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I bought a digital camera nearly two years ago, but never bothered to get my photos printed. I did look at a couple of sites but never did anything about it until I got back from a few days in Blackpool to find a friend had recommended truprint.co.uk, it seemed worth a try so I gave it a go.
~~Introduction~~ We used to have an APS camera, and having the option of three sizes of photos' made me want to take nicer pictures, and ever since I have put more effort into getting a good photo. Owning a digital camera gives you the choice of getting the most out of your pictures - as soon as you take the photo you can see if its the one you want or you can take another until you get it right. You can take as many as you like, and try all sorts of different things to achieve the desired effect, not that I necessary do, but you don't have to worry about wasting film and money.
~~Trueprint.co.uk~~ OK, so you've got your pictures on your PC, and want the prints. You register at trueprint.co.uk, download a piece of software (takes very little time), click 'upload photos', choose 'new album' (or one you have already), name it (such as 'Blackpool 2005' in my case), and 'upload to this album', select your photos and they'll upload.
You have options on fixing and enhancing your photos, moving photos from album to album, viewing all the photos in an album, deleting photos, sharing albums with friends, and you can order gifts from you photos such as calendars and jigsaws.
When you want to order prints, click the 'order prints', select the photos you want, the sizes you want and the quantity you want, input your card details and that's it, a couple of days later your prints arrive.
~~Pricing~~ 4x6 10p 5x7 20p 10x8 £1.20 Wallet set 99p Postage is 99p for up to 50 prints, 50-500 is £1.49, and 500 up is £1.99.
There are various options that can apply, enlargements, pre paid prints and so on.
~~My Experience~~ A couple of photos I took came out very dark, and I didn't think that I could get any decent photos from them, but the 'fill flash' tool in the 'fix and enhance' section , proved marvellous, though not brilliant, they did brighten up so well I could order prints from them. It didn't take much time for the photos to arrive and it was all very easy to use and quite cheap. I even found out that most digital cameras take 4x5.3 size photos rather than the typical 4x6 ones, and when you order it will tell you that some of the photos can be printed at this size, so you get the whole picture - which is fantastic.
~~Major Problems~~ As I've said I like to make the most of my pictures, and I prefer using my own software to make any changes, such as cropping (trimming the edges to remove something unsightly or instance), and using MSpaint to alter anything to make it better.
Before I used trueprint.co.uk, I emailed them to ask if I could crop and change my photos before I uploaded them, and if there anything I should or shouldn't do if I wanted to order prints, I was told that I could do anything. So I cropped/altered some of my photos and ordered them at the 4x6 size and opted for the 4x5.3 where applicable.
When the photos came though, I found that the ones I cropped had been trimmed again to fit the 4x6 size, ruining those ones. I was very disappointed, especially since I asked if there anything I should or shouldn't do to avoid this kind of situation. So I complained via the site, detailing the problem, and they told me to return the photos with a covering note.
I re-upload the photos and used their 'smart crop' tool (which ensures that the picture you want will be in the picture, whatever the size), to make it easier for them to replace, and sent back only the affected ones, as there were only 6 I think.
~~Poor Service~~ I got no reply, so I e-mailed again, explaining the whole thing again. I got a very nice reply telling me that the images have to fit the aspect ratio, and that I could check when ordering the photos to see how they will be printed.
I was quite happy until I realised two things, one, that this was the information I should have been given in the first place, and two, that they didn't actually say what they were going to do, so I replied and told them so - again I got no reply.
I emailed again and virtually demanded they replace, return or credit my account to cover the costs or replacing my photos, which despite their bad English, they begrudgingly did.
~~More Problems~~ A couple of months later I had more photos to print, all taken with the same digital camera, some I enhanced or cropped, and when I ordered I had the option of having some at the 4x5.3 digital size which I was happy to do. When the photos came though, some of the photos I hadn't touched, hadn't been recognised as digital prints and came out at the selected 4x6 size and so had parts of the picture cut off, ruining some - not their fault I should have checked.
I wanted to reorder these prints, so I decided to crop the images on the site to make them fit the 4x6 size, but found I couldn't crop them without losing part of the picture I wanted to keep. I emailed them to explain what had happened and that I couldn't crop the picture without losing part of the picture I wanted to keep, and could they advise me on what I could do, and how I could avoid this problem in the future?.
The reply?. "Please note that with our "trueprint" size (4x5.3), our system automatically detects if a customer has pictures in his cart that might benefit from that size, and a page pops up giving him the option to choose true print instead of 4x6.
The customer will not be able to choose that size if the page do not pop up automatically."
Now how does that help me?, or answer the question I asked? - it doesn't. The system didn't detect the pictures that would of benefited from the 4x5.3 size, and I'm not asking for the choice, I'm asking how to get a photo printed as it is without losing any part of it, but they don't want to help.
~~My Opinion?~~ Don't waste you time and money, I genuinely believe that they are only interested in parting you with your money. They're there to make money, of course, but also to provide a good service, and improve it if they make mistakes. They don't care, and don't want to know if you're not happy with you photos.
I'm quite happy to accept my mistakes, I should have realised that the aspect ratio may not be right, but I was told that I could do anything, so I didn't worry about it. Its not their fault that I can't crop the photos to fit the correct size without losing an important part of the picture, but they could have advised me on how I could get the whole picture printed at the sizes they offer, like I asked.
In the end they aren't worth the trouble and I'd rather pay more for a better service, which is what I'll be doing and I'd advise you - if you care about getting the photos you want and about getting a decent service - not to use them (and not snapfish.co.uk either as it seems they're the same people). Enjoy you photos, but not with trueprint.