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01-18-2008, 02:09 PM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by XMACHINA Quote
Permit me to ask you a question: Have you ever actually been to B&H?

I'm from NYC, and long before I ever owned a camera, even before I was aware that B&H was regarded as some sort of photographers' Mecca, I would occasionally subject myself to that place; I have always been able to count on B&H to provide an infuriating experience. Want rude treatment? Want to be herded with your fellow customers like cattle in a slaughterhouse? Want to be concurrently scrutinized by security and passed over by sales associates? Then go to B&H.

After my most recent visit I'm resolved that B&H won't be seeing another dime of my money. And there is nothing they can provide which can't be found (elsewhere) on the Interwebs (often for a lower price).

-XM
I've had somewhat mixed experiences at B&H over the years. Once, one of the young Hasidic staffers (most of them are Hasidic) told me I had to remove the "picture" from my arm. He was referring to an old Army tattoo and I replied that it was none of his business.

I used to think the Hasidic staffers were the ones who were unfriendly (they often don't look at you and mumble a bit) but in fact, one of them is just the opposite. Maybe it's because he's from Brazil rather than from Brooklyn or Monsey (an Orthodox Jewish enclave). If you ever visit the store, he's the one situated below a picture of the Brazilian flag.

Not all the staffers are Hasidic and this is not a rant about the Hasidim. But there does seem to be a certain cultural hostility toward "outsiders". And if you are a woman, you can probably expect a snide and condescending attitude as a matter of course. I've witnessed it a couple of times in the store. Yet, the Brazilian guy is not the only one who seemed friendly. True, he wouldn't shake hands with my wife who accompanied me on one of my visits. But he then apologetically explained that he was forbidden to touch any woman not his wife. He then shook my hand a second time, sort of for my wife. She wasn't offended, probably because of his warm and friendly attitude. Anyway, this religious rule was not news to her, being the daughter of a Cantor.

I bought my first K10D body at the store. I simply handed the saleman a printout from their website and said "this is what I want". No arguments. He did ask if I wanted an extended warranty, extra batteries, or extra memory cards. I said no thanks and that was that. I bought my second body as well the two prime lenses I use via their website.

I think it helps if you know exactly what you want when you visit the store. I always do and I convey that fact to the salesman by my manner and VOICE. And I never ask the salesman for advice.

Richard

01-19-2008, 04:29 AM   #47
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My experience is unfortunately somewhat similar.

My local store claimed Pentax had stopped sending them cameras 3 weeks before Christmas and they didn't expect any more stock until a new model came out. They also expressed reservations about the health of Pentax. Based on that, they tried to steer me to Canon and/or Nikon. I still have never handled a K10D, nobody within 50 miles of me carries one, but one is on order and willl be here Tuesday.

Overall, it was not a rude experience, just unfortunate.
01-19-2008, 07:44 AM   #48
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Funny, but in pro circles, Pentax has a stellar reputation amongst people who REALLY know cameras and especially know lenses. Here are some typical responses from my years of photography:

If you tell an amateur that you shoot with a Nikon, they invariably answer, "Nice!" They don't know anything about them but they recognize the name and everyone has an innate need to seem knowledgeable.

If you tell a pro photographer that you shoot Pentax, they invariably say, "Nice!" They KNOW the camera, they KNOW the quality of the lenses and most of them started out with some variety of K1000, MX, LX or 645 anyway. They don't need to pretend to be knowledgeable.

To me, Pentax is the brand for people who can think for themselves and they don't mind going through more hassle to find lenses and accessories. (It's like this great big treasure hunt!)

A real pro will never disparage anyone else's choice of gear because they all understand that every photographer has a different style and different needs, and what works for one will not always work for another. They highly respect Pentax.

You can use this as a litmus test. I have never met a REAL pro or knowledgeable enthusiast who badmouths Pentax.

Sadly, there are so many other issues though when it comes to selling the product. Markups, sales incentives and stocking issues all come into play. I can't really blame a salesperson for pushing what makes them a better living. I just make sure I do my homework.
01-19-2008, 08:14 AM   #49
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whenever I ask for Pentax gear at the 3 stores I usually go to (BH, Calumet, Adorama) they all have nice things to say about Pentax and their glass. When I bought my Sigma 28mm from BH, the salesman asked what body I had, and I told him, K10D, he smiled, and said "nice camera, I like that too, too bad no one really knows about, even if I suggest it, they still go to the usual (and he points down the line, at the other counter spots w/ potential canon, and nikon owners) when i was waiting in line too, the others were all looking at nikon and canon stuff from the catalog.

so when the lens came up, and he showed it to me, i had a huge grin. (3rd store i had been to asking for this lens) and the other sales man next to him (both were non hasid btw) looked at the box, and looked at me, and and simply remarked "now thats a happy photographer, enjoy it on your pentax"

one salesman in calumet also talks to me about pentax, and their lenses and we both agree that they should promote it more. he laughed at me when i bought my fisheye from there not too long ago..after i told him that everytime i come here, i end up walking out w/ a lens, and my wallet feeling lighter.....he said..."I am the same way, my wife just shakes her head, she's tired of asking me why i need this or that lens..."

