In this digital age of presentations and tablets and electronic interfacing notes, we have lost the fine art of simple printing. Ink on paper. And archaic and environment-destroying though it may be, sometimes it is still necessary.

I miss Kinko’s.

All I wanted was a black and white coloring book – the one I told you about last week. A nice, folded-over booklet, pages printed front and back. It’s simple, really – you just take a bunch of 11×17 pieces of paper, print them, fold them in half, staple in the middle, and VOILA! You have what is defined as “The Booklet”.


I did it in 2010 with only very minor injury to my mental health, but 2015 is five years later. And technology has had five more years to encroach on the ancient art of printing.

Many companies, however, have uploading software into which you can design exactly what you want printed. Then you can either pick it up in store or have it delivered. One can only assume that a company’s employees know how to translate the data coming from their own software and make it happen.

One would be wrong.

To attempt to be money-wise, I uploaded my file into both Staples and FedEx Copy and Print’s website interfaces. I laid out the exact same booklet in each, and it was a few dollars cheaper through FedEx. So though I used Staples last time, I went with FedEx.

And anyway, FedEx bought Kinko’s many years ago – certainly they have the equipment to make this happen.

Upload…Design…Quantity…Credit Card…Complete.

My order was submitted: 40 black and white booklets, approximately 70 pages each, to be delivered to my house in two days. It seemed simple – too simple, really.

In ten minutes I received my first phone call – from a lady at the local FedEx Copy and Print store.

“Um, I just got your order in. Are you wanting that stapled in the corner?”

“No. I want booklets. 11×17 pages folded in half and stapled to make a booklet. Like the choice I chose in the uploading software.”

“Hm. Well, my stapler isn’t big enough to make that happen. And the software only charged you for 8 1/2” x 11” paper. And when I pull up your book, your pages are all wonky. They all need rotatin’ or turnin’ or something.”

“They were all fine on the layout view in the software…”

“Well they’re not anymore. I can’t print this.”

“Okay. Cancel the order, then, and give me a refund.”

“I can cancel your order but you’ll have to call the toll-free tech line to get a refund.”

“Wait. What? Shouldn’t my refund process automatically if you cancel my order?”

“Uh, no – I don’t think so. Hold on – I’ll transfer you to tech support.”

What followed was ten minutes of on hold, off hold, transfers, and on hold, finally followed up with “Your refund will happen automatically since she cancelled your order.”

I pouted on the couch for a while – all I wanted was to be done with this blasted project and how hard is it to print a booklet?! Do businesses not need presentations anymore? In my pre-kids accounting days we had to print this type of document all the time! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE WORLD.

After I finished a good sulk, I got back on the Staples website, praying my document had been saved.

Of course it hadn’t, so I uploaded, chose my options, and formatted my booklet all over again. I selected the “Pick up in store” option because I had found a 25% off coupon if you pick up in store, so at least I could save some money.

Upload…Design…Quantity…Credit Card…Complete.

Ten minutes later, I had not heard from Staples.

I breathed a giant sigh of relief and enjoyed my night, with visions of booklets propelling off the printing press dancing in my head.

Until the next morning, when I received a call from a gentleman at the local Staples print and copy center.

“Hi, uh, Miss Callahan. I don’t understand your order. So….you want a booklet?”


“And…you want me to staple it in the middle?”


“Do you want that booklet to be half of an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet?”

“No. 11×17, folded in half, making a 8 1/2” x 11” booklet.”

“I don’t think my stapler can fit through that much cardstock.”



“I didn’t ask for the order to be in cardstock. I just want it in plain copy paper, like I selected, with a cardstock cover.”

“Okay…I’ll try.”

An hour later, he called me back.

“Uh….Miss Callahan? I can’t download your file.”

“It uploaded fine onto the website…and the preview showed the booklet exactly as I requested.”

“I don’t know why it won’t work but I can’t get it to download. Can you email it to me?”

“It’s too big for email. How about a Dropbox?”


I Dropboxed him the file.

He emailed me back.

Staples Email

I don’t know if it was the persistent replacement of “won’t” with “want” or if it was the frowny face, but I had serious doubt that Staples Copy Center #1188 would have any more luck with a flash drive than their own software and two Dropboxes.

So I asked him to please try it on a different computer or…maybe…get someone else to look at it?

Staples Email 2

That was my last conversation with #1188. I could take no more.

I got on and opened a Tech Support Chat. I frantically explained my problem and my frustration and that all I wanted was a booklet and I waited. And I waited. To be connected to a specialist.

It was as if the god of irony shined down upon that moment.



Suk. Had.

I want to complain about how terrible Staples is and I get to explain it to…Sukhad.

Naturally, Sukhad was zero help. He immediately told me he couldn’t help me, and, even though my name was on the chat screen at least six times, Sukhad called me Denise.

sukhad - Copy

Please don’t have chat support if you’re just going to tell me to call you. Because that Sukhad.

I had no other options. So I dialed the number, with much trepidation and fear of the withering of my afternoon.

But I got Lindsay on the phone, and she seemed horrified by my tales of #1188 and Sukhad, and immediately jumped in to help me. She accessed my account to take over my job at the national copy and print headquarters,

but she couldn’t.

