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Old Nov 30, 2005, 10:51 AM   #1
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Here is my ethical problem. Brick and mortar places are too expensive, but with online retailers you don't get to handle samples before you buy. So, I've been going around asking ?s of the various camera shops to get info, then Idecide whatto order online. I feel bad that I'm mining them for info, knowing full well I'm not going to buy from them. I ask them if they can compete with B&H Photo prices, and they get this angry of look on their faces, and say "NO, we have to BUY our stuff at the cost they sell it for." Not being in the camera industry, I don't know if it is like the auto industry, where, for example, GM sells a truck to a dealership for $15,000, and then gives them a rebate for $2000. The customer only sees the factory invoice of $15,000 (and the absurdly overmarked MSRP price). The dealership secures their $2000 profit, plus whatever else they get the customer to pay. I wonder if brick and mortar cameraplaces get such rebates, making their argument a lie, because in fact what they reallypay Canon in the endis not the same as what B&H charges consumers.

Anyhow, as much as it seems unfair to these retailers, maybe they need to get out of the camera equipment sales markets if they are really hurting and become more service oriented and give up trying to sell product since they can't compete. I can't afford to throw my money away just to keep some guy in business.

I already know some of you are going to say something about how nice it is to have a retailer that you can return to if there is problems with equipment, or have a personal work relationship with, but I move around the country a lot, so I have no "home town" and secondly, I know Canon and BH photo have warranties for repairs. Oh, and there are no decent camera stores near me. They are all tiny shops with mabye 15-20 lenses on display.

The Walmartification of the camera industry is upon us I guess.
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 11:25 AM   #2
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I don't do it, but its a personal thing.
I'm lucky enough to have several good stores within reasonable driving distance (a Calumet, Hunt Photo... I guess I should include several Ritz Cameras, althought I don't like them much.) I'm not including places like Circuit City, but they do sell cameras.

So I have the choice to do research at places which have prices very close, but not as good as, B&H. And I build a relationship with the seller (I deal with the head buyer at hunt, a relative of the owner. When I dealt with Calumet I had one sales person I always went to.) This gets me good treatment and an understanding of my needs/wants. I bet if I said "if a return of a 1D MkIIN came in, I'd be interested" I'd actually get a phone call when it happened.

They admit they can't match B&H's prices, but they get within 10%. Take into account shipping and its so close as to not be worth the mail-order wait/hassle. I know people who have had to return multiple lenses before getting a good one. Doing that via the post office is no fun.

As to your direct issues.... I wouldn't do it. You are receiving a service from them but not paying them for it. I like to reward people when they do things for me. I've heard it said that you should at least tell them that you are only looking and might buy elsewhere. They (hopefully) will be polite but not give you the attention they would give to someone who knew they were buying from there. That strategy works for big stores, but it might not for the smaller ones around you.

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Old Nov 30, 2005, 11:44 AM   #3
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It is a dilemma, and I try to spread it around. I frequently visit a local "pro" photography store, and have asked them for information. I have also bought several hundred dollars worth of equipment from them. However, I confess that when it came time to buy a Canon L lens, I went online because the price was $200 less. Also, they don't keep many lenses in stock; I've been in twice looking for a Canon 50mm f1.4, and they didn't have one. I went just last week because I had an immediate need for a fast lens of some kind, and they didn't have anything faster than a 2.8. I was willing to buy almost anything, but they just didn't have it. I don't deal with the local Ritz store much because their prices are about 25% higher than B&H.
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 1:21 PM   #4
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I'm in the fortunate position of having a camera store that is prepared to match online prices, providing they are UK based Etailers.

I find the lowest price and very often the staff are surprised that theirhead office, (it's a national chain),sanctions the sale !

I feel far more comfortable about any potential problems, asthe consumeralso has a decent amount of protection here. The contract is between me and the seller and not the manufacturer, so they have to deal with returns.

I don't feel bad about the cheaper, matched prices, even considering the overheads incurred by 'bricks & mortar' retailers compared to web based. Let's face it, they are not going to sell it to me at a loss.

I know none of this helps you to 'clear' your conscience or make the right decision for you, but I suggest you persevere in future with getting a matched price and hand over your hard earned to your 'local' camera store.

OK, they may not match the lowest price, but as Eric S said, the little bit extra might be levelled off by the time you add shipping and time waiting, possible returns etc. And you will have peace of mind !
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 4:28 PM   #5
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That is exactly what is happening!
The local B&M's are disapearing because everyone wants only the lowest possible price instead of the service and knowledge the old shops provided.

