Whatever Happened to Customer Service?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by ozphoto, Feb 4, 2012.

  1. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    Is customer service a dying breed nowadays? With so much moaning and groaning about people buying online etc, you'd think that suppliers/distributors would happily go that extra mile to help you out.

    Alas, it seems that this isn't so; and certainly *not* in my experience with a certain supplier in Australia. These guys deal with some of the big names - Bowens, LPL, Pentax. Leica and have the audacity to spout forth about *not* supporting Parallel & Grey Imports. (Really? When you won't even get off your butts to check on the availability of a requested product? And this isn't the first time this has happened!)

    I wanted to do the right thing and support my local retailer, who in turn, supports the distributors of the products they sell, so I asked about some parts and their availability. Well the warehouse had no stock, so that was it. No offer to order it in, no offer to check if they can get. Zero, zip, zilch. I was happy to pay for it, but they just didn't care enough to even see if they could get the parts in.

    So I contacted the manufacturer direct. Guess what they asked me to do? Yep, contact their AU distributor. I explained that their distributor didn't care about supplying me the parts - I'd asked them first. Upon hearing this, they happily checked their parts and availability and proceeded to give me a price.

    Their only major concern was the cost of shipping such a heavy item. I could select FedEx/DHL etc or sea-mail - choice was entirely mine. Well, sea-mail was the way to go (cheapest and I'm in no hurry), so that's solved all the problems.

    So I've had no choice, but to purchase a "Parallel/Grey Import" due to lack of customer service in AU - pretty poor when you think about it. Brickbats to the AU distributor.

    Kudos to LPL Japan - they have communicated with me quickly and addressed all my concerns promptly.

    Support your local distributor? Kind of hard when they won't support you. . . . . . . . . . :whistling:
     
  2. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    I am hearing you there Nanette (BTW, are you back in Aust?). Can I ask, was the product you were enquiring about to do with what may be deemed as part of obsolete technology? This distributor seems to treat anything to do with this obsolete technology as more of a pain then anything else.

    Co-incidentally, I have had dealings with the same distributor this week about a product that I own that has a known fault - while they acknowledged the issue may or may not be occurring to the product that I was using, they were very very cagey to say that something could actually be wrong....nearly going as far as saying that it was more then likely user error then a design fault.... (I.E., its not uncommon for electronic devices to start playing up when used on a day over 35deg C)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2012
  3. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    Hi Hoffy, no I'm back in BKK after spending Christmas home in ADL.

    It was for some LPL enlarger parts - column and counterbalance. Maybe they consider that "obsolete"? :D
    The other parts were Bowens Pulsar triggers, which last time I checked, you still needed with d*****l. . . . . . .
     
  4. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Hehe....if you had rung about the Bowens parts by themselves, you would have been OK! :whistling:
     
  5. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I actually went to see the rep in ADL personally about the Triggers.

    Perfectly simple question: Do these come as 2 pack kits?
    Answer: No! Definitely not!!

    Boy was I p***** when I found out they did and could have saved some good $$$. Plus they didn't want to sell me a complete Bowens 1200 Elite kit (although they did send 2 used heads they wanted full price for) and a Bowens Pioneer System x2.

    Calumet UK got the sale - $7k delivered.

    No wonder TPS is doing it tough - their suppliers don't want to support them either. . . . . . . :whistling:
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Sometimes I run into poor service in general retail stores.

    Jeff
     
  7. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Customer service was destroyed by customers demanding the absolute lowest price. No money left to hire enough qualified staff.
     
  8. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    Agree, but that's only half the story. The rest was employers demanding more and more of employees while treating them worse and worse, thereby maximizing productivity but minimizing employees' concern about how/whether they did their jobs well.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Back in the 80's the owner of quite a decent camera shop told me a story about one pontential customer wanting a complete 35mm camera outfit. Brian spent quite a long time (hours) going through 2 or 3 alternative systems over a few visits to the shop, he knew the customer slightly so was happy to help and he offered reasonable deals. The customer went away to think.

    Next time the customer went into the shop he thanked Brian for all his help and said he'd acted on his advice, he'd been able to buy what he wanted at a discount mail order shop saving a bit more money. Brian banned him from ever entering his shop again.

    Ian
     
  10. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I think I was that customer because the same thing happened to me about the same time. Not only was I banned, but I experienced the wrath of the shop owner and was publicly humiliated by him. That made me re-think my need to pinch pennies at the expense of a shop owner who spends the time to give good advice. All I can say for myself is that I was a poor college student at the time and really needed to pinch pennies. Since then I reward good cuatomer service with the sale... even when it costs a tad more. Regarding poor customer service... I deal with that appropriately: if the deal benefits me i go for it; otherwise I walk away and let them know my money is walking away with me.
     
