Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just a funny story

From the comments: "Just last week I had a 10 o'clock come in at 10:15 and tell me that her child just threw up in the parking lot. She then proceeded to say that he seems fine and is it ok if she goes into the store and gets him a change of clothes. So when we finally tried to take his pics, needless to say they were lousy. Mom says "I don't know why he's acting like this, he's usually so good for pictures!" Duh mom!!!!"


Anonymous said...

After 6 years w/ Sears Portrait Studio, I am finally free! My store has closed and luckily I was laid off... while I was still contemplating giving my notice but afraid due to no jobs out there! Thank you Jesus! I now get unemployment and tho I miss taking pictures of children, not enough go off unemployment and deal with the stress of working for CPI! My neck no longer hurts, my stomach no longer churns, I no longer DREAD answering the phone~ tho I no longer am able to do much of anything as am living from (unemployment) check to check and had to cut back on cell phone, cable pkg etc, it is well worth it!!! P.S. I miss "the Bunny Lady" and her posts! LOL

Anonymous said...

I have not checked this blog in sooo long I had almost deleted the link from my bookmarks. I would love to start commenting again as I have more than a few years of experience with CPI. As my friends still trapped in "hell" often tell me, things have changed but are still the same. I miss you too!

The Bunny Lady ;)

Anonymous said...

I just started as a new manager at SPS and I am so nervous about it, because trust me, I know well about all the problems with the company. I'm just trying to make a living. I already have the back and knee pains and it's very stressful to be constantly yelled at to do so well. We need to get "LEAD emails" now and if we don't collect how many they want we are yelled at. Not only that, I am working BY MYSELF for all the senior portrait rushes, because I was moved to a studio with no other employees, thanks CPI. I've worked 35 hours in 3 days and I know that I'm going to be yelled at by my DM for going into overtime, but how can I help it? I can't. Deal with it.

-Rookie manager

Anonymous said...

@rookie manager ur dm must be bonnie wilkerson! I hate this job with a Passion I have been here two damn years and everyday I wake up like ugh today is my last day I quit! The fact that I have a family and haven't found another job keeps me here! Their raises suck, they have no coverage, the bonus is impossible, now that they have changed the pricing customers are like give me my free offer and that's it! I'm so fed up with leads......who can get 30 emails a day at a dead store and work the studio! Ugh I need a new job ASAP!

The fed up associate!

Anonymous said...

I have been with CPI on and off for almost five years ( I am the stupid one that goes back when they call me). This is by far one of the worst companies I have worked for. It is impossible to please customers when they treat their employees with no respect. I can not stand the new leads program. The store we are in is dead and the few that may be in there are so old, they don't have email addresses. I am hoping to get out of this company for good very soon.

Anonymous said...

I have only recently gotten the CPI Corp monkey off my back. After 5 long years, I'm me again! I sleep better, I'm more fun, and I don't dread opening my e-mail anymore. I miss the kids and smiles, but not enough to ever want to go back! :)


Anonymous said...

My wife just made an appointment to have pictures of our new daughter taken at a SPS... then I found this blog. I'm not too happy about it, but then hey, I showed my wife the blog and she was like, well, we'll just find out which package we'll get. Amazingly she didn't want to cancel the appointment and just wanted to get the pictures done. This will be fun (sarcasm) but maybe some SPS employee will be fortunate. Fortunately my kid is pretty easy going.

To the site owner, it's pretty hilarious that I end up seeing a 20% off SPS coupon in the one banner position on the blog. I figure that's probably not currently in your control. It would be great if you offered advertising opportunities for those former SPS employees that have started their own studios.

For all the SPS employees here, sorry you have to work for such a crappy company. Been there, done that, don't want to do it again. ...hope you can squeeze out some time to find new employment, perhaps at a private photography studio if this is the career you want, or some other place. Keep on fighting and stay true to yourself! No one else will do it for you if you don't.

Anonymous said...

I just quit SPS after being there for 2 months. Needless to say, I love this blog! Please keep updating it!

Anonymous said...

