Friday, January 16, 2009

I hate Sears Portrait Studio

This week, Micah turned one month old! I decided that it would be a good idea to take monthly "formal" pictures of him throughout this year, so today I decided to venture out to get his first set of pictures. I did some searching, and the best deal around here was actually at JC Penney. Unfortunately, the JC Penney Portrait Studios are not exactly convenient. One is located at a mall that recently had some shootings (needless to say, I'm not comfortable spending time there anymore) and the other is located at a mall that is about 25 minutes from here. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about going 25 minutes to the mall, but with Micah's complicated feeding schedule, I was a bit reticent to attempt such a long trip for our first real outing. After doing some research, I found a deal on the Sears Portrait Studio web site - $9.99 for a 35 picture assortment plus the sitting fee. While this is more expensive than JC Penney's because of the sitting fee (it was free at JC Penney), I decided the convenience factor was worth the extra money, so I booked an appointment there for 1:00 pm today.

Last night, Micah decided to wake up every 2 hours to nurse. I was actually exhausted today because I spent most of the night nursing and pumping. At 9:30, the contractors showed up to continue working on the renvoations (I can't believe they are still working on this house). At 10:00, a friend called about coming by. I realized very quickly that Micah would be due for a feeding right around 1:30 or 2:00, so I decided that moving the 1:00 pm appointment to 3:00 pm was a better idea. When my friend showed up, all of the furniture was in the middle of the room, and half of the house was covered with big, thick plastic because of the work. Naturally, I had to nurse Micah again while she was here. It was a crazy morning as I was trying to juggle Micah, the contractors, and my friend. Unfortunately, DH spent the whole early morning on the phone, so he didn't end up helping much with the feedings, and then he left to go to a meeting. Trying to breastfeed, supplement, weigh, change and dress the baby, then pump, is quite challenging and time consuming to do all alone. He kept screaming when I was pumping, and he had a few diaper explosions. I was kind of overwhelmed trying to do it all, answer the questions for the contractors, etc. By 1:00, I realized that I STILL hadn't taken my morning medication or eaten. I then thought about the next feeding I had to do before leaving, and packing up the car and getting everything together for our little trip, and I was a bit worried that it was a bad idea to go. At that exact moment, my mom called . . . and I vented. She immediately told me I should call my dad and he would help. About 5 minutes after we hung up the phone, my dad called and asked what time and where he should meet me.

My dad showed up around 2:00. He held Micah while I finished pumping, then gave him his bottle supplement while I took my medication and ate something. I noticed immediately that while Micah had been awake all morning, he was in a deep food coma. I immediately knew he wouldn't be waking up for the photos. Nevertheless, we got him dressed, and my dad helped put him in the carseat while I organized the diaper bag. My dad informed me he had figured out the correct entrance to the mall and where to park closest to the portrait studio (a thought that never occurred to me). I suddenly realized that we were without the stroller frame - DH took the car that had the stroller frame in the trunk! Once again, I was relieved my dad was there - the carrier probably would have been too heavy for me to carry alone with all the other stuff.

We got to Sears, and we were all ready for the sitting . . . and Micah was still unconscious. The woman set up a white background and a white pillow. I kept waiting for her to put some of the cute blankets out, or the baby stuff, or change the background, and she never did. She took 5 pictures, and that was it. I thought that perhaps they digitized the color background. While we waited for the photographer to do a few things, my dad asked me to walk with him to the Build-a-Bear workshop so he could build a bear for Micah. It was so cute! We got him a scruffy dog. When we went back, I picked out the picture I liked best, but I was really disappointed by the white backdrop. She then tells me it will cost $17.99 for 1 8x10. I then explained I was there for the $9.99 package advertised on the web. She said that all their packages began at $99, and I must have the price wrong. I again repeated the offer, and she said that they only have coupon offers, nothing on the internet. We called the manager, who tried to tell us the internet rates were not for in-store sittings, but internet sittings (huh? how do you do a photo shoot over the internet? with a web cam?). I used my trustee Treo to access the ad, and I read it to her - it said "Everyday Special." It was clear that this was an everyday package deal, no coupon required. Eventually, the manager honored the price, but it took us 1/2 hour.

So . . . we got the price we wanted, and the picture of Micah is kind of cute, but I'm very unhappy with the selected background and the fact that the photographer failed to use any of the props in the picture (no toys, no blankets, nothing!). Bottom line - I wouldn't go back there for anything. I have a coupon for JC Penney that I intend to use next month. Let's hope they do a better job!

After the entire ordeal, we came racing home, just in time for another feed. My father was nice enough to stay with me longer so he could take care of Micah while I pumped. Then, in classic Daddy style, he fell asleep on the couch and stayed another 2 hours sleeping. I'm just glad today is done . . . I'm exhausted and in need of some serious sleep.


Emah S said...

Sorry you had such a rough day! Thank goodness for your dad! Guess it goes to show that you need to speak up to get what you know you deserve....good for you for sticking to it and getting the advertised price.

We used to go to BabiesRus for pics, they had adorable props. Also, if there is a Picture People in your area, they were awesome too.

Relax deserve it!

Chele said...

I so agree. However, our experiences with both Sears and JCPenny have all been negative and it's not just individual store related.

The best pics of the kids when they were infants and toddlers came from Walmart. They were the most innovated and the kids cooperated and took the best pics there.

Then we discovered private photographers did a great job and charged basically the same thing as Sears, JCPenny or Olan Mills and the experience was so much better when the pics could be taken outside of a studio environment. Hopefully, future picture taking experience will be better.