Friday, April 5, 2013

Well, thats it folks. Every Sears Portrait Studio is Shutting Down Forever

From: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323646604578405001071809788.html
"CPI Corp, in a statement on its website, said it closed all of its U.S. studios "after many years of providing family portrait photography." The St. Louis-based company didn't explain the hasty closure, and calls to CPI went unanswered. However, the company has struggled financially, hurt by the rise of digital photography. 
The news came suddenly to the retailers. "We were notified Thursday that CPI is ceasing its U.S. operations at retailers across the country immediately," Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said. CPI has provided photo services for Sears's customers since 1959 and has been the store's only portrait studio operator since 1986, currently located in all 788 Sears stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico."
Geez--immediately? Anyone on the front lines who can share an anecdote of what went down?

Here's what I hear so far from the comments. Add yours:
"We went to clock in and it said your services are no longer needed 
"Picture Me studios weren't given notice either. We received text messages from District Managers that we no longer were employed. There's been talks of closure for at least a year but were always told things were still profitable. As for the closure, there wasn't any prior notice. The customers are going to be hit the hardest. Former employees have no control of the portraits in studio or in shipment... "

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

we went to clock in and it said your services are no longer needed

Anonymous said...

Picture Me studios weren't given notice either. We received text messages from District Managers that we no longer were employed. There's been talks of closure for at least a year but were always told things were still profitable. As for the closure, there wasn't any prior notice. The customers are going to be hit the hardest. Former employees have no control of the portraits in studio or in shipment...

Anonymous said...

Canadian studios are still open. For now we're still seen as "profitable"

Anonymous said...

We got cussed out by sears and were told anything we left of our own posessions in sears wasn't ours until further notice.

Anonymous said...

I was let go from SPS a few days after Christmas because they had cut studio hours so tremendously that one person (the manager) would not even be able to get full time. I think it was around 20 open hours. My manager just called me and said "sorry, there aren't any hours left". I was not a seasonal employee, either. Merry Christmas, right? And this manager had put almost a decade into the company and was demoted to a Walmart studio further away with less hours for no reason. We were one of the highest grossing studios in the district, so it made no sense. My DM got a new district in a DIFFERENT state than he lived in. I have my suspicions corporate did this to try and get their employees to jump ship - maybe scapegoats for their inevitable demise?

By the way, that was after we got our Christmas BONUS - which was a photo shoot and a cd of our photos. That's like giving a Doctor a free check up as a bonus. Insulting - because I would never have serious photos done at that place. One, there's so much fecal matter/pee/drool/spitup everywhere that management refuses to clean/replace and two - I have good taste.
We were told we weren't allowed to use it during the holiday busy season, but then it expired of Dec 28th? That's interesting.


I must say I have enjoyed your blog throughout my employment and I wish I had the balls to write and make public the abuse, vitriol and dirty business practices that made up CPI Corp. Out dated and broken cameras with tacky effects to cheap quality prints... customers should feel a sense of relief they are no longer being upsold aggressively and flat out LIED to. Employees no longer have their jobs hanging on the line and "write ups" if they don't get people in an out in 15 minutes and put up with verbal abuse from all sides.

Ugg, good riddance.

Anonymous said...

i lost all my money had pics taken a few days before they went out of business will never see my pics or money back! IM BULLSHIT

Anonymous said...

those who have not recieved portraits can put in a claim with their credit cards if they paid with a card.

GladIt'sOver said...

We had absolutely no warning. An EMAIL from the corporate office late on a day that we were closed!!! I feel bad for my customers. I know there are some beautiful pictures that they will never see! I wish we at least had a few days to tie all the loose ends.

Our sears store seems to be cooperative, but I don't know if they can handle all of the pictures we have waiting to be picked up. AHH all of the people that would have bought a last minute CD if they knew we were closing. However, It's nice for it to be over. I really do feel a sense of relief after being threatened by SPS for so many years. At least I can collect unemployment....

Anonymous said...

