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03-18-2011, 01:06 PM   #1
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Love B & H Photo Service - But I Worry About Their Lack of Protection for Lenses

Hello, B & H. I purchased a Pentax DA40 Ltd lens and a DA15 Ltd lens last Summer. The lenses arrived, but I was very worried about how the lenses arrived. You have changed the way in which you package your photographic equipment in the last couple of years, because when my lenses arrived, I was shocked to see that the very flimsy, very thin, air pouches that were supposed to surround and cushion the lenses were totally flat - in other words, no protection at all for the lenses. I contacted your customer relations people, but all I was told was that I had better test the lenses to make sure that they were functioning properly.

I did not find this answer helpful, since I am not a lens expert and do not know how to test a lens for damage, other than the usual thing an average person would do, like check the focusing, see if any elements were cracked, or anything sounded like it was rattling inside, etc. As far as lens element alignment, or that kind of thing is concerned, I do not know how to test for this.

What I am trying to say is that I should not have even been asked to do this, since, if my lenses had been packaged with more protection, I would not have wondered if there was some hidden damage to them.

My question is: Does B & H Photo still use this flimsy air pouch system when packaging delicate optical equipment today, in March of 2011? I ask, not to embarass or cause a problem for you, but merely to know if it is safe for me to order a Pentax K5 and a new lens or two. Is there some way for me to know if you are using enough protection when packaging my order? Can I specify extra cushioning material that will not flatten? I will even pay a bit extra for this.

A helpful answer would be very much appreciated, as this is the only complaint that I have ever had with B & H. I love your service and prices, but not your packaging. If I can be assured that my new camera and lenses would be properly protected, I would buy them immediately from B & H . Best regards.


Last edited by gloaming; 03-18-2011 at 01:43 PM.
03-18-2011, 04:02 PM - 1 Like   #2
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If the lenses where in the manufacturers original packaging and the outer packaging is not damaged, you have no worries. The lens survived a trip at sea in just there original packaging. If the outer carton has damage, do not discard as it may be needed for an insurance claim against the carrier.
03-18-2011, 04:29 PM - 1 Like   #3
jac
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I have been using B&H online for several months now with absolutely no problem - 5 lenses and miscellaneous other products. To get here shipments get, literally, thrown on and off several flights of one or two engine cargo/passenger aircraft. The Canada Post transport down to the community is an open box van onto which the bags are again tossed in random order, maybe with other freight on top. I wouldn't worry about it too much!
03-18-2011, 06:12 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by whymenotu Quote
My question is: Does B & H Photo still use this flimsy air pouch system when packaging delicate optical equipment today, in March of 2011? I ask, not to embarass or cause a problem for you, but merely to know if it is safe for me to order a Pentax K5 and a new lens or two.
I would assume they still use air pouches, but I find them annoying for the opposite reason than you. I find that even my bulk orders of film and other things that are positively unbreakable come wrapped luxuriously in these pouches bulging with air or, less frequently, bedded in a lavish amount of packing beans.

I hate this stuff, especially the beans. I can barely keep up with disposing of it.

But one thing it does achieve is make me feel very comfortable and unconcerned about ordering lenses and camera bodies from them.

Cheers,
Tassilo

03-18-2011, 07:58 PM   #5
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To mdave13

Thank you for trying to re-assure me. You may be right with regards to the strudiness of original manufacturer's packaging, but sometimes it is still not enough to prevent some lenses from suffering internal damage, like a lens element becoming misaligned, because sometimes the shock is just so great to the packaging, that it does affect the lens. If the original boxes were enough to fully protect lenses all the time, no matter the situation, then B & H, Adorama, or other companies would not bother including extra padding with their shipments.

The only reason that I brought up this matter is that when I opened the shipping box, the air pouches were not full of air; they were totally flat. All that was between my lens boxes and the shipping box was a flimsy, thin plastic film. If the pouches had stayed inflated, then I would not have had any concerns at all about sufficient shock protection.

