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Lifetouch Photography


terrible service, no refund received

Complaint Rating:  73 % with 91 votes
73% 91
Lifetouch - www.lifetouch.com

In early September I purchased school portraits for my son. The photographer screwed up and mixed up some orders. My son was to have a grey background (he picked out a dark green shirt). What arrived had a dark blue background which made th picture way too dark. I followed th instructions on how to return it-to the local Lifetouch Office. I sent it on 9-17. On 9-24, they charged my credit card the $36 for the portraits. I called the local office and wanted to know what was going on. She said my refund would be coming "any day now". I'm still waiting. Emails to the company have fell on deaf ears. They have no customer service whatsoever. I want my refund. I will be filing a dispute with the credit card company.
Complaint comments Comments (107) Complaint country United States Complaint category Photo Services


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N  23rd of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes
How does lifetouch make money with school photography? Does the school pay to have lifetouch there for yearbook pics?

What about proms and winterballs ets? Does lifetouch charge the school to be @ the event? Or do they just send a photographer... hoping the kids will buy pics?

Do the contracts with lifetouch and schools provide that lifetouch has to do all the schools photos, in order to do the yearbook as well?
A  24th of Jan, 2011 by    +2 Votes
Lifetouch employees posting here need to stop denying the kickbacks. I'm on the PTA. I'm also a school photographer. Lifetouch pays whatever they have to pay to get and keep a school's business. They give 50% back to the school where my daughter attends. I've had schools look me in the eye and tell me, "You are better in every way. You are better with the kids. Your pictures are better. Your service is better. Parents like you better. But they give us more money, so we're going back to them." On more than one occasion, I have been used as a pawn. A school says they are seriously considering us, and then they take our proposal to Lifetouch and demand a better deal. I have gone in and doubled sales for a school, but Lifetouch, due to their enormous economies of scale, is still able to pay the school more. It's really sad, because parents are the ones getting screwed. Parents, don't buy bad pictures. Don't pay for something you haven't seen. Don't give your okay to harming the environment by printing thousands of unwanted photos that use nasty chemicals and can't be recycled. Vote with your wallet.
N  4th of Feb, 2011 by    0 Votes
1) Total nonsense about them not being able to groom. There is insurance available against any legal action arising against a photographer for contact with a child. (professional liability insurance) We groom. We carry insurance. They're apparently too cheap to do it. Plus, they don't want to take the time.
2_ Bigdookie, the school never pays. In fact, the school gets paid. Lifetouch makes money by selling pictures (huge margin). I don't think Lifetouch would want to bother with yearbook if they hadn't done the photos. And I don't know why a school would want to use them for yb but not photos, when they are hands down the most expensive yb provider out there. DD's school pays $24 per yearbook from Lifetouch. I can get same book published for <$12. Proms... again, they make their money from selling pics. That's why they don't bother w/ small schools.
N  15th of Feb, 2011 by    +1 Votes
Hmmm...so much to say. I am a Lifetouch Photographer for the preschool division. I have to say that I love my job and hope that many of you get your issues resolved soon. Let me first address the issue of school kickbacks. For one thing, it is the wrong term. Lifetouch provides different pricing options for schools to either use picture day as a fundraiser or to forgo commission by choosing lower package prices. I cannot speak for school division, but in preschool, this commission has never been 50% It's actually about 10%. As far as the no-touch policy, there are several things you as parents can to do help.
1. If this is a middle school (k-6th), contact preschool division about coming instead of school division. Since we mainly deal with younger children, we have to fix hair, and clothes and wipe faces. We can still handle the size of most 6th graders on our backgrounds. The picture packages will be more expensive, but most of our programs do not ask for pre-payment. Again this is because we work with toddlers and twos who may cry the entire time or may refuse to be photographed at all. However keep in mind that we also work slower than school division photographers. We can handle 70-90 children in an average day and no more. A school with 500 children will take us a week.
2. Volunteer to help. We love parent helpers. Work with the teachers, groom kids. Preschool division offers a free package to a parent that helps with a school of 70 or more. Or if there is a good PTA, build in some volunteers to do the things parents can't. Even we aren't allowed to do things like zip up pants or fix tights. We depend on our teachers and parent helpers to help make picture day a great experience for everyone involved.
Now, there was some post way back on the list about just recently getting pictures available on-line when we are well into the age of digital photography. Please be assured that Lifetouch is not that far behind in technology, but since we are dealing with children, security is a top priority. Pictures have always been available on-line since I have been a photographer, but there is a good possibility that the company searched long and hard for a way to make sure that only parents and family could access them.
And to the comment about the Lifetouch logo on the front of the pictures, it is a precaution to keep you from taking them to Wal-mart and copying them. Although there are poor photographers out there, many of us, myself included, take great pride in our work and deserve the money we are paid. Do not scan and copy professional portraits without permission. It is rude and it also damages the original portrait.
Other comments: I have worked in the photography industry for 7 years now, with a few different companies and hands down, Lifetouch has treated me the best as an employee. I have worked in church directories, and I have to say I loved taking the pictures, and hated selling. Keep in mind that most if not all church directory photographers have some kind of commission-based pay. It is very hard to maintain the balance between friendly sales techniques and incessant worry about paying your bill this month. Never hesitate to ask for a price sheet. When the sales person deflects that request, tell them you will not order anything until you see it. No one has the prices memorized, they will have one.
Be tolerant of studio photographers. Target and JC Penney's are Lifetouch owned, but they are payed the least amount for what they put up with. They work long hours, weekends and holidays.
Ok, I've said what I need to say, and will leave you to your future complaints.
N  19th of Feb, 2011 by    +1 Votes
After reviewing the post from Quiet, it's me, I noticed that I left something out of my first post.
From Quiet, it's me:
"Don't give your okay to harming the environment by printing thousands of unwanted photos that use nasty chemicals and can't be recycled. Vote with your wallet."