We were sort of thinking something was up in my studio...our district manager literally just quit about a month ago. One day he's telling us to make sure to be on a conference call and the next theres an email saying hes moved on to 'bigger and better' things. We had some new lady replace him. We never recieved any emails from her, all calls to her went unanswered. (I started to suspect we were operating without a DM to be honest). Our last DM used to send us daily emails about how much we sucked...this one's silence was kind of weird. So I made the schedule for the next 2 weeks on wednesday and left the studio. We did 11 sits for the day and were completely booked through Sunday. Thursday I didn't work, but one of the girls there called me and said 'i cant clock in. Theres a weird message on the browser telling us were closed...I think we all just lost our jobs.' So I called another manager who confirmed it (only cuz she saw the message online). I passed by on Friday to get my work shoes and umbrella I kept there...the hearing aids lady who works cross from us said the customers have been cursing the Sears employees out cuz they want their pictures...oh well. Cant say I'm going to miss it. SPS showed about as much courtesy in this situation as any other.

anonymous kitty said...

march 29 over 300 studios were informed they would be closing on march 30. On April 3 I and many others received phone calls and text messages saying cpi has closed. We had been told for months that there were talks of a potential buyer that everything was ok we just had to keep shooting and selling and our goals were to achieve 35$ in sales per hour of labor used and we would be fine.... guess not

Anonymous said...

I'm not sorry for the customers at all!

Anonymous said...

Need a photography position? If you own suitable equipment and live in California, Arizona, Georgia, Florida or Texas, call Portrait Scene at 586-843-3560 or email team@portraitscene.com. We photograph children and families outdoors and pay $20 per hour. Ask for Jen C, formerly of SPS.

melanie said...

As a former employee of cpi for 6 yrs we found this tough! To say the least. Here in spokane we have been working very closely with our sears store to ensure our customers are getting their orders. I had customers coming to my house to pick up pkgs.also all pkgs still in our studio were taken to the office where they are being given to customers with photo I.d if you have had portraits taken please check the main store office or watch ur mailbox. They have been sending out emails saying they are sending orders to customers. I'm so greatful our store is being so supportive as are our customers. Thursday was spent with lots of tears from us girls as well as our customers. Sad days indeed!

Anonymous said...

As a former employee I am thrilled SPS is done for.

"But think of all the people who lost their jobs!" To that I say who cares?

Raise your hand if you loved working from open to close with no breaks, working off the clock on your lunch break, AND dealing with a-hole customers on an empty stomach.

Lest we forget it's illegal not to have a lunch break if you work a certain amount of hours in a day?

Bye bye, SPS!

Anonymous said...

Where the company went wrong:

-They hired several people with ZERO experience with running a portrait studio-much less a portrait company. They were unable to teach, coach, or train on their own and would pawn it off on other random people. They could not show us how it is supposed to be done-They instead just told us to do it.

-Pencil talk. WTF It is the biggest waste of time.

-Updated studios, equipment, and training was not in place. Instead of buying random companies to look like we are doing good they should have invested in their current employees and studios.

-Hiring people from an already bankrupt company (Kiddie Kandids) as in DL & RW to be the VP of sales because of their previous track record and "success." Plus anyone ever any of those two step in and show us how it is done? Hell no.

-Discounting us time after time to the point where we trained our customers to expect huge discounts and free stuff all. the. time. We undervalued ourselves. If a customer complained customer service gave in and gave them free stuff. Thus our customers were again trained to be jerks.

-Marketing. Enough said about that.

-Being understaffed.

-Having bosses that just didn't listen to the people doing the work. How the hell am I going to sell a Platinum to a customer who can go online and buy sheets for $3.99? Anyone?

-Raising the CD price to almost double what everyone else is selling it for. Way to stay competitive.

-Getting rid of a good membership program.

-Closing studios early in the day so we only attract single income families who can only afford the AO and not staying open so we can attract two income families or children who are school age. Smart move.

-I also feel that Jim Mills jumped ship after he cashed out his stock at the inflated/false stock price taking a chunk of the company with him and he knew that it was not the actual price and his partner in crime couldn't call him out on it or he would be in trouble....

-Never paying out earned bonuses.

-Paying out HUGE bonuses to everyone above studio level even after they closed.

I could go on and on...

Anonymous said...

It's such a shame, my aunt worked at an AMAZING studio for 15 years and our house is FULL of Sear pictures... I just can't believe Sear's did everything ti could to make the Portrait studios fall apart... AND whatsmore my Senior pictures are gone with it....

Rivkah Eidex said...