Because #1188 had cancelled, and deleted, my job.

So I uploaded it again. I chose all my options again. I checked the big box next to “BOOKLET”, I explained to Lindsay preemptively exactly what I meant when I checked that big box next to “BOOKLET”, and she assured me that she understood completely, she would do it herself, it would get shipped to me, and that she would apply 25% off since I wouldn’t get to use my in-store coupon.

I rested in the loving arms of Lindsay, knowing I was finally safe, that my arduous Pilgrim’s Progress was nearing its end at The Celestial City. That my journey down the Yellow Brick Road of printing was at the doorstep of the Wizard.

The next day, I anxiously checked the status of my order – it said “in production” and showed no coupon applied.

The third morning, I checked again.


On the afternoon of the Third Day, I received another phone call. From a gentleman at Staples.

“Hi, Miss Callahan. I was working on your order here, and I just wanted to check and see what you meant when you said you wanted a…booklet.”

I fell to the floor and loudly wept rivers of tears, slamming the phone repeatedly into my splintering hardwoods, as I begged God to send Kinko’s back from the bosom of Abraham – even just to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I was in agony in this fire.

Epilogue: My booklets are still “in production.”

22 thoughts on “Because Printing Is Hard.

  1.! How utterly ridiculous! Sounds a little bit like what we went through with the calendars. I’m so sorry you’re having too deal with that.

  2. This just made me laugh SO hard. And I totally feel you on this!!! Also, I feel like I could make this book for you in like 6 minutes just using the supplies at my office! What a nightmare.

  3. Holy moly. You should definitely use a locally owned print shop next time! This is craziness! I could feel my blood pressure rising just reading about it! I used to work for a print shop (smalltown business, family-owned) and we could have had this done for you in less than a day!

  4. Craziness! I’ve had similar experiences with both Staples and FedEx Copy. I just wanted them to copy a black and white, two-sided worksheet for me. They couldn’t for the life of me do it right! Then I tried FedEx’s self serve machines; however, they were either out of order or printed lines across the page! What is the deal? Printing is not rocket science!

  5. How horrifying! I agree with NotThatOlsen- try a local shop. In the town where I grew up we had a local shop everyone used (our town was too small for Kinko’s or Staples), and it was extremely hassle-free. Of course, there was no internet uploading then… The in-house print shop where I work is awesome, though! I know there are other good ones out there. A professor I had in college always used Copies for Less in Irondale. Pretty sure they are locally owned and not a chain.

  6. I’m a graphic artist who deals with printers weekly. There should be some better print shop in Birmingham who actually know how to “saddle stitch” a booklet. But if you’re still having problems, I can have it done for you here in Nashville and mail them to you.

    1. I should have used Alabama Graphics, my local print shop that I use for all my Picture Birmingham stuff. But I have been throwing projects and orders at them maniacally for the past two weeks so I didn’t want to toss more at them.

      Lesson learned.

      1. I claim partial responsibility for this calamity due to tying up the presses at Alabama Graphics with #photoshootofdeath and #photoshootofhappysunset proofs…

  7. You have inspired my next company. I’m going to outsource tech support for the customer – you pay my service some sort of commission, we deal with the Sukhad’s of the world and walk your project through.

    Wonder if I could use my own service?

  8. THIS… THIS is why small businesses are so important. I’ve been burned by the “experts” at our own Staples… and have learned that next time, I too, will go small. GOOD LUCK. That certainly did Sukhad.

  9. Wow this sounds crazy frustrating! I laughed out loud at the “Please don’t have chat support if you’re just going to tell me to call you. Because that Sukhad.” So funny. And funny that he called you Denise when it said Rachel. Gotta love those tech support people!

  10. I had a similar experience with Staples but when I took the flash drive in, with the help of the tech (more like I sat at her computer and did it myself) and two hours of my time, I finally got my presentations printed. I helped arrange everything; then they did the binding. The next shifts tech only charged me $10 for 2 80+ pg each presentations. I asked if they were sure and the girl said that was what the previous tech had told her. Office depot was even worse. Still haven’t found the perfect copy print spot for me.

  11. oh no!! The company I work at does outsource admin & printing! We are in Mtn Brook. Next time you need anything like this call/text me and I can help make it happen! I had so many printing jobs last Friday I felt like I was operating a small printing press!

  12. Sorry this has been such a headache! Go to the UPS in Homewood. They’ll do a fantastic job. I had them make 20 cookbooks for me a few years ago and they were great. I was really particular about what i wanted, so I stood there with the guy and made the first one with him, then they took care of the rest of them beautifully.

  13. I laughed so, so hard at this. I feel like this is constantly my life! All the easy things somehow become hopelessly complicated. And, as a person who has worked in a photo lab, I would always recommend sending anything even remotely out of the ordinary to corporate processing rather than in store. Corporate level machines are better maintained and you have a slight chance of getting something better than, “This is the only computer we have.” Hilarious.

  14. Hey, I work at Staples copy center and I could definitely help if you need to in the future. I am not sure where you are located, however I work in 1275 and do booklets constantly. I do not understand why they had such a problem with your order! I am so sorry! If you ever need these done again and you are near store 1275 (Wareham, MA) I could easily do those for you!

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