This is also incorrect. Lifetouch recycles all returned portrait packages. We specifically found a company that handles such a large quantity of paper that the chemicals of the printing process do not impact them. We also display this fact proudly on the price sheet included in every family approval packet. (Family approval means you see it before you buy it.)
A  26th of Feb, 2011 by    0 Votes
I had my grad photo taken today by Lifetouch Canada. I have to say that I was absolutely shocked by the rude photographer. I arrived early (following the guidelines on the grad pamphlet) and waited patiently. During this, I asked the representatives for the paperwork that I was supposed to fill out during this time. Instead of an answer, I got inarticulate sounds and cold glares. I continued to inquire about the paperwork and was repeatedly ignored. Two minutes prior to my appt, she snapped at me and demanded my paperwork, stating that I would be late, if it was not filled out. My actual session was with the same woman and she was very, very rude for the entire duration. She refused to provide satisfactory pointers during the shoot and as a result, my pictures look horrible because she did it very quickly. In addition, this woman made random accusations of people wanting free portraits-comments directed at me. This is absolutely ridiculous and I am horrified by this employee. Grad photos are meant to be cherished and to carry positive memories. Instead, I experienced the worst customer service ever.
N  27th of Feb, 2011 by    0 Votes
If lifetouch does yearbook pics/picture day, and they photograph EVERY SINGLE student... do they rely on the kids who a) buy the pic package and b) the agreement with the school to do proms and winterballs to generate money? i don't see how else it makes profitable sense to snap every kid for photo day when only a small % will probably buy.
A  18th of Mar, 2011 by    -1 Votes
School picture day was done in Oct, 2010. My childrens school pictures were NOT good! They were taken by amateur photographers who take one photo without even trying to make it a good one. You would think in today’s digital age, they would take at least 3 photos to choose from - put them online for review and ordering! Much less, my daughters hair was a mess! Not thinking, I paid before the photo was taken - and hence locked-in to a bad picture. Year after year the same thing. I am not impressed with Lifetouch at all. So a couple of weeks ago, my children received Lifetouch portrait day notification for another "Portrait Day". I did not want another Lifetouch photo! I thought that it was a voluntary picture day which meant that if you wanted to participate you could, which we did not want to partiacipate. However, my children came home the day lifetouch was at school saying they HAD to have their photo taken! WHY? Then, they came home today with their "portraits" - for $44! ARE YOU KIDDING!? #1 Lifetouch was NOT granted permission to take my childrens photographs a second time by ME. #2 These portraits took away from my childrens school day. #3 Being that we were NOT participating, my children both had gym class earlier that day, therefore they are both a sweaty mess after gym class. #4. WHAT A WASTE OF PRINTED MATERIAL. Aren't we all supposed to be GOING GREEN!? #5 Pay or return them!! What is Lifetouch going to do with the wasted product? Much less I received an entire package - 5 sheets and a keychain page - of portraits of my sweaty children. I am NOT happy with the kids HAVING TO HAVE their picture taken! Therefore, I am NOT paying for them! And without my permission to photograph my children, I should NOT return them! I will shred them myself! I will post this on my schools comment board as well. I know schools have a contract with them, but the school parents DON'T LIKE LIFETOUCH QUALITY! Can we switch to another company! Please!
N  29th of Mar, 2011 by    +1 Votes
As I just stated a few posts above this one, Lifetouch recycles all returned portrait packages. It is possible that your school has switched their portrait program to a Family Approval program. This allows us to photograph all the children in the school so parents can see the pictures before they are purchased and decide for themselves whether to purchase them or not. Although I agree that if you do not want your children photographed, the school should respect your wishes, there are a couple of possibilities why they were photographed anyway.
1. If the school uses class composites, a photo from each child's session is used to make a collage of the class. If your child was not photographed, they would be missing. However, for future reference, there are ways that a photographer can ensure a package is not printed even when the child is photographed for a class composite.
2. Preschool division offers several free services to the school using the portrait session. Our color portrait stickers (4 small stickers of your child) gives teachers a unique resource to make personalized art projects or easy labeling of cubbies or lockers. And the Smile Safe Kids cards are provided to you the parent to help police and local media identify your child, should they ever get lost or go missing. If I am recalling correctly, this service has helped bring 18 missing children home safely since Lifetouch began offering the program.
I agree that your children should have been attended to better. Sometimes time constraints mean that we have to photograph after recess, or lunch. But the photographer or teacher (depending on the age of your children we may not be able to touch them ourselves) should have taken a few seconds with a comb and a baby wipe to try to fix their appearance before photographing them.
I hope this is helpful to you, cboyle. Each division of Lifetouch does things a little differently, but I've tried to explain the way Lifetouch works to the best of my knowledge. If the school continues to use Lifetouch you can ask the director or principal to request a "seasoned" photographer. We don't like schools or parents to have bad experiences, but new photographers and sometimes even veteran photographers are going to make mistakes. If your school has had a bad experience, we will work to make sure the incident is not repeated on future picture days. All you have to do is ask.
A  31st of Mar, 2011 by    -1 Votes

