A P22 Horror Story

Renaissance Man's picture

Jul 25, 2007: Ordered RTR Albertan for $101.36. Have trouble downloading fonts. (Connection with server was lost after 50% download. Six times!)

Jul 26, 2007: Try downloading fonts the next day: ""Your allotted download time for this softgood has run out." Emailed P22. They email me the fonts.

Jul 27, 2007: I emailed them and told them that FOURTEEN of the PS font files are ZERO byte files! They email me the correct files. I had a problem installing the PS fonts until I deleted all the *.INF files. I email them with screenshots. I then discover one of the small cap fonts is mislabeled. (My word processing program showed RTF AlbertanSC [bold] and RTF Albertan SC [regular]. The bold font should have been labeled RTF Albertan SC with a space between Albertan and SC.) I correct it with a font program that I have, but the PFM file is reduced from 12,614 bytes to 5,246. I ask for a corrected replacement. A total of six emails to/from exchanged today.

July 30, 2007: from an email from P22: "We will be examining the Albertan data ASAP, but I am afraid that an explanation might not be possible until next week. At this point, I do offer a full refund." I erroneously construe that "offer" as rhetorical and that they gave me a credit.

August 17, 2007: 15 business days later I email P22 again and ask about the refund and the corrected font. They said, "due to other projects already in progress, Albertan was not the first on the list. However, it will be fixed in about a week or two. If you do not want to wait that long for a replacement file, I will need to send you a quick form to fill out for the refund. "

August 18, 2007: I let them know I'll accept a 50% refund without a form otherwise send me a form for a full refund.

August 20, 2007: The "refund" was not for my doing their beta testing, or for my time or aggravation, or their delay, or just for "good will." In an email they advise me that the refund is conditional, based on my deleting the fonts. They further said "any file renaming is not possible before Sept. 1st, if deemed necessary."

In the meantime, what happens to anyone else who orders RTR Albertan from P22?

I have ordered fonts from P22 for more than a decade, but never with fonts or service like this.

It happened once. Shame on them. But it won't happen twice!

Am I expecting too much?

Did P22 act honorably?

Jackie Frant's picture

I bought Albertan back in 1991. I can't even remember the name of the company I bought it - but they would save their printer fonts with the letter "P" before it - like PAlbertanTit and PAlbertanLin with Italic counterparts. They were all Type 3 fonts - and made my Mac back then crash out. When I needed it again back in - oh, about 2004 - I just converted it to Type 1 (for MAC) and it was fine. I don't remember my printer having any trouble with them either. (He had a lot of trouble with a Sudtipos font I had bought a while ago...)

So all I'm saying is Albertan itself has always been a problem. So were most of the fonts that were out then that started with a P - I can't seen them in my library anymore -- I'd really have to go digging through floppy discs! I think they were like PFlash and maybe PBoy and stuff like that.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Steve, this sounds like an unusual event for P22. Richard and the gang there have always gone out of their way to help people when a problem arises.

You've been using a PC for years, it sounds like it anyway. I'm not familiar with .INF files, but it seems to me this would be a bug with all PS fonts somehow. No?

Was font in need of a rename damaged in any other way other than name? That seems like a bit of hair-splitting to me. I have many fonts that don't have spaces, but they work as they should.

Many servers have bugs every day. Yes, it is a pain and an irritation, but they sent you working fonts the very next day.

Was this problem exasperated by a deadline that you needed the font? Are you sure you aren't just feeling frustrated and lashing out a bit?

Miss Tiffany's picture

But Jackie those weren't P22 fonts at the time. Let's not confuse the issue more.

Jackie Frant's picture

Okay - but Miss T - do you remember whose they were? Just strange how I remember the problem I had way back then - and it was with - Albertan!

Miss Tiffany's picture

Those I do not know about, Jackie, but I do know P22 re-worked and often re-drew the outlines for the Lanston library when they purchased it.

Renaissance Man's picture

>Was font in need of a rename damaged in any other way other than name? That seems like a bit of hair-splitting to me. I have many fonts that don’t have spaces, but they work as they should.

Gimmie a break, Tiff. The font was otherwise OK. But it is the equivalent of having a font named ABCRegular and ABCBold, requiring you to select a different font every time you want to use bold instead of selecting the bold attribute.

