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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Weekday Night Ride

This is the 2nd night ride we’ve taken since the time change; me, the dog, and the Vaya. It’s gotten pretty cold out there with the sun down. No wind, but it’s time for the lobster gloves and a little heavier jacket.  I also wore my new wool Buff.

                                                       city lights from the wetlands

I don’t have a lot of experience with night riding off road. But I have a good light on my handlebar; 900 lumens. I don’t really have to even run it on high, but there’s a lot of critters out and I’m afraid I might hit one of them. Tonight, a young duck was just sitting in the middle of the trail. I like being out there at night. First off, there’s very few people, and I can run the dog without a leash. I really like seeing the lights off in the distance. There was also a full moon tonight. Most of all, it’s quiet.

                                                                   dog investigating

I’m gearing up for my commute day. It’ll probably already be dark by the time I get to the BART station from work at the end of the day, and of course, it’ll be a lot different out on the road. Fortunately, most of the route is off-road.

                                                           the end; of the day…..and the ride 

Birthday Festivities

To start, I had a great ride on my birthday which I already posted about. That evening, we went out for Mexican food; one of my favorites. Saturday was reserved for an event we’ve done for the last 3 years, and I’ll talk more about that after some pics.  Here’s where we went…….

This is who we saw………

And this is where we sat.

Can you believe it? Center ice and in the 20th row! I hope you’ve figured it out already; a San Jose Sharks game. This is the third year in a row we’ve gone for my birthday and the 3rd year in a row they’ve lost. Last year we said to make sure we didn’t do this again, but we did. And, we said the same thing again last night. They really played horribly, I’d venture to say they sucked!

I have to say I still enjoyed myself. I’m a true blue (teal) Sharks fan, especially since my daughter played for their junior team for many years. Also, somehow hot dogs always taste better at a sporting event, especially when you wash it down with a good beer. So far I’m thinking to myself it’s been a pretty great birthday!

But wait, there’s more……..I’ve been fiddling with the idea of trying to do some commuting to work by bike, and I came up with this route from work to the BART station (I’m 35 miles house to work).  About 15 miles, two thirds of it along the SF Bay Trail. I don’t get off until 4PM, and as it’s winter out and getting dark by 5PM. A safe plan was to pre-ride this route so I’d wouldn’t get lost in the dark the first time I’d do the commute for real. So, we planned to ride the route today, Sunday morning.

K and I were thinking the birthday jinx was following us from the Sharks as the BART conductor informed us of electrical problems that were going to slow our ride to Oakland. But it ended up working out fine and we exited the Fruitvale station heading for the SF Bay Trail, only a few zig zags on the streets before we hit the dirt. Unfortunately (IMHO), the trail was not dirt but paved most of our route, but it was beautiful. We had incredible weather (a little crisp for the Bay Area; 33˚F at 7AM), sunny and little wind.

Here’s K, and you can see the trail behind her (and yes, a blimp up there too).

We rode around some park areas very near the Oakland Airport and then came upon these guys.

We hit a road block, due to construction, sending us via streets away from the direction we wanted to go. So, it being Sun. and no construction workers, we slid through the concrete barriers and took off. Unfortunately, there was a chain link fence between us and the Bay Trail. We were riding alongside the trail when K saw where the trail turned off to parallel the water’s edge with a gate wired shut. K pronounced she was not turning back which left it up to me to try to untie the wire. Success, just enough space to squeeze the bikes through. We closed the gate after us (shhh, we didn’t put the wire back, hoping the help out the next cyclist), and headed off in the direction we wanted to go, but not until we gave each other a high five!

After about 14 miles we stopped to split a Kind Bar and have some water. We both noted how clean and healthy the wetlands were looking in the area……….

Here’s the SF skyline off in the distance, on the other side of the bay.

All in all, it was a fabulous birthday!

Book Review

“Eat Sleep Ride” by Paul Howard.  Another book about riding the Tour Divide, this time from the point of view of an Englishman. Mr. Howard rode the TDR the same year as Jill Homer. I did a short post previously on her book about the same topic. Eat Sleep Ride is worth the read, but then again I love the subject.

I love reading both blogs and books that take me out into the world of Mother Nature, propelled by our own spirits and weary legs. I’d love to be one of them………

Solo Birthday Ride

Yep, today is my birthday. It started with a really bad headache which woke me up in the wee hours of the morning (so I called into work, sick), and proceeded to deteriorate with an overcooked egg and undercooked pancakes at one of the regular restaurants I frequent. You know how they ask you when you pay the bill how your meal was? I decided to tell the truth and they actually credited me the food, but not my coffee. Am I the only one who thinks that odd? I do appreciate the gesture, though.

I decided to take the bull by the horns and go for a ride. After all it was a beautiful day. Monday and Tuesday was fog, and Wed. and Thurs. were incredibly high winds. Today the skies were clear and blue, and as far as I could tell, no wind. I decided to check out a new section of the Bay Trail with the Vaya.

There was a little bit of foot traffic and a couple of bikes too; but most of all, the shore birds dominated.

This guy here was posing for me.

Here’s another………

The ride ended up being all on gravel; started in Mountain View and wound around the backside of Moffett Field, ending in Sunnyvale, not too far from Alviso. I took a wrong turn the first mile.

I backtracked and then found the correct gate with the bay on my left and Moffett Field, my right. Moffett is famous for blimp hangers and the Navy Air Corp which use to have a base here.

Tomorrow I may ride this again and check out how the trail intersects with the Guadalupe River Trail, both of these sections I’m scouting for a possible gravel race that I may develop for the area. So, there appears to be miles and miles of gravel. At least enough for a grinder.