Thursday, March 6, 2008

Retailer Review - Barclay's Photo

A few weeks ago, I finally decided it was time to upgrade the tools for one of my hobbies. Photography. I have been using a Canon Digital Rebel (aka 300D) since it first was introduced to the public, and it has served me well as a learning tool & proved to be more than enough as I gained experienced.

However, once I got into action shots, the 1st generation Digital Rebel proved to be tricky with its limited shot buffer & slow 2.5 shots per second.

I knew that a Canon 20D would be enough for me, and went on ebay in search of a used one, or perhaps some left over new stock. Once I got a feel for what I was going to spend, I decided to see what the Canon 30D would run me.

This is when I found what I considered (at the time) the deal of a lifetime.

Barclay's photo has left over new stock Canon 30D at unbelievable prices. I managed to get one from them for less than what I paid for my Digital Rebel... Unfortunately, what I saved in money, I paid for in full by experiencing the worst customer service to date.

Payment
It all started with paying for my purchase. Unlike most ebay sellers, Barclay's Photo requires that you call in, even if using Paypal. A sales person apparently handles incoming payments because the gentleman that was taking my payment tried to sell me everything under the sun along with my camera purchase. I spent a good 15 minutes declining deal after deal after bundled deals that "I could not refuse". I didn't like his demeanor over the phone, very pushy and at times "God Father" like. I felt like I was dealing with the mob. It was horrible. Unfortunately, if that was the end of the tale, I wouldn't be writing this.

After all his sales tactics failed, he proceeded to question my intellect for not accepting any of his deals. This got me a bit upset, but since I had to endure his BS I decided to inquire about a few products I was interested in, knowing full well I wouldn't give this guy any help in commission. He didn't deserve it. That probably only encouraged him to stoop lower.

In closing the deal, he questions my intelligence again in summarizing what I had declined & why I shouldn't have and made sure I acknowledge that I heard he estimated my shipment to take 7-14 business days. I acknowledged by asking if the camera was shipping from an alternate location & I was assured they had them in stock. I had no idea at the time why he was estimating it would take so long, but I would soon find out.

Shipping
I paid for my purchase on Monday Feb 25th, 2008 at around 10am EST. Barclay's photo is located in NY & I live in FL. A quick transit estimate from UPS using their zip code & my zip was 3 - 4 days. Previous purchases from NY, have taken no more than 3 days even during UPS "peak" season in my experience. Later that day I sent an email inquiring if my shipment would be shipped that day...

On Tuesday Feb 26th I called Barclay's customer service for a tracking number expecting that my purchase had shipped since they had an entire day to process my order. Instead, the lovely young lady that answered my call said the order was released for shipping, that I should get a tracking number no later than Wed evening. I tried to ask her why had it not shipped yet, and her reply was that it was released for shipping. How is that for beating around the bush? Here my intelligence was questioned & I can't get a direct answer to a simple question.

On Wednesday Feb 27th I get a reply from my initial email about shipping.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your payment. Please be advise that the standard ground shipping method you have selected, may take up to 7-10 business days for your item to arrive. You will be getting a email with the tracking number, shortly after your item has been shipped.

Thank You,

Avi,

BarclaysPhoto

As you can see from that reply, I got another exagerated estimate. At this time I am begining to worry about my purchase since it's incredibly EZ to quote UPS's shipping estimates. Now normally, setting up a customer's expectations with a little time buffer is no big deal. However, it's been 3 business days and my shipment is still at their store. I replied the same day as follows.

Thanks for the reply... I am however a bit disappointed that I do not have a tracking number yet, although you have received my payment on early Monday morning. I feel it should have shipped already.

I certainly hope the delay for my purchase to leave your store isn't due to the fact that I didn't fall for the pushy salesman taking my payment. My intelligence was even questioned, because I didn't want to accept some of the "extra" deals I was being offered.

Thanks for the reminder on the transit times for UPS ground shipping. I am well aware of them... Let's just hope your staff has the time to ship my purchase today... that would be a really nice thing to do for me after choosing barclaysphoto where I would spend my money.

Sincerely

Raul Torres
Thursday Feb 28th, I call customer service again. Spoke with the same lovely young lady that so skillfully avoided giving me a direct answer. She tells me it will ship today, this time she says they had to wait for my lens to arrive. Asked that I call after 4pm and she'd have my tracking # & an auto email would be sent. I am reasonable, and I understand that items do run out before restocking orders arrive... So I told her I wouldn't bother her again that day since this time she went out of her way to give me some explanation to what may be going on.

Meanwhile, I get a reply to my email. And this one was a good one. Or so they thought because I got it no less than 3 times.