I really do not want this to happen again. Let's say someone orders a couple of thousand dollars worth of photographic gear from B & H. Is it not reasonable for the customer to expect them to include sufficient protection for the gear during the entire time that it is in transit to the customer? How much would this cost them? Probably a few cents.

Prior to last year, B & H shipped their orders with more protection for the contents. I am simply asking that they better protect their customers' orders, like they used to do. If B & H Photo will not guarantee better protection for future orders, then I will have to stop buying from them. I wonder if they really care about losing customers.
03-21-2011, 07:42 AM   #6
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First, we appreciate this interest in B&H Photo and we appreciate everyone's orders and input into this thread. mdave13's comments were on the money. Each camera and lens is packed individually in such a way that its own packaging is sufficient. In reply to another customer's similar inquiry I wrote the following. What I said about Canon and Tamron is equally true for Pentax:
I've seen how the Canon EOS T2i body is packaged by Canon and how they're delivered to us. Each camera is surrounded by internal packaging within the Canon box and when we get a case of these, they're packed in a larger shipping carton edge-to-edge without a single feather, sheet of bubble wrap, or or one polystyrene "peanut" protecting them. Tamron packs and ships their lenses in a similar manner. Unless your package received really significantly unusually harsh handling in transit after it left our hands, it should arrive unscathed. In fact, in theory it is possible to ship either a camera or lens in the manufacturer's box wrapped in "Kraft" paper with no other padding. That does not diminish our mission -- to get your merchandise to you in pristine condition -- nor our appreciation for your concerns.
whymenotu -- you've now had this merchandise since June. By now, if there'd been a problem with a camera or lens it would have manifested itself. Since I don't see any after-sale customer service comments in this order's log, I presume everything is in order.

Let me reassure you -- our system is anything but flimsy and since we ship thousands of packages daily if it was, we'd have seen substantial returns by now. We have not. Based on this, and your own experience I think you can continue ordering from us without worry.

Last edited by henryp; 04-06-2011 at 01:11 PM.
03-21-2011, 04:38 PM   #7
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Thank you for your answer henryp. So, you are saying that there is no need to put any kind of extra cushioning or shock protection, in the form of air pouches or foam "peanuts", or that kind of thing. Then, why bother doing so?

Can you tell me this, henryp? When B & H receives its lenses and camera bodies from the manufacturer, are they protected in any other way than by the boxes in which they are packaged? I have not had the opportunity yet to have my lenses tested by an expert, since last summer. On the surface at least, they seem to be functioning. Whether or not they are functioning as they should be, has not yet been determined by me, since, as I mentioned in my original post, I am not an expert in this.

Thank you for your input, but I am still not reassured.
03-21-2011, 09:05 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Just to jump in here,

there are standards for packaging items. Manufacturers such as Pentax tamron etc etc will no doubt be working to these standards, which include things such as drop testing, crush strength etc etc etc. Its something that companies generally put a lot of effort into, as the returns from insufficient packaging would outweigh the cost of the savings.

If you think about it, a big box full of tamron lenses would weigh a fair amount. these are packaged tight in a box with several of them in there, no foam or anything. Each tamron lens box has to be capable of withstanding a drop of that box with the weight of all the oher tamron lens on top of that, OR the big box they are all packaged in must be capable of withstanding the drop.

When B&H ship items yes they use the pouches or foam bits etc etc, but the only thing they are protecting is the lens box. It should already be strong enough to survive life in a carton and the weight of other lens's so therefore should be capable of withstanding its own weight.

B&H ship all over the world (to me in Australia included) i'm sure they get handled by some very rough couriers and yet packaging seems to be a non issue in most cases.. returns would be monitored for packaging issues and if relavent would be improved to save them, A) their incredible reputation, and B) money.

Apologies for the waffle... but you really dont seem willing to accept that the packaging is sufficent regardless of how anybody reassures you, but yet 6-8 months after receiving such a badly packaged item(s) you havent had them 'tested' or found any fault. With B&H service and returns service there is no reason to be worried in the slightest...

