Friday, February 15, 2008

Through the looking-glass.

Yesterday, I had a somewhat unfortunate experience with a local Kansas City business. Let me preface my story by saying that I try to support locally-run businesses whenever possible. However, I am not made of money, so I also like to get the most for my money when making a purchase.

As a Valentine's Day "together" gift, we wanted to invest in a new lens for our camera. After much research (yay for Mr. Awesome's research skills), we decided on the Tamron SP AF17-50 lens. Mr. Awesome called Wolf Camera, since it was the closest to us, and asked if they had the lens, and how much it costs. The girl we talked to was really great - she told us that her store didn't have it, but that the store at 110th and Metcalf did, and quoted us a price that sounded perfect.

But I like to support the "little" guy when I can, right? There's a local camera shop up north called Photographx Unlimited that we knew had an excellent selection, and since we'd had positive experiences buying equipment from them in the past, we called and asked if they had the lens in stock and what their price was. It was $50 more expensive than from Wolf. So I asked the guy if he would match the price, since we wanted to buy it from them, and we wanted to buy some other accessories at the same time. The guy puts me on hold for about a minute.

He comes back, and I hear another guy in the background laughing pretty hard. The guy I was talking to is kind of snickering, and he says, "Um, yeah, we can't do that." He keeps snickering. The other guy is still laughing at something apparently hilarious, and it's getting obvious at this point that they really don't give a shit about making any money off of me at all. I ask, "Really? Because we would like to get it from you, but $50 is a pretty big difference. We'd like to buy some other stuff from you, too." He says, "Yeah, alright," then hangs up on me. It's at this point that I decide we're not buying anything from them again.

I start to think about the other experiences we'd had purchasing stuff from Photographx Unlimited, and looking back, they pretty much always made us feel like we were some sort of photography noobs, which we are, but Jesus Christ on a cracker, don't make someone feel inferior when they are trying to learn something. So I don't know what type of lens or flash or tripod I need - that's why I'm asking you, the experts, the supposedly-friendly neighborhood camera guys. Customer service tip: Remember that your expertise in a particular field doesn't give you free license to sigh, roll eyes, act irritated, etc. when people ask you about it when you work in a store that specializes in said field. If you only want to talk to people who know about cameras, hang a sign in the window that reads, "Photography experts and professionals only. All others stay out."

Now, I know that part of supporting local businesses includes paying a bit more. I'm okay with that in alot of cases, but when I know that they are going to make a huge profit even when the do knock some off the price, when they know I'm going to potentially spend way more on their products in the future, then I think it's okay to expect a wee bit of give and take. I don't think my request to Photographx Unlimited was out of line.

So I called Wolf Camera on Metcalf and they had one in stock, which they graciously held for us until we picked it up yesterday evening. The guy that helped us at Wolf were incredibly nice and really knew their stuff. Guess where we will be going in the future?

The good news is that our lens is just as great as we hoped it would be. Lots of photos to come in the future.

12 comments:

  1. That's always been my problem with record shops too. They feel like they can lord their superior knowledge over customers.

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  2. It's not always WalMart's fault. Some places are shooting themselves in the foot without external help.

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  3. Overland Photo Supply on Metcalf is pretty much the same way. Every time I walk in, the same man and woman (ostensibly the owners) give me this what-the-hell-do-you-want look before I even say anything. They look even more irritated when I start taking professional-grade film out of the cooler, as if they're thinking, "Are you qualified to use that stuff?"

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  4. Try Overland Photo Supply Inc. 8967 Metcalf Ave Overland Park, KS 66212, Family owned and just the nicest folks. They bend over to help the novice and the pro, without condicending to either.

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  5. My girlfriend has an old Asahi Pentax with a broken light meter that she wants to replace, and which also has a couple of other problems. So I forwarded her your post.

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  6. If you want a non-snooty record shop try Zeebeedee's (sp?). It's on the 39th street restaurant row that is just east of KUMed, on the north side of the street. A red house.

    They've got a good selection of CDs, Used records, and they sell turntables plus posters. Nice guys, and no attitude at all the three times I've bought stuff there.

    Anybody know any other quality used music stores? Paying a buck for an ephemerial Mp3 makes me a sad panda.

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  7. The folks at Overland Photo Supply are wonderful and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of photography. I heartily recommend them.

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  8. I have noticed that in the store you write about too. I will not be going to that place again. I have had mixed results with the store on Metrcalf (it is closest to me). But surprise! Wolf has helped me out every time I asked a question, even if it was,"I am not sure, let get that information for you." That works for me. That is an honest assessment, and I feel I am not getting screwed at that point.

    I am too am fairly new to this field (Have a new XTi). How is that Tamron? Was it worth the money?

    Snobs suck!

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  9. Be sure to check out Crick Camera at 7715 State Line. They cater to everyone.

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  10. This is not the first time I've heard about the rude and pretentious staff at Photografix Ulmtd. Like Howdoyoudo, I also recommend Crick Camera on State Line. My only complaint is that their prices tend to hover closely around the MSRP, which means that for the "local experience", you'll typically end up paying $150 more than you would online. Great for instant gratification, though.

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  11. [...] I wrote of my experience with Photographx Unlimited, I had a strong suspicion that Tony would link to it, which would give it way more exposure than my [...]

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  12. [...] had some pretty poor customer service experiences lately. I wrote about the one with Photographx Unlimited, but didn’t write about the one I had a couple of weeks ago at Costco, because honestly, I [...]

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