Dear Customer,

We are sure you reviewed our feedback on eBay. We are powersellers, sold over 15,000 items and have a 99.1% satisfaction rating from our customers. We ship all orders regardless of the amount of accessories you choose to include in the package.

Your order was released for shipping. You will get another email with the tracking number tonight when we update our system.

Thank You.

Avi,

BarclaysPhoto


I have to rag on this reply a bit. I understand the purpose of protecting your reputation. But you don't stop there. And you definitely don't boast about your reputation with a good number of unhappy customers leaving you negative & neutral feedback.
Clearly, you can't make everyone happy, but when your feedback repeatedly identifies a recurring problem (shipping) it's time to address it. In the very least, make sure that when you tell a customer he\she "will" get something, that you personally go and make sure it happens. Needless to say Thursday came & went I didn't get a tracking number. I did, however, received this useless email from "unknown".


Dear Customer,
This is with reference to your order with us (SO#300027255).
We are pleased to inform you that the item(s) ordered by you have been shipped.

Your tracking information:

We do hope that you receive your items at the earliest and in safe condition. Just in case you do not receive the items within few days or in proper condition, then please do not hesitate to call us.

Thank You

Yours Sincerely,
MAIN

I'd give them credit for the effort, but in this day & age, this is pretty lame. Not only that, but the attached DOC states "FDX G Ground" shipping, although I was assured it would ship via UPS.

Friday Feb 29th, I decide to call Fed EX. There is nothing going to my address according to their system. I then call UPS, but UPS isn't able to check their system with a delivery address. Maybe they are not supposed to do that... who knows... but I thought that was weird.

I decide to send Barclay's Photo 2 emails...

The 1st. Regarding my calls to UPS & Fed Ex
Avi,

I just got off the phone with Fed EX & UPS. Neither has anything in transit to my address.

At this point it is irrelevant to me weather you have been in business for 1000 years or how great your feedback with ebay maybe. Neither does me any good at this point. I feel I have been very patient & reasonable with my requests, to which have been ignored.

You clearly must not have the product in stock, and therefore I am initiating a dispute with my credit card company. You can provide them with a tracking number if you have it or deal with the dispute process. Feel free to contact me to discuss my due customer satisfaction and I will cancel the dispute. 8138294477. All calls will be recorded.

Simply, if the item is in transit... all I need is a tracking number. Once I have that I will contact the CC company to postpone the dispute until I have received my items at which time I will inspect them to insure they are new as promised & in good working order. Then I will cancel the dispute.

Thanks for what I feel is the my new reference in worst customer service I have ever experienced.

Raul


The 2nd. Regarding the email from 'unknown'
Avi,

Take a look at the message below.
It is missing the tracking information, and the attached is only a copy of my invoice and that is also missing the tracking info.

Avi, can you kindly tell me why this has taken so long to leave your shop? It has been 5 days since I paid, this is really bad service. Your feedback on ebay has some pretty lucky customers that claim fast shipping... but you have failed to provide me with the same speedy service. Was my money not green enough? I work very hard for every bit of those $800 I spent with Barclay's.

How many more days till I can get a straight answer? I am far more intelligent than I am getting credit for... don't give me any more info other than what I have been requesting for 5 days now, please!

Thanks

Raul

Both of those emails were ignored, I never received a reply. And at this point I still don't know the shipping status of my purchase and have decided oh well I guess its up to my CC company now to help me. I wasn't able to call Barclay's Photo again because Customer Service is closed after 1pm on Fridays, and closed on Saturday & Sunday.

Monday March 3rd, I call Barclay's customer service again. The same lovely young lady answers & when I tell her I am calling again for a shipping statues, she calls me by my full name. I tell I still have no tracking # & she says "unbelievable". And FINALLY I get a tracking number. Not only that but it's scheduled for delivery on March 4th, the next day, and I need to be home... signature is required.
Good thing I work from home. ;)

I got my camera and all is in working order... it appears to be new as stated and I can't find reason to believe its a refurb or used. Barclay's truly has left over NEW Canon 30D's in stock at unbelievable prices, no less.

I however, can't say I will buy anything else from them. I will use them as a reference for rock bottom prices and compare them to results on pricegrabber.com. I would definitely pay a bit more and take a chance with another retailer for better customer service, instead of going through this ordeal with Barclay's Photo again.

In the end, I can only conclude to what this whole ordeal felt like. That is that this experience in delaying my shipment felt like punishment for not taking advantage of an additional $300+ dollars in warranties, shipping upgrades & accessories I didn't want. The shipping upgrades were a joke, because according to them they didn't have the lens in stock and it was for 3 day shipping.

In case you missed it, UPS estimates were spot on... Shipped on Thurs Feb 28th & it arrived on Tues March 4th. Exactly 3 business days from NY to FL.