My son's pix were taken here in Georgia on 03/28. I cant find my receipt!!! They say if I can find my session ID # I may be able to access the pix online. Is there anyway to find my session #??
Let me ask you former employees this question: does the session ID # go in sequence? In other words, would the person who went right before me have an ID number one digit less than mine? I dont know the lady's name who went ahead of me but I heard her say enough identifying information (and we live in a small community) I think I may be able to find out her name thru word of mouth.
Sears HR allowed me to go thru all the pictures they had today but mine were not among them.

Anonymous said...

I had photos taken on 2/15/13 that never showed up in the store. I had my receipt and was able to get a refund. Tried to order them online, but when I hit submit, I'm told there is a system error. Couldn't they at least allow us to order the photos online? They would still make some money. Do they not realize how important photos are?

Anonymous said...

As someone who worked for one of their canadian studios this last year, I can't say I'm surprised. The company invested nothing in marketing, in cleaning, in proper photography training and expected their employees to produce hundreds of dollars with each customer. It didn't help that they gave away free portraits like candy.
Then they would use pressure and threats of firing to make their employees chase down innocent customers to try and force them to do a shitty photoshoot or hound customers 2 or three times a week to come in and do a needless photoshoot. And they wondered why they could never profit. I knew I was on a sinking ship and thank god I got off when I did. Good riddance

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I've heard a lot of really negative things about the Sears side of things. I think in all honesty most of the negativity resides within individual stores and not the entirety of SPS as a whole. I was interviewed in November of last year and I brought up to the manager all of the negativity and asked if that was how she did things. I was employed there until we all closed, and I have to say I LOVED it. The cameras were out of date, yeah. But we kept everything very neat and clean and the shop as a whole was very organized. Our quality of photography was better than a lot of photography I'd seen, and the manager made sure that we kept up with the quality our shoots and creativity (when we weren't insanely busy.) I had absolutely no beef with anyone who worked there, if anything I loved them all and I really miss working with them.

I had four sittings the Thursday after we'd closed, and I was sent a text and told not to go in. It was VERY sudden. I completely agree with those saying that we should have received some sort of notification before the whole thing went down. I felt really bad about our customers, too; especially the loyal ones that came in nearly every month! To CPI, I say "What were you thinking?" I was completely appalled that they did nothing to alert anyone. I agree, they should have given us at LEAST a week or two to get everything under wraps and notify our customers. Very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

somebody can tell me how can I get my money back....from sears photo studio.??I was paid with credit card...

Anonymous said...

U should b we lost precioud memories tht we paid for. Seard is resp and shoulf make sure we get our pics. We chose to desl eith Sesrs snd not the third party crappy company they hiref

Anonymous said...

Can someone please give me a glimmer of hope that the pictures I had taken on 3/30 are going to show up :(

Michelle Van Winkle said...

Is there any way a Canadian studio can send me my picture? I got all but one on my expensive order from march...and it was the most important one!!! I live in Washington state. And Im trying desperately to get our picture!! I have the original receipt and everything. Please. Im so hoping for a miracle here!
-Michelle

Michelle Van Winkle said...

How do you put in a claim?

Anonymous said...

wow we were told when we got our picture done on 3-30-2013 that the one in walmart was closing and that we had no worried that our picture would be in two weeks. I did not recieve and email like most site said that we did. I called sears today and they said that our pictures are not in yet. we live three hours away. We were also told that they would mail them to us. they also said there was no number that I could call to find out what was going on. I will not be able to stop by because it is a drive they should have keeped at lest one employer for each store to handle it until all the picture came back. the way they handled it was wrong and unprofessional. I sure that there will be a lawsuite for not handling this matter professional

Anonymous said...

I ordered photos online through searsphotos.com on April 5th and paid by credit card. I was sent a confirmation email shortly after ordering. It's now April 24th and I have not received them in the mail and never received an email letting me know that the portraits had been shipped or had any tracking info sent to me. I looked on the email to see if there was a customer service number and the link I clicked on was the website for sears photos and obviously since its past the deadline the website has been shut down. I called the sears I had the portraits taken at and they still had the option to be transferred to the portrait studio which forwarded my call to the HR department who couldn't help me unless I placed an order in the studio. So I called the corporate number for CPI and dialed the extension for the customer service department and the phone rang and rang and no one answered. I called the sears online customer service number and they gave me a toll free number that put me on hold for 25 minutes and I hung up because I was so frustrated that I couldn't get a live person. I'm hoping that there's a delay in processing from getting a ton of orders but the least they could do is send me a courtesy email. If I don't receive anything by may 1st I will be filing a charge dispute with my credit card company. I'm praying that the photos will show up since they were the Christmas photo shoot I had done for my daughters first Christmas :(

Anonymous said...

sears sucks they. should at least give are money back

Anonymous said...

