A couple of weeks ago, after Kiddo4 needed a baby picture for school, I motivated myself to sleeve the last 250 photos I’d printed out. They dated from 2008 to 2009, and I just needed to arrange them in order and put them in albums. This task I’d put off for two years took about an hour to resolve, so I figured I’d print more photos.
Shutterfly is my old standby. I’d printed about five years worth of photos through them, and it’s a good system once I’m caught up. I buy a pre-paid plan and at the end of the month I upload the monthly file of photos, delete the ones I don’t want, and then print the rest.
Here’s the sequence of events from two weeks ago:
1) buy a pre-paid plan for 600 photos
2) upload all the photos from mid-2009 to December 2011
(please note: hundreds of photos got uploaded)
3) go through each folder playing a slideshow of all photos, delete the ones I don’t want, then select all the rest a and click “order prints.”
4) After sorting eight months of photos, with 285 photos in the shopping cart, get too brain-dead to continue.
Fairly straightforward. Except that I didn’t go back the next day to finish the order. Nor the next.
On the third day, I received an email from Shutterfly: You still have items in your shopping cart. Don’t you want to order them?
Well, I wanted to do more photos rather than fewer, to save on the shipping. But I had no motivation to keep sorting photos. Two days after, another email: Just a friendly reminder from Shutterfly that you put a lot of crap in your shopping cart, and you haven’t ordered it yet.
I didn’t think about it. Generally you have thirty days with Shutterfly, and even if they wiped out my shopping cart, I could just reselect the whole albums and order them again. The time-consuming part is sorting the photos into “yes” and “yuck.”
The next day: “Special offer! 101 free 4×6 photos!”
I’m sure that coupon didn’t get sent to everyone. I’m sure that was tailored to the slacker who’d put 285 photos in her shopping cart and hadn’t pulled the trigger.
The algorithm is designed to kick you into gear if you’re getting cold feet. I understand that. But any human could have put together the facts to see I’d just run out of steam. Why? Because I’d already paid for the photos. They had my money. It would have served them better if I never ordered.
But I’m also not stupid, so I used the coupon and pulled the trigger.
Now I’m sitting with another 150 prints in the shopping cart, and I’m waiting to see if the same thing happens.
If it does, is it wrong to use the coupon? Is it immoral to trick a computer?