Beware of Barclay's Photo. Be sure that if you are going to order from them, that you do a bit of research so that you are armed to the teeth before the sales onslaught you are going to get while trying to pay for your purchase. And be ready for the lamest shipping dept in all NY. :)


UPDATE

A manager from Barclay's photo called me, but instead of taking the opportunity to find a way to make up for their incompetence in customer service, the manager simply wanted to "understand" why I left neutral feedback & wrote this blog.

Funny, I thought he said he read my blog.

In reality it was a waste of a call, they simply called to say that it is written policy to take up to 10 business days to ship a purchase until the payment clears. I knew this, and it really is no reason to deny a customer an explanation. Did they deny an explanation? Sure they did. Promptly after stating their policy I told them the payment cleared on the 3rd day, so why did it take 4 days to ship? Well Barclay's Photo simply told me they didn't have to because I am no longer a customer.

The remainder of the call is a blurr, at that point we ceased to allow each other to be heard talking over each other. Since they had no intention to make me a happy customer, I had no intention to shut up & listen.

In the end this call simply confirms further that they held to my purchase intentionally simply because they could and it's policy. Know that there is nothing wrong with that, but also know that unlike other retailers, don't expect Barclay's photo to setup your expectations. In this case I can confidently say that since I did not opt for the up sale tactics, that there was no priority in ensuring my customer satisfaction.

To Barclay's Photo.
Since it's evident that you managed to "attempt" to read my blog, but failed to understand it... let me summarize it for you.
It really is very simple.

1) I got a great product at a great price
2) I had to decline pushy sales tactics... all I wanted to do was pay promptly
3) I was denied a reason for my delay in shipping
4) Your customer service tactics need improvement
5) Shop at your own risk with Barclay's Photo, your customer satisfaction takes a second seat to their policies, and they will enforce them 1st weather they have to or not.

I think that a very fair review.


Barclay's Photo has since decided to leave me negative feedback in retaliation for my Blog, and successfully got eBay to remove the feedback I left them. I would have thought Barclay's Photo more intelligent than that since I could no longer leave feedback for them, but instead they give me an opportunity to find a way to let other members know about their poor sales tactics & horrible customer service in a way that eBay is OK with.

In the mean time... Barclay's photo has over 140+ negative comments and countless other neutral comments.

Here is their track record, I encourage you as a reader & smart consumer to review carefully.
http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback2&userid=barclaysphoto&ftab=FeedbackLeftForOthers

Barclay's Photo in the news...
http://consumerist.com/consumer/scam-artists/priceritephoto-now-barclays-photo-don-wiss-threatened-143088.php
http://consumerist.com/consumer/barclays-photo/barclayspricerite-devious-camera-mongers-strike-again-170304.php
http://consumerist.com/consumer/brooklyn/underworldly-camera-shop-priceritephoto-is-back-160070.php
http://thomashawk.com/2005/12/priceritephoto-update-21-changing.html
http://search.blogs.ebay.com/Barclays-photo_W0QQfindZ3231QQkeywordZQ22BarclaysQ20photoQ22QQsearch_typeZblogsQQtrackingtagZtags






10 comments:

Glenn said...

Racer, I can definately "one up" you on your Barclay's photo experience if your interested?

Racer Raul said...

I'd love to hear it ;)

jackie said...

Hi my name is Jackie, and I bought from Barclays Photo. I bought a Canon 5D. I had the best experience and I have been buying for the past 2 years. I dealt with such curtius salesmen and customer service which totally goes against what you posted. I will keep buying from Barclays and hope someone smart will shut this blog and put you out of business. Get a life and go find friends.

jimmy.h said...

this is jimmy, a staisfied customer, i bought a canon 1ds mark iii, fromy barclaysphoto those guys are great. i would by from them again and strongly recomend them ,

Glenn said...

Raul,
I guess Barclays photo found your blog !! Its gonna take me a while to get my whole bad trip with Barclays documented but I will post it. Nothing wrong with letting people know what kind of business these people run.

Racer Raul said...

Jackie I can only conclude that by taking offense to my blog you are not only a customer but a Barclay's photo employee.

I thought about deleting your post, but you know what? I will not stoop to your level.

Tell your husband Steve I said hi ;)

Racer Raul said...

Jimmy... you are likely another Barclay's photo employee like Jackie.

If not, I am glad you had a pleasant experience, it however does very little to discredit mine.

I welcome your posts, in favor or against. This is America & unlike Steve from Barclay's Photo I don't condone censorship.

I gotta say your demanor seems better than Jackie's... I'd hate to be Steve & have to go to bed with her bad attitude.

Racer Raul said...

Glenn fire away.

Glenn said...