I took family pictures on march 31 and spent 200.kniw one can tell me anything regarding the atatus does any one have any info please help.

Anonymous said...

If you havent gotten your pics yet, they arent coming. Lab/ corporite are closed. The company went out of business.

tmangione81 said...

I had my sons 2 year pics taken on 3/23 and was told they should have them in no more than a week and a half. Still nothing. Multiple calls to Sears store managers and they all say the same thing, "As soon as they arrive we will call you." I asked for a phone number to call and they gave me a number to customer support for online purchases which has nothing to do with this matter. I don't care if it was a "private company" that ran the portrait studio, my receipt still says "SEARS". Yes i purchased the CD, but it doesnt take away from the fact that I spent a hundred + on these pictures. I may have to go cause a scene at the store until i get my money back. Anyone agree??? Any other suggestions???

Anonymous said...

I hope this story gives people a little hope of getting their photos. And for those who lost their jobs my prayers are with you.

I went to re-order some pictures to be printed onsite/instore when I found the closed and empty, it angered me to find out about it because just the week before I had asked about getting my hands on a special portrait of My daughter the studio had for Modeling on the wall they asked to use and made into a beautiful framed 16 x 20 and the district manager said they don't sell the display portraits that she knew of ever. I told her that if something should happen to immediately call me and I would come buy the picture, but of course CPI pulled this little stunt and well I was out of luck so it seemed.

When I was told they were shut down forever I went to ask how I could claim the portrait since obviously it's of no use now and it was no longer being used for the purpose I had agreeded to release it by. I was turned away twice, the 18th and then a week later when I went to find out about updates, being told CPI was still claiming it as property, it broke my heart. However yesterday I remembered I also had run home as instructed and ordered about couple hundred dollars in reprint copies of the pictures from past session that were online and still hadn't received them as of yesterday. I called Sears customer service and asked about my online order since that's were CPI had now directed everyone to call because there were reports that some orders might not be filled. The lady told me the ones from April 17th and 18th most likely wouldn't be printed and delivered and to dispute the charges with my bank. I told her I would wait and see if they would come on more week BUT then I asked her since I had spent the money on the pictures I might not get did they think I could get my daughter's portrait off the wall as compensation for not being prompting informed as I was promised I would have been before they shut down and since I had invested several hundreds of dollars to the company in my eyes techinally I could reclaim my daughter's model portait on the wall I had been denied so many times, right? Customer service told me I could try it but it would be up to the manager. When I took the order form receipt and showed them the Manager personnaly escorted me to get the picture and told me the way CPI has done this was WRONG and hopefully God look out for those of us who were victims and lost or memories. I personnaly was just happy to get the portrait still existing from the studio. Here's where the hope comes in.... When I got home my husband made a weird comment that the pictures we had ordered weren't arriving by an act of God cause we needed to get my daughter's portrait first from the studio, he thought the other pictures would show up eventually now that we had it...I honestly didn't care I was just happy the studio portrait was in safe hands, I laughed and told him yeah Magically tomorrow the other ones will show up. Well Today when I came home I found na enevelope leaned against my door saying handle with care photos inside...MY ONLINE ORDER ARRIVED! I nearly dropped my daughter when I saw it. Kinda freaky I know and I thank God I am one of the lucky one but I hope to EVERYONE who's having trouble this helps keep your head up and DON'T GIVE UP!

Anonymous said...

my family took photos on 3/30, the day before easter, and was told that they would be back by 4/13. about a week later i received an email stating that SPS were now closed--not CLOSING, but CLOSED!

long story short, we've been given 5 different delivery cutoff dates and sears will not issue the refund until it is proven that our pictures aren't in the last shipment (as our name is on the list of the photos that will be printed). how in the hell are we supposed to know when they'll be there if you keep extending the cutoff date?!?! i think it's just an excuse to delay refunding any money in hopes that people either forget or give up...

this is the number i called to get information regarding refunds: 1-800-549-4505 option 5
Sears Holdings Retail Customer Care


good luck!!