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07-05-2012, 08:11 AM   #1
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My Experience with 42nd Street Photo

EDIT: July 13th, 2012 – I’m updating to summarize what happened and update on the resulting action taken by 42nd Street Photo to rectify the situation.

Back on July 2nd, I found 42nd Street Photo and was looking for a K-5. I actually was ready to order elsewhere and they were out of stock. 42nd Street Photo had the body and kit lens in stock for the same price. I called as I was looking to get some questions answered as this was my first DSLR purchase, first time I’d bought something other than a P&S since I got a Pentax ZX-30 as a gift in 2000. I didn’t buy locally because I wasn’t willing to swallow the $400 price difference pill between them and online vendors.

Michael was the rep I got on the phone. We got the camera taken care of and Michael was ready to wrap things up then and there when I asked for filters. I wanted a UV filter, thinking I needed one to protect the lens and I wanted to try out a polarizer. He directed me to a 3-piece kit and the advertised price was $349 for Ultra Optics filters. I was floored at the price and said I wasn’t looking to spend that kind of money. He said, “Let me see what I can do for you” and put me on hold, came back with something like $129 saying they had rebates or something they could send in and they were overstocked with inventory.

I don’t remember if the spare battery or memory card was next. The battery was offered as a 2, 4, 6, or 8 hour battery. I asked if there was just an OEM/Pentax battery and he stated something to the effect of this is how they come, gave me a price, and then said he’d make me a deal and give me the 8 hour battery for the 6 hour price.

He asked what size memory card I wanted and I said I was looking at 64 and 32 GB cards. The prices for those were several times higher than what I was looking at on sites like Amazon. He said the transfer rates were the difference and that I needed 700X cards or it would take like 5 seconds for my picture to show up in the preview monitor. Don’t remember the price on that, but he again put me on hold and came back with a lower price. Then added a 5-year warranty for the price of the 3-year.

I asked about getting my items the following day as I was heading to a 4th of July parade on the 3rd and I knew everything would be shut down for the 4th. I was planning on getting my daughter over to my parents’ place and in their pool on the 4th and wanted the camera for the holiday stuff going on. Instead of letting me know the items shipped from NYC (their retail store doesn’t handle internet order phone calls, at least that’s the impression I got as I was transferred to another department and told they didn’t open until 10 am when I called on the 5th about my order) and that ground shipping was one-day service, I was charged a discounted rate of $20 for Next Day Air Saver.

Items shipped that day and arrived the following evening after I had already left at 4:30 for dinner and the parade. When we got home that evening, I dug into the packaging and found my invoice (didn’t come electronically as my email address had some characters transposed in their system). The invoice was a list of items with a single subtotal price, shipping, and a total. The list of items was there, but without item numbers, SKUs, prices, etc. That was my first concern. Everything with the camera seemed fine. The lens was shipped in a plain white cardboard box, no papers, nothing but the lens and front/rear caps. The filters were Ultra Optics and the battery wasn’t Pentax, it was Ultra Power. Essentially the same branding/packing as the filters, which had Sakar International contact info on the back in fine print and MADE IN CHINA. I couldn’t find anything on the net anywhere other than an Amazon seller for these Sakar products. (I would later be directed to Precision Ultra for the filters and on that site, you can find the battery as well). There was also a lens cleaning kit with the same Ultra/Sakar packaging. After seeing their return policy (see their FAQ at www.42photo.com/faq.htm), I was hoping I could exchange the battery for the OEM I wanted and the filters for something that seemed like a “legit” name brand product. When I say name brand, I mean something that’s readily available at any shop and well-recognized names. So I left the battery and filters sealed and figured I’d call them on Thursday the 5th and go from there. Brand on the memory card wasn’t like Sandisk, PNY, Sony, or any of the other “mainstream,” well-known brands either. Whatever, memory card, right? So I got the battery charged that evening/night. Next day, I got everything together, camera running, and snapped pictures.

