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VistaPrint: Bait and Switch? - Comments

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The real issue is why would anyone do business, even "free" business, with an organization that embraces unsolicited commercial e-mail (spam) as their number one marketing model?

I'm not talking about the Amazon fliers or legitimate marketing models where the marketing organization pays the cost of sending the message, but the millions and millions of UCE messages they sent for years promoting their products -- a marketing model that moves the cost of sales on to the recipients of their messages?

On principle I do not do business with any company that bills their marketing to potential customers.

I worked at the inbound sales department for a phone and internet company for over a year, and during that time I had to deal with lots of flak from the limitations and conditions on many of the advertised offers. I was trained on what the exact offers were and what they covered and when I read some of the actual advertisements, I found the wording and fine print to be confusing as well as having left out very important (and costly) parts that made a huge difference in the offers. I spent much of my time explaining what the actual offers were and dealing with upset customers.

The worst example was when the company had a new offer on their services with major discounts to customers signing up for new, and only new, service, and sent the advertisements to every single existing customer, including a) ones where the service wasn't provided b) those who already had the service and c) ones with basic service and had to sign up for more co$tly service for the offer (which was counter to another advertising campaign).

I figure that the VistaPrint advertised price was only on their lowest offering and that VistaPrint decided that it would be good advertising if they put the upload picture 'option' on the same page with the offer, neglecting to mention that it's an 'extra service.'

I think it would be really handy for all consumers if there was a website that was had an easy guide on how to deal with the various companies. Sort of an 'Everything you need to know about (company name) for customers' or 'dealing with (company name) for dummies.' Does anybody know if there's a site for all of that? That would make a great supplement to this site!

This post by Randy also ties into the situation, where companies add on so many extra charges to their offers:

I've been a customer of VistaPrint for several years. My worst experience with them happened when I tried to submit an order for note cards. I'm a graphic designer and wanted to download the template for these note cards. I made my design (for a memorial service for a dear friend that passed away) and when I received the order, they were postcards! Not at all what I'd ordered, even though I downloaded their template. When I called the customer service department (located in Rangoon or Jamaica or some such place) I was told it was my problem, not theirs. The whole incident infuriated me. I just checked their downloads, and it STILL downloads a postcard file for the "folded note card" choice. All I can recommend about them is, be very, very careful ...

Guess I've been lucky. The only time I've had any problem with VistaPrint (and it might even have been my fault), they fixed it immediately, with no argument whatsoever. It was a very different issue than yours, Randy, and it was handled via email, not phone -- but I was very satisfied with the outcome.

Obviously, I lucked out and got a CSR who understood that a company's most valuable assets are its repeat customers and good reputation.

Used to be that I'd see a TV ad about One-Day-Only, pay some super low price for closeout furniture or something similar. I'd get there as soon as the store opened, only to be told that the advertised leader had already been "sold out." Usually a threat to involve the state attorney general got me the next step up merchandise at the advertised price of the "sold out" inventory. Since this is an internet scam, I don't know if there's anything that the AG can do about it, but the FTC usually saves their energy for high profile companies (remember the McDonald's Quarter Pounder debacle?).

Yeah yeah, I know some people will insist that it's an honest mistake and no scam was intended, but when a company refuses to make good on customer service, it's most often due to feigned ignorance, which still constitutes a scam. There's some expression about it taking millions of dollars of advertising to get new business, but only dissatisfied word of mouth to lose business. And Vista Print can't threaten defamation (as some companies have tried) when the occurrence is true.

I've never had a problem with VistaPrint. Sure, they charge extra for uploading your own logo or photo. That's because that is not a "standard" part of the cards that they offer for "free" or for a reduced price. Yes, they do charge processing and shipping. They DO have to make some money somewhere. VistaPrint is still the least expensive place I've ever found to get business cards, stamps, magnets, etc. to advertise my small home-run business. Without them, I would never have been able to afford any cards at all to advertise my business. I order from them all the time when they have "specials". I always choose the "slow shipping" option, which is the least expensive, and I still almost always get my order within a week of placing it. I've been ordering from them for over 4 years now with no problems whatsoever.

VistaPrint has been in trouble before, with the state of California. Perhaps this will raise some flags at the FTC; after all it appears they have a pattern of bait and switch.


I have heard a lot of complaints regarding Vista Print's inability to really handle all of the business they have. It's quite similar to the high-volume sellers on another site whose forums I sometimes visit.

From everything I've heard, it's fairly obvious that their right hand doesn't have a clue what their left hand is up to, and whether you get decent service is pretty much a crap shoot. Unfortunately, they haven't figured out that if they cut the volume down a lot, raised the price a very small amount, and improved their service by using all of the time and resources they aren't using to push product out the door, they'd be more successful in the long-term.

Yet another forum I visit (customerssuck.com) has a section for when it's the company that sucks, and Vista Print comes up every so often. What you also get in such threads are solutions on how to report them to the entities responsible for correcting such issues.

I recently ran into a case of mis-printed advertising with BestBuy (the marketing department printed the ad with some glaring changes and nobody caught it during proofing) and it took going back in the next day before it was honored. The clerk understood what the ad actually said and was ready to honor it without question, but both the customer service clerk and the manager insisted that it didn't work the way it said it did. Once home, a call was put in to their corporate office, who told us to go back; they'd already had enough calls that they understood what had happened. By the next morning, the main office had sent out a notice to all stores to honor the deal. Now ~that~ is the way to do business.

That's just awful. I would send the whole package back, and demand my money back, for sure. Too much trouble to order and get that straightened out, and then to have it wrong anyway.

I have had VistaPrint's e-mail going to my spam folder ever since receiving the first (of many). I still get two or three a day. I now know that my intuition was correct...

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(Read the article that everyone's commenting on.)