CPI will go under. when you hand out free picture emails like candy to an economy of people that are having issues keeping food on the table what do you expect??? this new email that gives away a image on cd is like saying "here go make your own prints for way cheaper and don't spend money here so that we can yell at our associates for having a low PRS and not selling a $400 package on top of the $100.00 worth of free pictures coupon email." and on top of that go had out foto net flyers and get 250 leads a week in a mall that's closing that no one comes to while running all the sessions and and calling tons of people that don't want to hear from you.

stupid company...

Anonymous said...

I just started at SPS, and I have to say this place sucks. They have an email package now going out that literally is free. My sales are absolutely horrible and the fact we are there 2 + 3 hours after close now just to finish our last appointments who show up last minute is bogus. I pray for a winter snow storm and noone shows up. blah.
_ Forced to work here _

Anonymous said...

I have so much to complain about I'm not sure where to I'll start just the beginning.
1st...I just started there recently.
The first few days were all online training, fine. Then I got thrown right into the studio while the other girls did my sales. This was fun for the most part. It was just before they started over booking us for x-mas
THEN...I realized that the main part of the job was trying to convince someone, that probably is on government assistance, that it is indeed, a good idea to spend $250-$400 on pics. C'mon, what kind of person am I. I'm like a live friggin telemarketer holding their pictures captive. Yes, I wholly agree that coming in for a free collage and wasting a company's time to not purchase anything AT ALL, is annoying, but the company made the damn coupons. Put a minimum purchase of one sheet on there at least.

2nd, What kind of nightmare is that computer system. Ever heard of bar codes.Or maybe even a touch screen like a restaurant has with all the different options. It's not enough that I waste my time, the customer's time and the company's time by having to explain all the different packages and convince them they want something that we all know they could give a crap about, but now I'm going to waste more time by having to look up F'n codes. C'mon this isn't a c prompt mainframe. Their are iphone apps that could do this easier.

3rd, I can guarantee you that riding my ass about how much time I spend in the studio, or at the sales table, isn't going to make their kids smile any faster or the parents choose any quicker. I"m asking Seriously, how do you tell someone to HURRY who's been waiting an hour and a half to get to where they are.
Plus cooperate online has overbooked us, and put restrictions on our hours so we're understaffed as well. "Yes please customer, give us your money, just do it quicker we have other people that we have to hurry up to make wait."

4th, would it kill them to make a catalog of backgrounds that can be kept in the waiting room for waiting customers to flip through.

5th, the computers we have are from 2005. Really?

I could keep going but I'm tired and since I have no clue what my schedule is for this week, cause they're crap at that too, I should get to bed in case I get a panicking phone call in the morning.

I would never recommend my friends take their kids to a SPS.

thisgirlwiththecamera said...

I absolutely love photography but, I swear to you there is something wrong with the people running CPI. I started out working for lifetouch 4 years ago and have been with CPI for a little over a year. I want to scream every day. The managers all suck, and dont even get me started on corporate. THEY ARE FREAKING CRAZY if they think we can do all of the things they expect of us in a day and NOT go over in hours. I work a good 10 or more hours per week for FREE. Why?...because I dont want to get yelled at for being over in hours and I certainly dont want to leave my coworkers hanging with double bookings every hour. Its crazy. How do they think we are supposed to do it all? Plus on top of staying on top of appointments (and under in hours), they want you to get a bazillion emails EVERY single day (who needs to breathe?)...and call everyone and their mother to see if they'd like to book an appointment...and BY GOD you better have an amazing average to or they want to know WHY!??! if there is a reason. And dont you DARE photograph less than nine different poses...because nothing could possibly be going on in that camera room that would stop you from taking pictures! Pft. Oh and btw...the customer is ALWAYS right. Give them whatever they want, otherwise...YOU ma'am are in trouble. OHMYFREAKIN god. And the phone NEVER stops ringing, I swear it. If only money wasn't necessary. Oh yea!...who else is loveing these FREE $30 worth of free prints emails? Cuz I know I am.

Anonymous said...

From another manager in my district:

"A woman came back to the studio the other day and asked if I had seen her zombie doll. I told her "no." She then proceeded to FLIP OUT that she needed it and demanded to know why I didn't have it any more. I had to resist the urge to smack her in the face and tell her it was because she left a TOY at a PORTRAIT STUDIO which is frequented by CHILDREN."

