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October 2nd, 2019

Killing Your Customer’s Trust, One Improvement At A Time

For decades…ever since I was a teenage boy…Kodak HC-110 has been my developer of choice for black & white film. I have used it to excellent results on Kodak films, and Fuji Neopan, and Agfa and Rollie films. I’ve used it for so long I know it instinctively.

No more. I’ve just been informed on one of the photography groups I follow, that Kodak is selling a “new and improved” formulation of HC-110. The big difference? They omit a step to remove water from the concentrate. This effectively nullifies one of the big advantages of that particular developer: the concentrate had an insane longevity so long as you didn’t open the bottle. Otherwise it is the same formula. You get the same developer you always did when you dilute the concentrate to working solutions.

They’re saying they did it out of “environmental concerns”. However, they’re still selling the original concentrate in Europe. So you have to suppose the environment in question was Wall Street, yet again. Dig it…Kodak degraded the longevity of a product that’s been favored by many photographers for generations, to move more product. And there goes my trust.

I’m still not feeling well, but I just now took an emergency walk over to Service Photo hoping to snatch up the last of the old concentrate, but Kodak beat me too it. The shelf there is full of the new, where before they only stocked one or two bottles at a time of the original. So I guess I’m done with it. I don’t care that it’s the same thing going into the tank. I care that Kodak doesn’t care about the quality of its products anymore if higher quality means fewer sales. Trust is gone, and with it my business.

I still have two bottles of the original concentrate left. Kodak ticked me off a few years ago when they started selling it only by the liter instead of the pint, which meant I ended up wasting a lot of it. I don’t want to risk separating the liter bottle into smaller ones because once you open that bottle it starts absorbing moisture from the air and that’s what kills its longevity. Water activates HC-110 concentrate. Stick an exposed piece of film into the concentrate and nothing happens. It needs water. But once it gets it in any amount the clock starts ticking. Well…ticking faster. Much faster.

Watching to see what the other photographers head to as substitutes.

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