Beach camera, i was not too impressed w/ their showroom and it's staff, in fact i felt fairly incomfortable in there.

i've never been to ritz or wolf camera simply because they are well out of the way..(the b/a/c are well within 4 mile radius of each other) and whenever i look at their prices posted online or in a back of a magazine, it's more intune w/ the big chain stores (bb, cc) and little to no pentax gear carried....

01-19-2008, 10:52 AM   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by Old Timer 56 Quote
I've had somewhat mixed experiences at B&H over the years. Once, one of the young Hasidic staffers (most of them are Hasidic) told me I had to remove the "picture" from my arm. He was referring to an old Army tattoo and I replied that it was none of his business.

I used to think the Hasidic staffers were the ones who were unfriendly (they often don't look at you and mumble a bit) but in fact, one of them is just the opposite. Maybe it's because he's from Brazil rather than from Brooklyn or Monsey (an Orthodox Jewish enclave). If you ever visit the store, he's the one situated below a picture of the Brazilian flag.

Not all the staffers are Hasidic and this is not a rant about the Hasidim. But there does seem to be a certain cultural hostility toward "outsiders". And if you are a woman, you can probably expect a snide and condescending attitude as a matter of course. I've witnessed it a couple of times in the store. Yet, the Brazilian guy is not the only one who seemed friendly. True, he wouldn't shake hands with my wife who accompanied me on one of my visits. But he then apologetically explained that he was forbidden to touch any woman not his wife. He then shook my hand a second time, sort of for my wife. She wasn't offended, probably because of his warm and friendly attitude. Anyway, this religious rule was not news to her, being the daughter of a Cantor.

I bought my first K10D body at the store. I simply handed the saleman a printout from their website and said "this is what I want". No arguments. He did ask if I wanted an extended warranty, extra batteries, or extra memory cards. I said no thanks and that was that. I bought my second body as well the two prime lenses I use via their website.

I think it helps if you know exactly what you want when you visit the store. I always do and I convey that fact to the salesman by my manner and VOICE. And I never ask the salesman for advice.

Richard
I appreciate your recommendations, Richard, but I can see no reason why I should have to seek out specific B&H staff members in order to minimize the unpleasantness of that place--not when there are just so many other options right here in the city.

I know of, and have been occasionally exposed to the "cultural hostility" often ascribed to the Hasidim. However, in my experience, the Hasidic staff at B&H have been the least frequent offenders.

Without going into the details of the experience that served as the proverbial last straw, a doddering fool of a B&H manager more or less told me that my business doesn't matter (and he's right given the inexplicable devotion so many people have for B&H). Incidentally, that manager also advised me that the key to success in his establishment was to "know what I want before I walk in." (This admonishment was completely irrelevant to the situation, but he didn't know that because he wasn't actually listening to me.) Now, I can assure you, as I did him, that I ALWAYS know what I want before I walk into a store of any kind (I'm one who'll ask for sunglass frames by manufacturer's model number). But why should I have to? If staff isn't there to actually assist customers in making a purchase, then they are little more than order-takers; and that makes them of no more help (less in fact) than a product page on Amazon.com.

I can also assure you that the dysfunction with my B&H experience is not due to me being insufficiently direct or assertive. And, using your account of your K10 purchase as an example, you know you didn't even get to speak to a one of those penned-in sales staffers until you had been corralled in a roped-off waiting area, among other possible indignities (see my reference to being "herded like cattle").

For a stark contrast, go to the new Apple store on 14th (if you haven't already) and see how I think a customer should be treated. If I simply must go to a brick and mortar store, I want the experience to be more like the Apple store and far less like B&H.

Given the size of the place, the size of the staff, and the overwhelming popularity, I was willing to believe that I (consistently) had bad luck with B&H. But no, B&H, to use the parlance of our times, just sucks.