Sound typical? Well, how about this. The doll was HERS. Not her daughter's, not her grand-daughter's (yes this woman was old enough to have a grandchild.) She brought the doll to the studio for HERSELF. To make herself laugh. For business portraits. Because she claims: "I'm not photogenic."

The manager has received at least 4 phone calls in a week asking about the status of the missing zombie doll...

Anonymous said...

I commented earlier about just starting and listed some points of contention. I must say the problems that I have seen in that company have not improved now that the holiday season is over. I have 3 hours this coming week! 3!
On top of this..they had originally promised me 9 an hour during the 30 training hours then would be at 10 with opportunities for raises after each certification. What a joke. It's been 2 months and I'm still at 9.
Another thing is my lead training. I was told to go into my facebook and get people's email address from there to enter into the system. I think not. That's private info, my 'friends' on facebook are not their private hot list. This place blows to a fantastic level.

Anonymous said...

I am currently working for CPI, and I completely understand where everyone is coming from. This christmas season I was left in the dark while my so-called manager faked being pregnant and having a miscarriage just so she could go on vaca. I had to take on her job as manager for only $8 a hour. What the HELL??? I was working 68 hours per week without any days off. I had to threaten to quit in order to get at least a day off. And because I went over in hours they now want to only give me 8 hours a week. I am about to start looking for employment else where because they are true assholes.

Anonymous said...

Is this post still going strong? I have been away from cpi for almost 4 years and it seems way worse than what I care to remember. Has anyone been unfairly fired? I was accused of stealing a 10x13 picture that they had no proof of. I was with the company for 15 years, always on top with my averages and my studio was increasing in volume every year! They were taking all the LONG TERM employees and making bogus accusations so they could save money on payroll.I know this because I personally know 5 people this happened to. Is there anyone else out there that this happened too? I know how hard it is to find employment in this economy, but PHOTOGRAPHER BEWARE!!!!! This is NOT the company you want to work for.......Anywhere else but CPI>>>

Over_It said...

This company is insane. I work for peanuts, hardly ever see my own child because of the outrageous schedule, and am only allowed one staff member and one day off. NO MATTER WHAT. I have only worked here for a few months, got thrown in the management position, and it's been an absolute nightmare to say the least. I am already on the verge of quitting this hell of a company DAILY. I have been forced to work through countless sicknesses. Even told that NO, I COULD NOT HAVE THE NEXT DAY OFF, when I found out I have Cervical Cancer!

If you want to work for a company who believes that the sole motivation to keep your employees working is intimidation, be worked over hours without being paid, be held to impossible standards, and have EVERYTHING you do or think scrutinized with a fine tooth comb, you've found the right place! I've been trying to find information about a current class action suit. Did you know that at least one suit for all the things we've all been complaining about is filed YEARLY! Why are we just complaining and enduring this job until every bit of love for the photography end is sucked out of us? Why don't we make our own suit? Maybe we can help the future generations of SPS workers. If, with these damn coupons, there even will be a future generation...

Anna Hanson-Justice said...

I love your site, though it could be called "High Volume Portrait Studios Suck". I've worked LCD, TPP and PI studios. LCD, we dragged the studio from here to there. Good commissions when we had assignments, but the recession killed our business. The Mall offered more backgrounds, cheaper prices and faster turn around. TPP was the best to their photogs, but SPS and PM are so much cheaper, and rentals high. Two of them shut down. CPI and PI follow the same business plan, lure em in with ridiculous coupons, ensure your photogs can't meet their avg., overbook them and "sticker shock" is a legitimate pricing structure. Hire high school kids to take portraits based on the same 5 standard poses each time, regardless of the subject in front of you with preset lighting system.
I have a 4 year university degree in photography and specialized in portrait work. So, it sucks, but at least it IS work, I'm making above minimum wage and do commercial work (product, not portrait) on the side, especially during the slow summer months. Just be careful when signing your non-competitive clause...

Anonymous said...

