Open Letter to Camera Stores

Joined
May 12, 2006
Messages
1,302
Location
Belleville MI
I saw yet another long term camera store that's closed.

Dear Mr (or Mrs) Camera Store Owner,

When a person walks in your store dressed in business casual attire, the clerks should immediately end their personal conversations with each other and attend to the random visitor. If that customer asks for a battery for a coolpix camera, don't wave at a wall and say they are over there. If that customer further asks for the price on an SB-800, don't reply in a snotty tone, that won't work on a CP. When customer says it's for his Nikon DSLR, don't say "we don't have any", but offer when you expect the next shipment and the selling price.

Sincerely,

A customer who has bought a lot of equipment in the last 12 months, all mail order from stores willing to spend the time answering questions, and offering fair value.

What is it with the brick and mortar stores that attracts people with severe attitudes and unhelpfulness? It's not just one, but several. The most successful store in Detroit is beginning to show signs of problems too, and it's not surprising. If they make it another year, I'll be surprised. That store is the one where I got in a long discussion with the film processing supervisor about her equipment being set up incorrectly. It took a phone call to Fuji to get their tech out there to fix the equipment for them to finally listen to me. That incident drove me to digital. They did not sell me any equipment, because the price changed drastically over several weeks. It was like dealing with a car dealership...closer I got to purchasing, the higher the price got.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
34,729
Location
Arizona
Real Name
Chris
... Sincerely,

A customer who has bought a lot of equipment in the last 12 months, all mail order from stores willing to spend the time answering questions, and offering fair value. ...
I think that's yer issue right there. Each $100 you spend online, the b&m store loses at least $110, because they charge that much more, but also because, you probably made that recalcitrant kid pull the stuff off the shelf so you could quiz him on it right?

The owner had to pay him for that. :frown:
 
J

jcovert

Guest
I'm with the OP, the ONLY Camera store in my area has the most condescending attitude towards customers. I've gone there 4 or 5 times for 'innocent' items like lens caps and such, and when I witness how bad they try to rip me off for such items, I just leave with no purchase. (I know I could haggle, but why? When I don't need to.)

Brick & Mortars have one choice imho. State upfront they will price-match B&H. Make a big sign saying such. Then, wait for the flood of customers you will recieve that would really rather buy it in person. No games, and don't make 'em ask for the B&H price - just give it, and do volume...and plz fire the snobby clerks that seem to be so pervasive in the photography shops. A lot of Brick & Mortars (in many industries) are really blowing a golden opportunity by refusing to compete with online imho. Places that price-match provide a compelling reason for the buyers to buy there.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
34,729
Location
Arizona
Real Name
Chris
I'm with the OP, the ONLY Camera store in my area has the most condescending attitude towards customers. I've gone there 4 or 5 times for 'innocent' items like lens caps and such, and when I witness how bad they try to rip me off for such items, I just leave with no purchase. (I know I could haggle, but why? When I don't need to.)

Brick & Mortars have one choice imho. State upfront they will price-match B&H. Make a big sign saying such. Then, wait for the flood of customers you will recieve that would really rather buy it in person. No games, and don't make 'em ask for the B&H price - just give it, and do volume...and plz fire the snobby clerks that seem to be so pervasive in the photography shops. A lot of Brick & Mortars (in many industries) are really blowing a golden opportunity by refusing to compete with online imho. Places that price-match provide a compelling reason for the buyers to buy there.
So how does your local store - that has all the walk-ins who take time to pull out the stuff, then demonstrate it, and let the 'potential' customer play with the cameras/lenses/bags/whatever - pay for that. Buydig, Amazon. Dell, etc. don't have to pay for customer contact. *

I prefer to go to a local store and put my hands on items before paying for them. However, if I cannot buy the item locally, I do buy it from a large and reputable internet source. Unfortunately hands-on service, where you get to handle the goods before purchasing online, will disappear because there is no visible means of support. When all of our purchases are based on virtual knowledge of the products, we will have no choice but to buy online. Then let's re-evaluate the prices.

* RFC: How is the service at your local stores?
 
Joined
Jan 30, 2007
Messages
1,390
Location
Denver, CO
i work at one of the said stores... and all i can say is that what you have experienced is unfortunate... we have a very helpful and friendly environment in my shop, however it does get frustrating when people use our shop as a showroom for the equipment they've been pondering then order from the online stores that have free shipping and $5 dollar profit margins.

