Buying a New Camera shouldn’t be this hard! Or Why Jeff Bezos is Taking Over the World.

Buying a camera

Buying a new camera is straightforward, right? Wrong!

Buying a new camera should be straightforward but sadly, in 2019, it is anything but, that is, if you want to do it the old fashioned way by walking into a shop and buying one.

I’ve been buying cameras for the last 40 plus years and it’s always been pretty easy to part with several hundred pounds, some of which went to pay the wages of the helpful souls who stood behind the counter.

If you are a Millenial you may be wondering what a counter is.

Well it was a thing they used to have in shops. A long thing, kind of like a table, that shop assistants stood behind to serve customers.

In the unlikely event that a Millennial is actually reading this, they are probably stuck on the words ‘assistant’, ‘serve’ and ‘customer’.

Let me explain.

Assistant:

Someone who worked behind a counter in a shop where they used to sell actual stuff.

‘Stuff’ being the things people wanted to buy which, made them ‘customers’ (I’ll get to that in a moment).

When buying ‘stuff’ the assistants usually had knowledge of any specialist products they were selling and could therefore answer any questions about the said products, thus ‘assisting’ the customer and encouraging a sale.

Customer:

A person who buys the stuff in shops and therefore pays the wages of those assisting customers. See, it’s a quite a simple concept.

Serve:

This may be a little tricky for you to understand if you are quite young.

There is an art to serving.

It requires respect for the customer.

If you have any trouble understanding this, there is a very helpful phrase you can recite inside your head when approaching a customer, who will be, waiting hopefully, money in hand, at the counter.

This is the phrase – you may want to write it down and learn it, “Customers pay my wages, without them I have no job.”

It’s quite easy to have respect for customers when you get a grip on how their eventual choices can affect your life.

Having respect includes not writing people off because they are over 30 and also, understanding that us ‘old’ people could actually kick your sorry, skinny little asses if we weren’t worried about getting a police record so late in life.

Having respect includes not writing people off because they are over 30 and also, understanding that us ‘old’ people could actually kick your sorry, skinny little asses if we weren’t worried about getting a police record so late in… Click To Tweet

If you can’t respect us because we are so offensive to you, how about you try and respect the money we are spending? It keeps the economy afloat and you in a job?

To serve means you are able to answer questions about the products you sell.

Telling us to Google something in a tone that says you think we don’t know what Google is will only result in you eventually losing your job.

So ‘serving’ involves a little bit of Googling for you before you go to work. Get off your Play Station 4 Pro and LEARN about the products you sell.

I’m pretty sure no one over 50 has ever set foot in my blog so we’ll leave it there and get back to my rant about buying a camera in 2019.

I had no idea buying a new camera would cause such angst!

But oh my goodness it did.

My very first cameras were Nikons, fully manual and of course, with it being back in prehistoric times, we were using film and had a degree of talent.

We went out on tricky jobs, in difficult light and, shock horror, did not have the luxury of seeing our shots instantly.

Oh no – we had to understand a little thing called exposure and we had to know how to read the light in a given scene.

Anyhow – back to the actual story, or this will turn into a rant about the brilliant pioneer photographers and the donkeys they needed to carry all the equipment we now have packed into microchips.

Like so many other retired press and pr photographers, I want to give my left shoulder a break.

The days of not caring about the weight of my camera bag are gone and to be frank, unless you are shooting massive ad campaigns for billboards, who needs the bother of several prime lenses and three camera bodies? Not me for sure!

So – buying a new camera with an integral, very wide ranging zoom was my goal last week.

Easy. No it wasn’t. I decided I wanted either the Nikon P900 or the Nikon P1000. With one around the £500 mark and the other just under £1000, I wanted that camera in my hand BEFORE I shelled out a single penny.

Off I went to John Lewis where the sales assistants, I believe, have shares in the company and they are usually very polite and helpful.

And how very rude of me, but I interrupted an instense conversation going on between two salesmen. One older and one younger. Not sure the younger one’s mummy knew he was there but anyway…

…they ignored me as I looked around the island with all the DSLR’s and Bridge cameras, which is unusual I have to say. In the past, very polite young people come up and respectfully ask if they can help.

And in John Lewis, where I usually buy my Apple products, the staff know their shit – that’s why I go there.

Well that didn’t happen last week in John Lewis.

So I went up and interuppted the conversation by saying: “Excuse me……..

Gosh, how rude of me.