Its simple with the greatest of respect, if you dont like something, no matter how many people do... then it isnt for you so you need to try something else

Steve

03-22-2011, 07:00 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by whymenotu Quote
Thank you for your answer henryp. So, you are saying that there is no need to put any kind of extra cushioning or shock protection, in the form of air pouches or foam "peanuts", or that kind of thing. Then, why bother doing so?
I think Steve's reply is worth reading here. The main use for air bags, etc is to keep individual items inside our package relatively motionless.

QuoteQuote:
Can you tell me this, henryp? When B & H receives its lenses and camera bodies from the manufacturer, are they protected in any other way than by the boxes in which they are packaged?
Perhaps you overlooked this, from my earlier post here:
I've seen how the Canon EOS T2i body is packaged by Canon and how they're delivered to us. Each camera is surrounded by internal packaging within the Canon box and when we get a case of these, they're packed in a larger shipping carton edge-to-edge without a single feather, sheet of bubble wrap, or or one polystyrene "peanut" protecting them. Tamron packs and ships their lenses in a similar manner.
QuoteQuote:
I have not had the opportunity yet to have my lenses tested by an expert, since last summer.
Respectfully, it doesn't take "an expert" to tell you if your lenses are working correctly. A reasonable inspection of any well-exposed image should be more than adequate for any but the newest newbie. You've now had this merchandise since June. By now, if there'd been a problem with a camera or lens it would have manifested itself. Since you report none, I think it's reasonable to presume there is none.
03-22-2011, 07:10 AM   #10
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you're response seems more than reasonable to me Henry. I would question why the OP living in Toronto would buy from the US or for that matter any where but Canada (effectively Grey market in Canada since it was not bought through Pentax Canada) when we have a local dealer with pricing generally on par with yours that you can walk in and pick up the lenses from in any case. I understand buying cross border for a significant saving and have done it myself, but on a large purchase warranty Item it would need to be a bigger saving than is out there now. There is no tax avoidance on the cross border so that doesn't make any difference.
03-22-2011, 07:27 AM   #11
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Good day, 5teve. Thank you for your interest in this. One of the reasons that I love this forum is that people take the time to respond to members' concerns. From your contribution, it appears to me that you have the mistaken impression that I am somehow being ureasonable. If what you and henryp have stated is correct and manufacturers package their lenses and cameras in such a way that they will rarely suffer damage in transit, then, of course I accept this as the way things are done. I did not start this thread to cause anyone consternation, but merely to understand better.

By the way, 5teve, I did not intimate anywhere that "6-8 months after receiving such a badly packaged item(s) you havent had them 'tested' or found any fault". What I said was that I checked the lenses as best I could, not being an expert. I also did not say that the lenses showed any visible damage. That being said, I do remember a case where a customer had bought a DA15 lens from B & H and had to return it for severe decentering, or some such problem. He wrote about this in a review of the lens. His was the only such complaint, however. He ended up returning the lens.

Did anyone here stop to consider that one of my reasons for bringing this up was to help B & H get even better customer reviews, because of their care in packaging the lenses? I guess I am naive in that way.

Thanks to all who took the time to help my understanding of shipping methods.

Best to all.
03-22-2011, 07:47 AM   #12
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Thank you, eddie1960, a fellow Torontonian. My motivation for buying from B & H should be clear to you, but since it does not seem to be, I will offer a bit of an explanation. I usually buy my lenses from Aden Camera, in Toronto. They seem to have the best prices, although other vendors will price match, if you deal a bit. It so happens that last summer, Aden's price for a DA 40 was about $100 more (if I remember correctly) than the $339.00 price asked by B & H. Today, their price is $419.00 in Canadian funds. They listed the DA15 as $709.00, with the indication that it was "coming soon". Their site still shows this today. So, that was over $200.00 more than B & H was asking. Even last summer, the Canadian dollar was very close to par with the United States dollar. I do not think that buying a lens from B & H is grey market, but perhaps I am not as well informed as you are.

