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Thread: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

  1. #1

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    Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    The trend seems to be towards people buying cameras via the net. But where to we get to handle a camera to make sure its right for us. Is a review sufficient to make a significant buying decision. Requests here for advice show not.
    I think it is very easy to make a wrong choice unless one handles a camers. I have oe compact that is unusable to me because with my fingers I am always pressing the video button by mistake!
    Looking through the viewfinder seems essential before purchasing.
    My latest camera purchase D53 I could have bought got about 100 via the web. But the shop I used exchanged the "Free bag" offer for 100 off a memory card so I saved about 50 in reality, and paid 50 for retail service.
    In return I help keep a shop open which enables me to handle gear, sells the bits one needs, does second hand etc. But it also means if I have problems with the camera I can take it back to the retailer who in the UK is responsible for up to six years for the product he sells. If anyone has experienced Canon's after sales in UK they would know what a reassurance that is, as my experience of Canon is appalling.
    The camera came in a sealed box, no carriage charges and of course I had it in my hands the same day.
    My experience is that its worth asking what a retailer can supply a camera or lens for, often a little extra of is possible, and the reassurance is often worth the little extra it may cost.

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    If you don't live near a city you may not have choice. Our local shops (where I have bought in the past for the reasons you give) have all closed. A good online retailer will also offer a no quibble returns policy. The one thing I think is TOTALLY unacceptable is exploiting a local store by trying the handling and then buying online.

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    ay - there's the rub.. Our last 'real' photo store closed this year (Jacobs) and we're left with none that I know of. So its either face a day-trip to some more blessed city AND pay a lot more, or go via internet.
    I just bought a D600 and got it from Amazon - partly this was because I buy lots of stuff from them and always had good service so I trust them. I could maybe have got the camera a little bit cheaper from other internet vendors that I don't know but I opted to play safe.

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    For cameras I also prefer buying in a shop.
    But you still have to find one that carries the ones you're interested in, not always that easy. If they have to order
    the one you want, you won't get a chance to handle it prior to deciding, so you might just as well profit from the
    lower internet prices.

    Add to that, that at least around here most shops carrying DSLRs are chain stores, where they sell anything that uses
    electricity (fridge to computer), not to mention CDs etc. So the personnel isn't necessarily very well informed or
    interested either.

    Lenses, flashes etc. is a different matter, as size differences aren't that much of an issue. I might still see what a local
    shop has to offer, but that's more for the non-financial benefits of dealing with a well informed professional (he can
    never beat internet prices anyway).

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    One of the issues (and I accept partial responsibility for not having shown intent to purchase in the past), is that the local retailers that are left are going at the higher volume end of the market and, possibly through no fault of theirs, are not carrying stocks of the sort of equipment that the more serious amateur. semi-professional would be interested in.

    This extends not only to high value cameras and lenses tec., but also to lower value accessories. For example, I went into a variety of retail outlets in Perth, Glasgow and Edinburgh (whilst I was in these places for other purposes) asking for a 67mm-77mm step-up ring in order to fit my Singh-Ray Vari-ND to the Canon 70-200 f4 L lens.

    None of them stocked step-up rings and one long-established, locally-owned outlet told me that you wouldn't be able to get such a big step up as 10mm, that they only stepped up in 5mm increases. Doh!!! So had to come home, go online and get it from my usual supplier.
    Last edited by Donald; 24th October 2012 at 01:56 PM.

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    Thankfully I used to live and still visit a city that has three very large photography stores which are stocked to the ceiling with everything you can imagine. Because of that my purchases are usually limited to a few times a year so I plan for them. Even if I don't need anything on some trips I still drop in for a wander. I don't believe I've ever left empty handed. I have also ordered online from two of those stores. I did however have to make a recent purchase from a different but equally reputable well known store I have never been in. I placed my order and waited. And waited. A couple of weeks later after some phone calls I found the package was still in the store sitting on someones desk. No reason why and it was sent in the mail that day and they paid extra to have it expedited and with a tracking number. Ten days later still no package but the tracking number did located it at a postal centre in a city enroute. They just couldn't find it and said a claim would have to be made by the sender. So here's my advice when ordering online. (at least with Canada Post) Order pricier items from a store that ships packages insured by them or gives you the option of paying for insurance. Through my tracking down the lost package I discovered most online businesses, camera or otherwise, have disclaimers in their contracts that say they are not responsible for items lost or damaged in transit. Should something happen, you would be without your purchase and your money. As a backup, check with your credit card company. Many do provide some level of warranty protection for items purchased with their card but lost items may be a different matter. Some online sites like eBay also offer some protection. Whatever you use, knowing what to do regarding a lost in transit item would help.

    By the way, after all the problems with the post office not knowing where the mail was and starting the claim process, that same day the package showed up in my mailbox.