I just saw this blog and I have worked for CPI CORP (picture me portrait studios) since Aug 2010. When I first started my pay was 9.50; it's still 9.50. I traveled 90 miles a day to get to work and back home for 6 months, working 6 days a week in a slow ass walmart. Then I transferred to another studio close to home and the manager there was so flaky. She'd call often asking me to cover her shift, complain about something I was always doing that wasn't "her way", she threatened to quit 3 times, quit once for two months, then the company called her asking her to come back and they gave her a raise. While she was out, they put me in as a fake stand in manager (with no training) for those two months. I was again working 6-7 days a week. Then, after she comes back, she complains how messed up the studio was and that I actually had customer complaints. Well...gee I wonder why? No manager training, working every single day, the DM at the time talked all kids of crap to me about putting me in as MIT, well she quit and then my hours were down to 1-2 days a week and have been up until recently.

We lost yet another manager, I've gone through 5 managers, 5 DMs and seen several associates get fired or quit. I consider myself lucky i'm still with the company because I hold an average of 70. Anyway, lost that manager, and there's only 3 of us girls between 2 studios. So I am working the majority of days and getting asked by the other studio if I can fill in on her studio. And apparently, the DM says my photography is good, so she wanted me to train this guy (who was going to be a manager in another store that was shut down). I trained him for about a week, then he calls in saying he has an interview. I was like "wth, I am so fed up with this company!!". So now, I'm basically used as an on call employee. They are telling me when they need me and say how much they appreciate me...well guess what I tell em? no problem...and the DM is all "you don't sound happy?"... Gee I wonder why?

CPI is going 68 cents per share compared to $24 just 6 years ago. Closing the studio 2 days a week hasn't changed our sales....It's best to get out while you can, if you can.

Anonymous said...

For any managers or higher ups in California, there is a class action lawsuit that has been filed on your behalf and any info you would like to share pertaining to missed breaks and/or lunches can be added before it goes to trial. You are represented and included already if you were a studio manager in the last 7 years in Cali.

Joseph said...

Hi, I am Joseph Weeden, a class action attorney. My colleagues and I are currently investigating a potential class action against CPI Corp. on behalf of current and former employees who were participants in the company's 401(k) plan, held CPI Corp. stock in their 401(k) accounts and suffered losses as the company's stock plummeted due to alleged mismanagement. If you are interested in signing up for the class action--there is NO cost to you, you may contact me at: or (919) 724-6433.


-Joseph Weeden, Esq.
VA Bar #48905

DINA said...

Honey I totally agree with the break situation! The worst thing is during the holidays, the manager always got a lunch break but didn't even let us run to the daar bathroom for 5mins. Managers there, or just mine, DO JACK S*** and give me, the lowly college student, minimum wage employee all the work while she laughs and bullshits with the customers! I HATE IT HERE! I AM ONLY STAYING TIL THEY FIRE ME, WHICH THEY THREATEN TO DO IF I DON'T DO WHAT I AM TOLD... SO I CAN GET UNEMPLOYMENT. They expect me now to do this pencil talk thing with every customer and staple it to the Session Form with EVERY CUSTOMER..... ummmm,.... that doesn't work out when you have a session every hour. THEN the scheduling issues are totally ****ed up!! I had my boss put me on the schedule THE DAY BEFORE DEPENDING ON IF IT WAS GOING TO BE BUSY OR NOT... HELL NO I AM NOT ON CALL I GET PAYED $7.50 AN HR, SHE CAN KISS MY A$$! These customers get more f***ing respect and loyalty than I do, I am always wrong n that is bad business! This place is a joke. I hate it and hopefully can find a job somewhere else sooon... just until I graduate from my Health Information Technology program and get my associates degree, because quite frankly, this should never be anyone's goal in life is to stay working at this crackerjack hokey place!

Anonymous said...