The older man abruptly stopped talking and turned to me.

The younger one sighed and cast his eyes upward.

intimate

Now this isn’t the first time a shop assistant has done that in my presence.

The last time it happened it was aimed at my mother and the assistant didn’t realise it was my mother.

I was so incensed I almost started a riot in the garden centre where my poor old mum was trying to buy plants.

But that is another story.

Back to this one – again. 😆

Unfortunately, the older man made the boy serve me and it didn’t go well.

Now I know the store policy is not his fault but I still wanted to shoot the messenger because of his shitty rude attitude.

No, they did not have either camera for me to look at at and yes, they could order them in for me.

BUT…

I would have to pay for the camera/s in full before I could open the box/es to try it/them out.

So I’m stuck between two cameras – don’t know which one I want until I see how they handle and I have to pay for them before even looking at them?

“Yes” he said, without a shred of an idea as to the ludicrousness of this premise.

“Because once the box is open and you press the shutter, the camera is considered used.”

WHICH IS WHY – JOHN LEWIS – IF YOU ARE LISTENING – YOU WILL PROBABLY END UP CLOSING STORES EVENTUALLY!!!!!!

Just like other major retailers who don’t understand what they need to do to keep customers.

You need to have demonstration models IN STORE. Not just the handful of demos you have bolted to the stands. We don’t all want to choose from a narrow range of models.

So I’m clearly not buying a new camera in John Lewis and off I go to Jessops a few days later.

Meanwhile, in between John Lewis and Jessops, out of frustration, I very stupidly buy the P1000 model from Jessop’s online believing that I have covered all bases with my research.

I’d just competed payment when a very in-depth review of the Nikon P1000 came up in my YouTube suggested videos list.

And for the first time, I learn that this very expensive Bridge camera has a sensor no bigger than that of an iPhone camera, meaning, that it is not good in lowlight conditions.

Who knew? I mean who would have guessed this very expensive camera would have a tiny sensor?

There followed a mad scramble to find out how to cancel my order and a long wait to get through to my bank on the phone, only to be told they could not halt the payment unless the company sent them a fax with their shoe size on. Jessop’s probably doesn’t know it’s shoe size.

At that point, I gave up on the idea of getting a new camera and decided on getting an 18-300mm lens for my current Nikon body.

And oh the heartache that followed. John Lewis told me they had a few on order but had no idea when they would be delivered. All I could do, they said, was go on the website and ask to be emailed when they come in.

No. Thanks.

So off we went to Jessops in town.

OMG. Another boy who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about anything much at all.

I still wanted to look at the Nikon P900 and 1000 but no, they hadn’t got any.

‘We used to’, he said, as if it was some consolation.

“I can order you one in though”.

“And I have to pay for it first, right?”

Well of course I would!

This is God, I thought, telling me these Nikons are not for me. Give it up.

So I did.

At that moment, I decided to get the Nikon 18 – 300mm lens but guess what?

“Sorry, we don’t have any.” He flicked his fingers across the keyboard of the computer that’s in charge of the business now.

“We have 105 on order but they won’t be in for 28 days at least”.

Jeff Bezos – you win – buying a camera or a lens from Amazon is a whole lot easier than dealing with our High Street stores.

I am sitting here awaiting the delivery of my new lens – it was so simple with Amazon Prime and delivery isn’t costing a penny.

Thank you to Mimi and Debbie for their posts about how tech is affecting the world – you inspired me to share this tale.

Over to you – has anyone else had trouble buying a camera, or anything else for that matter, in an actual shop recently?

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25 comments

  1. This is so true!! I despair of real shops staying open, especially the specialty ones. I think Walmart will survive, along with Amazon. Besos is evil, and grossly rich, but he is giving people what they want. Unless we foolishly want real items to actually touch.
    Thank you for calling the stores out on this important issue!
    I love your writing- again!
    PurpleSlob recently posted…Way WeightMy Profile

    1. Thank you Melinda – Lovely to see you. Seems like this issue is the same on both sides of the pond and beyond. I really appreciate you reading my posts.

    1. Myke you may not be as unlucky as me in the people I have encountered but I still hope your VCR keeps going, just in case! Thank you for reading – much appreciated.

