Pay Per Click

$1.25 per click, that is.

When you order a comic print from the HijiNKS Ensue store I take the original artwork, bring it into a new Photoshop template, add the title, date and copyright, convert to CMYK PDF, transfer the file to USB drive then take them down to FedEx Kinkos to have them printed on 100lb card stock by a $200,000 laser printer. Finally, I sign the print and ship them off for you to enjoy. I’ve always been pleased with the process and the result… until yesterday.

I walked in and gave my USB drive to the clerk. Instead of asking me what weight of paper I needed or what printing process, she asked me how many files I had. I said I didn’t know but they were all in a folder labeled “Kinkos.” She persisted that I tell her how many files. I was already getting a weird vibe and I knew something was off. I guess about 7 and she said, “OK, we can open the first one for free then the rest are $2.50 each for “Digital Rendering.” I asked if she was printing the first one for free and she explained that “Digital Rendering” was the charge to open the file in their software. I reassured her that my PDF’s were perfectly formatted, sized and ready to print. There was no need to convert them to another format or so any prep work. She reiterated that “Digital Rendering” was the charge to OPEN THE FILE.

At this point I think my brain made an audible “doink-snap” sound. I realized that they were actually trying to use “fancy tech jargon” to CHARGE ME for DOUBLECLICKING the files and hoping that I would be dazzled and confused and acquiesce. I could see from the look in her eyes that she knew that what she was saying didn’t make any sense.

I told her very plainly that I’ve done this exact same process a half dozen times and that I have only been asked to pay for the paper and the printing, and that under no circumstances would I EVER be paying them anything additional to open the files. I also wouldnt be reimbursing her for mileage to walk from the desk to the printer, or for the wear and tear on her uniform suffered while filling my order.

I was completely stunned. The fact that they were trying to foist a bogus fee on me just because it “sounded real” made me absolutely livid. Who do they think they are? The phone company? TicketMaster? Is this their version of a convenience charge? And “Digital Rendering”? Give me a fucking break. Why not call it “Binary Computationalization” or “Pixel Displayification Fee” or “Digital Give Us More Money Just Because Fee”?

how about i thow the clerk down a flight of stairs and call it a “gravity assisted rapid altitude reduction?”

I basically yelled panel 3 (up there) as loud as I could hoping to make a scene that would at least alert the higher ups to the fact that someone was on to their bullshit. I ripped my thumb drive out of their PC (crossing my fingers for an “improper unmount BSOD”), and left.

I will never have prints made at FedEx/Kinkos ever again. Those pigfuckers tried to sell me imaginary services; undercoating for comic prints, if you will, with a straight face. Unconscionable and unforgivable.

(actually if anyone orders a print of THIS comic, I WILL have it printed at FedEx/Kinkos)


FB, Josh Smith (blog/twitter) is a contributor to and did a nice write up, inspired by this comic, on the subject of FedEx/Kinko’s “Digital Rendering” charge.

Check it out HERE. Josh’s readers got into some lively discourse of their own which seems to have spilled over into the HE comments. Welcome to HE, WalletPop readers!

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , .


  1. Oh PLEASE tell me that you actually said that phrase to her!

    Though I found this all strange, I've used Kinkos for a lot of my stuff and I've never been charged extra for opening files.

    also, why do all the women that work at Kinkos look all butch?

  2. Coolio, but i thogut it would be like ["Josh-1 day in : $0,01"] ["Josh: 1 month in, 2 alutoclickers:$10" (josh saying "yay! i can get paid")] [ Josh: tho months in Earnings: $20-days for first pay: 10 (and josh angry)] [()computer reads : SERVER DOWN FOR A MONTH. ALL TRANSACTIONS BELOW $100 WILL BE LOST)]

    Also, im making a "Think different halo", Would you post it (my pic wearing it and possibly a link to a instructable (DIY) ) when im done With it???

  3. What a great strip! Thanks for your hard work Joel. I've just been following you for a week or so, but I'm totally in love

  4. This exact same thing happened to me. A friend and I have a company that self-published a board game, and I had to run down to Fed-Ex-Kinkos a few times to do some last minute printing for GenCon. I had the files saved in PDF-Compatible Adobe Illustrator format, and had no problems the first two times I went. However, the third time they told me there would be a charge to convert the file to a pdf. I explained politely that the file I gave them was, in actuality, a pdf. They then told me that because it didn't have the extension pdf they would have to charge me extra. I tried talking to the manager, and she was as clueless/didn't care as much as the last employee. I considered the yelling approach, but luckily for me, I had my laptop in the car and was able to walk outside manually change the extensions and walk back inside. They had no problems with the (same) files and I got out of the fee, but I shudder to think how many poor rubes have had to pay a fee for such things. Overall, the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth and I'll be looking to find some other comparable store the next time I need something printed.

