Saturday, August 4, 2007


You may remember that I was preparing photos to be entered into the State Fair competition. Originally I was going to enter four, since that is the maximum number allowed, but when I talked to Sara, the lady at the art shop where I was having them printed and matted, I decided to enter only two, because of cost. On that initial visit I asked Sara if she was familiar with the State Fair rules. She said, “Oh, yes, we produce a lot of winners.” I told her I had the rules for mounting the photos, if she needed them, and she asked if I'd email them to her, which I did as soon as I got home.

The next day I took my picture files in. Sara remembered me from my visit the day before. I asked her if she had recieved my email with the rules for mounting. She said she had received them, but that she hadn’t been able to open them, because she was on a phone modem there at the shop, and it was too slow. So I offered to print them out and bring them to her. “Oh, no. I can open them on my home computer.” So, she charged my credit card and told me my mounted photos would be ready in a week or ten days.

This week, on Thursday, I went in to see if they were done, since I had heard nothing. They weren’t. But Sara said they’d be finished either later that day or on Friday. She also shared with me that they had lost their lease, and had only seven days to be out of the shop! They didn't have any other space lined up, so she would be taking everything to her home to store until they could open up again. That made me nervous; after all, she had a considerable chunk of my money, and so far I had nothing!

Today, after our Saturday morning breakfast, we stopped by the shop again, since I still hadn’t heard from her. She told me she was mounting them right then, and would call me in an hour or so, when they were finished. We went on home, and, sure enough, she called to tell me they were done. I dashed right over to the shop and picked them up. I have to say they looked really nice in the 11”x14” size I decided on. I thanked her, and brought the pictures home. Dan and Tim both thought they looked great. And then . . . I looked carefully at them, and thought it looked like they were mounted on foam board. The rules say they can’t be mounted on foam board!

So I called Sara, and she confirmed that they were, indeed, mounted on acid-free foam board. She told me she had no idea about that rule, and that she had never been able to open the rules document. (And, I thought to myself, "So why did you proceed, and why didn't you let me print them out for you, like I offered?") She said she’d call me back when she had time to figure out what to do. As soon as I got off the phone, Dan, who is much more assertive than I am, told me I should take the pictures back and get my money refunded until she came up with a suitable solution. We knew that the shop was due to close any day, and we weren’t sure she would get my pictures done in time. But the pictures I had were useless for entry in the State Fair.

Reluctantly (I hate these kinds of interactions) I drove back to the shop. I told Sara that the pictures were of no use to me, and that I thought I should just get my money back. The conversation that followed went like this:

“Oh, we’ll reprint the pictures and remount them for you.”

“But when?” I asked. “The deadline for entering photographs is a week from Monday.”

“We’ll have them done by close of day on Tuesday, because that’s our last day in the shop.”

“Well, that would be good,” I said, “but I’d feel better getting my money refunded now, and then paying you again when I have the pictures in hand.”

“I’d be happy to do that,” said Sara, “except our credit card account is already closed, and the machine is no longer working. And I don’t have cash in the store.”

“(Sigh) . . . okay, so you’ll have them ready by Tuesday? Woud you mind putting, in writing, that if you don’t have them done by close of business Tuesday, you will refund my money?” And so she did.

I’m not so sure that I’ll have any pictures to enter in the State Fair this year. It’s too late to go anywhere else to have them done now.

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