Shady Business

Ok, this might be a bit of a rant. I hope you bear with me and read the whole story. First the facts. I bought a fairly expensive camera from B&H Photo less than 6 months ago. The camera has not been mistreated and when not in use is stored in a well padded camera case. The zoom button is now stuck on this camera.  The fact that an expensive item is malfunctioning this soon is enough to be upset about. It use to be you got what you paid for. I don’t know if that’s true anymore.

I began my quest by contacting B&H Photo and was told (via their live chat) there was nothing they could do for me. I had to contact Panasonic (Lumix LX5 camera).  I called Panasonic yesterday, and here’s the short version after talking with a representative and his supervisor. I had to send the camera to them to be repaired. Normally, this would be just an inconvenience, but I probably would have complied, and said goodbye to my camera for a couple of months. But, here are my circumstances. I just enrolled in a photography class (one reason I bought this camera), and paid for it. It begins in 2 weeks and is not over until March. This class is about taking pictures. The student takes pictures, the instructor critiques them. At the end of the quarter, you get a grade.  See where I’m going with this? No camera, means no pictures, means I fail my class. And, no, the school does not have cameras for loan. Well, of course, my circumstances meant nothing to Panasonic (they’re probably still laughing about my story).

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t really surprised by Panasonic’s response, being the cynic I am about big business. I mean, you only have to look at the oil industry to see that businesses are greedy, and not particularly concerned with the moral aspects of their trade.  According to them, making money for their stockholders is justification for their actions, regardless of the consequences to the environment or community.

To say the least, I was feeling pretty bummed about my situation. Not to mention, not having a camera for my rides, and the upcoming holiday festivities. I did have the option of paying for the repair myself locally, but that just doesn’t seem right. I was angry at Panasonic because I had a bum camera, and angry at B&H Photo because they weren’t standing behind a product that they sell. I mean, I didn’t buy the camera from Panasonic, I bought it from B&H.

I figured I had nothing to loose if I called B&H, and took my complaint as high as I could and plead my case based on my particular circumstances. So yesterday I made the call and the representative told me there was nothing B&H could do, there were no returns or exchanges after 30 days of purchase. I asked for the supervisor. The supervisor told me there was nothing B&H could do; there were no returns or exchanges after 30 days of purchase. I asked for the supervisor’s supervisor, and was told he was not in but I could leave a voicemail, which I did. I didn’t really expect a return call but within 2 hrs. a Mr. Goldberg was calling me to tell me, you guessed it, there was nothing B&H could do after 30 days of purchase.

                                                          B & H Photo Superstore

I was extremely frustrated and close to tears, and out of frustration I tweeted (on Twitter), “B&H Photo has terrible customer service.” In about 5 min. I received a reply to my tweet from none other than the Director of Communications at B&H Photo, saying, and I quote, “I’d like to address this and repair your opinion of us. Please email details to……” I was shocked. I guess I shouldn’t have doubted the power of social media after Twitter helped with the downfall of dictatorships in the Middle East and Africa.  So, I pleaded my case one more time, fully expecting Mr. Posner to remind me of the 30 day policy and there was nothing B&H Photo could do for me. Instead I received a hopeful reply saying he was going to discuss my circumstances with the managers of customer service and repairs, and he would get back to me.

I heard back from Mr. Posner by late morning. His reply? “I am sorry but we will have to deny your request we take this camera back for either exchange or refund.”  He went on to say that I had purchased the camera almost 7 months ago (inacurrate), with a manufacturer’s warranty (Panasonic), and that this was the proper recourse at this time. He continued by telling me that they didn’t deserve my criticism or disapprobation, and that it was not terrible customer service to enforce a return policy. Now I was really pissed! I mean, this guy contacted me. This guy said he wanted to “repair my opinion” of them. I didn’t want a refund; I wanted a camera that worked and I wanted B&H Photo to stand behind the products they sell.  Here’s a quote directly from their website…….

•  Our Liberal Return Policy:

If for any reason you are not happy with your purchase, B&H offers a liberal money-back return policy. We want you to buy with the confidence of knowing that we will support you if there is a problem with your merchandise. We do not use any shady business tactics. At B&H, we’re in it for the long haul and want you to be a ‘B&H-er’ for the long haul as well.

It’s one thing to stick to their supposed 30 day return/exchange policy, but it’s quite another to contact a customer and feign sincere concern about the customer’s dissatisfaction with their store.  In fact, I find that shady. Well, Mr. Posner heard back from me quite promptly. He had misspelled disapprobation, so I asked him if he possibly meant disapproval, dissatisfaction, disfavor, especially on moral grounds? I told him I felt all those things about his establishment and questioned why he had contacted me in the first place? He responded to my email and told me I was asking for something I was not entitled to. He went on to say it would cost B&H dearly to grant my request. Cost them dearly? C’mon, this is an international superstore! Clearly, money is more important to B&H Photo than honesty, and more important than their customers.

Customer service is said to be the way a customer is treated before, during, and after the purchase. B&H Photo is void of customer service after they have your money, and they do not stand behind the products they sell. So please, do not buy from B&H Photo, and tell your friends and family not to buy from B&H Photo. They say they are not shady, but they are!

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2 thoughts on “Shady Business

  1. Wow, interesting to read about you experience. I was in NYC at the beginning of January on a quick weekend trip. I had been thinking about purchasing a Nikon I saw for sale on the B&H website, and figured since I was there I would save the shipping cost and purchase it in-store. I was never able to get over to their store, and now I am glad I missed that purchase opportunity. If I do get that Nikon, it sure will not be through B&H! I will take my business elsewhere. Good for you that you stuck by your guns, I agree that B&H should have stuck behind the product they sold to you.

    1. Thanks for your note. Yes, I wouldn’t of expected as much from them except for their blatant statement of such a wonderful return policy and then the fact that they contacted me and said they “wanted to repair my opinion of them.” Go figure.

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