I detest you.
Hoo boy. Adult language to follow.
Fuck Kinkos. Fuck those rent seeking bastards.
The last time I had to use Kinkos, it was at approximately 1am in the morning. My stats group and I had put the finishing touches on our 400 page research report, and the University printing center was closed. We called around, and found a Kinkos open 24 hours on Broadway… not to far away.
Fast forward to the Kinkos. For some reason, the store was filled with really old people who looked medicated out of their minds, as if a nursing home had taken a field trip. There were geezers shuffling around, at the computer kiosks, typing away their memoirs or putting together scrap books from their army days and God knows what else.
We debated the best method to print out our report. If we asked for the customer service support, it would be placed in a queue and not available for pickup until the next morning. Unacceptable.
We waded through the living dead to our very own “self-help” kiosk. To use the machine (at $15 per hour or $.25 per minute), I had to first put “credits” on a card. Mind you, the going rate of the US dollar to Kinko “credits” is 1:1. I couldn’t just, you know, pay for it afterward, as is customary in every other business in America.
As I was putting $20 into the credit machine, my classmates were playing the “poor student” sympathy card on a staff worker. He kindly agreed to print our report on the spot at a significant discount. (Note: I refuse to credit Kinkos here… this was a reflection of the generoisity of the employee, not the company he happened to work for).
When it came time to pay, I handed the employee my Kinko “credit” card. “There’s $20 on here,” I said.
“We can’t accept that.”
“What do you mean you can’t accept this? I bought it here. It has your company’s name on it.”
“Oh, I know. The credits are only good for the self-service stations.”
“Ok then. I want to refund this then.”
“I can’t do that.”
“And why the hell not?”
“We don’t give refunds on the credits. You’ll need to come back when there’s a manager present.”
“Oh, ok. Fuck you then.” (Note: I didn’t really tell him to fuck off, but I did sarcastically roll my eyes and sigh in frustration. Yeah, I’m a bad-ass).
Here’s the thing: the only time anyone really ever needs to use Kinkos is when they are absolutely desperate. Short deadline, no other options.
Kinko’s? They know this. They know you have no other options, that you’re on deadline, that you probably have an expense account anyway. They know you’re probably traveling out of town, have a big presentation that needs to be printed/faxed/collated/mailed immediately, and that you’ll pretty much pay any price to make sure it gets done. “Inelastic Demand,” as we call it in Economics.
And so they price gouge. Boy, do they price gouge.
The price gouging I can live with somewhat. It’s America… where else are you going to find a printer open at 1am? A valuable service, no doubt.
But WTF with the Kinko “credits”? I take perfectly good money that is liquid, ubiquitous, and can be used anywhere, and turn it in to a card THAT CAN’T EVEN BE USED TO PAY FOR SERVICES OR PURCHASE GOODS FROM THE SAME GOD DAMN STORE IT WAS BOUGHT FROM?
The last 6 months I have carried around $20.00 worth of Kinko “credits” in my wallet. I tried to give it to a friend as a sarcastic birthday gift, and she DECLINED it. The thing has ABSOLUTELY NO VALUE TO ANYONE WHO DOESN’T BELONG TO A CONVALESCENT HOME THAT TAKES MIDNIGHTS TRIPS TO THE LOCAL LATE NIGHT COPY CENTER.
What pisses me off is that everytime I go to Fed-Ex/Kinkos, I bring it up with the manager. I try to buy packaging tape, or to pay for an overnight delivery, to no avail. Of course, I never get a cash refund. That would be silly.
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because today I had YET ANOTHER terrible experience with those bastards. I was the only person in the store at 6am. I needed 4 versions of a 35 page documented printed double-sided in color. A simple request.
45 minutes and $84.69 later, I had my documents, and a sour mood. These are the problems I encountered, in order:
- Person behind the desk told me should couldn’t process my job for me, even though I was there when the store opened, before the sunrise, and the only customer in miles.
- The Dell computer at the Self-Help kiosk began charging me by the minute, even as it was slowly sending memory requests to perform simple tasks such as “viewing the contents of a folder” and “opening a pdf.”
- The print settings are customized by Kinkos and do not include the intuitive “double sided” one-click feature. Buried within properties, they have a “print along edge” option, which is the gateway to double sided printing. So while I’m spending 5 minutes searching for this, it’s costing me $.25 per minute. Keep in mind: I have a blog, I use a computer every day… I’m on the long tail of the bell curve in terms of computer proficiency. But maybe that’s just how they suck all the old people in for days at a time. Again, fuck those guys.
- I find out that there is a “laptop” station which is significantly cheaper, at $6 per 15 minutes, so I bust out my laptop and set it up. By the time everything is functioning, I adjust my chair slightly and the serial connector which is SCOTECHED TAPED to the payment processing server disconnects, abruptly ending my session. I yell at nobody in particular.
- FINALLY a print 1 version of the report, and take it to the color copier, which I assume is cheaper than the “Self-Flagellation” station. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to price compare, since there is NO PRICING INFORMATION ANYWHERE.
The staff member, of course, has at this point ducked into the back office. If I were a worse person, I would take my pound of flesh from Kinkos in the form of highlighters, stock paper, and bubble packing. Disgruntled, I insert my credit card (which I now discover can be used in lieu of the worthless Kinko’s “credit,” and pray that the bill is not too much.
It was, but I had a 9am meeting and our color copier is down. Pardon me, I’ll be filling out my expense report.