Thursday rolls around and I call the number for internet orders and hit the option for customer service and it just rings and rings and rings. Hang up and try the 212 number for the store and I’m told they can’t help me and the right department doesn’t open until 10 am. I call back after they’re open and I get Adam on the phone. Adam looks me up by my personal info as I don’t have an order number (left the invoice at home) and asks what he can do. I start to tell him what’s going on and what I’m thinking. Initially, things weren’t too bad. I brought up the battery first. He said he could swap the battery free of charge for me. I knew I had paid nearly double the price of an OEM battery, so that wasn’t going to work and I moved on to the filters so we could deal with both items together. Adam essentially didn’t want to hear it. He absolutely could not let me say anything without jumping all over me and interrupting me that I had bought a package and I could not tear apart the package. I told him I hadn’t bought a package and he said it was on my invoice. I told him I don’t care what’s on the invoice, I didn’t order a package. I tried numerous times to explain that I didn't order a package, ask for a package, nor did I ever talk to anyone about a package. I don’t believe the word “package” was uttered during the sales call with Michael. The items were ordered a la carte and each item’s price was a matter of "let me put you on hold and see what I can do for you.” I asked him to provide me with an item number or SKU for the package I had purchased as I hadn’t see that available when I had done a little looking online prior to calling in my order. He could not do so, but said they have catalog sales and the package might be there. We continued to go back and forth and then he told me he was tired, didn’t want to deal with this, I was hard to deal with, that nothing could be done because I bought a package, and that if I wanted to return or exchange anything, he'd have to charge me a 20% restocking fee, the difference in the discounted overnight shipping (over $60 because that price on shipping was only for the package), etc. I said I was going to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and he said something to the effect of, “Great, let me call them for you and let them know you’ll be calling.” He told me he apologizes if it makes me feel bad that he told me I'm difficult to deal with and he didn’t mean to, but that I am a difficult person to deal with. When I told him this game sounds just like a typical NYC street vendor, he got upset. I then said the same thing back, it wasn't my intent to make him feel bad, but that’s the impression I get.

I practically had to yell at one point that I had let him talk without interruption, and that it was now my turn after I started to respond and he immediately cut me off. I asked if I could talk without interruption and he said I could if I was going to tell the truth. I told him I’m a Marine officer and I’m not going to lie about a camera purchase. He said, “So what, XYZ (don’t remember the relationship) family member was a LtCol in the Air Force. You think he never told a lie?” I was fuming at this point. He gave me the following options: 1) return everything, 2) returning the battery and filters, paying the restocking fee and $60 discount on shipping and getting whatever was left of the sale price on the battery and filters back, or 3) accepting $50 back on my credit card and I keep everything. I just wanted to be done with it at this point as I was ready to go through the phone. Absolutely miserable customer service. No concern whatsoever about taking care of the customer, making me happy, or even trying to show any sort of care in the world that I may never buy from them again.

I then got online and found out via the customer service chat system that they’re an authorized dealer. I then called and spoke to a Monique at Pentax explaining the situation. I didn’t expect Pentax to do anything for me, but I wanted them to know what was going on. She said the conversation was recorded and would be forwarded to corporate headquarters for review.

I called my bank to inquire about the process of disputing charges as I was told by Adam I had bought a package, but that’s not at all what I discussed with Michael and I wasn’t happy with what I had received. USAA told me that I would be subject to their return policy if I sent everything back and Mastercard would probably side with the vendor since their policy is available online and I hadn’t specifically asked for it before buying. I wasn’t interested in sending everything back and having to pay a couple hundred bucks in restocking fees.

I stewed on all this for a bit and called customer service again at 42nd Street Photo to get a manager/supervisor and try this again. I got another guy who was much more decent to deal with. He offered to send me the OEM battery and refund another $40. I said I would ship the other battery back. I still wasn’t thrilled, but it seemed that was as good as it was going to get and I figured I was just going to have to put up with it and be reminded of this transaction every time I used the camera.

