Kodak screws over its customers

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Eastman Kodak has a resource where customers can store their images for free on a Kodak Server. You can set restrictions on use, viewing, downloading, etc... so that friends and family members can order prints, view galleries or you can maintain your photo archive as a private one. All that is required is that you purchase at least one of their digital prints each year. It was originally a service called OFoto but when you go to OFoto.com, you are redirected to KodakGallery. Too good to be true? Check out this story at Electronic Engineering Times:
Kodak accused of harming digital photo quality
A former employee has accused Eastman Kodak Co. of illegally tampering with the quality of customers' digital photos and making false advertising claims, according to a statement issued Wednesday (March 29) by the former employee's attorney.

Maya Raber, former Kodak director of engineering, filed a lawsuit in Alameda County (Calif.) Superior Court Tuesday, alleging wrongful termination by the Kodak Imaging Network and parent company Kodak. The suit claims that Raber was fired in retaliation for complaining about a Kodak project that Raber alleges deceives customers and irreversibly damages customers' photo files.

"Kodak disregarded consumers' interests in its efforts to save money," Raber said through the statement. "The plan was to hide behind the trusted Kodak brand, instead of promoting and protecting it."

A Kodak spokesperson said Wednesday that Raber's allegations are "completely false."

Raber, who oversaw Kodak's site software development department since 2002, claims that she and others objected to a cost savings plan, saying it would irreversibly damage photos, and offered the company alternative ideas to save money. Kodak chose to implement the project above these objections, Raber claims.

"Perhaps the most shocking thing about the project was the Kodak communication plan, leading customers to believe their photos are being optimized, when in fact they were being irreversibly damaged," Raber said through the statement.

Raber's complaint alleges that Kodak intended to market the unspecified project to make customers believe that they were getting a better photo format and service, when in reality their photos were being damaged. The complaint alleges that a Kodak executive responded to complaints about the project by saying that customers "wouldn't understand, anyway."

According to Raber, she was terminated when it became clear that she would continue to oppose the project.

"We can assure you that Ms. Raber's accusations are completely false," said a spokesperson for Kodak Wednesday through a statement. "We have not compressed images that are stored in the Gallery without our customers' knowledge. "We feel that Kodak has acted in a manner that is consistent with our corporate policies and ethics, and we will vigorously defend ourselves against all claims to the contrary."
Yikes! Some file formats are lossy (JPG for example). Data that is put into the image is meddled with to generate a very small image size but if very much compression is done, visual artifacts start showing up. This is very apparent with images that have straight lines and blocks of a single color. File formats like GIF, TIFF and PNG offer some compression but have the advantage of being loss-less. No data is lost and when decompressed, the original data is there bit by bit by bit. If Kodak is re-compressing customers images to save on storage space, this is unconscionable. Storage is a dirt cheap commodity these days with disk space selling for less than a dollar a GB retail. For them to violate their customers trust and -- worse -- brand it as an advantage, is a serious screw-up.

1 Comment

Based on many early reviews I purchased a Kodak DCS Pro Slr/n. I of course discovered as we all did that there were serious flaws in its ability to capture any scene with high contrast areas without color fringing and shifting. Even though Kodak withdrew from this demanding market and dropped it's efforts to be a leader rather than a follower, a senior, making his last major purchase from a company he trusted for so many years is screwed out of $5000.
I can't recommend Kodak to anyone now. After so many years, what a shame!

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 5, 2006 8:42 PM.

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