UPDATE (Jan. 1, 2013): I no longer suggest anyone use Wal-Mart’s send out film service. Many Wal-Mart’s are no longer returning negatives to customers when getting film developed. Because of this, I won’t recommend you use them any more.
After following the I Shoot Film Flickr group discussions, I’ve read multiple mentions of people using Wal-Mart’s send out service for film development. Many people have mentioned how cheap it is for film developing and the quality is very good (the film is sent to a nearby pro Fuji Lab) and they have a fairly fast (less than 7 days) turn around time. After reading all the good things, and being slightly fed up with paying the high prices of using my local film processing lab, I decided to give it a try.
The first rolls I tried were two rolls of black and white 120 film. I filled out the envelopes and dropped them off. The envelopes promised they’d be ready two weeks after I left them. Two weeks went by and I returned for my film. The clerk grabbed my envelopes, rang me up and I paid. I started walking out the store when I realized something was wrong. They didn’t develop my film at all, and charged me $15! Along with my film was a little note stating they didn’t develop 120 film. I was furious. I immediately stormed over to the customer service counter and got a refund (the CS woman thought it was insane they charged me even though they didn’t develop my film). I was so confused since many people had touted the great work Wal-Mart did with their 120 film. Begrudgingly, I took my film to my other local lab and paid the premium for it to be developed.
I did some more digging around the web and found this forum discussing a similar problem. I figured out that I didn’t fill out the envelope correctly. Because of this, the Wal-Mart technician opened the envelope, saw they couldn’t develop it, and slapped a price tag on my envelopes. What I found out was that I need to specifically write the words “SEND OUT” on the envelope for the Wal-Mart technicians to actually send the film out to the pro labs (see the photo above).
The next time I shot some non-35 mm C-41 film, I filled out a Wal-Mart envelope and dropped it off. Two weeks later, both my rolls came back and were developed and printed as I requested. They came out to be $9.08 each for developing and 3 x 3 prints. This was a little pricier than I expected, but I think it was because this was black and white film (which I am now certain it will probably be cheaper to develop it myself in the long run) and I requested prints. I was happy with the results, so I sent out a roll of slide film with a request to cross process it in C-41 chemicals (develop only, no prints). I’m still waiting on that to return, but I will post when that comes back.