B&H customer "service"

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by cvik, Nov 3, 2005.

  1. cvik

    cvik Member

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    22 september I bought some darkroom equipment from B&H. The delivery time was 10-14 days. In october the whole store went for a holiday (2 weeks combined) and they added a "check our holliday schedule"-warning to their homepage. I rechecked a few days after the last holliday ended - nothing had happened and my order was still "processing". Yesterday, after more than 5 weeks since my order, I sent them an e-mail telling them to cancel it as I rather take my business elsewhere. Few hours later I got an e-mail - apparantly unrelated to the one I sent - telling me that they are "pleased to inform me that the order has been shipped". Today, I got a reply on my order cancellation telling me they currently don't have time to answer all e-mails and that I must call them if I want to get my question answered quickly.

    I've heard about B&H before so I used them to buy equipment i had trouble finding elsewhere.

    Bad really, as I planned to buy a lot more from them. Guess I'll just find another store to stock up on agfa film and paper.
     
  2. PeterDendrinos

    PeterDendrinos Member

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    i buy tons of stuff from them, but customer service they are not.

    Pete
     
  3. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    I, too, buy tons of stuff from B&H. I've only had one issue with them, luckily. They forgot to pack an item in the box that everything else was packed in and they waited to ship it until I called them on it. I guess they were hoping I would overlook it. Pete is right, customer service is not one of their strong points, unfortunately.
     
  4. wfe

    wfe Member

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    I buy tons of stuff from them also and have not had any trouble. I had to return an expensive item once and they were very helpful and even paid the freight to ship it back. My advice is to work around their holiday schedules as it is very disruptive to their process. I visited the store this past summer and it is an amazing place. Anything that you buy goes onto a conveyer system and you don't touch the goods until you have paid for them and are on your way out of the store. Thye have what I would describe as cattle shoots that you go through to pay and exit.
     
  5. laz

    laz Member

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    It is so hard for those not familiar with the highly orthodox religious life the proprietors of B&H lead to understand what it means to be "closed for the holidays." In all of October B&H was open for only 9 full days.

    Please respect their faith and understand that for a business as large as B&H this puts them very far behind.

    -Bob
     
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I don't buy lots from them but I've always been treated well. Yup if it's a holiday don't expect your email answered or your order shipped but then once I sent an email to a French company on Bastile day. They didn't answer until after the holiday.
     
  7. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I have always done well with them as well, but have never had to cancel an order or return anything. On the order confirmation email it does indicate that you must call them to make changes to an order. I agree that it would be better service if they could respond to emails in a timely enough manner to do it that way as well, but this is very prominently mentioned in the confirmation emails I have received.

    Edit: I have added an image of the email I was referring to.
     

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  8. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Sounds like a combination of circumstances involved that caused the problems.

    I've been lucky and I've been buying stuff from them almost since the beginning of their opening the mail order business. The only time I ever had to return anything, it was handled politely and promptly and I was more than satisfied. I had ordered a grey-market lens that was defective and they replaced it with one that had a USA warranty. I thought this was an excellent gesture on their part since the price difference was over $200 for this particular lens.

    Considering the holiday schedule, the overseas shipment and the mis-communications on the email vs phone call, I would cut them a little slack.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Laz makes an important point, and it is worth noting that most of the large photo retail outfits in New York are historically Orthodox Jewish businesses that follow the same calendar with considerably less efficiency than B&H. If you ever have a service issue with B&H, e-mail Henry Posner at henryp@bhphotovideo.com, and he is very good about setting things right.

    And if you're in the city and need film on Friday afternoon, there's Calumet, but note that the non-Orthodox photo places like Calumet and Photo Gizzmo tend to follow a professional schedule, meaning they are closed on the weekends, while Adorama and B&H are open Sundays.
     