I had to make a large payment for pictures that were taken by life touch, the process was very rushed, never given the oppertunuty of pricing, had to choose immediately the pictures. Nothing was ever individually priced. I was so excited about having a family picture taken, it was supposed to be a great memmory. Instead of getting a friendly reminder, I recieved a statement saying my pictures were going to be destroyed. They have recieved my payment I have not recieved my pictures. I have been upset with these facts and thought of them destroying our pictures that I have called their office, and tried kindly to find out where my pictures are, Lori all she wants to talk about is the process, . For some odd reason she thinks that I dont understand, at the same time I was notified by UPS that someone else recieved my pictures, they were sent to wrong address... but yet I dont understand.Sooooo my friends and family have also called and obviously she believes no one understands, but yet I still have not recieved my pictures and to date can not recieve a tracking number of whern my pictures are to arrive even thoiugh they have their money . After reading these compliants I truly understand very clearly of what is going on in this company.
I trully hope no one else ever has to expirience this awful ordeal that was provided through my church, I was so trusting considering these pictures wwre taken at the church, the only photograpy company I will ever trust again is Olan Mills. It breaks my heart to know that I have been taken advantage of.
N  8th of Jun, 2011 by    0 Votes
I agree Bonnie can be a horrible person. Being a Lifetouch Portrait studio photographer and manager as well. This Convo started out talking about the school portrait division, which has NOTHING to do with the jcp and target studios AT ALL but as for "nothing but the truth" I think I know who you are and you were not let go for claiming injury. I know at least 3 other managers that have workman's comp injuries and are doing fine keeping their jobs. If you are who I think you are, you were fired for stealing portraits you had done of your family, and for charging guests of the studio for private services you did for them (photoshop) on the side. There was more rumored but those are the two things I'm pretty sure of that you did. Oh, and you DIDN'T win the Chairman's award, you were a jcp/target finalist. Which is AFTER 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Still a huge honor, but not the win.
N  7th of Jul, 2011 by    0 Votes
*I have been a school division photographer for 5 yrs. So many of you have complained about the ameture photographers. Do you know how much lifetouch photographers are paid? Not much! Plus we don't work year round. The photographers in my territory are lucky to start out at $8.50. At that rate its not easy to get good help. I love my job! Not because i make lots of $ not because I like getting up at 3 a.m. and deffinatly not because I like the people i work with. I do it because i love to see the kids smile! Some kids have a ruff life and you can tell when they come to the camera. It makes my day to make that child smile! The best is when a student or the whole class comes to you gives you a hug and says thank you for taking my picture today. I'm sorry to all the ones that have had bad pictures and bad customer servies. There is always some in every company that dont enjoy what they do and they have to make all of us that do look bad. I am appoligizing for all the rude people that work for lifetouch!!
N  6th of Aug, 2011 by    0 Votes
I have been fighting with their company for years. I have only had contact with one person who has had any brains or who has ever helped. Last year, I had to go the Better Business Bureau (http://www.indianapolis.bbb.org) to get a refund from them last year. This time, I thought I would save trouble and pay by credit card. No dice there.