How can anyone possibly explain a mistake like 14 zero byte files?

The few other foundries that have made mistakes have given me a free font or otherwise compensated me for my trouble. I don't think a font purchase should be riddled with problems requirings dozens of emails over several weeks.

I really feel like I did their beta testing for them. That sucks. It's not that there was just one problem. There were multiple compound problems over a prolonged period of time.

Thomas Phinney's picture

So, aside from your initial hassles getting the fonts, there was a bug in the naming of the Albertan SC Bold font in Type 1 format for Windows. This causes the style-linking (if any) to not work, as well as being odd in the font menu.

P22 was not able to fix the font immediately, and offered a full refund, which was conditional on deleting the font(s) in question.

While this is not the level of bending-over-backwards that one sees on a wonderful day, it certainly doesn't seem like "bad customer service" to me. There was a minor failure in P22's font testing and possibly a problem in their store infrastructure (although it's hard to know the cause of your download problems).



Miss Tiffany's picture

It was in the middle of TypeCon as well. The people who needed to do the work were in attendance.

Renaissance Man's picture

Your quote, Thomas, is very apropos in regard to Albertan: "Why use shampoo when the real thing is so much cheaper?"

Stephen Coles's picture

Like Thomas implies, I think using the word "horror" is a tad sensationalist for this story.

> How can anyone possibly explain a mistake like 14 zero byte files?

This is actually a very common problem having to do with fonts in zip files and email between platforms. It's not an excuse to get it wrong, but I wouldn't consider it an absurd screwup.

aluminum's picture

I once documented the process of purchasing and downloading fonts from Adobe. I think it was something like 4 days and 107 steps. To Adobe's credit, they gave us a free license for the font in the end for the hassle.

Then there was that time trying to get a refund for crappy overpriced clip art from CSA (never again!)...

Or this past fall when we purchased $300 worth of plants from the nursery only to have 3 survive into the next year.

Or my recent eBay experience where eBay somehow let Nigerians do all the bidding.

Anyways, I feel for you. It takes so little for companies to make right with consumers. It's so rare that they do, though.

Renaissance Man's picture

Isn't it strange that people who buy things have a different perspective than those who sell things? Or maybe not.

Stephen Coles's picture

I don't know, Steve. Most type buyers don't share your record of consistent crankiness. I am all for improving the consumer experience, but you tend to take your gripes over the top.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Sorry we need to hear these gripes as consumers. Type looks fabulous in PDF specimens and then you install it and it has crappy metrics or whatever.

Steve do you buy a lot of fonts?

kegler's picture

Considering the litany of out of context quotes, mistaken assumptions and factual errors in the initial "horror" post that would be cumbersome to address point by point, I will summarize a brief response to this somewhat emotional and public venting as such:

We are sorry you are not satisfied with your experience. I have no misgivings that my staff responded to you courteously and promptly and offered options from a realistic time frame to fully review an entire font family rather than a band-aid fix for a cosmetic naming issue...to a full refund (yes, we ask that the files get deleted if you get a refund) The 2 options remain and if you wish the initial post to be addressed point by point, I will.

R Kegler - the soul of a heartless corporate behemouth

k.l.'s picture

Renaissance Man: I really feel like I did their beta testing for them. That sucks. It’s not that there was just one problem. There were multiple compound problems over a prolonged period of time.

Following your time table, it seems P22 always replied the same day. The only longer gap was caused by a misunderstanding as regards the refund. Sh*t happens.

Fonts are software. One can test many aspects and conditions, but the ultimate test is the real world. There are bugs in every piece of software and they will come to light sooner or later or (with luck) never. But they are there. My realistic (call it pessimistic) point of view.

[I don't mean you with this:]
Sometimes I am surprised that users of software do not even dare ask the producer if problems occur. I think of various complaints posted here on Typophile before emailing the foundry. Most foundries, both big and small, try hard to address problems, whether caused by fonts or applications. Sometimes it takes time to track down where the bug is. Nevertheless: Ask! This helps improve fonts. And applications too, sometimes.

