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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    San Francisco

    Red face Wolf Camera? B & H? Heck I Dunno, Need Help

    I was all set to buy from Wolf Camera online because of their TV commercials and also because they are running a special on the camera I want, the Olympus E510, with two lenses, for $600 shipped. That's about $60 less than other sites.

    But I have been reviewing seller "review and complaint" sites. I was disconcerted to see Wolf's "very dissatisfied" rating on ResellerRatings [or whatever the site is called.] I was also unhappy to see that Wolf's online site says they are not related to the brick and mortar stores, which to me means that the nice guy on the TV commercials [here in San Francisco] is only saying nice things about the retail stores, not the online sites.

    Some posters complained about Wolf as follows:

    1. Rude reps on the phone;

    2. Wrong items being sent;

    3. Wolf online uses customer support in India;

    4. Complaints about not getting rebates;

    5. Wolf telling a customer to take a hike, because in its opinion he misunderstood the rebate program [albeit sounds like it was store rep incompetence that created the misunderstanding. In any event, the local Wolf store did not simply give him the $50 but instead suffered thousands of people seeing the guy's rant online, including me.]

    6. Charging a customer's card for a DSLR camera that the rep said was in stock, but later e-mailing the customer saying the camera was out of stock. And it took the customer some time to get a refund.

    7. A customer ordering a new camera only when getting it to find the item had been used [a return by a previous customer.]

    I have been online since 1996, near the birth of the Net as we all know it. Being an astute shopper, I long ago found out to avoid those scam, scum sucking photo places with a Brooklyn New York address.

    Also am wary enough to avoid places that sell grey market cameras that lack U. S. warranty coverage.

    But I am dismayed that with this first DSLR purchase [have always used $300 to $500 compacts] that so many Sites appear to have their share of complaints. I realize that there are always going to be misunderstandings but I don't like seeing that upon complaining the online stores either have lousy customer support or tell the customer to stuff it.

    I also don't like seeing so many sites imposing draconian return policies where if unhappy or changing one's mind, the person has to pay 15 to 25 percent restocking fees [which the store knows will cause the person to keep the item rather than return it.]

    I digress.

    From all my research over the last month I [not to get the lowest price, but to keep from getting taken], I am concerned:

    1) that I get a genuine U. S. item, not grey market, refurb or return;

    2) that on getting a good price, if I don't buy overpriced accessories, that the item is now out of stock;

    3) that if the camera is advertised as in stock and that the rep says it is in stock, that I don't later get an e-mail saying the item is back ordered; and

    4) that the company has good customer service.

    From all my research the only online merchant left on my list is B & H. Those who made the short list, but were shot down after seeing online complaints were: Adorama [sells some grey market]; Wolf [see above]; and Abe's of Maine.

    Although B & H is $60 more than the Wolf special [assuming B & H won't price match], I think it worth $60 to avoid experiencing any one or all of the errors others have suffered when dealing with Wolf.

    I am a little disconcerted that B & H has a Brooklyn address, but for all I know, the scammers moved to or opened up in Brooklyn because that is where the well-established B & H [and other legit sellers] were located back in the day.

    Any input on whether or not I should go with B & H. Any Wolf defenders, to where I should reconsider them? I am not planning to get the camera until Friday, January 4, so any help between now and then is appreciated.
    Last edited by MichaelSF; 01-01-2008 at 12:30 PM.
    My 15 minutes of fame was an appearance [and SUPERB "performance"] on COPS.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    San Francisco
    A few things:

    B&H has a very large store in Manhattan. Their mail/internet offices might be in Brooklyn, but that's like you dissing a store 'cause its offices are in Berkeley. Ain't nothing wrong with Brooklyn, but real estate is cheaper than Manhattan, so it makes sense to have their non-retail operations there.

    Adorama also has a large store in Manhattan.

    B&H sells grey market products. But, they clearly label them as such on their website, and their customer service is excellent. I wouldn't hesitate to buy grey market from B&H. I haven't so far because the price differences are usually tiny.

    I'd never buy from Wolf/Ritz because their prices are high, their customer service sucks, and the try to upsell.