  2. Gilly,

    You absolutely crack me up with this post. I hate to shop in a store but I don’t want stores to close. I like that they are there for looking at stuff in purrson. Appliances I usually do not have a problem finding something I like inside at one of the big box stores but electronics is often a different story especially when it comes to computer purrchases. We like to custom build ours, so we strictly buy from Apple at those times. But you wanted to know about cameras. DH bought me a DSLR in 2012 after years of using a digital point n’ shoot but in my early years (80s) I used the now prehistoric Nikon FG-20. I used the internet to narrow my choices down and then just went into Best Buy to look at them one Father’s Day. After, going back and forth between two on the self I knew which one I wanted and so DH offered to buy the Nikon D7000 which came with two nice lens – 18-105mm and 55-300mm. The salesman was helpful and even made us a great deal on the package. DH really knows how to bargain. I really enjoy my big girl camera and miss not using her much over the past three years. I hope to get back into the photography groove again. No horror stories from my side. But, I do recall a few years back when we had a rude, arrogant salesman to treat us badly when DH bought me an iPad Air. His condescending attitude did not fly with DH. He got the iPad, paid for it then spoke to the store manager about the guy. What happened after that, I don’t know but at least he knew how his employee treated us.
    Cathy Kennedy recently posted…Songs of National & Personal IndependenceMy Profile

    1. OMG! The FG-20 – I had one of those! I’d forgotten it until you wrote it down.My very first Nikon was the EM – that was a long time ago now. Can’t even remember what I was using before that – oh yes, the Olympus OM1 and then a spell with large format Mamiya for studio stuff. Those were the days. The D7000 is a lovely camera – very expensive! You have the same lenses that I have but I just got tired of carrying them around and also, I’m not as fast as I was at changing lenses in a hurry – sad but true The camera I have been using since I stopped working in the field is the D5300 – it’s ample for what I do now. I also have a D700 (not 7000) but I miss the tilt out screen that I’m used to now so I only use that body for macro shots with a non DX lens that won’t auto focus on the D5300. And now that my new lens covers most of what I want to do, I’m happy. Thanks for recounting your retail experiences and well done for making it known when the guy was rude to you – that’s what I should have done but as I get older, I feel I’ll be taken less seriously, especially if the manager is another young’un!

  3. I wrote a post for a retailing blog called Shop Girl Anonymous about what drives me out of their stores and into the online market. And I spoke about the one thing that could get me back into their brick and mortar stores even if it meant that I would have to drive out of my way to get there. That one thing is Customer Service.

    1. Hello Jennifer, lovely to see you. I totally agree about customer service – but it has to be genuine, none of this empty Sir and Madam nonsense with no real knowledge of the products. The problem for us is, we grew up in a time when things were so different and we miss how it was. Thanks for taking time to visit.

  4. Excellent tutorial for all the condescending millennials who now rule the shops! Your experience is all too familiar! Little shits are everywhere. Thanks for the mention, Gilly. Sadly, retailers don’t realize the calibre of their staff is driving people away. Yes, Jeff Bezos has the last laugh. I have to admit Amazon Prime is seductive! It usually has what I’m looking for at a reasonable price. And, who can resist FREE NEXT-DAY delivery! And, NO snarky little shits!

    We do try to support our local stores too, but sometimes, convenience wins out. Not to mention, serenity! ✌

    1. Thanks for persisting Debbie – I appreciate it and I have no idea what happened. You recounting your similar experience buying a laptop prompted me to share my sorry experience. But all’s well that ends well – I LOVE my new lens and buying it was painless thanks to Jeff! I’m fast reaching a point where I don’t care about the High Street and its sulky, rude millennials. Thanks again Debbie.

      1. Stubborn Teutonic bent! 😉 Yes, the ease of buying online is fast overtaking the desire to support the local economy. But, at our age, life is too short to deal with these idiots! Loved your instructions, which I’m going to link to in my own post. Cheers!
        Debbie D. recently posted…OLD, OUTSPOKEN AND ORNERYMy Profile

  5. Hello Gilly, I have to binge read blogs now like Netflix as that is the only way I can get to enjoy and comment. This one is particularly on point. I got it into my head that my old Nikon was no longer making the grade, as an editor did not use my photos from Peru for an article I wrote. I wanted to see what the hype was all about for the mirror less cameras. Was it all smoke and mirrors? (Sorry). I read the ads and off I went to the local Best Buy to to see the – as you aptly described “bolted” down models.

    The youthful, eager staff I have to say were very polite, conversations were ended when I approached and they whisked me off to the area very eager to show me the display cameras. Only in Canada.
    The problem was the ones on display were not the ones in the Ads, in fact the ones on display did not match the lenses on display either. The whole thing was just mix and match and staff understanding was basic, not that I am such an expert myself. Yes, they could order what I wanted. But that was not going to happen without my seeing it first.

