Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Ninth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

Last year at this time I sat down and selflessly took time out of my busy schedule of snacking to write you a sixth open letter. I have given you nothing but invaluable advice over the years, attempting to help you improve not only your business operations, but also your business model, never asking anything in return for all my time and effort.

That changes as of today. One of two things is happening. You are either not reading my letters, or you simply don’t care. Given the current situation, I have to assume it’s the latter. You see, in letter number six I gave you the friendly heads-up that you’d ‘accidentally’ scheduled picture retake day during our school’s spirit week, specifically on pajama day.

I’ve got to hand it to you. Last year when you scheduled picture retake day on pajama day, I gave you the benefit of the doubt. But you did the exact same thing again this year. Retakes are today for a school full of kids wearing fuzzy SpongeBob SquarePants jammies.

Who’s in charge of scheduling this? I’m starting to think it’s the same photographer who didn’t care during the original picture day that Son Number Three had a clown-sized milk mustache and an entire cheese puff stuck to his face. I mean, logically I just have to assume he or she didn’t care, since being legally blind probably prevents employment as a photographer. Or maybe not with you guys.

Honestly, if it was solely up to me, I would have been done with school pictures a long time ago. But my wife, bless her heart, was clinging to the hope that school pictures still meant something special to you. Her answer to me this morning when I asked if she wanted retakes: “Why bother? What if they’re worse?”

You’ve lost my wife, so now your relationship with me has officially changed.

We used to pay you for the fall pictures, but I see that coming to a close. We have a nice camera, and we have something you apparently don’t – napkins. From now on, Costco Film Developing will be our official fall school picture photographer. I’ll save money, and I won’t have to look at food on my sons’ faces. Not in the pictures, anyway. I will obviously continue to see food on their faces during the day, since none of them have yet to master civilized eating. Son Number Three constantly looks like he used a grenade to get the food into his mouth instead of a fork.

As for spring pictures, that’s where our relationship is taking its biggest turn. I used to simply ignore the notices since I didn’t want or need more pictures ten days after you took the last set. Many of my helpful letters to you over the years have highlighted how you could save enormous amounts of money by not inexplicably printing and shipping reams and reams of spring pictures to me that I didn’t want in the first place. The indication that I didn’t want them still being the very easy to understand fact that I didn’t order them.

I know you guys are having a hard time with that concept, so let me try to put it in another context for you. Let’s use fast food as an example. Next time you drive past a McDonald’s, take a minute to notice that no one runs out of the building, chases your car down the street, throws hamburgers into your window, then sends you letters asking you to pay for the delicious burgers or kindly return them to the store.

McDonald’s has the business model where they wait for people to actually order the hamburgers before they make them and hand them over. Crazy, I know, but that’s how they do it.

Since we’re on letter number nine here, I feel like I should go a little further with the explanation. The spring pictures you print and send me that I didn’t order are the hamburgers getting thrown through the moving car’s window three blocks away from the restaurant. Get it?

I used to not care about when spring picture day was. And as humorous as I thought it was that you still took their pictures anyway, despite the distinct lack of any order forms, and then sent them to me hoping I would give you money, I still didn’t care.

Now I care. Now I am going to pay attention to when spring picture day. Now I’m going to get my kids dressed up on that morning and have them ready for pictures.

Spring picture day is our family’s new Halloween. I’m going to test you and see when you will finally stop sending me pictures. Will you still take pictures of my kids if I draw mustaches and surprised eyebrows on all of them with baseball eye black? Will you send me reams and reams of pictures I’m not going to pay for of my sons with Sharpie marker beard stubble and eye patches?

We’re going to find out.

Thank you Lifetouch! I’m really looking forward to our new relationship moving forward. If you don’t care, then I don’t either.

Good luck with your pajama pictures today.

All my best,


Copyright © 2016 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Love it! I cannot believe that they send you pictures you never ordered hoping you'll buy them. Talk about massive waste of resources. I hope someday you can get through to them. A for effort, Marc!

  2. Thanks Unknown! They are a constant source of entertainment for me.

  3. Ours rescheduled picture day during camo and glasses day -.-
    The school sent home a note that the kids may change out of their picture clothes at school... Yeah THAT is going to go over well!

  4. V.L. Jennings - Awesome! I say choose the wilderness background and send grandma and grandpa a "see if you can find your grandkids in this picture" set.
    Thanks for reading!