  5. Well, not a tech story, but I did order a ham roll once and they tried to charge me 50c extra for buttering the roll.

  6. I believe there is a way to get around the "Rendering Charge" actually. I haven't tried doing this myself as I rarely need to get anything printed from Kinkos anymore but I've been told that the trick is to use their online ordering service to send in your files (…and pay online. I'm not sure as to how specific you can get with printing details such as what type of paper you want it on but I believe the service doesn't require any sort of subscription to use so you could try making an order to see if it lets you specify the things you want.

  7. Wow. That might explain why it costs me $10.50 for two 8.5×11 prints on gloss text. I'm gonna ask if MY Kinkos does this the next time I'm there if so, I'm crackin' skulls!

    Also, excellent comic as usual!

    • FedEx is slowly devouring the Kinkos portion like a dominant twin. Maybe someday Kinkos will reassert itself and bust out of FedEx's abdomen. I dont think that will solve anything, but it would be cool.

  8. Seconded. Consumerist this bitch. Within a few days, if Fedex/Kinkos PR people are doing their job, you'll get some sort of apology letter with a gift certificate or some shit.

  9. Do you have a "Joel vs the idiot" tag? Or does that just apply to … life?

    BTW, I'm going to institute a "digital posting" fee for all my comments here. So the more I post, the more you pay. Works for me!

  10. As a copy wench (at OD, as well. Hey Aaron!), I can believe some of the ridiculous charges…but THAT!? Seriously now! I personally would just be happy giddy that someone actually knew how to format shit into PDFs and I didn't have to explain how to save things to thumb drives or that you come in with things saved as a power point document.

  11. "Interesting. It's always been my policy to murder people who charge me arbitrary fees, though never enforced . . . until now."

    But seriously, you're gonna be sorry you didn't spring for the digital rust coating on those pdfs.

  12. I have a friend that worked at a Fedex/Kinkos, and as a result (because something somewhere was handled funny/wrong) he got in trouble with the IRS come tax time.

  13. Thanks for the tips! I am usually just printing homework assignments like magazine ads or posters and prefer to do it on something that at least resembles the actual paper it would be printed on if it were an actual product rather than just using copy paper, but I will keep your suggestion in mind when I put my portfolio together.

  14. May I recommend the UPS store? FedEx just got hit with a $45 million fine because of the way they treated their supposed "contractors" – they've got to pass that mess on for the consumers to pay for somehow!

  15. Are we all that stupid? Have we lost sight of the trees from the forest? Its just that companies are starting to figure out how to put "tax" on everything because we are indoctrinated from our government…Taxed to death so lets just tax everything. Tax our children and our dogs too! Its the new way of getting something for nothing!

  16. Funny as hell and great to know Kinko's is trying to wiggle their fingers into our wallets and pocketbooks even more.

  17. Ohhh haha. Yeah I've lived that as well with non-designers who want you to do things like print a 150px square gif as a poster. What you're saying is that it's basically a 'tool tax'… for tool customers.

  18. Exactly — and the worse a customer's attitude was, the less likely we'd consider risking our job to flout corporate policy, such as waiving this mandatory fee.

    People who have never worked there, and who have any semblance of cluefulness, have ~no idea~ just how simultaneously daft and demanding a surprisingly large proportion of routine customers are there. Clarke's aphorism, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," was frequently quoted behind the scenes there, as apparently ~electricity~ counted as sufficiently advanced for many customers (and if it's magic, then it must work however they reckon it might work and be able to do anything they can imagine).

    If you've seen the commercial where the dude brings in a B/W hardcopy original and thinks running it thru the color copier will magically colorize it, that is no satire or exaggeration; people would actually do that, and even when we'd run a sample on the color copier to show them the copies still come out B/W, they'd stand there and insist that we must be incompetent and doing it wrong.

    "No sir, I cannot print the file from your computer at home if you didn't bring the file with you or send it to us online."

    "No ma'am, the copiers will not work during this power outage."

    (Actually, we weren't allowed to say "No" to a customer; if a customer came in demanding a free pony, I would have to get a manager to tell her we cannot give her a pony. I am not kidding.)

