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A damn near impossibly bad experience at a camera shop

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  • #2254
    ravnostic
    Participant

    Yesterday afternoon I took a full-size file of my winning weather picture to Tempe Camera Shop’s lab, intending to get it blown up as a gift to my aunt, who really liked the image (the same aunt who lent me a lot of money while unemployed, so now that I’m working OT and the stocks are vesting and I’m getting tax money back, yada yada). Planned on a 24″x16, on a metallic paper that really makes the colors *pop*; they have a beautiful red sunset poster up that I’d admired and I thought the golds might do as well.

    The lady who helped me suggested I bring in a tiff {50Mb, as it turns out} instead of a jpeg {4Mb} if I could, as I might get better results, so this morning I popped in with a a thumb drive. But the lab was closed, so I went to the sales/service dept. next door, who told me they could get it to her on Monday (for a test print and full-size strip to see what could work, if I could go larger, etc.)

    Well, I was in the camera shop–wouldn’t you all look around?

    I’d read about the Canon 50mm f/1.8, that it was a plastic body, some reviewers saying the auto-focus gave out, etc. It’s not a high-dollar item. But for $99, I thought it would be nice to have a prime. I didn’t even have my camera with me, but I bought one. Financially, things are looking ridiculously up, but there’s more important things for that money for the time being–a $500+ lens is still not in my near future.

    Got home 10 minutes later, pop the lens on the camera, lean over to take a picture of the cat, the focus shifts, and the front of the lens body pops loose.

    Well, ‘not high dollar’ and ‘falling apart upon opening’ are two different things. 10 minutes later (20 minutes, round trip), I’m back with the lens still on my camera, to request an exchange. The guy who sold it to me said I must have dropped it (mind you, this thing is in *mint* condition, appearance–not a blemish upon it, not even a cat hair.) I asked if there was a screw missing, something not assembled correctly, the guy said he’d take it down to service to look at it, or I could send it to Canon, and that certainly wouldn’t be a free service. I opted for him to have service there look at it.

    2 minutes later, he’s back up and said it had obviously been dropped, and showed me what initially appeared to be a plastic piece inside the housing that appeared to be whitened, like plastic does when it’s bent. I looked at it closely, and told him that it looked like white grease lubricant to me (it was.)

    So we go downstairs. The guy down there said ‘well, it’s just cheap plastic, I have a whole box of those…’ and I retorted, ‘and you’re still selling them, then, knowing this is an issue?’ He looked at it and pointed out a piece of l-shaped metal and said that it should be straight. I looked at it and said that that was the inner piece of the AF/MF switch, and it seemed to move about 30 degrees which, in one direction, was straight up-and-down.

    The first guy said I could come in Monday and talk to the manager, who wasn’t there today. I said, ‘look’, I’m not asking for a refund, I just want a replacement part for a lens I came in not 20 minutes from purchasing. The second guy said he’d look at it and see what he could do. I asked how long it would take, and he said he’d have it by the end of the day.

    So I left. By the time I got home, an 8 minute drive later, I thought about the ‘plastic broken piece’ story, and the ‘bent metal’ story, and knew neither of these situations were the case intuitively, and decided to go back, get my lens, get my thumb drive (didn’t think I’d trust them with that, even), and bring the lens home, take some macros with my Tamron and the Darlot, and get some help from maybe Orionid or one of you other gurus who (in my estimation) might be able to help a bit more.

    8 minutes later (I’d not even left the car), I’m back, and I ask for the lens, tell them I still didn’t want a refund, but I felt I could get better help elsewhere, and the kid (guy number 3) says he’ll get the owner, who’s looking at it, who turns out to be guy number 2.

    “No manager on Saturday” indeed.

    He comes back up with my new lens in pieces the body of which was obviously absent of them[/i] and asks that I give him 30 minutes, that he thinks he can get it back in working order.

    My confidence was, shall we say, flagging. I’d brought it in, not quite assembled correctly, and here it was mangled and apart. I told him I’d wait the 30 minutes. I wander the downstairs service area admiring a whole assortment of toys someone had brought in from a rental. I notice guy number one upstairs, who seemed a bit pissed to see me downstairs.