    Next I tried to call the renowned camera retailer “Henry’s” in various parts of Toronto. No one picked up the phone. That’s okay I can hang to my money until the next batch of cameras come out. Amazon is looking good.

    What do you think about the mirror less cameras Gilly? Is it all hype?

    1. Hi Judith! Always lovely to see you here. It’s crazy how the way life is going is pretty much the same the world over. As far as mirrorless cameras, I could write what I know on the back of a postage stamp and still have room for the Lord’s Prayer! I know absolutely nothing about them unfortunately. I know a friend of a friend, who is a keen amateur and a club photographer, has one and loves it. She is always up on all the latest gear and is very fussy about her cameras. I get the impression that mirrorless cameras are lighter in terms of weight but I know nothing else. So don’t know if it’s all smoke and mirrors (or smoke and NO mirrors ) Those cameras are very expensive aren’t they? If your camera body is fine, I would recommend getting a new lens if you think your images are not up to scratch. As long as you have a decent size sensor and plenty of mega pixels, you should be fine. It’s the lenses that matter. I’m thrilled with my new Nikon 18-300mm. It’s quite heavy but I like a good robust camera in my hand, I find it easier to handle than something lightweight. Good luck with the search. Really good to see you Judith – hope all is well with you.

  6. I feel your pain, Gilly. I was trying to do some birthday shopping for my D-I-L and none of the stores around here had them in stock. Like you, I like to see what I’m buying, touch it, play with it a bit to see if that’s what I want. Nope. The stores around here would have to order it or I could buy it on Amazon. Ridiculous… Fortunately, her bday isn’t until the 21st so maybe one of the stores around here will actually have one in stock. If not, it’s 2-day free shipping with Amazon.

    1. Hi Karen! I only just saw this, it had gone to spam – no idea why! Thank goodness I saw it before it disappeared. I don’t usually see my spam comments before they get dumped. So sorry I’ve only just approved this! You must think I am so rude I hope you get you DIL’s present sorted – it’s such a nuisance the way shopping has changed. It’s crazy that you can’t get to see stuff before you buy it now. But the generations coming up now won’t even now a world where we used to do that.

  7. I am slowely using the internet to make purchases after researching them on the net. Many of those behind the counter these days are indeed asshats!

    I particularly hate that everything is “no problem”! When I say thank you, just say “You’re welcome.” If I thought it was a problem for you to do your job, I’d go somewhere else.

    1. Hello Joe, many thanks for that – it made me laugh out loud! That’s so true about people saying “no problem” and I love your response. The thing that gets my goat is the fad for younger people to keep saying “perfect” every time you give an answer to a question when you are giving your name and address and DOB. Well yes, it would be perfect wouldn’t it! My DOB tends not to vary much! Thanks for coming by – much appreciated. Oh and I LOVE the term asshats!

  8. Oh my goodness. I would buy anything from these places either. The top has no idea how their employees are acting do they. No they don’t.

    Have a fabulous day and week. ♥
    Sandee recently posted…Awww MondaysMy Profile

    1. No I’m sure they don’t and it’s us ‘oldies’ who want to spend money in the shops so they need to shape up their attitudes! Thanks for coming by Sandee, much appreciated.

  9. When I find out who really is responsible for the demise of retail shopping, they are in big trouble. I miss Service Merchandise, K-Mart, Rike’s, Burdine’s, Ivey’s, Thalheimers, Filene’s, and Dayton Hudson! Those were the days! Great post.
    Paul Brads recently posted…Wake UP And See How I Feel…My Profile

    1. So you too in the states then? I hope you do find out and go get them UP! I have tried so hard to support the High Street but we are fighting a losing battle I’m afraid. Thank you for your visit here and for leaving a comment. Much appreciated.

      1. The beginning of the end was the battle for power of classy retail between Robert Campeau and Ed DeBartolo Jr. Allied Stores and Federated stores had so much debt they, heated enemies, had to merge. It was all down hill from there and the Sam Walton and his bunch effed UP the rest! Not that I’m bitter.

        1. I don’t know who those people are, UP but I’m sure they would be just like other power hungry business men the world over. We are all at their mercy if we want ‘stuff’. Not that I’m bitter either – I try to leave that to lemons Thanks for your comment – much appreciated.

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