  19. BTW, unless you really need to have a glossy finish solely for its own sake, glossy paper actually produces ~worse~ color laser-print quality than the satin-finish "laser paper" (or its thicker version, 80-lb. laser cardstock if you need stiffer media) that we used as standard for all color prints/copies. Detail isn't as sharp/precise, and colors often look blotchy or over-saturated.

    The sheet-feed rollers in the machines tend to slip/skip over the glossy finish which impairs precision, and the glossy surface can do weird things with the laser printing process (which involves the attraction of toner powder to a static charge on the paper's surface). Text gloss is even worse than glossy cover-cardstock because it's thinner and glossy on both sides (=more slippage in the machine). Note this applies only to laser-prints (as all photocopies are nowadays) and not to professional offset printing which doesn't have the roller/static factors in play.

  20. Thats part of what blew my mind. For lack of a better term, I am a graphic design professional. my files were designed to make her job as easy as possible. Ive been on the other end and I know what its like when someone says they are sendin you photos to retouch and you get a powerpoint full of thumbnails. I did ALL the prep work ahead of time.

  21. you would like my files would be a breath of fresh air. I knew something was up when she kept stressing the number of files I had versus what I even wanted done. I got the impression they had a staff meeting about "always charge for digital blah blah" that morning.

  22. This is all good and well (and I agree with all of it) but it doesnt apply to my situation. I gave her a perfectly formatted PDF, ready to go. I understand technology more than anyone that works there and I've done my time in customer service for over a decade. Ive had clients send me photos that were taken in the dark with the lense cap on and ask me to "brighten them up" or (like you said) blow up postage stamp sized images to full screen. She lead off with this nonesense without paying any attention to what I actually needed them to do.

    Hell I even made duplicates of the files I needed multiples of just so they wouldnt have to keep track. I included a text file in the folder with specific printing instructions (what printer to use, what paper, how to set the margins). I know that if I make their jobs easier I will get a better product, but we never got to any of that. All she wanted to talk about was "Digital Rendering" and why I should pay for it.

  23. I thought about that but (maybe its just me) UPS seems like they have even less business making high quality prints. At least Kinkos used to be Kinkos. UPS is just a shipping place. If they do good work I may give them a try but I never would have thought to.

  24. The worst part in my eyes is the "magical name" they gave the fee. Im sure more regular people would assume it was needed and just pay it without asking. Reminds me of the "universal connectivity" fee on my phone bill.

  25. Judging by some of the braindead scum who work in places like this over here in the UK I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't actually know what she was doing and hiding behind "company policy" – anybody with half a brain would have been able to properly inform you what the charge was for and why it was applicable in your case.

    The fact that she didn't speaks volumes to me.

    Good job on the strip as always dude!

  26. "and no, .ai files or other file formats from software that also happens to be made by Adobe are ~not~ the same as a PDF, nor any more "PDF compatible" than any other file format such as a Word .doc"

    I always love it when condescending jerks are wrong about topics they try to be smugly superior about. So I'm glad you took the time to respond to my comment because, in this case, you are both a) a condescending jerk and b) wrong.

    It's true! A .doc file is not a PDF. Neither is any document created by an Adobe application solely on the merits of it being created by an Adobe application. However! In the case of Adobe Illustrator, you have the option of saving your illustrator file as a PDF Compatible file. This document will be read as a standard PDF file by any application that is not designed to open Adobe Illustrator files. It will open in Acrobat, Preview, or any other pdf compliant application. For these intents and purposes it is NO DIFFERENT than a PDF. And yes, it will print exactly the same as a normal PDF. That is why you can change the extension type from .ai to .pdf and have zero problems.

  27. Perhaps it is a hint that it's time to go out and buy an A3+ inkjet printer?
    At least then you can profile the printer and have everything exactly the way you're after, without having to deal with the Fedex Kinkos people.

  28. Oh geez, I used to work there, and I can tell you, instituting the "$2.49 Digital Rendering Fee" policy for all non-PDFs was cause for considerable relief and smug jubilation behind the counter.

    If you got charged the fee on an actual PDF — and no, .ai files or other file formats from software that also happens to be made by Adobe are ~not~ the same as a PDF, nor any more "PDF compatible" than any other file format such as a Word .doc — then you were erroneously charged

    PDFs are actually the only filetype that ~doesn't~ incur the surcharge because they're inherently WYSIWYG print-ready (rendered exactly how the toner will be physically deposited onto the page, hence "Digital Rendering"), so we wanted everyone to convert/save their files to PDF before bringing those in.

