They were listening

Let’s review.

A few weeks ago, Kodak decided to change their storage policy for people who stored photos on their Kodak Gallery Service, requiring a minimum purchase on a sliding scale that started at $4.99 and went up to $19.99 annually to start at the end of May. And if people didn’t meet the minimum purchase photo requirements by the end of May, their photos would be deleted.

This put people like me, who smartly, or not smartly, had used Kodak Gallery as backup storage for a collection of more than 3000 photos. Kodak had claimed the primary reason for the change was to repurpose storage used by people who didn’t make any purchases for people who did. Fair enough. So, I endeavored to remove my photos from storage, and delete my account. Unfortunately, there was no easy way for me to download these photos without giving money to Kodak. I shared my story, and found out I wasn’t alone.

The #kodakfail Twitter hashtag grows out of this, and a few other people pile on. I tweet at Kodak’s Chief Blogger, and Kodak’s CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett for reactions. I share my story with BarCampNYC4 in session about Twitter customer service. My biggest point, the communication about this was a real fail, and they’ve missed my use case – someone with a lot of photos who has no way to possibly meet their new requirements without an intense effort in time or money.

Kodak deletes my photos.

My story gets picked up by eConsultancy, Consumerist and a few other places. I write a post for AdAge about the perils of cloud storage, and lessons learned from it.

Finally, after a few days of Tweets, Tumble posts, and updates this blog, which was read a few times by people from Rochester, NY (Kodak’s headquarters), and one last tweet for comment, I get a Tweet from Mr Hayzlett saying that the team was trying to reach me. Kodak was listening.

The next day, I received an email from Kodak’s Public Relations team, trying to understand my story, and learn a litle bit more about my situation, and expressed a bit of confusion about the misunderstanding of Kodak’s purchase requirement (apparently it has been in place for 5 years). I tell her my situation, how there’s no way for me to get photos out, and how this is a major miss for Kodak, and how the communication was clear as to purpose, but it was perhaps a little blunt and unforgiving. She asked me why Flickr was willing to be worth my $24.95 a year, but Kodak was not. She also said Kodak was “working on” the solution of bulk downloads, and actually recommended a Firefox plugin as a stopgap solution.

And, most importantly, they RESTORED my missing photos for another year, and gave me an invite to and a credit to test their new beta product, because they want to continue to hear my feedback.

Huh. They listened, and they want to listen more.

And for those who have had their photos deleted:

“In terms of people who have not complied with the Terms of Service and have not made a purchase, they may be able to get their images restored. They would need to contact Gallery customer service, bring their account current by meeting the purchase requirement and then images may be restored.”

Today, at The 140 Characters (#140conf), Jeffrey Hayzlett, Kodak’s Chief Marketing Officer, and moderately active Twitterer, announced that Kodak was hiring a “Chief Listening Officer” as a part of Kodak’s continued push into digital.

And I can honestly say, after this experience, that Kodak is trying to listen and responding. Even though the solution wasn’t ideal, they tried to offer one that worked for me. And while I’d still like to see Kodak’s solution for “bulk downloads”, so that in a year’s time, this sort of thing doesn’t happen again for me, I think at least trying to offer an alternative was a good gesture. I’d say that Kodak’s listening has turned #kodakfail into at least a #kodakmulligan, or #kodaktryagain. There are still a lot of other brands who think the old way, that would have never even considered my situation.

They’re listening. And they’re trying, and I think that’s really all I could have ever asked.

Many thanks to the hundreds of people who shared my story to help get Kodak’s ear. The customer is always right, and now with social tools, “right” three times as fast, and three levels closer to the brand.


  1. I just went through this myself. And I used your story here to try to get the same results. My photos, they say, cannot be restored. “deleted forever,” they say. I am so happy for you that you retrieved yours – I, personally, am truly disappointed in Kodak STILL. It’s as if they don’t realize that they are KODAK, one of the oldest photo companies in the world and that photos are more than “files.” it’s really a shame.

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