbage trucks backing into each other in slow motion. (Beep, beep, beep…thunk)”. (see story at news.com)

If we may employ a railroad analogy, what we have here is the Circuit City Express. It’s heading down a steep grade, picking up steam, and the the bridge over Recession Gorge is dead ahead. Nobody involved seems to have noticed that the bridge has been washed out. The railroad did have experienced people who were familiar with the dangers on this route, but they were all replaced with employees who now earn just above minimum wage. Smart move. Inexperience notwithstanding, the bumpy ride over the last few miles should have tipped off the crew that something is very, very wrong.

On the one hand, you have Blockbuster, who thinks that this train is a good investment at $1.3 billion. On the other hand, you have the geniuses at Circuit City, who are scoffing at the paltry offer. Nobody seems to realize that what they are bickering over is an impending train wreck. Blockbuster is offering the passengers a way to get off the train, and the passengers are turning their noses up at the offer. It’s hard to tell whose judgment is worse. The employees that the railroad booted off the train a few miles back don’t realize how lucky they are.

Meanwhile, back in Dallas, Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes is sitting in his office, reading a book about an optimistic locomotive, and keeps repeating to himself “I think I can… I think I can”. Perhaps Mr. Keyes should put down the book, and check to see if they have this DVD at Blockbuster.

It’s too late for this to be an April Fools joke, so we’re guessing that Blockbuster is actually serious.

With our sincerest apologies to the late Richard P. Feynman

Surely you’re joking, Mr. Keyes !

– RoutingByRumor

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My Adobe Acrobat PDF Files Are Printing Garbage Text (Sometimes)

This issue when printing some PDF documents from within Adobe Reader has been one of the most vexing computer problems I’ve experienced in a while.  I think I might have just figured out how to solve it, so I’m posting a description of the problem, as well as what I believe is a solution (or at least a work-around).

Some PDF documents I try to print from within Adobe Reader will have all of their text print as garbage (“greeked” text). From the Google searches I’ve done, it seems that others have reported that this problem is not always reproducible, and that no single type of printer seems to be involved. In my experience, it is reproducible. The common thread seems to be (from what I’ve read) that all users having this problem are running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 installed.

The problematic PDFs will look just fine when you view them on your computer, but when they print, only the graphics will print correctly. All of the printed text looks like it’s just random characters of “gobbledygook”. Upon closer inspection, you can see that the characters are all off by one position in the alphabet (actually, off by one ASCII character, since symbols and numbers are also off by one). ie: “A” prints as “B”, “”e” prints as “f”, and a zero prints as “1”. Even when I select “print preview” in the print options for my Hewlett-Packard printer, the documents show garbage text in the on-screen print preview window!.

I am running Windows XP SP2, and have updated Adobe Reader to version 8.1.1, which is the current version. I use Windows Update to keep XP up to date with patches. I’ll say that I first noticed this problem with some PDFs about a year ago, but I can’t tell you what version of Adobe Reader I first noticed it with. I’m not even sure this is an Adobe Reader issue. It might be a Windows or a printer driver issue also. The latest problems occured when printing a PDF that was being viewed with Adobe Reader within my Firefox v 2.0.0.11 browser, but it has occured in earlier versions of Firefox, and I believe in Internet Explorer as well.

I’ve experienced this problem when printing to an HP PSC1210 all-in-one inkjet printer, and an HP Photosmart 7260 inkjet printer.

Today, after reprinting the same PDF several times, and getting garbage out each time, I clicked “print”, and started looking around in the print window that opens for my HP 7260 printer. When I print PDFs, I get an “Advanced” button in the bottom left corner of the print window that I can click on. There are a bunch of “greyed-out” postscript options in this window, but there is also a check box that says “Print as image”. I decided to check this box and click “OK”, which closes the advanced printing options window, then I clicked “OK” to send the PDF to the printer. I think doing this causes the entire document to be sent to the printer as “raster graphics”, rather than as PCL containing a mix of graphics and ASCII text.

Voila! The PDF printed correctly. I’m not certain that checking the “Print as image” option was the reason, but it’s worth trying if you are having this problem, and you have this option in your print setup.

If this solution works for you, please post the details as a comment to this article.

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Filed under Acrobat Reader, Adobe, Adobe Acrobat, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, PDF files, Personal, Personal Tidbits, Routing by Rumor, Technology, Windows XP