    Getting customers to perform just that one step before bringing in their files eliminated nearly every file-related printing glitch we ever encountered, and PDFs make it a lot easier for us to manipulate the file as necessary to suit how the customer wanted it printed (2-up? 2-sided? Flipped sides? Bookleted? Enlarge/reduce to fit? That's all cake with a PDF).

    Yes, using Print Online bypasses the fee, because the PDF conversion happens during the online ordering process, and you are given the chance to review what that converted result looks like before submitting the final order.

    Pretty much any file brought in that wasn't a PDF required at least conversion to PDF for at-all predictable printing results, and usually a considerable degree of mucking about with the source file before PDF conversion due to missing fonts, printer-specific settings from their home/office, inappropriate use of presentation or graphic software for designing print layouts, use of obscure software we didn't even have in-store, etc.

    The fee, aside from being a deterrent to bringing in anything but PDFs, accounted for (and penalized resistant customers for) all the time we had to waste on tinkering with their non-PDF files just to get an acceptable print result, printing repeated sample proofs, chucking and reprinting entire jobs because a non-PDF source file didn't print on our equipment how the customer expected it would, etc.

    So yes, that fee actually had a practical purpose and intent. beyond the satirical Popcopy motto of "Fuck'em, that's why!"

  29. He probably should have. At least that way, this fee would have been (at least in his case) more of a tip than a scamshow put on by a faceless corporation.

  30. Fedex/Kinkos are outrageous charging to open a file. If you go to your local Ups Store they will do it for free and not charge other than the cost of printing as standard. ANd the service you get in a Ups Store with trained staff is far better than Fedex Kinkos.. I will never ever visit Fedex Kinkos I visited twice and the service sucked, rude, unhlepful and expensive…

  31. If the first one is free, just go out and come back the necessary number of times to print all the files. You can even take off your coat so that you will play the surprise if the clerk recognise you… Isn't this "situation aware adaptation process"?

  32. The world of reprographics is quite wacky at times. I recommend finding a local blueprint-and-banner shop which isn't a brand name (like the one I work at), and forming a working relationship with them. Chances are, you'll get better results and pay less.

    Some people give us bitmapped PDFs, some give us vector PDFs. The bitmapped PDFs are usually formatted correctly, but sometimes not. For vector PDFs, I've seen files set to the wrong paper size ("11×17? But I wanted 30×42!"), I've seen files so complicated it took all night to render them to a 400dpi B&W TIFF, I've seen files that are very simple but have one spot of color take five minutes to render to TIFF.

    And because each of these problems takes time to fix, it costs my employer a bit more for such a job than for a TIFF. And so my employer makes up the difference by charging the PDF plot. (Imagine how the prices would rise if there was a minimum wage increase!)

  33. Ive started down this road with a local printer. The results were pretty good but Im going to keep looking. I will say they charged 1/10th what Kinkos wanted to per print.

  34. It would actually be pretty fun to explain to the clerk that this was your plan. " Look, I need to get around your bullshit fees, so Im going to spend 4 hours getting back in line and doing this one file at a time. Get used to my face."

  35. Hey guys, awesome new comic – I laughed so hard.

    I just wanted to mention your "forward" button is missing on his page. =)

    Keep the great comics coming guys.

  36. I tried to properly unmount it but she was using XP and it was taking for-fucking-ever so I just ripped it out.

  37. At least with a thumb drive you can just pull it out. I hate software-driven disk eject systems. They always bog down when they don't need to. I much prefer a simple physical eject button. "No, really, Mr. Computer, you don't need to hang onto that CD. Just hand it over. Now!!!"

  38. I wasn't even sure if she was a "she". In fact, I thought it was a "he" until I saw slight boobage in the second panel, and even then I thought maybe the clerk was just a festively plump guy.

  39. Taco Del Mar makes some good burritos, but they charge $.50 for sour cream (and another $.49 for guacamole, if you're into that kind of thing). Ridiculous.

  40. nah, i used to work at a Kinko's a few years ago, right before FedEx took over, and this is totally the same shit I can remember them pulling. And just as bad, it really wasn't consistent, so customers were constantly getting pissed off. Kinko's was my worst job ever, worse than flipping burgers in high school.

  41. Gah! I had this same exact damn thing happen to me when I was making prints for my Design class at University! I was so mad! I was like 'seriously, you're charging me for OPENING A FILE???'. *rage*

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