-drew
 
C

Cabrams

Guest
I work at a local camera store and I have to say that it isnt the costumer service that is closing us down it is the internet. We have very inteligent and up front employees that are willing to help even the extreme beginner. I have seen in the past a few of our employees get up tight at customers because about 70% of them want us to teach them about the best cameras so they can run home and buy online. However I dont blame them for wanting to save a buck, but I cant blame my store for having higher prices either. The cost of a store front is more expensive then the cost of a warehouse and a webpage. B&H is an exception, they have a store front and a warehouse, but the amount of the products they must order from the distributors is what makes it possible to have such a low cost. Now there is a brick and mortar store near me that has been in business for about 40 years and eveyone knows not to go in and ask questions because you will only get a rude response. But he is not looking at closing his doors anytime soon because he stocks hard to find items. But I dont think it is the employees of these stores that are driving people to the internet but rather the internet prices driving the stores out of business.

P.S. Mr. Phesksel I have also had customers like you that think they know more than anyone else and though I could be wrong about you, from the way I read your thread I am probably not. If you were to come into my store I would simply tell you that I dont know everything about cameras but I do my best to lead people in the right direction and hope they are pleased with what they purchase from me. I would also search for any question I couldnt answer and get back with you when I found out. But if I am right about you and you are the type that wants to prove yourself to an under paid camera store sales person then maybe if you would go into the store with a little more humility then I would only suspect that your experience would be a little more pleasant.
 
Joined
Jan 19, 2006
Messages
3,198
Location
Rock Hill, South Carolina
A brick and mortar store cannot compete, on price, with internet or mail-order companies, because their overhead is higher. They have to compete by giving what the internet companies do not. This would be customer service and on-hand samples. Some people will prefer to go for price alone; and, others are willing to pay a bit more for the service and hands-on demonstrations.

However, like the OP stated, too many B&M stores are no longer delivering the service. Luckily, I had 3 camera stores near me. A few years ago, I visited all 3; and, decided which one felt best. Unfortunate, the only one where an emplyee would immediately greet you and ask to help, has recently closed.

I then tried one of the others, to purchase a polarizer. When I got it home, I found that it would stick when rotated. When I returned it to the store, the salesman, before even looking at the polarizer, gave me a lecture on how to use a polarizer. I have not returned.

I have twice gone to the third store, to look at tripods and heads. No-one at that store has yet to speak to me.

I am willing to pay a little bit extra for the hands-on testing and the personal service. However, since I am not getting any personal service from the local stores, I have been driven to B&H as my main source for camera equipment.
 
Joined
May 1, 2005
Messages
1,804
Location
Marlton, NJ
We don't have any local stores around here anymore, unless you count Ritz or the few big ones catering to professionals in Philly. But over many years in the past I frequented local stores only - there was mail order, but no internet. During that time, which ended, say 15 years ago, I always was treated with respect and experienced great service, even discounts. So, I guess I was lucky. And more recently, not sure, but around 2003, a large size filter got stuck on one of my lenses when I was visiting in Littleton, NH. I just couldn't get the darn thing off. So, I went into their camera store and one of their clerks got it off for me. He couldn't have been more friendly or helpful. So it can still happen.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Messages
1,907
Location
Cincinnati, Ohio
Most of the camera shops around here switched over to mainly doing prints and such. It's no wonder why either... B&H's price on a D200 body is $1349 and the local shop is $1699 :eek: that's just not going to fly... regardless of the customer service.

I was actually considering starting a online only camera shop but Nikon will only sell to places that have an existing brick and mortar shop. I think it's humorous that Ritz and Cord all try to get the same prices online that they do in their stores. What the purpose of having a website like that is... baffles me. I'd like to start a website just selling Nikon equipment to people here and maybe a couple other sites at reasonable prices and offer the customer service I feel people deserve.
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
3,181
Location
Kendalia, TX
I know this post is about Photo places but it extends to other retail places as well.

Ponder this: Take a look around at your town. Smaller independent stores of all types are slowly going away. Now, huge mega-plex areas with all the big chains are now appearing. Talk about boring I really hate these places. On every major road leading to into SA are these huge mega-centers. They have stores like Lowes, Best Buy, ummm you know big chain stores. Yes, you can get great prices but good luck on getting any real advice or personal service. I am not a big fan of such huge mega-open air mall things. What is the point you say? The point is smaller independent places are going away.....I miss the small hardware store where you could go in and they actually knew something about the products they sell and could give some real advice. I go into places like Home Depot and Lowes and there is some worker there (if u can find one) that basically reads the back of the product to me. Oh yeah that is helpful.

Hey I better get back on topic now.......

Sometimes it is not a matter of choice on competing prices. As someone who owns a retail business it is a tough thing to compete online. In areas where we can compete we do and areas we can not come close we choose to not even try.