I'm loving this blog. Looks like there isn't a lot of recent activity, but I must say that it's comforting in knowing that I am not alone! I was hired for the studio manager position back in April. My training pay was $10 per hour, and promised an increase when I went to the new studio. Wrong! Never got it. I don't feel I had enough training, I'm by myself mostly, and I wish I never gave my old job up for this crap. I can't take it! I work inside of a walmart, with signs up that advertise the $7.99 package. Sales killer! And let's not forget, new scratch off coupons for customers to save even more! Well, hey, the last 20 people I've helped only spent $8. This place is ridiculous. We've been through 3 DM's since April. I put my resignation in and wish them luck in the hiring process. I've had several applicants, but the other manager wont call males, as they said.. "Males don't do well in this business, so we wont hire them," is what my trainer said. So nice, huh?

Glorious said...

I don't know if you still maintain this blog. But I'm going in for a job interview tomorrow and was wondering, if any, pointers you could give me?
Sadly, I'm not impressed by the company from what you've shared but I'm sooo grateful I came across your blog, it's very real and you have all the experience to show for it!
:) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have worked for CPI for over five years. I am currently a manager for Sears Portrait Studio. I've been working at this studio for about a year

This is my first time finding this blog

here' goes

It was my first week of training, five years ago, it's a little fuzzy now but this is about how it went down

A few days in to my training the DM showed up at our studio and was checking up on our training. There were no customers in the studio so she told me to go get a customer to come in and take pictures so I could show her how well I take pictures. I told her I don't know how.

She said here's some flyers, go get a customer. I walked up to the first person I saw and asked them if they would like to come in for a photo session. The customer politely declined.

She said "you have to get in their face, here let me show you"

She walked up to the first mother with a child and, the memory is a little blurry now, but I believe it went down something like this.

She asked the mother if she would like to have a over 30 portraits for just 7.99. The mother said yes of course, the manager said great come in and we'll get started. The mother said oh no I didn't know you wanted me to come in rite now

The customer spoke mostly Spanish and wasn't sure what was going on.

My DM then proceeded to blow my ****ing mind. She said it's ok it will only take a moment and It's only 7.99, you have 7.99 don't you The mother said yes and my DM grabbed the shopping cart that the child was in and rolled into the studio with the mother following

She shot the session. Sat her down at the sales table and shower her the biggest collection (199 back in '07) The mother told her she could not afford the collection.

Now, as any "good" CPI employee knows, there are two types of objections, to purchasing the largest collection. People will either say they don't want it because

1. it costs too much
2. they don't need that many pictures.

Our DM said something to the tune of, "I can see how you mite think this is too much to pay for pictures, but when you look at what you're getting, this is the only option to choose. So lets start picking out your pictures for that collection. I know you said you liked this one, so we'll use four sheets on this one. And you liked this one too so four sheets on this one, now we just need a few more, what other poses did you like?

Well I'll spare us the rest of the detail but she talked the poor mother into it. Out of pure confusion.

She then explained to me how to "overcome objections" and always get people to by the largest collection every time. And proceeded to feed me rhetoric explaining why it was the best way to do things, why it was o.k. to do that to people, and how it was good for everyone.

The very second our DM walked out of the studio, the mother came back and returned the collection.

I want to thank each and every one of you who contribute to this blog.

I also want to thank each and every CPI studio manager and associate who does actually care about the memories you're capturing. I know they don't mean anything to the company, and, myself included, sometimes we've been worked so hard we don't care about them either. But these portraits, these memories do matter, they do make a difference especially to the mothers and children, (sometimes dads too). 25, 50, 75 years from now, these portraits will be loved more than you can imagine.

-Still holding on, until I don't have to.

Anonymous said...

I'm a SPS studio manager. I've worked for CPI for over five years. I know of one studio associate who was forced to work while on maternaty leave and had a doctors note for being sick. And I know of another employee, as studio manager, probably the best CPI has, that has been in and out of the hospital for the last year. I worked closely with this manager, and I assure you ANY doctor would conclude that nearly all of her conditions come from being over worked and over stressed.

It just doesn't make sense, she has been with the company for nearly 10 years, and her studio makes twice as much as the studio in second place behind her, but they are still working her into workers comp.

I can't figure out what it is they hate most...
their employees, their customers, themselves, or money

...anyways, the reason I started this post was to ask Joseph Weeden if he has a website, some credentials, or some proof that he isn't just like CPIdeas, looking to weed out the ney sayers from within CPI.