    About 20 minutes later, Guy number 2, the owner (I’d by now read all the signage, seen the ‘Canon thank you plaque, 10 years authorized servicing’, the various kudos from New Times magazine (Best Camera Shop 1999, etc.,) but I was not hopeful. He finally says, to be honest, I can’t see any signs of damage, and I don’t know why this happened, I got it back together and it works fine in manual, but the auto focus won’t seem to work, and tells kid number 3 to go upstairs and get me a replacement lens.

    Which is all I’d asked for in the first place. Takes the kid about 5 minutes to go upstairs, grab one of 4 on the shelf in plain-eyed view using the original box I’d brought back with me as a guide (probably spent the time dicking around with guy number one, who likely wasn’t thrilled his line wasn’t bought and I was getting what I rightfully deserved over his dead body), and bring me the replacement lens. Which I most certainly placed upon my camera body and tested out looking down, going in close, focusing far and high, taking pictures of nothing at no particular setting to reassure myself that I would not be twice bitten, having been once’d shy’ed.

    A very different experience than I’d had yesterday in the picture lab area. And, at least, the owner made good on it, said at the end that ‘so long as it’s together and in one piece, we can get credit and a replacement for it.’

    So–why all the hassle in the first place? 20 minutes from purchase to return. Two hours later, I’m writing this beef-‘blog’ about the experience.

    I sure hope to hell I get better service when I return to the lab to look at the proof and full-size image test strip for the museum-mounted print for my aunt (and also one for me, of a slightly smaller size.)

    Caradoc, Kashari, any other Phoenician farktographer–any similiar stories to tell of Tempe Camera, and might you possibly be able to suggest a better place where I might soon take my xTi to be serviced and not worry it will get mangled?

    //not particularly fantastic photo of my cat through the new lens, but it’s all I was going for in the first place:

    #38544
    caradoc
    Participant

    Truthfully, I don’t buy much at Tempe Camera.

    I pick up the occasional folding reflector, lightstand, and peruse their boxes of secondhand/consignment parts for stuff I can repurpose (like the Flip-Frame flash holder I now use to hold my lightning trigger), but mostly I buy big-ticket items like lenses and bodies…elsewhere.

    I picked up my D7000 at PhotoMark for a couple of reasons, the primary being they had one in stock and Tempe Camera did not, while Adorama, B&H, and Amazon were all listing it at exactly the same price I paid (minus taxes, plus shipping) and zero in stock.

    I’ve had my D80 serviced once at PhotoMark, once at Tempe Camera – didn’t notice any difference in what they did.

    (And just for giggles, here’s one of the first images I ever shot with my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 – which is Nikon’s version of that lens. Paid $99 for it… but it didn’t fall apart. 😉 )

    #38545
    nobigdeal
    Participant

    Always take the lens out of the box and inspect it before buying. If they won’t let you inspect it, buy it somewhere else.

    #38546
    orionid
    Participant

    Always take the lens out of the box and inspect it before buying. If they won’t let you inspect it, buy it somewhere else.

    That’s what I like about B&H whenever I’m in NYC. “I’m looking for a fisheye for a nikon, preferably full-frame, but DX is okay.” “Here, try these three, see how you like them.”
    If you don’t hook it up to your camera for a few test shots, they look at you funny.

    #38547
    nobigdeal
    Participant

    Always take the lens out of the box and inspect it before buying. If they won’t let you inspect it, buy it somewhere else.

    That’s what I like about B&H whenever I’m in NYC. “I’m looking for a fisheye for a nikon, preferably full-frame, but DX is okay.” “Here, try these three, see how you like them.”
    If you don’t hook it up to your camera for a few test shots, they look at you funny.

    A good camera shop will put the lens on a demo camera for you if you don’t have yours handy.