If you have a store you like, support them. If you go there and ask lots of questions and they help you, support them. Pay that little extra. I am not saying anyone who has posted on this thread does this but I am saying it is a common practice of getting tons of advice and looking at product at the local store and then buying online. That is so wrong! Local stores cannot always compete on price but good local stores can offer assistance, advice and you can actually try out the product.

Now really back on topic.....

I am not sure why but it does seem like some (read some not ALL) camera places tend to have rude sales staff. You are correct! If this is the case then either a) the owner must get better staff b) train the current staff or c) face the eventual fate of going out business. There is no excuse for rudeness and treating a customer like crap. It is easy to fall into the trap of being rude, all day long the same questions, people asking can they see this and that and they ain't gonna buy it anyway etc...... But you know what, that is the nature of a retail store. Then eventually someone comes along and wants to buy the 70-200VR or 400/2.8 etc.... Small stores must learn to compete and offer other services to compete with online stores or they will simply will go away.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
955
Location
Detroit
I live about 40 miles from phecksel and have been in several of the local camera stores, so probably have entered the store that he mentions. Some of them, especially one of the local chains, has folks that will let you stand there for quite a while, before they bother to come talk with you.

This chain also has a web site with cheaper prices than you can find in the stores and you can't get the store to price match their own site. The items come out of the same warehouse and you have to pay state sales tax on both, so that makes no sense to me. Their costs are the same, whether you buy on line or at the store.

Some folks have mentioned the cost involved with the store sales staff. The store has to pay the staff salary, whether they are standing around chatting with each other or come to help you. So, I don't understand how that can excuse inattentive or rude sales staff. If anything, since the main reason for the store and sales staff is sales, one would presume that the owner of the store would want them to sell you the stuff that they have there. If they were paid by commission rather than an hourly wage, I'd guess that they'd behave quite differently.
 
Joined
Jul 14, 2005
Messages
1,265
Location
Smack dab between the Wolverines and the Spartans
I saw yet another long term camera store that's closed.

Dear Mr (or Mrs) Camera Store Owner,

When a person walks in your store dressed in business casual attire, the clerks should immediately end their personal conversations with each other and attend to the random visitor. If that customer asks for a battery for a coolpix camera, don't wave at a wall and say they are over there. If that customer further asks for the price on an SB-800, don't reply in a snotty tone, that won't work on a CP. When customer says it's for his Nikon DSLR, don't say "we don't have any", but offer when you expect the next shipment and the selling price.

Hehe, try being a 30-something year-old woman who walks in with a child in tow. After 10 minutes of trying out bags, I turned around and asked my daughter if we'd become invisible, because the clerks hadn't so much as looked at us the whole time we were there. Two clerks chatting between themselves, no other customer in the store...gosh, it's no wonder that store went under. It probably goes without saying that I bought that bag online. If I'm going to be ignored, I might as well save some money in the process.

I'm a local shopper. I pay retail at my local bookstore rather than buying from amazon, I buy from my local hardware store rather than the big box stores, I shop at a local grocery store rather than the nationwide behemoths, I buy my meat exclusively from local farmers who use organic, free-range farming practices. I pay far more (in immediate costs) for these items locally than I would if I shopped globally, but I appreciate these local businesses, and I want them to stay around. Point being, I would have easily paid the extra $30 to buy that bag at the local camera store if they'd bothered to glance in my direction.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2005
Messages
1,167
Location
Roseville, California
Is that the Nikon dealer on the corner of Sunrise & Cirby, Ron?
Yep. I've always had good experiences there. The staff is knowledgeable, pleasant and they never push. Heck, I didn't even buy my D70 from them. I tried, but they had none in stock and as usual Nikon couldn't or wouldn't tell them when they were coming in so when I found one in stock I bought it. They did get me my 18-200 within a couple of weeks though.

News flash: they also carry Canon now.
 
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
429
Location
Greenville, SC
.....I miss the small hardware store where you could go in and they actually knew something about the products they sell and could give some real advice. I go into places like Home Depot and Lowes and there is some worker there (if u can find one) that basically reads the back of the product to me. Oh yeah that is helpful.
Try ACE Harware. The Classic Ace hardware have smaller stores, really helpful staff who reliably answer your questions but leave you alone if you want to browse. Prices are slightly higher than Home Depot or Lowes but the service is a world apart.
 
I

imageswest

Guest
We're fortunate here in Calgary that we have a retailer who can not only beat B&H's prices on a lot of equipment, but also manages to deliver pretty good service too. The problem is that they're always swamped with customers, so it's hard to get service when the store is busy.

The amount of purchases I make from B&H has now dropped to almost nothing, as their service has declined, and having to deal with UPS/FedEx shipping has become a major headache.
 

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