Gary Long's picture

I had problems with Amethyst from P22 (Rimmer type collection) when I purchased a licence through Myfonts -- some really bad kerning. Myfonts contacted P22, who said it wasn't a priority to fix it. Myfonts gave me a refund on condition that I delete the files, which I did. The font itself (OTF) worked fine otherwise.

I also have Deepdene (Lanston) from P22. It works fine too, but I noticed when I bought Typetool recently that a few glyphs have blips in their outlines that I'm sure Goudy hadn't intended. I've seen this in a few other fonts I have as well. I can understand missing some kerning pairs, but there's no excuse for not cleaning up sloppy outlines before releasing a font.

Renaissance Man's picture

Does anyone REALLY think I was the first one to buy RTF Albertan? How long has it been for sale? Did these problems mysteriously appear ONLY when I bought it?

I BUY more fonts than I care to admit. (Recent purchases include Goodchild, TheSansOffice, Parisine Plus, Arepo, Cycles Eleven.)

I've had fewer problems at dafont than I've had with this instance with P22.

Apparently I'm not the only one who has had problems with P22 fonts.

Si_Daniels's picture

>Does anyone REALLY think I was the first one to buy RTF Albertan? How long has it been for sale? Did these problems mysteriously appear ONLY when I bought it?

A certain software company "lost" the kerning from a font and no one noticed for five years.

david h's picture

> A P22 Horror Story

Ohhhhh mama. Do not fall asleep.

where/what's the horror?

aluminum's picture

The problem is much more than just one particular vendor and one particular customer and one particular transaction. All in all, we as consumers have accepted that pretty much all software is full of bad bugs.

We've become mindless beta testers for nearly all major software companies and are more than willing to pay companies to fix the product that was broken to begin with. Compare how we purchase software with nearly any other buying experience and you begin to see how absurd it is.

(None of the above is targeted specifically at P22, btw...more of a complaint against the big software companies in general)

Not that I don't side with the software companies either, I work for one and understand that it's impossible to know all of the potential issues a software product will have 'out in the wild.'

Stephen Coles's picture

Darrell - your last paragraph is your truest. It contradicts everything you said previously. Font manufacturers are generally, P22 included, very small software companies.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

P22 messed up and will hopefully be more on top of quality in the future- faster too. Keglers comments about being the heart of the corporate behemoth is unnecessarily catty to repeat PAYING customer.


mike gastin's picture

1. There is no horror story here. Just an unhappy consumer who is willing to throw years of a relationship under a bus because of one bad experience.

2. Rich's comment about P22 being a corporate behemoth and he being the cold heart of it is just a joke. It is not catty and it seems the repeat paying customer is neither.

3. I got a chance to meet Rich this evening at the kick-off meeting for Typecon 2008 and we had the chance to chat for a bit. He struck me as a good person, hard working and he cares about type. I don't think it is fair to shout to the world that a poor transaction is a horror story. You want to know a horror story? How about people starving to death in North Korea or people thrown in a 3rd world prison for being a christian. A few messed-up font files with the offer to refund your money does not make for a convincing horror story.


Stephen Coles's picture

Mike (SuperUltra) - I know it may seem like a gang of apologists is rushing to defend a company against a solo, defenseless consumer. That by itself, without any context, would be deplorable. But what's really going on here is that P22's solid reputation for good service could very well be affected by this page with a tabloid-style title. A title written by someone who has a record of routinely attacking organizations in public rather than resolving his issues with direct communication.

Giampa's picture

Rich is far more than decent. If I owned P22 I would never have offered a refund. Snail mail is how I would have satisfied. Nice and slow.

Take a deep breath. P22 will make good. Albertan is worth the wait.


Giampa's picture


You are quick on slow!

SuperUltraFabulous's picture


"Snail mail is how I would have satisfied. Nice and slow."

Is this so you can punish Mr. Marston?

Mike Diaz

Stephen Coles's picture

It's a joke from an old Finn! Relax.

ebensorkin's picture

People have trouble with software & fonts all the time. This because they are both made by - people.

To answer your question - no, I don't think you were asking too much. But everybody errs. And P22 are good people in my experience.

The email problem may have been the ISP on their end or yours. Or be an old fashioned OS or email program related problem. It's hard to know for sure. There are too many variables.