-XM
01-19-2008, 10:53 AM   #51
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What's funny about this entire Canon vs Nikon vs Pentax debate is that in almost all cases (even in sports, I know a guy with one hand who can outshoot a lot of pro sports photographers I know simply by experience) is that it's not the CAMERA, it's the PHOTOGRAPHER! People need to learn to get over the gear part. I like running around with a point and shoot film camera from time to time, and I've gotten some of my most favorite images from it.
01-19-2008, 11:45 AM   #52
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QuoteOriginally posted by XMACHINA Quote
..... And, using your account of your K10 purchase as an example, you know you didn't even get to speak to a one of those penned-in sales staffers until you had been corralled in a roped-off waiting area, among other possible indignities (see my reference to being "herded like cattle").....
-XM
Well, it's usually very busy there. I don't like roped-off waiting lines any more than you do but how else should they accommodate the crowd? That's why on those rare times I actually go to the store (I do almost all of my purchasing online), I go early in the morning on a weekday. Often there are virtually no customers there at that time and that was the situation when I bought my first K10D body there. But it was worse at the old store on 17th Street where you had to fight to get a salesman's attention.

Waiting in line is a fact of life in New York City. I've lived here for 40 years but I'm still not used to it. That's why I do almost all my shopping (for ANYTHING, not just photo gear) online, never go out to a movie that has just opened and never go at night or on a weekend, never go out to clubs, etc etc. I guess I'm just an old curmudgeon.

If you want warm and friendly service, go visit Vermont. I go there every summer and it's another world. Not much in the way of camera stores, though. Take care.

Richard
01-19-2008, 11:57 AM   #53
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QuoteOriginally posted by XMACHINA Quote
.....If staff isn't there to actually assist customers in making a purchase, then they are little more than order-takers; and that makes them of no more help (less in fact) than a product page on Amazon.com.....-XM
Good point and I agree entirely. On those rare occasions when I walk into Victoria's Secret, believe me I need assistance! I haven't a clue what I want to buy and the staff there probably senses that. I get plenty of help (sometimes after a little innocent flirting on my part). Or maybe they just take pity on an old guy who's obviously trying to find a present for his wife. Take care.

Richard

01-19-2008, 12:56 PM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by m8o Quote
I've never been to one, but I did have a [very] bad experience @ B&H when buying my camera and 1st lens! (yes, I know I'm in the minority) That's even with me knowing exactly what I wanted, having printed out my B&H wish list they were so good to enable me to make on their website. That didn't stop the salesman from being a bastard in his attitude and hand signals to some friend across the counter while I asked him to go down the list and find me a frigg'n lens you have in stock!... was it my fault they had nothing @ the time?! Finally, with no encouragement from him [dis-couragement acutally] I settled on the much loved Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. not like he had anything to do with that. I also wanted an extended warranty going in. Forgetful that I am I didn't ask; you'd think the salesman would be pushing that. But nope. I also wanted basically every accessory there was for it; magnifying eye piece; flash; etc. I kept asking. He pointed me to nothing. Trust me, there was much more. I described it more on dgrin.com while it was fresh in my memory last summer.

I did get mad as I was walking down 9th Ave afterwards... at myself, for not walking away from the a'hole who I had the unfortunate luck to draw from waiting on line.

Moral of the story? The grass isn't always greener...
I've rarely had good experiences at the B&H brick and mortar store either, their prices are good but their attitude stinks. The answer to that is I buy at either Adorama or Cameta. I've found the sales staff at both of these brick and mortar stores to be much friendlier. The Adorama sales staff even let me know if they've gotten in a second hand lens they think I might like. It's how I got my 35-105 F3.5. I walked in to get some other stuff (lens case, etc, and one of the guys said "hey Pentax Pete! look what we just got in!"

NaCl(you know you are spending too much time in a store when the sales personnel know your buying habits)H2O
01-19-2008, 12:58 PM   #55
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Different Experience w/ Samy's Pasadena

Hi Yvon,

Somehow I got a totally different experience with you regarding Samy's Pasadena.
I bought my 43 Ltd from them last November 07 and got a very good service from the sales rep, Jason (the Bald Guy..that's how he wants me to remember him ...very nice guy)
At that time they don't have that one. They only had 31 & 77 Ltd. He let me tried all of them including the 16-50. Eventhough most of their customer are looking for Canon & Nikon but Jason is very helpful with my Pentax needs. He himself admitted that he almost bought Pentax gears if his friend didn't offer to sell him Can 30D at a very good price.
He told me how good Pentax camera is and he suggested me to stay with my K100D.

Well, since they didn't carry 43 Ltd at that time. He offered me to order it for me and he even promised to match the online price + $10 shipping. I think it's fair and I got a very good service from him.
About 2 weeks later I checked the price at Adorama was dropped and I decided to call Jason at Samys and he kept his promise to match Adorama's price + $10.
So I ordered it and he also said that I didn't need to pay until I tried the lens. Which is great ...so I don't have to put any deposit at all.

After another 2 weeks, Jason called me that the lens had arrived and he'll keep it for me for a week so I don't have to rush to the store. Which I didn't do ... knowing how badly I wanted that lens.
And now, I'm more than happy to have it in my camera almost all this time.

Just a little bit experience with Jason and Samy's Pasadena.