Friday afternoon rolls around and I get a call on my cell phone from a guy at 42nd Street Photo who wants to confirm my shipping address for the OEM battery. We confirmed it and then he introduces himself as Jonathan (email sig line title is Sales & Marketing Executive MGR) and rolls right to bringing up this thread on Pentax Forums asking what’s wrong, why I’m not happy, and what he can do, saying he listened to the three conversations I had between the sale and two attempts at dealing with customer service. I told him I’m really not happy with how I was treated primarily by Adam, explained that I felt like I was taken advantage of when buying these items as I told Michael I was new to digital photography beyond point and shoots and the last time I bought one of those was 2009. I told him I wasn’t happy about the filters and the battery, etc. We talked for about 12 minutes about the situation and he offers to refund more money and for me to keep all the items, even after I said I would send them back after the refund is on my card, but he insisted on me keeping them. Interesting note about beginning of the call, at some point he had indicated the battery shipped the day before, so I don’t know why he needed to confirm my shipping address. He corrected my email address and said he would email me personally. I didn’t get that email until Monday, but he provided me with three confirmation numbers, dates, and amounts for the refunds to my card and in exchange, I would address this thread.

Well, I was waiting until I saw all three refunds until I did anything. Two of them showed up on Wednesday and at some point throughout the week, I believe it was yesterday, I started getting phone calls on two different numbers (my cell and the number they have in their system from the caller ID of the phone I used to place the order) from blocked calls, 000, and a full phone number with area code, but only left one message, but it wasn’t on my cell phone. Jonathan left a message saying everything was processed on the refunds and hopes I’m enjoying the camera, and said if I needed help with the thread, he’d walk me through it. I tried to delete the thread and didn’t have permissions. I emailed a moderator about it.

In the meantime, Jonathan and I exchange a number of emails, one of which was very lengthy with my feedback. We discussed the articles and links of bad press the shop has, their BBB rating of F, and the resellerratings.com thing. We eventually dug through several of those issues and pointed out, providing feedback, that a lot of the bad press they’re getting are from consistent issues and maybe they should consider adjusting some of their practices. He said he appreciates everything and forwarded the links and stuff that had been brought up here to upper management.

After a few hours, I got a message back from the moderator. It seems Pentax Forums doesn’t delete threads of this nature for a reason.
So, at Jonathan’s and the Moderator’s request (post an update, not change everything) I’m going through all my posts and summarizing the events that transpired when I’m not pissed off, agitated, or irritated over the whole situation. I tried to tell the story again this evening, from start to finish without the caustic words from when I was angry over it all. In the end, I was refunded a sum of money, sent an OEM battery, and told to keep everything.

I understand the culture and sales approach in/around NYC is very different from the culture of the 7 states I’ve lived in. I understand that my lacking knowledge of the products I was buying was a factor. With extremely tight margins, these places have to make money somewhere and I absolutely do not fault them for it. I believe Jonathan is trying to get things squared away. He never came across as dismissive or rude, even when my feedback, while not offensive, was at times pretty harsh. We exchanged 17 emails today. If I needed something camera related tomorrow, and I knew I could deal directly and exclusively with Jonathan, I’d call him. This seems like a lot of negative feedback on this shot, but the primary source of it was one bad customer service rep. Some changes in the nature of the sales process wouldn’t draw complaints from me. Michael was doing his job and probably trying to put me into their top dollar stuff. I didn’t need to be there, but can you fault a sales guy for trying to sell you top dollar stuff to go with a nice camera?


Last edited by jtkratzer; 07-13-2012 at 06:55 PM.
07-05-2012, 08:16 AM   #2
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That's absolutely terrible, are they an authorized Pentax dealer? You should contact Pentax if so. This type of thing shouldn't happen to anybody! I looked them up online and they have 300 votes and 97 percent! Totally unacceptable behavior for this kind of rating. They totally ripped you off because they knew you were knew and didn't know much about filters and batteries.
07-05-2012, 08:26 AM   #3
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by LeDave Quote
That's absolutely terrible, are they an authorized Pentax dealer? You should contact Pentax if so. This type of thing shouldn't happen to anybody!
Covered in my updated original thread.

