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This Customer Is Both Frameless And Clueless

, , , , , | Right | April 13, 2022

I work as a personal frame designer. Typically, customers bring us their physical artwork and we design up a frame for them, but we also offer to print out digital images onto specialty surfaces, like metal or canvas, which can then be framed or hung on the wall as a modern art piece. It’s important to note though that we are not a pharmacy or one-hour photo shop; we deal with museum-quality materials to keep to the highest standards.

A lady comes up to my work counter.

Customer: “I’m new to the area, and a friend of mine recommended that I come to you for a project.”

She pulls out a tiny print of some art.

Customer: “I’d like a photocopy of this. I want to have a spare so I can give it away to a friend but keep the original.”

Me: *Politely* “Ma’am, making copies isn’t really something we do at a frame shop. You’ll need to find a place that can scan the picture for you to make a photocopy. This is a common misunderstanding about our specialty printing services, so I even have some good recommendations for places that do offer this service.”

Unfortunately for me, she is very insistent.

Customer: “But my friend recommended you! And your sign says you do specialty printing services, so you should be able to print this for me!”

Me: “We can print a digital image onto various surfaces, but we cannot do this with a physical item and do not have the ability to scan the picture for you. Even if I could scan it for you, I can only make something like a specialized art print for you rather than a normal photocopy, and even that would take up to two weeks.”

She is silent while I explain as if taking everything in. Then, she asks:

Customer: “What do you mean by ‘digital image’?”

I’m stunned for a moment because this is not an elderly lady struggling with technology or someone whose second language is English who doesn’t understand what the words mean. She is a middle-aged lady with a smartphone in her hand. I wind up explaining the obvious difference between a physical picture like what she has and a digital picture taken with a phone or digital camera, with her occasionally interjecting to ask if her picture was a digital one or could I make it digital for her.

The lady eventually seems to at least understand that I cannot do what she was hoping for me to do and starts putting the picture away, and I think to myself that that’s the end of it. But then, she gets a look of epiphany across her face.

Customer: “Would you be able to print it if I took a picture of the art print first with my phone’s camera?”

Hoo boy. She is technically correct in the sense that I could make her a metal print or such of the picture she takes, but it would be a picture of a low-quality picture of her original picture (with my countertop included in the background), and it still wouldn’t be a simple photocopy like she originally wanted. I reluctantly answer:

Me: “I technically can do print the photo of your art on one of my specialty surfaces, but you’d lose so much quality that I cannot possibly recommend it.”

Sadly, she is not deterred and wants to go ahead with the idea anyway, holding her phone up above the art and flashing a quick shot of it. Because corporate rules forbid us from rejecting potential sales and I cannot convince her that it’s a bad idea, I resign myself to starting the design process.

However, the process to get the image printed first requires the client to upload the picture to a specific webpage so that I can pull it up on my computer. The easiest way I’ve found to help my clients do this is by writing out the exact link on a small paper pad and asking them to use their phone to go to this address. Most clients are able to open the Internet browser on their devices and follow the link to the right page with minimal guidance.

This lady, however, looks at the address confused for a few moments before pulling out a pen and writing her phone number directly below my handwriting. She then stares at me expectantly for a full ten seconds. It takes me a few moments before I realize that she vastly misunderstood when I asked her to use her phone to upload the picture to the webpage. She thought I was asking personal permission for me to use her phone to upload the picture to a website of mine, and that providing her phone number would somehow allow me to access her photos for her on my computer.

I politely reiterate:

Me: “Ma’am, I need you to open your phone’s web browser and enter in the link address.”

Customer: “Oh, I’m sorry for the confusion.”

She sets her phone down on the counter, looking at the main menu with her fingers poised to type.

Finally, I think we’re getting somewhere, right before she asks:

Customer: “Which one of these apps is a web browser?”

I sigh internally and ask her to pull up Google, which she happily does, and she allows me to enter the rest of the address myself to direct her to the right page.

As she sorts through all the photos on her phone to find the one she wants to upload, she casually asks when she can pick up her print.

Me: “As I said from the start, anything done through us will take about two weeks.”

She suddenly looks up from her phone with wide eyes.

Customer: “That’s way too long! I need it in a few days minimum for when I meet up with my friend!”

In the end, she gave very hasty apologies and wound up asking where those other places were that did photocopies. She wrapped up what had been a thirty-minute ordeal in less than thirty seconds, all to finally follow the advice I had told her right from the beginning.

I needed to sit down to recover my brain cells after that.

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