Quote; I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of dealing with Ilford's customer service--but they leave alot to be desired in some cases.
Personally, I've had great help from Ilford.
here's one scenario--you order a couple of cases of paper on a contract that says the product will be shipped the day it goes through--then wait three months for one of the sizes to be shipped--backordered.
or---you have a problem with one of their products--and show the results to a rep who tells you there's a tech bulletin on the product and they'll have someone get back up with you. Only that never happens. So, you send several emails to their tech support and never hear back either.
another--you pay $10K for a brand new processor sold direct from the company. Within the first year it breaks down repeatedly resulting in many service calls and several thousand dollars in parts. During this time, service calls are made with technicians from the company coming out to perform the work. After a year, with the bills adding up--you decide to go ahead and get the annual contract--which includes *unlimited free spare parts* and 2 free visits along with unlimited phone consultation. The company sends some of the same personnel out to verify the machine--and upon this visit notifies you that you have unfortunately purchased "one of the bad processors"--and at this time, they replace it with a new machine. Only after you--the customer--has tried for a year to figure out what is going wrong with the machine, and nobody on the other end of the line or coming out has ever mentioned that they had made about 50 processors that were being recalled.
or recently: the machine is down and needs some rollers. you call the company, with the parts manual & diagrams in hand--the numbers of the broken parts etc. All they have to do is to send the part out--as they often have done--under the obligations of the contract. Instead, you play phone tag for a full day. Finally, upon getting a live person on the line--they tell you the parts numbers are no longer valid--they've redone the diagrams &parts manual--only now there's NO cross referencing available--so they put you on the line with an engineer. You tell them the problem in exact terms relating to the parts diagram and the actual machine--and they tell you you're wrong. They'll have to get back with you.
Hours pass--they call back and say you need part number-___--the EXACT same part number as you originally gave them. They tell you (although you should have unlimited spare parts) that the part needed is hard to come by. They'll have to "cobble it together". It arrives the next day Fed EX though.
Or....a month or two later. Most recent.
The dryer winds up needing a complete set of rollers & bushings--this would be 4 total rollers. This time--a tech comes out to make the call.
For the unitiated here--without the $2K a yr contract, this visit would cost you around 750 bucks flat out for the visit alone, with another few hundred on top for the parts. Phone consultation with the company without a contract? 45 bucks minimum--more on top as time passes.
The tech comes out--fixes the problem. No problem. Tells you they quit making the machine though. They advise you buy a used one and stockpile it. You say "but then I'd have to stockpile a warehouse full of spare parts!" they say--"no, no spare parts are still being manufactured...say, we sent you something recently though huh?" you say "yeah, a set of fixer rollers" tech--"fixer rollers?! Boy, you were lucky! Those are getting hard to come by now."
should I go on?
thought of a couple more: the new machine's top (lid) warps after a year or two. The company hems & haws over it, yet replaces the lid. then, the tanks start slightly warping--so they come out and place spacer bars in them to reinforce the shape, yet a year or so later these have to be removed becuase they cause chemistry to carryover into the next tank. Or....the dryer. The dryers were painted with this stuff on the bottom that eventually corrodes & falls off into the tanks below. You say--send us a new dryer, under the contract. They won't do it. They do send a tech out who uses stainless wool to scrub the paint off--and shows you how to do this--which you have to do every couple of months as this crap falls into the wash tank. The new dryers are made with a different finish now, though, and don't suffer from this problem.
Or..there are a half dozen fuses on the machine--one blows and the machine goes down. you can't verify the fuse type though--put the call in and they tell you the unlimited spare parts doesn't cover fuses.
as we say:Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency.
hah--the memories keep flowing...
so you're fed up. you decide to try lodging a complaint about the phone service. but the only number you have to call is the one with the lousy service---so you do a google search and come up with another number. You call--and someone answers by demanding to know who you are & "why are you calling this number? is this a joke?". silence--you ask them if they're the company--they say so & so needs to call you back & they hang up. Time passes & someone calls back and says you need to call the other number. You say--well, that's the one I have a complaint about & voice your problems. They say "that shouldn't be happening. it shouldn't take that long to get back with you." end of story. yeah--tell me about it. two grand a year for unlimited free phone support and I can't even lodge a complaint.
did it make a difference? a bit--they actually call back faster now--there's probably a red flag next to our name though.
as we say:Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency.
tell us how you really feel. Don't hold back.