    #38548
    ravnostic
    Participant

    Well, live and learn–my original lenses came with the camera so I’d never bought one. I did question the mount and if it would fit–they did slap it on to an EOS, but then slapped it right back off–I didn’t inspect it (my bad). I’m glad they relented and gave me a new lens. I did wind up going back later and bought another, a 75-300 mm f/4-5.6 canon brand telephoto; which I DID inspect (once bitten as I’d said–and it’s far better build than the 50mm) and taken a few snaps with my camera while I waited the first time around; having gone home, looked at the images on the ‘puter, compared to my Tamron; I found the image a good bit sharper, with the same CA, but more evident due to add’l clarity–but with the Canon brand I can correct for this considerably using DPP–can’t do that wit the Tamron. Used, it was $139 (it’s not the fast focus one (USL?)–they had that for more–but then my Tamron isn’t either). I can sell the Tamron on ebay for $60-90, history shows, so that works out less than the 50mm.

    #38549
    Curious
    Participant

    there are roughly 90,000 folks in city and surrounding area. and only 250,000 in the parish so camera stores have reduced to one. and it’s a half hour away. new orleans has a dozen or so but that means 45 minutes to an hour and often fighting with parking. net result is buying online. all the stuff for the D3000 beside the body and kit lens (two lenses, extra battery, wireless remote, extra SD cards, ext tube set, etc) came from NY camera shops. some via amazon.

    but all that was bought new except for the 18-105mm which was factory refurbished. i do miss not being able to browse the used stuff. we used to have (mid ’80s) several camera shops and i did find some good used bodies and lenses.

    glad everything work out for you rav.

    #38550
    ravnostic
    Participant

    glad everything work out for you rav.

    I just hope the prints I originally went for come out as spectacularly as I imagine they can. If so, I’ll be a happy man. I will want to post images of them if so, but then–how do you post an image of a fantasically mounted/printed picture and capture the reason why it is so? So…probably won’t. But I’ll at least mention it.

    #38551
    caradoc
    Participant

    I just hope the prints I originally went for come out as spectacularly as I imagine they can.

    The last set of prints I had done at Tempe Camera turned out spectacularly well.

    That said, I’ve since been getting my prints through Blue Cube Imaging. Much lower cost, and easy to deal with.

    He’s got some pricing lists on his Model Mayhem page.

    #38552
    Curious
    Participant

    I will want to post images of them if so, but then–how do you post an image of a fantasically mounted/printed picture and capture the reason why it is so? So…probably won’t. But I’ll at least mention it.

    do it. we won’t get anywhere near the full effect but we’ll see the image and perhaps some of why the printing medium works. my sister sends me photos of photos all the time. stuff she has shown or is showing. may lack the impact but it’s nice to see what she likes and is doing.

    #38553
    ravnostic
    Participant

    caradoc–one of the fears I have with ordering online is whether the colors will come out the way I want them/expect them to be. I like the idea of seeing a test copy before the large image is printed. That being said, if what I’ve given them turns out to be correct for what I want the end result to be, I may likely order more copies through Blue Cube. If I really like how it turns out without them having to alter what I’ve submitted to them, I might go hunt down a place to hang it and offer limited prints, some coffee shop in Tempe or some such (I’ll be back to ask about that if so).

    Curious–perhaps I will!

    #38554
    caradoc
    Participant

    I ran a set of test prints through Blue Cube before ordering the “large” prints.

    This one looks fricking awesome at 30″ wide on metallic glossy…

    #38555
    ravnostic
    Participant

    I’ll bet, caradoc That’s my favorite shot of yours. You should be selling that one.

    #38556
    caradoc
    Participant

    I’ll bet, caradoc That’s my favorite shot of yours. You should be selling that one.

    I am.

    #38557
    EdenLiesObscured
    Participant

    some odd goings on there, especially the lying about the manager’s/owner’s presence. that’s very screwed up. did you chastise him? question him?

    i love my Canon 50mm f/1.8. it does focus slowly, but for less than $100 it’s been the best camera purchase.

    for prints, check out whcc.com — they even allow test prints. when i joined (for free) last year, i uploaded 5 different shots and they sent each in an 8×10 (for free). i really haven’t compared their prices to other companies, but i’ve liked what i’ve ordered.

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