It doesn't sound like P22 denied errors that were made or gave you a run around and I think Stephen's point about the fonts being usable is actually the main point.

While it's undeniable that you had real issues, my sense is that you are being a stickler - and that in this case it isn't a choice that is serving your real interests.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

With only 2 pages of thread contributions, Mr. Karsten is a novice to Typophile and perhaps even to fine graphic design. He has even stated he is not a pro. Regarding the matter he even asks "Am I expecting too much?" If it was respect- then yes.

Stephen, the punch line is at Mr. Marsten's expense. His $101.36 expense. Not funny- not a joke. I think Mr. Marsten has been respectful here and tossing sarcastic quips is not acceptable. Mr. Giampa is apart of the P22 company and should have said nothing of the sort. Kegler was fine until he left his parting shot. Mr. Marten is not a type designer crony either like everyone else in this thread.

"I know it may seem like a gang of apologists..."

I appreciate your desire for balance in this thread and I agree with much of what you said and some others. I like the free flux of opinions for both 'sides' to maintain fairness. I'm not completely on Mr. Marston side. I would have certainly handled this whole transaction very differently from how Mr. Marston did. I would have picked up the telephone and spoke to a technician directly. In that way, no one can hide intentions behind emails and things happen much quicker as well. Better yet, [perhaps] p22 should have called him when the quantity of emails got out of hand.

But here is the part where I strongly disagree:
"A title written by someone who has a record of routinely attacking organizations in public rather than resolving his issues with direct communication."

As for Mr. Martens threads you cited to show his deliberateness:

"Who's Who?" has zero relevance here. That is Mr. Marten not knowing where to communicate typophile suggestions or concerns and asking for help.

"TheSans Office - Help me find a place to buy it!" Why should he bother the foundry when the experts right here on typophile have the answers? I certainly feel the same way especially when you don't want to pay overseas charges etc. In fact I started a thread about Dalton Maag because of the same reason. I thought it would be tacky to discuss money when I'm just window shopping. If you absolutely needed to say something about that thread Mr. Marsten was inflexible in not wanting to upgrade his browser. But then again he uses Windows and coming from that world every time you install an update you open up a can of worms. Us mac-heads live in Utopia [-kinda].

"Unprofessional Fonts from Professional Designers" This was Mr. Marsten polling other users regarding problems they have had with incorrectly built fonts. He did not name names. In fact he said he did not want to alienate anyone. When you lay out the cash and get something sub standard and you don't know how to go about it getting it rectified ask people who know- Typophilers. However, it does show someone at the beginnings of frustration.

The real "horror" is your spurious distortion of facts attempting to pigeonhole Mr. Karsten as an 'over-the-top griper' saying "he routinely attacked organizations" when in fact he hasn't. Not even p22- he is a paying customer with a 'horrible' experience. And you can't be serious in including Typophile- there's more crap here from beloved members than novices like Mr. Marsten. You are very much out of gas.

Mike Diaz

aluminum's picture

I don't quite get the guilt trip we're giving someone who's merely expressing a bad customer experience.

I'm sure P22 is a fine upstanding company, and has a long history (well, relatively speaking) in the digital type world. Doesn't mean they can't screw up once in a while and that a customer might have a complaint.

Renaissance Man's picture

My apologies to those that think I'm too often cranky.

Typophile is a collection contributors who range from newbies to amateurs to type designers to type vendors. I thought one thing we had in common was the pursuit of perfection in everything from the minutest details of type design to the minutest details of typographic practice. But let a non-pro lover of type, who puts out a newsletter with a mailing list of 30, who spends too much of his own money on fonts merely because he knows a good font when he sees one, complain about a vendor who sends out files that include mislabeled fonts and zero byte files, and the vendor-defenders come out of the woodwork to attack the messenger, the pursuit of perfection be damned.

Zero byte files are "a very common problem ." Not in my experience.
Mislabeling a font "was a minor failure." Not in my experience.

One of the unmentioned vendors in the "Unprofessional Fonts from Professional Designers" thread was PsyOps. I mention that now, only because the difficulty I had was resolved AND they offered me an additional font at NO cost for my troubles. That kind of consideration should be applauded, and that kind of consideration is in stark contrast to P22.