  11. jscott

    jscott Member

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    I run a small storefront shop (not cameras, but we do extensive repairs) and I will tell you that we do pay attention to who the good customers are, and THEY are the ones most likely to receive the most favorable deals. The ones who have no loyalty, or "go away to think", not so much... And, yes, a few are outright banned, although we don't tell them that to their face, they just will find that their money isn't good in our shop.
     
  12. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    Loyalty is a two way street. I too agree that if a salesman, regardless of the product, spends considerable time with you, you owe them first shot at the sale. On the other hand, prices are often arbitrary. The owner can vary his markups. The owner should be willing to adjust his profit margins to fit the sale as well. Just because he spent time with you doesn't mean he can overcharge you either. If his price is considerably more than you can get elsewhere, he should be willing to be flexible. That's only smart business sense. There's nothing wrong with a purchaser asking the owner to do better than the ticket price. If I'm a regular customer, I would expect them to do that and they would be smart to work it out.
     
  13. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    They not only do what you describe Ian, but after they've bought the equipment elsewhere after wasting several hours of your time they come back to the shop with it and ask you to show them how to use it as if by divine right, and then can't understand why you're rude to them :sad:
     
  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The shop I was referring to had enough in the end of customers like that and Brian decided to retire and just close down, chances are you dealt with him in the 60's when he was involved in importing one of th major brands :D

    Ian
     
  15. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    The fact is that many people think that shops only reason for existence is for them to take advantage of and are completely bewildered because they can't understand and don't realize what they are doing wrong and why the shop staff become antagonistic when they have wasted their time, picked their brains, and bought the equipment somewhere else.
     
  16. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    My local store in AU are extremely helpful and go out of their way to accommodate my requests - to the extent of buying in bricks of 120 film they don't keep on the shelves.

    My original comments were directed more towards the wholesalers - if they won't go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction, and that can vary from enquiring further (per a request) to organising to get an order specially, how in the world can the stores we continue to support, stay in business?

    I'll be honest - any product that the wholesaler deals in, I truly think 2 or 3 times before purchasing, simply because they have *no* inclination to assist me, in any way possible.

    Sadly, this means they've missed out on $10k of my cold hard cash; their lack of Grey Import support, I couldn't care less about. . . . . .
     
  17. MartinCrabtree

    MartinCrabtree Member

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    I tried the local shop and while I was searching for a filter he walked outside and lit a cigarette. I found one I wanted and walked over to the counter. He continued to smoke and ignored me for 'bout 5 minutes while he talked with some workmen. I finally returned the filter to the shelf and walked out. As I walked away he asked" couldn't find one?" I just shrugged and left. Drove 70 miles to the next closest shop and bought what I needed. I give ya a chance but damn.
     
  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Another horror story from them. I know the distributor you are referring to, and this behaviour from them is very common as a way of protecting their territory and reputation (from what I don't know), rather than legitimately servicing customers owning equipment to which they are also obliged to service by the manufacturer (irrespective of whether it is new or obsolete).

    I heartily recommend on-line shopping, particularly from overseas, and stuff the Australian distributors. If that remark gets their blood boiling, good for them. They've had ample time to lift their game and compete. Online retailers will also service equipment returned to them, or exchange it, as has recently happened to me with eBay on two occasions. No troubles at all.
     
  19. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    Makes you wonder what "reputation" they're actually trying to protect. . . . . . :whistling:
     
  20. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Yes, it makes me wonder some times as well - and as much as they are not allowed to, I have heard they have been known to hold their retailers to ransom, even on certain product lines that they DONT supply themselves.

    As for the guys at TPS - they are the polar opposite. They are an example of the good in customer service.
     
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    You are a much nicer person than am I. Having been in that scenario once or twice I tend to leave the item on their counter and feel free to tell them that I found exactly but I was looking for but since they don't seem to want to sell it to me I had enough time to rethink the need and don't really need to buy it from them. Like you, i don't mind expending extra time/effort to go somewhere else but sometimes I wonder if I was biting off my nose to spite my face. But then I'm always willing to do it all over again when a business person acts like i'm doing them a favor trying to buy their wares.
     
  22. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    Wholesalers and distributors can be awful. HP Marketing in the States is one such organization. Our organization will simply not buy products distributed by them or purchase them overseas. And the large retailers are only good if you know what you want, if there is any complexity or if you need advice from them or if they screw up, the situation is simply a nightmare. The best you can do today is to find a company that has a good return policy and figure everything out for yourself.