Tech Shakedown: Kodak's Web site charging outrageous per-photo shipping fees

Summary:Proving that the devil is in the details when it comes to shopping online (and how shipping fees can easily wipe out any potential savings), Kodak's online photo gallery is charging an outrageous 4 cents per photo when someone orders 4x6 prints for delivery. The issue was brought to my attention by my wife who, in the course of ordering 2055 4x6 prints for delivery, discovered the shipping fee was going to be a whopping $83.

Proving that the devil is in the details when it comes to shopping online (and how shipping fees can easily wipe out any potential savings), Kodak's online photo gallery is charging an outrageous 4 cents per photo when someone orders 4x6 prints for delivery. The issue was brought to my attention by my wife who, in the course of ordering 2055 4x6 prints for delivery, discovered the shipping fee was going to be a whopping $83.55 for the site's slowest form of delivery: 3-5 days (continued below......)

Kodak Online Shipping Charge

...continued from above

As can been see from both the graphic above as well as the attached video, the charges for faster forms of delivery are even higher ($113 for 2 business days and $139 for 1 business day).

This gets to one of the big problems with online photo services. Once you start using one extensively as we have, switching to another is difficult if not impossible because of the work that would be involved in moving your pictures to a new service. In other words, now that we are dissatisfied with Kodak, how might we switch to another service with so many of our photos trapped in Kodak's Web site? The problem is identical to the one where you become reliant on proprietary software to the point that converting your data would be so prohibitively expensive and/or time consuming, that you just suck up whatever costs the software provider decides to hit you with down the line.

As you can see from the video, there is a way to get free shipping on orders of $50 or more. But here again, Kodak gets bad marks because, instead of simply applying the special offer to qualifying orders as it should do, in order to take advantage of the free shipping, the customer must (1) know that that offer exists, and (2) enter a special coupon code (FREE2SHIP) during the transaction process in order to take advantage of the special offer. Today for example, when I visited kodakgallery.com, the coupon was not listed prominently on any screen that a user might typically encounter in the course of ordering prints for delivery. It is however listed under a link on left-hand side of the home page that says "View Current Deals" (which leads you to this page). In other words, this is a deal that's currently available to site users, but perhaps not always. Additionally, the fine print on Kodak's Web site makes it clear that once you use a coupon, you won't be able to re-use it in the future. The coupon's restrictions proviso says "One coupon redemption per customer."

Before taking Kodak to task over these fees, I paid a visit to Qoop.com, one of the partners to Yahoo's Flickr.com photosharing Web site. Qoop is a service that will drop ship prints of your Flickr photos for you. The site has an interactive shipping calculator into which I plugged the number 2055 for the number of prints and it offered the following results:

  • DHL Ground: $19.18
  • DHL 2 Day: $48.13
  • DHL Next Day: $35.19
  • USPS Standard Mail: $39.04

In other words, for less than half of what Kodak charges for it's slowest form of delivery, I can get next day delivery from Qoop! (excluding special promotions or memberships, both sites charge the same standard per-print fee to make the actual 4x6 prints: 15 cents).

I've already done one Tech Shakedown of Kodak (regarding Vista incompatibilities that so far, to the best of my knowledge, have yet to be resolved). But this was another that I couldn't let slip. The fees are ridiculous.

Update: Kodak has issued a response to this Tech Shakedown

Topics: Browser

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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