A Bad Service Experience at Tall’s Camera
Local Camera Stores, it’s time to change your business model… Well, I’m bound to make a few enemies with this one, but I just finished reading Jason Burn’s post on a bad experience he had with his local camera retailer and have to agree that your local camera store is increasingly becoming a bad place to buy camera gear.
In Jason’s case he had to deal with a snippy camera store clerk at Tall’s Camera store who chided him for buying his camera online. Jason went into Talls to buy a camera grip and instead met a hostile and inquisitive clerk who questioned where Jason had purchased his new Canon 40D:
“Now when I said Circuit City, you would have thought I said I traded some kiddy porn to a Nazi for it. The salesperson launches into this “Oh really, and will those zit faced kids be able to teach you how to use it?” routine. I was kind of taken aback. First, why does he assume I would buy a $1,500 camera and have no idea how to use it? Second, who’s business is it where I bought my camera? I just want the grip at a fair price.
The fair price is where the rub comes in. The local camera stores, and honestly all of them in my experience, charge Canon retail for pretty much everything. If you like the feeling of paying too much to support a local business, I can dig that, but the idea that these stores provide some service and support that you can’t get from B&H; Camera online is bullshit. Excuse my language, but it’s time to change your business model.”
Unfortunately I have to say that in general my experiences with local camera stores have not been good. Typically they are way over priced and the service there (despite their claims that it’s better) is usually far worse.
Recently I went into Adolph Gasser locally here in San Francisco to buy some cleaning solution. Even though there were three clerks there (two chatting each other up), I had to wait about 10 minutes to get to talk to someone. It was annoying.
On a recent visit to Looking Glass in Berkeley, I had to wait over 15 minutes and then when I finally got a clerk to ring my purchase he chided me about my interest in a lens that they didn’t have in stock (saying it wasn’t a very good lens and trying to sell me his choice for a replacement instead) and then grumbled at me when I chose to use a credit card to pay for my purchase rather than a debit card. He tried to get me to use my debit card because he said that it didn’t cost them as much. That’s fair, except for the fact that I have to pay to use my debit card *and* I was already paying their inflated prices. They even had a sign in their store trying to convince people to use debit cards rather than credit cards.
Personally these days I only go to the local camera store as a place of last resort. If I need something right then, that day, in a pinch.
In general I buy everything camera related from either B&H; Photo (who are the best online camera retailer in my opinion) or stuff I find on Amazon.com.
While I can understand how the whole “shop local” people might be disgruntled over the internet invading their jobs and space, the best way to compete and handle it is to truly offer superior service and support, not insult customers, provide bad service or give lip service responses.
Obviously some people have great experiences and great relationships with their local camera retailer, but for too many I think the opposite is increasingly the case.