Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Year Kodak Killed Christmas

O'Matt waits with "Hobbes" at Pixie Hollow
It was 2011, our youngest niece had just turned 4 and she needed a stuffed Tigger to go with her Pooh Bear and Eeyore.

She'd been to Disneyland for the first time the year before, and it was O'Matt and Maggie's first year as Disneyland annual passholders-- we went to Disneyland one weekend a month every month in 2011!

So just after the first of the year, the BF's sister asked politely if we could pick up a Tigger to go with Pooh and Eeyore on one of our trips. It would be set aside as a birthday or Christmas present for niece #2 and the sister-in-law would gladly pay us back when we obtained said Tigger.

The BF is the world's best uncle. Naturally, he said no to getting paid back and claimed Tigger as our own present to the niece. And a present from O'Matt (that's what she calls him, we're not sure where the "O" came from) is never just a present wrapped up in fancy paper-- it's a project.

The BF explained his elaborate Tigger Project plan to me and I rolled my eyes and sighed heavily at the sheer enormity of his plot. But, it was pretty cool, so of course we got started.

I could be on Space Mountain
Tigger was purchased sometime in March of 2011. Tigger would remain in his original Disney bag, be taken to our home and given a warm, safe spot to live in our closet for the next several months. However, Tigger's stunt double-- purchased at the same time as Tigger and lovingly named "Hobbes,"-- would get some minor surgery and accompany us on each of our subsequent trips to Disneyland.

Hobbes got some wires inserted into his arms, tail, and head with a handle poking out the back of his head for a muppet-like effect that allowed us to pose him better.

And then the pictures began. We spent months taking pictures of Hobbes all over Disneyland and CA Adventures. The premise was that Tigger was searching for his friend Riley.

We took Hobbes on rides, we approached countless cast members and characters. Uncle O'Matt stood in line for hours waiting to greet princesses and pixies for this project. And let me tell you, we looked kinda silly standing in all those lines without any kids of our own.

75 minute wait for the Princess Fantasy Faire = awesome uncle!
Rapunzel was new, I think we waited 90 minutes to see her.

Waiting for princesses might be a little hard for O'Matt

Ultimately, we put together a story book about Tigger's search for his friend Riley. The intent was to give her the book and make her read it before opening the box that contained the actual Tigger.

It was very important to me that we have an actual, hardcover, professionally bound photo book made. I just thought that a real book all about her would blow a 4-year-old's mind. So, naturally, we ran the project right up the last minute and I finally had my story book pages ready to upload with about a week to spare.
Then began the search for a company that could make the book and get it shipped to us in time for Christmas.
I can make it look like those cars on Autopia are going really fast!


Yeah, we knew it was going to cost us a fortune, but we were prepared to suck it up for the sake of an awesome present.

Ultimately, I ended up choosing Kodak. (Remember when Kodak was a thing?) Their website claimed that they could print the book AND ship it to us by Christmas. So I created my account, chose the book format, and uploaded my pages.

I did that on a Sunday night. Christmas was the following Sunday. The book was slated to arrive by the end of the day on Wednesday.

Whew! Plenty of time, right?

24 hours later I had a tracking number and a promise that the book was scheduled for delivery by the end of the day on Wednesday. But the tracking number hadn't been scanned by UPS... all day we checked back and the UPS website continued to tell us that they had no information regarding that tracking number.

We contacted Kodak via their online chat service. Online customer service assured us that we had a tracking number, and that our package was scheduled to arrive by the end of the day on Wednesday.

O'Matt had to go on Small World a LOT!
We had a bad feeling in our guts. We've ordered things before. Yeah yeah yeah... it can take up to 24 hours for the information to appear in UPS's system, blah blah blah. But we all know that website updates pretty dang quickly after the package gets scanned.

Wednesday came and went. The tracking number still never showed up in UPS' system and Kodak still insisted the package wasn't late.

Meanwhile, both the BF and I were pretty sure that the package hadn't shipped at all: Either the shipping label had been printed and then put aside in some sort of paperwork limbo, the book had been printed and packaged and had fallen into some sort of package limbo-- whatever the real-world scenario was, that package hadn't shipped. We knew it in our hearts.


But all they did was read our shipping label to us. The same info that my confirmation email held.

Frustration set in.

Matt spent all day Thursday trying to get to the bottom of the situation. He had Kodak online, he had Kodak on the phone, he had UPS on the phone all at the same time. Kodak insisted that the book had been shipped because-- hey! They printed a shipping label, so it must have been shipped, right? UPS was awesome. They did everything within their power to physically look for this package. They offered to contact the driver of the truck on the route that serviced the processing plant that the book had (supposedly) shipped from, they would have the driver check his truck, they offered to send the drive back to the plant to physically look for any missed packages-- BUT Kodak would not tell us the physical address that the book had supposedly shipped from.

Ok. I can understand why you won't tell us... but the customer service rep at UPS gave the BF the number to her direct line and said Kodak could call her and give the information directly to her.

Everyone asks who the little boy is:
We don't know. He was on the Mark Twain with the BF and Hobbes so he helped out.

Nope. Kodak don't play that.

So Kodak continued to insist that there was still time for the book to be delivered and UPS gave us their sincerest condolences.

By Friday we were trying to explain to Kodak that this was not ok. That they obviously had dropped a ball somewhere along the line (maybe in the mid 90's when they failed to embrace the impending move to digital photography?)  The tracking number they had on file was obviously not the right one. Something had gone wrong.

Kodak said, "it can be delivered as late as 7 p.m. on Christmas eve. It's not late till then. If it's not there by 2 p.m. on Christmas eve, call me back."

Kodak customer service went home before 2 p.m. on Christmas eve.

So what happened? Kodak refunded our money. I stayed up late on Christmas eve printing each one of the pages for the story book here at home and putting them into a small scrapbook.
Yes, Hobbes is over 21 and
 he knows the rum is never gone at
 Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar.

The story was a hit. Tigger is well-loved. Hobbes is retired. We are heroes. Everyone wants us to do something like this for their kids.

The book showed up on December 26. The tracking number on the package was completely wrong. Kodak hadn't shipped it "Next day air" they shipped it "next day super saver" which only gets delivered on week

If we'd had the CORRECT tracking number, we-- and UPS-- would have known that it actually was in our local distribution center on Saturday morning and we could have gone down there and picked it up in person. All they would have had to do was look up the order by the shipping address-- as we'd asked them to do several times.

Shortly afterward, Kodak announced that it was filing for bankruptcy and then closed its doors.

No one was happier to hear this news than us.

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