Feb 19, 2011

Kinko's: The Printing Aneurysm

"Express yourself." I'd like to express myself. But I really don't want to get kicked out of your store.

I went to Kinko's today to print something out. It was a simple request. A couple copies. Color. No scaling. The type of thing that should take seconds. An "in and out" job, if you will. Unfortunately, it was not that simple. As you might have guessed, if I'm taking the time to write about the fiasco, then something probably didn't go as smoothly as possible. I'm not a happy camper. If you ever need to print something out and don't own a printer, keep on reading before you head out to your local Kinko's.

Whenever I need to print something, I go through a list of options to get the job done:

  • Do I have a printer? No.
  • Can I print this at work? No. I don't print personal stuff at work.
  • Can I print this at my parent's house? Maybe. But the printer might not work. And I don't feel like driving out there.
  • Are there any other alternatives? Yes.
  • Do you feel like dealing with the shenanigans at Kinko's? [See video below.]

When I filter through my options and get down to the bottom of the list, I pack my bags and go to Kinko's. From my experiences, there are two different ways you can print something out there.

Option #1

If you have a special request that requires a certain kind of paper, they will do it for you.

Option #2

If you just need to run off a few B&W or color copies, they will give you a special card and send you to one of their piece of shit computers - that charges you by the second - to complete said task.

Personally, I recommend Option #1. But let's say you need to print a few simple things and have to choose Option #2. You go into the store. You tell them what you need to do. The store can be empty or packed, it doesn't matter, they will give you a card. You have no idea what this card does. When they gave me the card, I told them that I didn't want to have to pay extra to print out something that was an easy request. They said they would waive the fee. They point to a computer and tell you to "go over there" and print your stuff out. You sit down at the computer. You slide the card and the clock starts ticking. You click a few buttons and the computer boots up. This part takes forever and you can see the money it's costing you in the process. [I actually timed it and it took 2 minutes and 20 seconds to get to a functioning state that I could access the file from a flash drive that I needed to print.] You take a deep breath and print your stuff. You pick up the copies and head to the back of the line at the register. When it is finally your turn, you hand them your card. They charge you for the copies and the time you spent on their computer. Even though it took about 5 seconds to print out your stuff, they still charge you for the entire duration of the creep show even though the original dude you talked to said they would waive the fees. At this point, you can "Express Yourself" and dispute the charges, or cut your losses and storm out of the building.

Option #2 is a little easier but takes more time. This is because Kinko's is severely understaffed and the person that is trying to process your request is also doing about 50 other things at the same time. Here is an example from my experience today. I get to the store. It took me about 5 minutes to find a parking spot. I walk in and get in line. Another 5 minutes ticks off the clock. Finally someone behind the desk summons me. I say "I need to print a couple copies of this out on card stock. The size is 6x8 and I want you to print out the original size without scaling it down..." and then he interrupts with a "well wait for me to get this up. I can't do it yet." Uggg. He takes my flash drive and acts like he is trying to open it up but it takes forever. Then someone else in the back corner tells him that he printed something out but it messed up. He goes over to help them. Eventually he gets back and prints a copy out for me. He hands it to me. "Yes, this looks good. But I need you to print more of these out." Okay sure thing, buddy. [Son of a bitch! I'm not your buddy, Pal!] So right at that moment the phone rings. He walks away from the counter and answers it. Two words into it the phone rings again. He finishes the conversation and hangs up. Answers the next call. The person on the other end had a price quote question for printing out something. He said it was $7.25 per square foot. I'm not sure what they needed printed. "What size is it, 6x4 feet?" I start doing the math in my head while he frantically searches for a calculator. "Okay, that would be 24 square feet. The total cost would be..." I do the numbers in my head (and I suck at math) and come up with $174... "the total would be $174... yes ma'am, that's correct." They must have hung up on him. He hangs up the phone and walks back to the counter. Right before he clicks the "Print" button that I have been eyeballing for what seems to be an eternity, the hillbilly a few feet to the left of me says, "Hey I need to E-Laminate something." Seriously? Try again dude. It's laminate. LAM-I-NATE. Drop the "E." So then the Kinko's guy grabs the card from the guy that was way behind me in line in the first place and proceeds over to the "Elamination Station." He does his thing. Hillbilly #2 made the following comment: "Shoot man, I never elaminate my stuff. I just wrap it up in packing tape. Shit." At this point, my patience is just about to expire. Project "Express Yourself" is ready to commence. The Kinko's guy rings up the elamination hillbilly. Then he finally walks back to my area. "Whew, alright. Well let's head over to the register and I'll ring you up." Death stare. "I need more copies. Click that "Print" button four more times." After a few moments of confusion, I think I blacked out. Probably too much blood rushing to my head. The next thing I recall is the stack of copies being handed over to me. "That will be $6.12, sir."

That is about all I can say. Those are my experiences. The final product meets my standards. Everything to get from A to B is a complete nightmare. The next time you have to print something out, please consider all of your options before going to Kinko's. As our good friend Omak always said, "The choice is yours and yours alone. Choose wisely."