Tales of Customer Service

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With a nod to the wonderful Harry Shearer, whose weekly radio program, Le Show, includes a “copyrighted feature” called “Tales of Airport Security,” I’m weighing with my own irregular and non-copyrighted feature called “Tales of Customer Service.”

This is where I’ll describe the good, the bad, and the ugly in my enounters with customer service in the photo/audio field, (and maybe beyond)! If you’ve got some of your own experiences you’d like to share (both good and bad), write them up, succinctly and with a minimum of profanity, and email them to me.

I can’t promise that they’ll ever see the light of day, but you’ll feel better just getting them off your chest!

The little things mean a lot. Recently, in the rush of packing up in the dark after a twilight beach portrait for Nikon gig, when the mosquitoes were in a feeding frenzy all over me, I ran off without the case for my Photoflex 42″ MultiDisc. The multidisc is my favorite reflector, and I’ve got them in several sizes, but without a case, they’re difficult to pack and carry.

Of course, you can’t order just the case alone from B&H or other retailers, so I contacted the company with an inquiry about a replacement case. Within hours I got a response, with a part number, and instructions to contact them to order. It was frightfully polite, efficient, and downright pleasant, considering it’s a $6.95 part. Good on ya Photoflex. Proves it can be done. But, not by some companies….

Who’s Zoomin’ who? Two months ago, I packed up my Zoom H2 recorder, my first ever audio recorder, because the whole LCD went blank. It’s not a big deal, because I’ve since upgraded to the far superior Olympus LS-10, but still, having the H2 as a working backup isn’t a bad idea. I got an RMA number and did everything by the book and waited, and waited, and waited.

I finally called about the repair status at the 63-day mark, only to be told that it wasn’t even in the system yet, and (wait for it), this was okay since it was “normal” for this to happen.

Now with all due respect, the rep on the phone was polite, but in what universe is a two-month-plus wait for something just to get into the repair queue “normal?” I’ll keep you posted and let you know when it makes it back, but please, don’t hold your breath!

UPDATE: I received the H2 August 10th, going on 90 days after its reception. The LCD screen was replaced, and the repair came to (wait for it) $3 less than the $100 credit card authorization they require.

When you consider that a new H2 is $200 or less, three months and $100 to replace the little LCD screen seems a little, um, cranked up.

Let’s just say that I’ve bought (and repaired) my last Zoom device!

This entry was posted in Audio, Ironies, Photo Gear.

11 Comments

  1. Joey September 12, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    I had a similar incident with the Flip video camera. Bought their underwater case to go with their HD model, the two don’t work together due to poor labeling, and Flip could care less.

    Wrote about the fiasco here:
    http://coffeeandcelluloid.com/2009/09/09/flip-you-how-flip-video-lost-me-as-a-customer/

    I think companies need to take a note from Zappos and Amazon on customer service.

    • Bob September 12, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

      Joey: I feel your pain! Did you get any satisfaction at all from these folks?
      BK

      • Joey September 14, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

        Haven’t gotten any satisfaction from Flip, but I got a little from some commenters saying they’ll think twice before getting a Flip.

  2. Tom September 12, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    Great customer service story from Think Tank Photo, the camera bag maker. I lost the clip on straps that go with my two Pixel Pocket Rocket CF card wallets, emailed them, they sent replacements the next day at no charge, not even shipping. Little gestures keep customers coming back :)

    • Bob September 12, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

      Hi Tom: Think Tank is a great outfit…maybe because it’s run by photographers?:-). Bob

  3. Fotografia Viaggio September 12, 2009 at 11:09 pm #

    Absolutely nice. Irony, I like it

  4. Terry Clark September 13, 2009 at 7:09 am #

    I recently received what I consider awesome customer service from the folks at Tamrac. About a year ago my 622 rolling case broke when, without thinking, I carried the case up a flight of stairs by the handle (duh). I called Tamrac told them what I did and received a return authorization number. Then I forgot about it because I had taped the handle back together and it, well, sort of worked OK. Fast forward nine months. I find the RA# in a pile on my desk, call Tamrac to see if it’s still valid and was told “yes, we’re waiting for your case to arrive.” Finally I shipped it out for repair. ONE WEEK later the case arrived back at my door via FedEx with a spiffy new handle. The total charge? Zip, nada, zero. Their warranty covers stupid.

    • Bob September 14, 2009 at 1:27 am #

      Terry: I love the Tamrac Velocity bags. I’ve got a 9x and a 10x…it’s great to know that they’re as good as customer service as they are at making bags.
      Bob

  5. Arun Paul September 14, 2009 at 6:18 am #

    Right on Bob – I try to keep the same mindset as I deal with my clients just as what I would expect from a small/large company. Nikon has obviously been great all the time. I am sure Canon is as well. I also have had the best interactions with B&H. They are quite stellar.

    Hope you are taking some time to enjoy yourself as well

  6. Greg Vaughn September 14, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    Sleeping bags may not be considered camera gear, but for outdoor and nature photographers a good bag is essential. After several years of use, the insulation in my North Face Cat’s Meow had lost its loft and wasn’t keeping me warm. North Face says their gear has a lifetime warranty, so I sent my bag to them for inspection. I asked for expedited service as I’ve got a couple of backpacking trips later this month. A week later FedEx delivered a brand new bag – an improved model no less, and at no charge.

  7. Luc Novovitch September 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    Had a very good experience with Quantum. Sent them a Radio Slave, which is 17 years old, because it would not fire anymore. Sent it on Monday, trusting USPS, and got it back by UPS on Friday. They changed a part, and it’s now working again as new. And the cost?… $20.00, and they paid to ship it back.

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