In Ilford's defense--the processing machine division was spun off into another different company a few years ago. The same technicians and everything--just a different name, and the contracts got a little bit cheaper and the service is better for the most part--only sometimes it harks back to the Ilford days of old--which had pretty spotty service.
I don't think they have much of a footprint in the US anymore. They were based in NJ for a long time--and made the chemistry for the US up there as well. Now it's shipped from England. You may have noticed the packaging changed a few years ago? This was an improvement actually--because I'd be surprised to find anyone working in a camera store or any dealer type area that doesn't have complaints about their old packaging. I think practically every order of chemistry we used to get (machine)--a good number of the boxes had some problems from leaking containers. Just this week, in fact, I tossed out an odd-jug of Fix I'd set aside a couple of years ago and forgot--the seal had busted in shipping and it had sulfided out....I can remember signing for orders after inspecting the boxes for shipping damage--and then unpacking the sets of chemistry (you used to have to order dev & fix for the machine in separate sets of 2 jugs each. a hassle, if one set was bad--you wind up with odd leftovers)--and finding maybe half a set had leaked out into the box--but you couldn't tell without opening the package. and since you can't return chemistry....
one time we ordered about a half-year's worth of paper from a contract vendor. The first shipment came and all the paper boxes were split open. So, we didn't sign for them & called the vendor. We wound up tossing this paper and they resent the order in better packaging. This order came with boxes inside all busted open as well. The boxes were split at the sides and you could see the black plastic bags. maybe they were okay, maybe not? At any rate---I'm talking about a 1500 dollar order or somethinglike that, so you figure it needs to be right. We tossed it--they resent it. Three times we did this song & dance--thinking what a bunch of idiots at the vendor--turned out to be partially their fault, but alot of the packaging came to them that way as well.
what are you gonna do? not much. when it comes to dedicated b&w machines--Ilford was about the only game in town for the past few years and those machines are widely used. I've heard similar stories from labs as well--machines down for days & weeks at a time--parts backordered, prints not being made because of backordered paper etc. There's a studio in my town with one of these same machines--and it's been down off & on and they don't have a contract. One of them was complaining to me recently how expensive it was just to get someone to talk to you on the phone.
You just don't hear about this stuff on these forums, but in reality, I've seen better customer service coming from Kodak--even with their machines, which coincidentally are history now as well.
----edit---funny: today, one of my coworkers was telling me about some conversation he had with a fellow from another lab. seems they were commiserating about the lack of response. This lab has been trying to buy an Ilford processor for a few months now, but the company won't return their calls. So--they go to one of the largest dealers in the state, and they can't get a response either. The machines are still in the product catalogs--it's only been in the past week or so that the rumor mill has been that they've quit making them. At any rate--it's too late for this lab--and even if they could get one, the sale has been blown more or less by the lack of response.
If you look at the totals of our contract--which is like an insurance policy on the processor. IF you add this up--it comes to more than $16,000. Then--add 100 bucks a month minimum for chemistry costs. That's almost 12 thousand dollars or more in chemsitry. Then--the amount of paper--which has been all Ilford for about half the time we've had the processor. No wonder the sales reps don't come by anymore--there's no sale to be made. It just perpetuates itself year after year.
It all adds up--- It shouldn't matter in the end how big or small the purchase is as to how you're treated as a customer--but you would think----that with 20 grand or more going back, that they'd return a phone call?
maybe it's a sign of things to come.
Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency.
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