Better Business Bureau Alert: California-based Century Photo and Light Impressions leave hundreds of unhappy customers


(Message from the Better Business Bureau)



Chicago, ILTwo California businesses that have sold photo and document storage products nationwide for more than 40 years are facing an avalanche of recent complaints from customers who say they waited months for items that never arrived. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to think twice before ordering from Century Photo or Light Impressions. 


Both businesses have “F” ratings, the lowest grade possible, with the BBB of Colton, California. A June 9, 2011 report on Century Photo showed the BBB had received 312 complaints nationally involving the business in the past three years, 304 of those in the past 12 months. The report showed that Century Photo did not respond to 287 of those complaints. Many of the complainants allege a failure to deliver ordered merchandise, nonpayment of refunds and poor customer service.


President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois Steve J. Bernas said, “Many of the consumers we have heard from say they dealt with these businesses for years and were very satisfied with their past experiences. However, more than 95 percent of the complaints came within the past 12 months. For customer service to deteriorate so quickly is a concern.”


From Jan. 1, 2010 to June 8 of this year, the BBB received 25 Illinois complaints against Century Photo. In the same period, Light Impressions generated nine complaints from Illinois.  


Caroline Keem of Chicago, IL described her experience with Light Impressions: “I placed my order for photo and framing supplies online and got an e-mail confirmation. I was not notified that anything was on backorder. Then when I called and found out, I asked for a refund. They said it would take a month. Nothing should take that long, they charged me right away. I tried to call them and follow up but never got through to anyone again.”


Both Century Photo and Light Impressions are under the corporate umbrella of New Century Direct of Santa Fe Springs, CA. A website for New Century Direct says Century Photo was established in 1953 and offers a line of photo albums, photo pages, scrapbooks, collector accessories and genealogy products. The same site says Light Impressions was established in 1969 and offers “the world’s largest variety of fine archival storage, display and presentation materials”.  The companies sell products from websites and through mail order catalogs.


The BBB offers the following advice for consumers ordering items online or through merchandise catalogs:


 ·         Pay by credit card whenever possible.  If there is a problem with the order, you can challenge it with the credit card company.

 ·         Before ordering online or through a catalog, it may be a good idea to attempt to make direct contact with a customer service representative.  If that is not possible, or if you are put on hold for a long period before being able to speak to someone, that could be a sign of other problems.

·         Obtain a free BBB Business Review by going to


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