  7. #7

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    Andrew that last part sounds like Canada Post.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
    Thankfully I used to live and still visit a city that has three very large photography stores which are stocked to the ceiling with everything you can imagine. Because of that my purchases are usually limited to a few times a year so I plan for them. Even if I don't need anything on some trips I still drop in for a wander. I don't believe I've ever left empty handed. I have also ordered online from two of those stores. I did however have to make a recent purchase from a different but equally reputable well known store I have never been in. I placed my order and waited. And waited. A couple of weeks later after some phone calls I found the package was still in the store sitting on someones desk. No reason why and it was sent in the mail that day and they paid extra to have it expedited and with a tracking number. Ten days later still no package but the tracking number did located it at a postal centre in a city enroute. They just couldn't find it and said a claim would have to be made by the sender. So here's my advice when ordering online. (at least with Canada Post) Order pricier items from a store that ships packages insured by them or gives you the option of paying for insurance. Through my tracking down the lost package I discovered most online businesses, camera or otherwise, have disclaimers in their contracts that say they are not responsible for items lost or damaged in transit. Should something happen, you would be without your purchase and your money. As a backup, check with your credit card company. Many do provide some level of warranty protection for items purchased with their card but lost items may be a different matter. Some online sites like eBay also offer some protection. Whatever you use, knowing what to do regarding a lost in transit item would help.
    Andrew:

    I deal exclusively with one of the three you mention. As a matter of interest, I would personally recommend that you deal with Lori at Lens and Shutter on Broad Street. She will provide you with honest, knowledgeable, and good advice (if you need it).

    As for the question posed and answered by posters so far:

    I deal exclusively with one store (having purchased all my gear from this store and one salesperson (op cit), I get preferential pricing.

    One of the primary reasons there are no brick and mortar camera shops is because so many people shop on line. One of the reasons people shop on line is because they appear to be getting better prices. Only part of this is true. What you do not get from mail order/online is service, and knowledge.

    What I get for a small amount more is the ability to try out a lens for a few hours (they let me take it out of the store) to see if I like it. I also have the ability to easily and quickly return something and exchange it. When I bought a particular lens two years ago, I used it for two days and found it produced a surprising amount of CA. They provided me another on the spot - no questions asked.

    When I bought an UWA lens four years ago, I tried the three they had in stock. Set up my tripod and took the same shots with all three (recording the serial numbers). Went home and reviewed the results and selected one of the lenses based on pixel peeping. Try that with online or mail order.

    If you are a wise shopper, you get what you pay for. I always sleep well after a major purchase knowing that if it doesn't pan out I can change or return it.

    Glenn

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    it takes an hour for me to get to our nearest camera store but i still do it, hopefully they will stay open because of my and other photogs custom. one day they will close and it will be all the internet buyers winging that there's nowhere to go and try a camera.....Its not just cameras though its the same with lots of goods, even down to the local green grocer, we all moan when they arnt there and dont use them if they are....

    use it or loose it...

  10. #10

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    That's one aspect I did fail to mention. The ability to try before you buy. The outlets I mentioned earlier are in Calgary and I know that in two of them there is no problem actually using something for awhile. I've never been further than their parking lot but in the case of the lenses, that ability to try stuff out led to purchases. Price also comes into consideration if the difference is substantial enough. These shops are for the most part not much different from the online sellers when comparing camera prices. Accessories are a different matter though. For some reason we seem to be paying almost double what online sellers can offer in the US. Manfrotto is especially bad and as taxes don't account for that much I can only assume the Canadian distributors are to blame.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 24th October 2012 at 06:44 PM.

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    I shop both ways; in person and by mail order. I live in the suburbs of a fairly large city, and the two camera stores that carry a reasonable line of goods are both downtown. The people that work there are generally knowledgeable, but the downside is that they are not particularly competitive on price. These stores are both part of national chains, as the independents have pretty well closed down. Even here the knowledge can be questionable; I asked about the difference between two different lenses, and the salesperson suggested I do my research on the internet. One of these stores did not have the video camera I was interested in stocked and were only willing to bring it in if I committed to buy it (the camera body only was selling for around $5000), so needless to say, I did not buy it there.

    The other smaller photography chain stores employ people that are selling cameras today and could be selling shoes or refrigerators tomorrow. Technical knowledge is variable and frankly, I usually know more about photography than they do. The large multinational retailers only sell lower end mass-market gear and their prices are not competitive.

    Lenses and camera bodies I buy from Canadian sources, for warranty reasons, both in person and from the web stores that these companies run. There is one store in Toronto, not far from where my daughter lived when she was going to university there that gets a lot of my business because they do have competitive prices. Unlike other shoppers, I’ve never had a problem with any web shipments getting lost or arriving late; virtually all of my Canadian orders have been handled by Canada Post. I’ve ordered two out of three of my camera bodies this way. One was the D90 that I bought for my wife and she already knew it well from using mine. The D800 I ordered sight unseen, but again, I was quite comfortable with doing so as I could have turned around and sold it at a profit at the time – I had one of the very first ones that shipped in Canada.