I became interested in type when Font Bureau was publishing X-height and ITC was publishing U&lc, and I still have those copies. I am SO glad I was around when type-for-print had printed samples and catalogs that you didn't have to pay for.

For those who are keeping track of my computer proclivities, I now have the latest version of Firefox as my browser.

Left out of this conversation is Jim Rimmer, the designer of Albertan. I wonder what he thinks of how his fonts are marketed by P22.

In spite of the repeated misspelling of my name, I appreciate the posts of Mike Diaz. Although Mike took some of my threads to refute the accusations of vendor representatives (who are also some of the most prolific posters), I also believe he was being a consumer advocate. When I first put my foot into professional typographic waters (no longer satisfied with 1000 fonts on CD for $9.95) my first purchases were Stone Serif (purchased directly from Sumner Stone) and Remedy from Emigre over a decade ago. For most of the decade from 1995-2005, I did NOT run into the problem of mislabeled fonts or zero byte files.

The hostile attitude of so many "professionals" and "professional vendors" toward me is as understandable as is their hostile attitude toward "free fonts." As you can see, I do BUY good quality fronts from respected vendors, but some vendors who only sell their fonts in mega-bundles, or who overprice their fonts only invite rip-offs. Pardon me if I don't sympthasize.

My loyalty lies with quality. And to a lesser extent with price. I bought Goodchild at Fonts.com because they price the TT version at $99 and the PS version at $129 (to this day), which according to Nick, is a mistake. That's the kind of mistake I can live with. I only hope that it's Fonts.com and not Nick that gets screwed out of $30.

When the high-and-mighty types decide to opt for quality over attacking non-pros for not accepting unprofessional quality, please do let me know.

Giampa's picture

Mike Diaz

"Mr. Giampa is apart of the P22 company".

Not the case. My contract ended in January and it was never under discussion to re-new.

I am boating and dealing in traditional marine hardware. Very little of my time is "wasted" thinking about either typography, or fonts.

That said, Rich and his wife have "earned' my utmost respect.

And finally, I enjoy exercising international post and miss the joys of receiving telegrams. Please do not confuse "pleasantness" for "punishment".


Dan Gayle's picture

I think everyone needs to focus on MissTiffany's answer above:

"It was in the middle of TypeCon as well. The people who needed to do the work were in attendance."

That should be the end of it.

Now, as to quality of fonts, I have to agree that when you pay more, you should expect more. If I buy an entire family from, say, DTL, they darn well better work perfect out of the box and make my G4 laptop perform like a Dual Processor Mac Pro or else I'm starting a thread on Typophile.

Renaissance Man's picture

Thanks for proving my point, Tiff. We can issue "Icky R alerts" but we can't complain about "Icky fonts."

Well, we can complain about icky free fonts.

And, oh yes, icky commercial fonts when it suits us. Oops, that's about icky font design and not icky usability out of the box.

mike gastin's picture

I don't think anyone would take issue with your criticism of the quality of the font. The issue (for me, at least) was your decision to sensationalize your experience by slapping 'horror story' in your headline and your astonishment at P22's policy of 'refund if you delete'.

Again, there was no horror and name one retailer (like WalMart or Target) that issues a refund AND lets you keep the product. Type is not a consumable like a jar of peanut butter. If you don't like it, take it back and get your refund and be done with it.


twardoch's picture

Given that Behemoth was, among others, a subversive black talking cat in Mikhail Bulhakov's Master and Margarita, one must admit that Rich Kegler's response was, indeed, catty.


Jackie Frant's picture


In the graphics business it was always - you can have 2 of the 3
Quality - Price - Service

Take your pick!

I don't blame you for being upset - especially if you needed the font for a project you are/were working on. We have a lot of sensitive people here - for all different reasons. I personally am sensitive to someone knowingly stealing someone else's work and then thinking they are getting away with it. It sucks - big time!

But on the other hand, we do not have anywhere as near the amount of foundries and professionals in this field as we use to -- and let's just say, we don't want to kill any more of them off.

It's okay to feel upset - but in the words of Dr. Edith Ross (a good shrink in NYC) "There are ways of saying things, and THERE ARE WAYS OF SAYING THINGS..."