For note: I have no affiliation nor interest w/ Samy's Pasadena or Jason.

Herman
01-19-2008, 01:55 PM   #56
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QuoteOriginally posted by Old Timer 56 Quote
Well, it's usually very busy there. I don't like roped-off waiting lines any more than you do but how else should they accommodate the crowd? That's why on those rare times I actually go to the store (I do almost all of my purchasing online), I go early in the morning on a weekday. Often there are virtually no customers there at that time and that was the situation when I bought my first K10D body there. But it was worse at the old store on 17th Street where you had to fight to get a salesman's attention.

Waiting in line is a fact of life in New York City. I've lived here for 40 years but I'm still not used to it. That's why I do almost all my shopping (for ANYTHING, not just photo gear) online, never go out to a movie that has just opened and never go at night or on a weekend, never go out to clubs, etc etc. I guess I'm just an old curmudgeon.

If you want warm and friendly service, go visit Vermont. I go there every summer and it's another world. Not much in the way of camera stores, though. Take care.

Richard

Don't misunderstand, I fully expect a store the size of B&H to be crowded, and I have no problem waiting on line for service.

If you were to take my suggestion to visit the Apple store, you will likely encounter crowds of people, and you will no doubt wait on at least one line. The difference is in the implementation: open space, polite roving sales associates, technical support staff behind the counter; (Most) people are perfectly capable of queuing up for service without being corralled. On my last visit to the Apple in mid-December, I only waited on the long checkout line for 30 seconds before I and my girlfriend had each been taken aside by staff who completed our respective credit card transactions with handheld devices. Do I expect that all retail shopping experiences can be that good? Certainly not. But in the absence of that sort of treatment, I'm not going to sing the praises of a business like its some sort of retail Nirvana, nor will I make a special effort to go there as do many people to B&H.

I'm a native New Yorker (although I've not lived here as long as you have), and am not exactly known either for being warm or for being particularly friendly. However, I do endeavor to be polite and respectful; and I demand no less from people who would have me do business with them.

Thanks, Richard. Regards.

-XM
01-19-2008, 03:17 PM   #57
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For those of us not living in New York (and therefore having no occasion to visit the brick and mortar store), B&H's online presence has been mostly stellar. I've probably placed two orders in the last three weeks with zero problems. And they are consistantly rated in the top ten percent in online consumer reviews.

Maybe they don't recruit salespeople from the same source as their online people?
01-19-2008, 06:24 PM   #58
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When I was first looking at DSLRs and wanting to actually play touchy feely with a few of them, I went to my local camera store (Gainesville, Fl.). At that point, even, Pentax was in the forefront of my mind. I knew that they didn't carry any of the Pentax DSLRs, but they did carry the 2 Samsung DSLRs, which are very similar. I got similar treatment as some of you in that the sales person was trying to push me towards Nikon and anything else but the Pentax. I had to ask specifically to see the Samsung DSLR (I think it was the GX-10) and I think she was reluctant to do it. I was really surprised, as I had done business with this camera store before and the customer service has always been fine.

Needless to say, after that experience, I won't be buying anything major (like lenses) from them. I'll still buy small stuff that I need that I can't get anywhere else locally and I do let them develop my film, as they do a good job with that.

What's really funny is that they had 2-3 Pentax film bodies + lenses that I wouldn't be interested in--the lenses were mostly brands like Promaster and Tamron and other than the kit lenses that come with the DSLR bodies, no digital lenses to speak of.

The only bad thing about buying online is having to wait for your gear to show up, unless you pay through the nose for overnight delivery.

If I ever get to NYC, I'm going to need to save up a bunch of money because my trip to NYC wouldn't be complete without a trip to Adorama for some shopping. I'll leave DH to look at the big-screen TVs while I go camera/lens shoppping in peace (unless he wants to buy one for me).

Heather
01-20-2008, 07:17 PM   #59
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QuoteQuote:
She used to work at the Ritz Camera in Reston (and in Leesburg)
This was at Fair Lakes, and her name started with an "L".
01-20-2008, 08:50 PM   #60
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Though my wife and I usually buy on line (our K1x0Ds came from B&H), when I bought her istD I wanted to hold it in my hand. It was her first DSLR (after 25+ years of SLR) and I wanted to be sure it really would accept her manual lenses. I drove to a local Ritz Camera, but they did not have one in stock. The Salesman called around and located an istD in a store about 50 minutes away. I made the trip, tried out a K1000 Zoom I had with me, and bought the camera from another very helpful salesperson. At no time did anyone try to discourage me from Pentax. We own a lot of K lenses and did not want to start over with another brand.

BTW: with a $25 case (she never used) and tax I paid just under $1500 for the body! These guys were expensive when they first came out, especially from a brick and mortar store. My first DSLR was about 40% of that price.
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