Their site form does not match the forms they hand out to parents. They claim you can pay by credit card, but that you need an access code. Online they claim it’s on the form, but it isn’t. Then when you get online, they claim that this code only applies to their Expressions First Club, which they don’t mention on their form. How this company stays in business is beyond me.

The person who said they should be shut down is 100% correct. Between Lifetouch and Jostens, who does the yearbooks, they both make me want to pull my hair out.

I suppose schools use them because they’re cheap, but when you pay cheap, you’re going to get cheap and it shows.
A  12th of Aug, 2011 by    0 Votes
Another former employee here . . . played every role but regional manager. Had I have known what this company was like, I would have left a long time ago. Photographers are poorly paid, usually losing money to work ridiculous hours, and I was never able to hire a "real" photographer - they are all soccer moms, homemakers, retirees or wannabe "wedding photographers" with Canon Rebels! Oh, and the odd diddler would try to get through. At least they need a clear criminal check.
Most photographers are only hired to work 3-4 months at the most - so you can imagine the time and money invested in someone for that position. Why bother if you don't want them to stay. The only photographers who stayed were the ones who needed the money and were willing to bend over to get it. Forget it if you're new - the cliques are pretty tight. And local managers don't really care, as long as they get all their schools photographed in the time they have.
All of the photo trainers are a great group of people who try their best every day, but there's only one per office if you're lucky. Most of them have been fired lately. Not sure how you run a photo company without a photo trainer or photo manager? Quality sure isn't job one any more.
Since Lifetouch bought Jostens, they now have a monopoly in most cities in Canada. I'm sure there should be a government investigation into this. Most schools feel forced into sticking with Lifetouch as there are no alternatives. A bunch of former Jostens guys formed Edge Imaging, but they're not much better. Crooks of different stripes.
And all of the big companies are doing green screen/digital backgrounds. Want to mess them up? Where clothes with both blue and green and see what your kids bring home! My son came home with just his head and hands showing and half his body - plus a note saying they can't fix it - send him to retakes with different clothing. How's that for a "multi-billion dollar" company?
There's no ESOP or any other significant retirement plan in Canada. Some of my US friends retired with big bank accounts, but not the Canadian ones. If you're lucky, you can sign on for RRSP contributions, which they will match, but on the money you make, you can't afford RRSPs!
N  1st of Sep, 2011 by    0 Votes
I worked for Lifetouch for many years. The school business model is as described by earlier posters... photograph every child, and sell to those who want the pictures. The margin is huge, so the company makes plenty of money. The "photographers" are poorly paid, and therefore most are not really photographers. The percentage of parents purchasing photos has declined over the years, especially after digital cameras allowed families to capture large number of their own photos. JC Penney and Target focus on babies. Again the photographers are poorly paid, and margins are high. Coupons are used heavily in a sort-of "bait and switch" approach to marketing. The billion dollar corporation rides on the backs of hard working, underpaid, untrained, photographers. It is an ESOP company ("employee owned"), which sounds good, except - it is a Subchapter S corporation, so profits pass through to the "owner(s)", which is the ESOP trust. Since the trust is a qualified retirement plan, no taxes are paid. Since the employees own shares of the trust, and not the company, they have no voting rights. In fact, nobody has voting rights. This means the top executives have no oversight. Not from the SEC, the IRS, shareholders, nobody! They appoint their buddies to the Board of Directors. The fox watches the hen house. This arrangement is comfy for a few (corporate jet too), but miserable for the thousands of employees. Politics is thick at Lifetouch, like all corporations, with high turnover as a result. Their products and services are stale, and their demise is likely.
N  17th of Nov, 2011 by    0 Votes
I've been ordering pictures from Lifetouch since my daughter's been in school. This year however my daughter's father decides to keep her picture package. So I never even got to see them, even though I paid for them. I tried to reach the company through their website to order another package via email since they have no customer service number on the site. However a week and a half later I received no response. I finally wised up and called the school and was given a number. I explained my situation, was ready to pay for another package and they went ahead and sent me another one free of charge. So even though their customer service via email sucked, the real live person was very helpful. They haven't lost a customer.