Gary Long's picture

A print shop, in New Brunswick if I recall correctly (which I may be not, this being 15 years ago), actually advertises that they have three options---fast, cheap, and good---and you can have any combination of two.

aluminum's picture

"Again, there was no horror and name one retailer (like WalMart or Target) that issues a refund AND lets you keep the product."

Well, as I mentioned, Adobe did that for us after they put us through font-buying hell.

Most decent restaurants will refund part of or all of your bill if you are not satisfied with the food.

Some theaters will give you a full refund if you felt the film was bad and you ask.

Home Depot will refund the scraps of wood left over from your 2x4s (for some insane reason).

Just sayin' ;o)

Jackie Frant's picture


I think it is called common courtesy

Something that went out the window with the "me" generation....

P.S. I also witnessed recently at a Kroger supermarket - a senior citizen bringing back the fat she cut away from a steak she bought from them -- to keep a customer satisfied, they refunded her the price of its weight. Go figure! (I don't know anyone who would have done that...)

John the Fontaholic's picture

Hi everyone,

Jackie T had written:
>>I think it is called common courtesy
>>Something that went out the window with the “me” generation....
That's why I refer to it as just "courtesy" these days, because as I point out to people, it's not exactly common anymore... :-/

>>P.S. I also witnessed recently at a Kroger supermarket - a senior citizen bringing
>>back the fat she cut away from a steak she bought from them — to keep a customer
>>satisfied, they refunded her the price of its weight. Go figure! (I don’t know
>>anyone who would have done that...)
What, bring back the trimmed fat, or refunded the price of the fat's weight?? If you're talking about bringing back the trimmed fat, then you've obviously never met my mother, because that sounds exactly like something she'd do!! ;-D She's one of those people who would go over her grocery receipt with a fine-toothed comb, then go back to the store, march up to the service desk, and give 'em hell...

John the Fontaholic

terryw's picture

So let me see if I have this right:
You bought an 18 font family and received a discount off the regular price. Your download failed and you blame the foundry (you didn't say if you had dialup or high speed internet). They sent you files upon notification. You repeatedly complain about "zero byte files", which is a common problem with files corrupted during transmission or cross platform files. Again the foundry got you working files very quickly. You have no complaint against the font but rather the menu naming of the files having an extra space in one of the fonts. The foundry offered you a full refund or a fix in a reasonable amount of time in this minor naming issue. Now you are grousing about wanting a partial refund (which it seems you received when you bought the fonts). If restaurants give full refunds when a menu item is spelled wrong, we could all eat for free for life. P22 did more than most software companies would ever do to make things right. Some people just like to complain until they get their way. Let us trim the fat and end this thread.

aluminum's picture

"Some people just like to complain until they get their way. Let us trim the fat and end this thread."

But then we're just giving in to your complaining about getting your way. ;o)

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Hi again:

Mr. Marston please post the end result of your dealings with p22. Did you get the refund or the fixed font? How was it?

Mike Diaz

Ps.. Sorry for misspelling your name a zillion times. :-)

Renaissance Man's picture

On September 14th, I got an email from Jim Wallis of P22. He gave me an explanation, an apology, corrected fonts, and an extra goodie.

I'm most grateful for his response. He still wanted to know if I still wanted a refund (if I did, I wouldn't have waited so long) but I really do like Albertan.

In retrospect (or maybe because of all the heat) I shouldn't have labeled this thread a "Horror" story. But excuse me if I expect type designers and type (re)sellers to know more about fonts than I do. But "stuff" does happen, in spite of our best efforts, whether we're selling cars, or toys from China, or fonts.

I'm grateful for P22's response. In spite of their vastly expanded library, a much larger selection of fonts than when I first ordered from them more than a decade ago, they still like to claim they're "not a big company."

Whatever. Their resolution of the problem satisfied me. Thank God I'm not a professional who had a deadline. And what about all those people who ordered this font before I did?

Bottom Line: Thanks, P22.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Hello all:

I am so glad everything has been worked out. Thank you for posting a follow-up too.

All my best to everyone,

Mike Diaz :-)

Jackie Frant's picture

Thank you for coming back and telling us the outcome. Nice to know service and politeness still exists.

Enjoy - and a gold star to P22.

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