    I do buy from US online retails (mainly B&H in the US) because they often have products that I cannot buy in Canada. I’ve bought from a few other reputable US retailers as well, but have to be very careful. The gear is usually in my hands within 2 or 3 days of placing the order. If the wrong shipping methods are chosen, both UPS and Fedex do have brokerage charges that are extremely high (I’ve had brokerage charges that exceed the cost of the goods at time, on top of applicable duties and taxes), so I will avoid using them for trans-border shipments when ever I can. B&H does their own brokerage and uses Purolator, so this works well for me. I am not home to receive the shipments and I can pick them up at the Purolator drop-off point which is at a local hardware store located just up the street.

  12. #12
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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    If you have a local camera store it is good for the community to utilize their services. If not, look for an electronics convention for your hands on experience.

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    I consider myself pretty darn lucky to have a reputable camera shop, National Camera Exchange, which has several stores in the Twin Cities. They have been a good source of both new and used equipment. I picked up a Induro ballhead for $50 the other day. I will continue to patronise this store as long as it stands!!

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    I am not home to receive the shipments and I can pick them up at the Purolator drop-off point which is at a local hardware store located just up the street.
    And that is the other problem with shopping online; the courier depot is a twenty minute drive for me - the store is a ten minute walk.

    Glenn

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    I'm almost compelled to use the online sellers when buying used equipment. That's because they provide among them a far larger inventory of used items than local stores.

    I purchased my D7000 from an independent local store when the camera was newly released because none of the big box stores and none of the large online providers had it in inventory. Ironically, the store was local to the mid-west U. S. and I live on the east coast. None of the stores that were local to me had it in stock.

    My point is that there is a different set of circumstances for every situation. I don't feel bound to support either the online stores or the local stores. I buy from the company that can meet my needs at any particular point in time.

    The one thing I refuse to do is to try out products and obtain information from a local store and then make my purchase online so I can get a better price. My career is sales and I believe doing that is very unethical.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 24th October 2012 at 11:57 PM.

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    "What I get for a small amount more " .. Glenn

    That's it though - when I bought, the D600+lens kit was 2148 from my 'nearest' camera shop but only 1795 from Amazon - that's not really a small amount more, it's a whole lens worth more !

  17. #17
    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    Yup Chris thats a hell of a difference and not one that i would pay, but my local dealer has always got within a few qiud of what i can find it for from a legit UK dealer on the interweb. As long as you didnt waste their time playing with it in store before buying it on the net, all power to you. Did you ask them if they could lower their price?

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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    I have not attempted this with my local camera store (Calumet) but, I usually bring in the Internet printout when I am buying a large appliance and ask the appliance store at which I hope to purchase the item what they can do to match the Online price.

    Fry's Electronics which is a large (perhaps even nationwide) chain has a policy of matching any Internet price. Whenever I shop at Fry's (especially for a large ticket item) I will research the Internet for the best price available and carry that printed ad with me when I shop.

    Although Fry's carries digital photography equipment, their inventory along this line is quite limited and is usually restricted to cameras with kit lenses (for which I have no use); and lower line cameras.

    I purchase all of my big ticket, non-camera, digital photography items either from B&H or Adorana, both based in New York City. They usually have the absolute best prices combined with excellent reliability. In fact, if you find a price on the Internet significantly lower that the prices at which B&H or Adorama offer the item, I will bet that the Internet ad is a scam.

    Speaking about scams! If a price is too good to be true, IT USUALLY IS! There are many scam merchants that advertise on the Internet. Many of these are based in Brooklyn, New York. I am sure that there are many honest merchants from Brooklyn that advertise on the internet with exceptionally good prices. However, I am equally sure that I just saw a herd of green winged pigs fly over my house!

    BTW: I purchase all of my cameras as Canon Refurbished items. I have had great results buying refurbished cameras both from Canon Direct through their Canon Loyalty Program and from Adorama. I saved over five hundred U.S. Dollars. over a local brick and mortar store price buying my 7D from the Loyalty Program.

  19. #19
    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    Nikon. Treat their loyal owners to anything????? DONT KID YOURSELF.... shoulda bought canon.....

  20. #20
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    Re: Buying from a retail outlet re mail order/internet

    I rarely buy online unless it is a known item to me and I find a deal. I prefer to handle things before I buy them. There is just something about being able to do a comparison upclose and in person.I also have a kid at Christmas time complex and can't stand to wait for the mail, if I am buying...I want it now. lol
    This is somewhat easier for me than many as I have 4 camera shops within 5 miles of my home and one within a mile. I can usually but not always find what I need. I don't mind paying slightly more sometimes to support the local shops and continue to get the services offered.
    I think I may be spoiled.
    Last edited by jeeperman; 25th October 2012 at 03:35 PM.

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