For now you can still visit the remaining B&M's and hose them for their time, what will you do when they are all gone?
All that will be left are nice pictures of products on web sites, the UPS man, and toll-free calls to the nice customer support for returns of inadquate products.
press1 if your product shocked you
press2 if your product exploded.
press3 if there is green glowing goo dripping out of the product.
press0 to wait forever for a live Rep.

Myself I buy local when I can, and use B&H if a product is not available locally.

The Walmartification of the camera industry is upon us I guess.
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Old Dec 2, 2005, 11:53 AM   #6
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Same problems with buying digital camera huh? I've been in the car audio scene for along time and this topics gets brought a lot of times in the car audio board.

The thing is everyone is trying to save money, its just human nature to be cheap.:lol: I do a lot of shopping online vs going to the store and buy the stuff. I will admit that I go to the store and check out the stuff before I buy it online. But the stores that I go into are big chain store like best buy/circuit city. I hardly go to small mom and pop store because I dont want to take up their time and not buy anything from them. I dont really care about major chain store because they can afford it and most of the time the people there dont know jack about what they are selling. I would feel really bad if I take up an hour of a mom and pop store and make them loose a sale to someone else while they are helping me.
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Old Dec 5, 2005, 12:29 AM   #7
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Interesting what people will do to save money, isn't it? We don'tcareabout the businessor ethical practices of theBigBoxesof the world as long as they give us what we want. A lot of the time we don't even bother to check out the competition because we assume the big storeswill always give us the best deal.

I ordered my camera from a local retailer who not only promised to have it delivered in 2 business days, but sold it to me for a price no one else could match, even on-line. He also told meI could take the camera home and try it for a week or two, and ifI wasn't happy with ithe would give me a full refund.

If you need information about a particular camera, just Google it. Taking advantage of a Mom-and-Pop retailer forinformation or what-have-you knowing all the time you were never goingto buy from them is reprehensible. Just my opinion.
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Old Dec 5, 2005, 4:06 AM   #8
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Ihave a policy that I apply to pretty much everything I buy that relates to my many hobbies....

If it's not in stock at the local retail outlet I won't special order it and make two or three trips on the busy streets to get what I'm after...why should I ? If the retail shopcan't afford or does not want to stock what I'm after but still chooses to charge me top retail for a special order, which I'd have to wait a week or two foranyway, whywould I not succumb to buying my item online and having it dropped at my front door ?I'd probably besaving a few bucks and I'd alsobe avoiding thehassle of getting downtown after work, possibly paying for parking etc. Also if I order out of province or country I save paying sometaxes in most cases too. Thanks to the WWW we all now have one giant shopping mall at our finger tips...quite simply put B&W retailers have to get with itand start offeringincentives thatentice usto go to them first (and stay with them afterwards)before we go shopping online. I mean just becausethey offer local "walk in" before and after sales supportplus one on oneadvice don't cut it anymore....we can getthe sameone on one good adviceonline and nowadays most online shops provide great after sales support too should you have a problem, why wouldn't they...an online reputation is just as valuable as a local word of mouth reputation. All in all the retail world we live in is changing at a rapid pace...you will get those that complain about it or feel bad about it but it's all nothing new when you really think about it....when man first started riding horses he was instantly able to easily go to thefarawayvillage on the other side of the mountain for wares or supplies that werenot available in his home village, maybe too he found similar wares werecheaper and of better quality in the other village...but in the end it all probably ticked off the local village chief or localgoods trader because the gold went in somebody else's pocket.That's the same scenario as today...only today our horse is a network connection
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Old Dec 5, 2005, 2:55 PM   #9
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Oh.....I understand completely what you are talking about here. Both local pro shops in my area are way overpriced compared to online wholesalers. It is absolutely ridiculous to buy locally when I can get it much cheaper online from a very reputable wholesaler, and usually without any taxes on top of that.

I use BH Photo exclusively for all my photographic purchases and would recommend them highly to anyone.

They are a hugh New York company that knows how to treat there customers.

No, they are not the lowest priced company, but IMO they are the best. And we all know we will pay the extra $$ for service and reliability.

Also, I always would recommend using www.resellerratings.com to review an online store before purchasing.

IMO of course.
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Old Dec 6, 2005, 4:29 PM   #10
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I'm fortunate enough to work in NYC, so I go to B & H photo, ask questions, handle the product. Then I go home and order from them online and save sales tax

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