Last edited by jtkratzer; 07-13-2012 at 06:36 PM.
07-05-2012, 08:26 AM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your experience, but thanks for the warning and sharing for others' benefit.

07-05-2012, 08:27 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jtkratzer Quote
It was the absolute worst customer service experience I've ever had.

According to Pentax, they are an authorized dealer.
At this point, I would speak to Pentax customer rep about them. Especially bring up the point where you asked for OEM spare batteries and they send you aftermarket versions.
07-05-2012, 08:28 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
At this point, I would speak to Pentax customer rep about them. Especially bring up the point where you asked for OEM spare batteries and they send you aftermarket versions.
Covered in my updated original thread.

Last edited by jtkratzer; 07-13-2012 at 06:36 PM.
07-05-2012, 08:37 AM   #7
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So I see 42nd has the K-5 body for $849 and 18-55mm kit for $949. What on earth did they actually charge you for? These places usually bundle all of these junk things in for like $20-30 - none of it is worth a penny more than the camera itself - I'd pay them not to send any of it to be completely honest! I'm pretty sure I've bought through 42nd on ebay without any problems myself, but if you're not satisfied and feel you've been taken, I would send it all back and start over at one of the larger online sellers - I would also do some research if you want filters (some of us think they are a waste of money...) and get an oem battery if you need a spare.
07-05-2012, 08:38 AM   #8
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Here's a link that confirms your unfortunate experience.

42nd Street Photo: One to avoid | Pixiq

07-05-2012, 08:40 AM   #9
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I bought stuff from them in the 80s from their ads in the back of Modern/Popular Photography and never had problems. It was darkroom equipment and tripods though. I might have done it via mail-order.

Good luck. B & H Photo is much more on the ball.
07-05-2012, 08:40 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
So I see 42nd has the K-5 body for $849 and 18-55mm kit for $949. What on earth did they actually charge you for? These places usually bundle all of these junk things in for like $20-30 - none of it is worth a penny more than the camera itself - I'd pay them not to send any of it to be completely honest! I'm pretty sure I've bought through 42nd on ebay without any problems myself, but if you're not satisfied and feel you've been taken, I would send it all back and start over at one of the larger online sellers - I would also do some research if you want filters (some of us think they are a waste of money...) and get an oem battery if you need a spare.
They are claiming to charge him a 20% restocking fee if he wants to return it.
07-05-2012, 08:43 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
They are claiming to charge him a 20% restocking fee if he wants to return it.
Covered in my updated original thread.

Last edited by jtkratzer; 07-13-2012 at 06:37 PM.
07-05-2012, 08:45 AM   #12
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Sorry to hear this. 42nd street are notorious for this kind of crap. another warning on the web is always a good thing thanks for posting the story. I too would let Pentax know what happened in relation to the battery particularly
07-05-2012, 08:58 AM   #13
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42nd Street Photo / 42ND St Photo Reviews - 42photo.com/ Ratings at ResellerRatings
07-05-2012, 08:59 AM   #14
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Lets not get these guys confused with 47th STREET PHOTO (I am admitting that I did when I saw the thread title). I have never ordered from 42nd, I order 80% B&H and the other 20% 47th and never had an issue with either.

Edit:
QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
I bought stuff from them in the 80s from their ads in the back of Modern/Popular Photography and never had problems.
I think you may also have gotten the 2 confused, I don't think 42nd has been around that long, or have they? 47th has been around for a longgggg time...
07-05-2012, 09:15 AM   #15
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What you describe is 42nd Street's standard operating procedure nowadays, based on my experience with them. They don't have much profit margin on the camera and lens because of competition among retailers, so they try to sell you rock-bottom quality filters, batteries, etc. at an inflated price. Even at their lowest, final offer price on those accessories, they are still making money. It is all perfectly legal. Howerver, I still won't give them repeat business because my time is too precious to be wasted on reasserting that I don't want anything more than I originally ordered.
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