N  30th of Dec, 2011 by    0 Votes
Really bad service. my son went two times to the sessionbecause they lost the first picture he supose to choose his picture for senior year book on the 15 is allready December 30th and notthing. This company is not really responsible. They don't do nothing about it.
N  1st of Jan, 2012 by    0 Votes
I've been in the photography business for 20 years. I've learned that some people complain thinking they'll get something free. Those are the ones I don't give anything. If you want something free...try being a little nicer and maybe you'll get a break. The first threat out of a customer's mouth when they don't get their way is "I'll never be back here again." Well good riddance!! We hope you don't come back... and take all the other freeloaders with you. Another complaint we hear a lot is "These pics make me look fat." Sister it's not the pics that make you look fat...it's those 250 lbs. A camera is just an eye. It sees you the way others see you. We're used to looking at ourselves in a mirror which is a flat surface not 3 dimentional like we're seen be others. If you don't look good in the picture...you don't look good. It's that simple. So quit your whining...it won't get you nothing free. While I'm on the soapbox...another thing I'm sick of. Just because we say your kid is cute and should be a model is only to sell you the pictures...face it, your kid is no cuter than the last 25 snot nosed brats we've seen today. And yes we told them their kid was cute too...ha ha. Now you might as well buy the pics of your kid, he ain't ever gonna be no better looking.
A  19th of Jan, 2012 by    0 Votes
These people are unbelieveable!!! After chasing them around for almost 2 months, I finally just received my childrens pictures today and they aren't even what I ordered. As someone else has already posted, this company is almost entirely automated so making actual human contact is nearly impossible and I wonder why? I have, in a file, over a dozen emails trying to sort this mess out. They actually had the nerve to tell me that they never received any order or payment from me to cover their own butts. And, I never received an apology either when I supplied back to them their order and payment confirmation. What I did received was an email saying that my order was now placed... over a month after the first order. Only to finally get the pics in the mail today, nearly a month after that email and they aren't even what I ordered. It's the pkg I ordered alright, but all the same one pic for each of my kids. One sheet set me off in particular because of it's green background. I would never have ordered it. I'm sure that they figured that with the headache they gave me with even getting my order that I wouldn't bother with them to get it fixed. And, they're right!!! I'm done with this company!!! They are terrible!!! Terrible relations, service and no scence of ergency when faced with problems, they just create more. I had run into problems w/ them years ago and stopped doing business w/ them. The only reason I ordered this time was because of the shots they got were unusually good. I should have known better. What a waist of my time, energy and money.
N  22nd of Feb, 2012 by    +2 Votes
I am sooooo glad I found out here that LifeTouch owns JC Penney's photography. I was about to make an appointment with them. You see, I paid in October via the LifeTouch website to have my daughter's school picture taken and to order prints. The day the pictures arrived, everyone in my daughter's class got their pictures but her. I called the 1-800 number in early December and I was told I would probably get 2 copies of her pictures since she was going to send out another copy right away (HA!). No pictures. I called in late December and was told that the lab was closed but the order was placed for my pictures, no later than the middle of January (HA again!). No pictures. I called at the end of January and was assured I would get my pictures no later than early February. It's now February 20th and when I called today, they said the PICTURES WEREN'T EVEN ORDERED YET! They took my money last October!!! When I told the person I wanted to know when I would get my pictures, she said 2 weeks. I told her if I did not get my pictures in 2 weeks I was going to file a fraud claim with my credit card company. She said that she would credit my card and send me the pictures as well.

Given what I have been through with this company, I am expecting to see that they charged my card double and are still not going to send my pictures.

Yes, thank you for telling me LifeTouch owns JC Penney photography. I can't thank you enough. Now I know to find someone else.

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