B&H customer "service"
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.
i buy tons of stuff from them, but customer service they are not.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
Last edited by Paul Sorensen; 11-03-2005 at 12:10 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: added image
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.
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 email@example.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.
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.