With regards to your remark about sales taxes (now the HST), I paid a lot less than I would have, had I purchased from Aden. On the other hand, Aden had the DA70 for $499.00, when B & H had it for $599.00, if I remember correctly. Anyway, Aden had the best price anywhere. So, I bought the DA 70 from Aden.

I think that this thread is going off topic, so I would ask the moderators to please close it.

Thank all of you for your input and help.
03-22-2011, 08:47 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by whymenotu Quote

By the way, 5teve, I did not intimate anywhere that "6-8 months after receiving such a badly packaged item(s) you havent had them 'tested' or found any fault". What I said was that I checked the lenses as best I could, not being an expert. I also did not say that the lenses showed any visible damage.
Your Welcome for my interest , as i would be the first to complain if i thought something was unreasonable. I did not mean to incinuate that you were being unreasonable, hard to convince, yes, but not unreasonable. I was merely trying to put a factual stance on it from my previous experience shipping fragile items in business, and i understand the direction that you were coming from.

regarding the above quote of a quote, just to clear matters up, by 'had them tested' i meant had a professional look at them and at no point did i mention you finding physical damage. i was just merely pointing out the details you had already mentioned.

Text on a screen is hard to get any kind of emotion or meaning through, so please understand i didnt mean to cause offence or misquote you, just merely to try and put a common sense answer together that may make you think about the packaging already in place, and hopefully convince you that the packaging is adequate.

Thanks

Steve
03-22-2011, 09:08 AM   #14
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Very kind of you 5teve (clever way to write Steve, if you ask me). I see that you are from Perth, on the west side (from my perspective) of Australia, a land that I would dearly love to visit one day. Since 80% of communication is non-verbal, you are quite right in mentioning how difficult it can sometimes be to expain oneself by the use of text alone. There is always the possibility of being misunderstood, regardless of how well intentioned one might be. There are a lot of people of good will on this site, so I am happy to be a part of it. Fair dinkum! (Did I use it properly?)

I hope to have more interesting things to contribute in future threads.
03-22-2011, 09:12 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by whymenotu Quote
Thank you, eddie1960, a fellow Torontonian. My motivation for buying from B & H should be clear to you, but since it does not seem to be, I will offer a bit of an explanation. I usually buy my lenses from Aden Camera, in Toronto. They seem to have the best prices, although other vendors will price match, if you deal a bit. It so happens that last summer, Aden's price for a DA 40 was about $100 more (if I remember correctly) than the $339.00 price asked by B & H. Today, their price is $419.00 in Canadian funds. They listed the DA15 as $709.00, with the indication that it was "coming soon". Their site still shows this today. So, that was over $200.00 more than B & H was asking. Even last summer, the Canadian dollar was very close to par with the United States dollar. I do not think that buying a lens from B & H is grey market, but perhaps I am not as well informed as you are.

With regards to your remark about sales taxes (now the HST), I paid a lot less than I would have, had I purchased from Aden. On the other hand, Aden had the DA70 for $499.00, when B & H had it for $599.00, if I remember correctly. Anyway, Aden had the best price anywhere. So, I bought the DA 70 from Aden.

I think that this thread is going off topic, so I would ask the moderators to please close it.

Thank all of you for your input and help.
I was pointing out that the savings isn't worth the Grey market risk. BH is not Grey market selling into the US where they are an authorized dealer. They are selling into Canada where they do not purchase (and therefore fund the warranty) through Pentax Canada. You can obtain the international 1 year warranty card from Pentax US (you have to request the card it is not automatic) but I believe last time i checked Pentax Canada was charging an admin fee for any international warranty work. for the $80 on the DA 40 it wouldn't tempt me (and i would negotiate at Aden over it trying to lessen the difference in any case)
For the big jump on the DA15 i might be tempted myself as that difference is big enough to warrant the risk and that makes sense to me
The DA15 is available in store last time i was in BTW, i drop in every couple of weeks for something or another to do with film and usually look at what is there. Henrys matches Aden and gives a better return Policy as well.
The warranty issue has come up before and I thought you (and other) should be aware of how it works (i spent 25 years in CE retail and it is a common misconception people have on warranties)
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