    I've bought stuff many times from both B&H and Adorama, and I'd buy from either one again. I've had nothing but good experiences from both of them.

    Finally, if you're ever in NY, check out the B&H store there. It's a trip.
    Canon 60D & lenses & flashes & stuff
    A bunch of cheap vintage film cameras

    My Etsy store

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Tooele, UT
    Gee, let me think:

    - Buy the camera from B&H and be 100% happy.
    - Buy from Wolf, save a little $$, and run the risk of being disappointed.
    It's the archer not the arrow!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    San Francisco
    Thanks for your responses guys. I'll be going with B & H, which was in the top three, but your comments helped me make the decision.

    Like I said, I am not one to go with the cheapest place, that is "cheap" on price. I'd rather pay a little more to save the headaches.
    My 15 minutes of fame was an appearance [and SUPERB "performance"] on COPS.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    I use B&H all the time. I've never had a single problem. I've never had to call Customer Service, but from what I hear they're pretty good.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Derbyshire, UK
    Welcome to the forums & good luck Michael that sounds like a bargain price to me. The cheapest I have seen here in the UK is 449 which is about $900 & that was including a 100 rebate from Olympus that has now run out . Please let us know what you think of the camera when you've got it & feel free to post some pictures the Olympus threads are a bit quiet here & could do with a bit more traffic.
    Around every picture there's a corner & round every corner there's a picture
    - the fun's in finding them

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    San Francisco
    Quote Originally Posted by Phill D View Post
    Welcome to the forums & good luck Michael that sounds like a bargain price to me. The cheapest I have seen here in the UK is 449 which is about $900 & that was including a 100 rebate from Olympus that has now run out . Please let us know what you think of the camera when you've got it & feel free to post some pictures the Olympus threads are a bit quiet here & could do with a bit more traffic.
    Will do and thanks for the welcome.

    I have always taken OK pics with my compacts, but want to develop my skills, which have been way below beginner status on a good day.

    As much as I have admired good photography on the Net [and in magazines before that], I have never had the time to get beyond being an expert at pressing the shutter button half-way before the shot [aka Timmy Tourist.]
    My 15 minutes of fame was an appearance [and SUPERB "performance"] on COPS.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    B&H and Amazon are who I do business with. Ritz/Wolf has had a bad rep for as long as I can remember, way before the net when they had big adds in the back of photo mags.

    I have used Amazon's CS before. Once I got someone in Kentucky and another time someone in Ontario. Both were VERY pleasant experiences. Never used B&H CS before.

    Sometimes it's worth a bit extra for some peace of mind.
    I'll keep my religion, freedom, money, guns and HEALTH CARE!!! You keep the CHANGE!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Probably too late, but BuyDig has been good to me also.
    Nikon D80 | SIGMA 18-50 f/2.8 EX Macro

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Des Plaines, IL

    When big isn't important ... for that personal touch

    You might try Alpine Camera (<- click here), in Des Plaines.

    ph: 800-518-6181 ... Mon - Sat, 9a-6p

    They are a brick & motor storefront, local to me, tend to offer quick response to my photographic needs and while the store is not the largest in the free world, each customer is like "gold" to them. That's important when you are starting out and need some sound advice. I and my local college have dealt with them for well over 10-years, now. They've survived the digital crush of the film world.

    Another nice aspect, they're not going to forget your sale ... because it's not along with several hundred others that have come in, the very same day. The staff has been there for years.

    "Chuck" or "Mike" will quickly work to provide you the camera equipment you desire and can offer some significant alternatives to items you may have questions about. Remember, it is just a camera store, not a research center, so try to be reasonable in your expectations. If they don't hit the mark, you can always still go back to the big, impersonal stores. They're always waiting for you, too.

    If you want to go with the "non-negotiable" route, you can always try Calumet Photographic (<- click for website), with representation internationally. Their prices are unfortunately written in stone, so be sure you know what you want and don't expect a discount, no matter how much stuff you buy. This will hardly be the personal touch, but their inventory of equipment is enormous. If you cannot find it, go here, then somewhere else.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 01-06-2008 at 10:05 AM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

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