  10. cvik

    cvik Member

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    Laz: For me, this has nothing to do with faith or religion, and I care less about the reason. If the company was two weeks in Bali, celbrates sokkus or ramadan or whatever the reason - it just don't matter to me. However, speaking of religion, I do find it odd that such a large store actually closes during a holiday. I doubt all employees belong to the same religion, but then again I wasn't aware that they live highly orthodox religious life.

    5-6 weeks delivery time is way too much in any case. I was not informed about their upcomming schedule when I ordered and my order clearly said 10-14 days delivery. Still, they had working days between the different holidays. Then when i finally cancelled my order they sent a mail a few hours later telling me they just sent it and changed status from "processing" to "shipped". Coinsidence? Maybe.

    Paul Sorensen: Guess I should have read the order confirmation more thoroughly. I checked it now and it says that since they usually ship as soon as they can after the item has been ordered one must call them to have it changed. Not exactly the case here, but, of course it could be that they, some days after their vacation, few hours after I sent them an e-mail telling them to cancel it, at the same time processed the order in another department. I probably should have called them, but I didn't want to call international and I prefer to have things written.

    The order has been sent and it was already paid for so I'll leave it there. Just wanted to share my story. It's not a huge problem to me - and there are always other stores in the world where I can spend my money.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Actually a pretty large percentage of the B&H staff is Orthodox. I doubt they have enough non-Orthodox employees to keep it running during the holidays, and even if they did, they still might close as a matter of principle.
     
  12. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I have often wondered the same thing. I know they lose a little business during this time, but I am sure that they know that as well. If I worked there I wouldn't complain since I would get a long vacation with no religious obligations, but as a customer it is an inconvenience.

    I order stuff from Freestyle mostly when they are closed for a long holiday, but I have also never bought something that will ship within two weeks about two weeks before the holiday. Something to think about certainly if ordering something from them that is not in stock.
     
  13. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    When I worked in the photo store, we bought alot of our supplies at B&H, Freedom and a couple of the others back east that are all run by Orthodox Jewish, and you would be surprised at the time that we were ordering from B&H and Freedom, in both those companies, exactly one employee was not Orthodox Jewish, I visit back that way once and went around to the many suppliers we were buying from and it reminded me of the diamond trade when you visited their facilities, really a great many of the guys wore the little hat(forgot the name of it) and had the curls, they are indeed very highly orthodox business's

    Dave
     
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  15. esanford

    esanford Member

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    I have dealt with B&H for years and I am very used to the religious issues associated with doing business with them... The good news/bad news is that they are probably the last completely stocked and best priced outlet in the industry. It's basically twice a year (fall and spring Jewish Holidays) and Saturdays where there are issues. I have also visited the store and 99% of the staff is Orthodox Jewish individuals.

    OK team, this organization is pretty liberal here, and I thought that as mostly liberals, we try to value diversity:smile:. I find that that with all of their warts, they are probably the best place on the entire planet that you can still shop for photo equipment of any kind. To me, I just try to work around the religious issues; also, I tend to purchase things in bulk and it is very predictable when I am going to run out of products.
     
  16. laz

    laz Member

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    Paul pretty much answered this. But I have to say that while you may not care what the reason, it is still a matter of each of us understanding and respecting the beliefs, traditions, the differences between human societies. There would be a lot less trouble in this world if we could all do so.
    -Bob
     
  17. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I hope that I didn't come off as insensitive. I also wonder about Hobby Lobby, for those who know them, since they close on Sundays for similar religious reasons. I find it perfectly appropriate that they decide to close on those days. Of course, I also find it perfectly appropriate for me to find another source when I want to get something and they are closed. I am certain that they are aware of this and are willing to lose the business on principle. I actually have great respect for that.
     
  18. roteague

    roteague Member

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    A persons political leanings, should have nothing to do with whether they value diversity or not. Valuing others should go beyond political labels; it is a matter of treating others as you wish to be treated. FWIW, I am deeply conservative.
     
  19. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I am not Jewish, and i am not crazy about the level of customer service, however, i always respected them for " putting their money were their mouth is", so to speak.

    It is very costly to close up a business.
     
