Friday, February 27, 2009

Customer Service In China...

...Or How To Waste One Hour.

Only in China would it take more that an hour to have 8 passport pictures taken…and no there wasn’t a long queue in the store: we were the only one there.

First round: The ladies behind the corner took almost 10 minutes to write on the little pink slip what we wanted… well we had quite a complex order: 4 pictures with US standard (5*5 cm or 2*2 in) and 4 pictures with European Standard (3.5*4.5cm). Since they had a composite with all the different countries requirements on it, it was just a matter of pointing and showing 4 fingers with our hand…Simple enough. Then they proceeded to ask us when we wanted to take the photos and when we wanted to come pick them up… I don’t know let see: let’s take the photo tomorrow and we’ll come pick them up in about a week???!!!

Second round: The photographer (?). The guy tried to take the picture the best that he could… I’m pretty sure I could have done a better job but the best part was yet to come.

Third round: The Photoshop expert (?!). Another guy started to work on the picture, first by removing the color background then filling it with white. I don’t know but let’s pause for a moment and see if it wouldn’t be more time efficient (and easier) to just use the proper background color from the start like white most of the time and blue for Chinese visa photo?… again just a suggestion. THEN came the resizing and that’s where our full 2.5 years of experience in China really helped us keep calm and focus on our goal (i.e. getting those $!*?# pictures!). First there was too much body part (i.e. the size of the head was too small) then the head was too big, then the head was too small (well we did tell them that in the previous picture the head was too small). I actually lost my calm (slightly) for a moment and decided to ask to take the command of the computer and Photoshop (in CHINESE) to actually resize the photo myself. Celine’s timing: 2 minutes top and that’s mainly because I struggled with one or two Chinese characters!!
All in all they had to redo it maybe 4 times and since they never save their previous work, they had to start from scratch each and every time (yes, erasing and filling the background!)

1 hour and 15 minutes later we left the Kodak store with our 8 passport photos, hoping both Embassies accept them now. For some reason they had no problem with the European version and since the American embassy is really peculiar about the photos we had to have them right.

That's the picture he'll have on his passports for the next 5 years!