The Quest for a Camera
A True Story
Several years ago, I bought a 35mm camera from the retail store in which I worked. It was a simple "Single Lens Reflex" camera. This SLR camera had a built-in light meter, but everything else was manual. I also purchased a wide-angle lens as well as a zoom lens. I have taken several rolls of film with this camera and some incredible pictures as a result. I have been quite pleased with it, but we have entered the digital age, and it was time to upgrade. Thus began my quest for a new camera!
Digital cameras have been around for several years, but I have never been fond of point and shoot cameras. They just do not offer the same flexibility that my SLR does. Thus, my first goal was to get a digital SLR. However, these have been quite expensive in recent years. Recently, digital SLRs have dipped into my price range. Further, a model that would work with my current lenses has become affordable. Thus, I had accomplished the difficult part of this quest. I know what I want, I just need to go and get it. It sounded simple enough, but I did not anticipate what was in store for me.
With the make and model firmly established, I jumped aboard the information superhighway with my pal Google by my side. There were many retailers offering the desired camera, so desiring the best deal, I decided to go with the retailer that offered the lowest price. I placed my order with this internet retailer.
The retailer wanted a great deal of unnecessary personal information. Thus, instead of giving my current phone number, I gave them my old number. I had it disconnected a short time ago, but records show it for my name. There was little reason to give them my phone number since they had my e-mail address. If they needed anything, I expected them to e-mail me the questions. However, they did e-mail me that they had some questions about my order, and that I should call them.
I thought it was odd that an internet retailer would slow down an order and increasing their cost by forcing me to speak to a person. However, I placed the call, and I spoke to a person with an east coast accent.
"We's got a few questions fer ya," he began. "First I wants to thank ya for yer order, and I wants to make sure yous knows dat dis camera doesn't have no lenses."
"I am aware of that," I responded.
"Good," he continued. "Dis camera needs a memory card. Does ya wants to order one now?"
"No thanks," I answered.
"Okay, dat's fine," he went on. "It needs battries. Does ya wants ta order some battries ta go wit it?"
"I don't need any batteries thanks," I told him.
"Very good, very good," he said. "Now does ya wants dis camera in English or Malaysian?"
"English of course," I answered.
"English?" he queried. "Well dat'll cost ya $200 extra."
"What?" I inquired.
"Yah, de English version is $200 more," he told me.
"You can cancel my order," I stated.
I would have never guessed there were still businesses doing the old "bait and switch." I was shocked. I wondered if what they were doing was legal, but my quest was still unfulfilled. I had met my first challenge and I ended up empty handed. Never fear, Google had more retailers. I was going to have to pay a little more, but not $200 more.
The next retailer offered free shipping which made it just a few dollars more than the first retailer who charged $30 for shipping. I placed my order and once again did not offer them my current phone number. Why do these internet retailers ask for a phone number? I do not wish any telemarketer to call me, so why would I want these retailers an option to sell my information? Upon placing my order, the retailer once again emailed me informing me that they had some questions about my order. "Oh no here we go again!" I thought.
I called, but I got voice mail. It must be standard procedure for camera retailers to waste money requiring a phone call. I tried a few times to get a hold of a person that day, but I got nothing. The next day, I finally spoke to a person (with an east coast accent) and he informed me that because I had a disconnected phone number that they canceled my order.
From that experience, I came away with the idea that every camera retailer is on the east coast of the US, and that they all want to try to sell accessories to your camera order before they ship it. While it was discouraging, I ventured onward. There were plenty of camera retailers on the net. I just had not contacted the right one. I picked another one and placed my order. With shipping costs, it was in the same price range as the others. I placed my order with my old phone number, I got the e-mail informing me of some questions, and I was ready for anything.
I called them to find that this individual did not have an east coast accent. Once again, the retailer asked me about batteries, memory, and lenses. I continued to inform them that I did not need anything but the camera itself.
"Well then," he stated. "We'll have this packaged up and sent to you right away."
Was I actually going to get the camera I wanted? Was this the end of my quest? I was eagerly anticipating a package when I got an e-mail informing me that the camera was on backorder. That was fine; I did not need the camera immediately. I could wait a short while. I waited 2 weeks, and I had not heard anything about my camera. Thus, I sent an e-mail to this retailer's customer service address. A few hours later, I received an e-mail stating that I had canceled my order. "That's odd," I thought. "I didn't cancel my order; I just wanted to know my status."
Shortly afterwards, I received a second e-mail informing me that by my request the order was canceled. This e-mail was informing me of the status of my order. "Doesn't any internet retailer want to sell anything?" I thought to myself. "Is it so difficult to fill out an order without so much fuss? Why can I not get this camera?"
I was going to try one more time. I decided that if this last retailer did not work, I would give up my quest. I would return to my life without the camera. I would accept defeat. I placed my order in the usual way with the disconnected phone number. To my surprise, I did not get an e-mail. However, it was odd that I did not even get a confirming e-mail. After a few days, I still had not heard from this retailer. I began to get worried. A few more days passed, so I decide to check the status of my order from their web site. To my astonishment, it stated that my camera had already shipped. Was I actually going to get my order without having to speak to a sales representative? Would my quest finally end?
There it was my new camera. Because of a configuration error on their end, I did not get a confirmation e-mail. However, I did get my camera. What an arduous journey! It was a long and difficult road, but I did get my camera. It takes great pictures too. I had fulfilled my quest, and my life has returned to normal. I hope I never have to suffer through such poor customer service again, but I probably will. Buying a camera should not be that difficult, but there are forces out there that make it so. Will people never learn?