  20. JustK

    JustK Member

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    Hi, I am sorry you had such a bad experience with B & H, I almost got caught with their holiday schedule this past October too, I put an order in at 11:56 PM, four minutes shy of their midnight deadline, I thought no way will my order make it, but it was processed immediately, and like all my previous orders, it was at my door within two days, now that's what I call customer service, the holiday shut-downs may at times be inconvenient, but their competitive prices make up for it in my estimation, I don't work for B & H, but I recommend them all the time, I hope you give them another chance, good luck!
    Cheers, Krystyna
     
  21. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I'm not that familiar with B&H (only ordered through them a couple of times), but it is possible they are not real rigid on the deadline time. Jewish holidays always start at sunset the day before (as does the Sabbath day), not midnight like most people expect.
     
  22. laz

    laz Member

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    Their ordering deadlines do not co-inside with the start of the holiday or sabbath. The deadlines are in advance of the holiday to allow time for the orders to be processed and sent out before the start of the holiday. B&H closes early on every friday to ensure that everyone is home before sundown.
    -Bob
     
  23. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    As David stated, the photography supply houses in NYC are alnost entirely Orthodox Jewish enterprises. Before B&H became the dominant store (with Adorama in significantly second place) there were a number of such enterprises (which shall remain nameless) that made your worst imaginable experience with B&H seem as if you were dealing with your own family on a good day by comparison. I've had the impression, bolstered by many dealings with B&H and Adorama, that they've made a firm and consistant commitment to never allow that kind of reputation to form about any aspect of their dealings with customers (in fact, their check out staff seem almost to be rehearsed in courteous behavior when you speak to them). So...yes, they have bad days like anyone else, but they're light years ahead of what such places used to be, and no worse than other businesses of similar size.
     
  24. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Yes, thanks for clarifying that, it is in advance. I haven't looked at their calendar on-line, but I know that this year, for example, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) started at sunset on October 12th, so I assume their deadline would have been midnight October 11th.
     
  25. katcall

    katcall Member

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    Hi all

    I love B&H. Yes love. I was able to buy a brand new Nikon Lens from them for the same price I would have had to pay for a used one here in Australia. Won't even tell you the price of a new one for fear of having to breathe into a paper bag. Having never bought from them prior to this I had lots of questions which they promptly answered by email. I received my lens in less than seven days from when I ordered it in perfect order. It's a great lens. And I didn't even have to pay any GST or duty on it here. Even more of a bargain.

    Here in Melbourne we have a public holiday for a horse race (Melbourne Cup, last Tuesday). Even though some shops are open (offices are closed) people just accept that is the case (not too hard to accept let me tell you), I would never like to see that taken away because money is more important. Actually, I think there would be civil war if any government tried to take Melbourne Cup off the public holiday list. I think it's nice that someone is continuing their tradition, it's not hurting anyone else, a little inconvenient maybe but I think they more than make up with it in what they offer. I know that 5 weeks is probably too long and I wouldn't be happy about that either, but it obviously has to do with their closing and timing rather than being a normal level of service from them. Not that anyone has to purchase from them because there are other choices but when I did a search on them prior to making a purchase they came up the best in terms of other peoples experience with them and purchases made. Lots of complaints about other stores on the internet so I stayed away from those.

    I don't mind a little loss of customer service (not that I have experienced that with them) to have access to the great choices and prices that B&H offer. Just as an addition to that since finding this forum I have also ordered and received film from J&C. Also great service and prompt delivery. Once again I have 25 ISO film to use again which I can't buy here.

    Regards


    Kathy
     
  26. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    I've dealt joyfully with B&H for a LONG time. They are efficient, economical and reliable. As with all things, consider who you are dealing with, accomodate their lives, and prosper together. They are the champion in reliability, and the most dependable photosupply place I know.

    For what it's worth, I don't work on Sunday, and shut things down 2 weeks before Christmas. If I can keep holidays, it is my joy THEY can keep holidays.

    .