Jackie and Jimmy need to take spelling classes when they get off work at Barclays. I have a long post to come

Glenn said...

How to be rude, uncaring and a liar by any member of the Barclays photo staff


I have bought photo equipment from New York companies before and was somewhat ready for the New York attitude and hard sell but what I was about to experience from Barclays Photo was truly beyond belief. If I had known then what I know now I would have paid the extra money and gone with a no hassle purchase from Amazon. I looked over the auction pretty good Canon D40 and lens and other misc goodies. I did check Barclays feedback, with their amount of closed auctions it is hard to know if you will have problems or not, and for me it’s not really the problems that are important its how they handle them.
Day1
I went ahead with the auction as I saw they take Paypal and I feel more comfortable using Paypal than a credit card. After the auction closes I send a Paypal invoice request that I get no reply to. I do get an email with Barclays photo phone number in it, but decide to send another Paypal request. Request 2 gets no reply so I call the number, after waiting 20 mins I talk to a guy called “Chuck” that proceeds to tell me I have bought a “non US” camera body. I tell him it says nowhere in the auction that it’s a non US body. He proceeds to tell me that eBay doesn’t require them to post that in their auctions but I can get insurance to cover this non US body for $300. I decline and am already a little miffed. I tell him I want to pay with Paypal and not a credit card, he’s put out but said he will send me the Paypal request.
Day 2
No request. I try sending a Paypal request again through the eBay auction, no luck. I get on the phone again and wait another 20 mins on hold before I get a Leora to help me. She said she will send the Paypal request. I receive a request for $1049.99, when I click on the link it has no detail on what I am paying for? Just to send the money. I get back on the phone another long wait and tell the next person to send the request from eBay so we can get the auction details in it. I get another request this time its says “d40” and that’s it. I call back again ! this time the lady admits they don’t use eBay to send paypal requests and prefer not to take paypal at all. 3rd time I get a request with the auction number in it. Although not sent from eBay it links back to it so I assume I’m fairly safe. I pay this and make the note for Barclays to send me a tracking number as soon as they ship.
Day 3
I get an email saying my order was released for shipping. I’m stoked, and waiting for that tracking number to show up anytime.
Day 7
I call looking for a tracking number, Leora tells me they have had problems with defective lenses (canon?hmm) and that I will have my camera on Friday (Day 10) and make sure and give us good feedback although she cannot give me the tracking number she says they will email it to me.
Day 8 !
After calling a few times for a tracking number without success, I get this email:
Dear Customer,

Thank you for your payment. Please be advise that the standard ground shipping method you have selected, may take up to 7-10 business days for your item to arrive. You will be getting a email with the tracking number, shortly after your item has been shipped.

Thank You,
Avi,
BarclaysPhoto

I call and talk to Avi, and get in a heated argument. I ask for a shipping number and remind him that the auction specified I would receive my auction items within 10 days. I see the are not going to be able to ship those items ground and make that deadline. I tell him I am not happy with the way I am being treated (you should never shout at your customer) he tells me they want good feedback and he is trying to work with me. I don’t remember the last time a retailer said he was trying to work with me whilst he was shouting down the phone so I hung up so I can cool off some.
Day 9
I call for tracking number and get Avi, he tells me I can get my camera Friday (Day 10) but it will cost me $75 to ship it. I’m pissed as they have let me down already and not they are going to do it again !. I tell him Leora told me I would have Friday even if they have to upgrade the shipping. He said she cannot tell me that and we go back and forth on what good customer service is. I am about to miss the weekend and had planned to use my new camera to take so surfing shots (so much for that plan). Avi says my camera will be there in 10 days from auction date but refuses to give me the tracking number. We go back and forth on how there are only so many ways to ship to get it to me on time. He keeps reiterating that they want us to be happy and get good feedback. I tell him I have not been happy so far, but if auction arrives on Day 15 with everything in there he’ll be ok on the feedback. He calls me later that day with a UPS 3 Day tracking number.
Day 15
Cool my camera and goodies are here, open the box. The memory card wallet Is not in the box. Now I cannot say whether this was intentionally left out (to cover cost of 3 day shipping?) or not. But at this point I felt people should know what kind of experience they risk if they buy from Barclays Photo. I post a negative on the auction feedback stating “Bait and switch, bad business, auction not complete”. I get a call Avi asking why I had posted negative feedback, I ask him to recall our last conversation in which I told him if the auction was complete I would be fair with his feedback. He says its only a small thing ! and that they would take care of it. I tell him I think its important that people understand what kind of experience they are in for. He then says “I’ll give you $100 if you remove your negative feedback”, I laugh and joke with him, “ok put it in my account” he goes “no remove your negative first” beware as if you post negative and remove it you cannot post it again. I tell him that’s another way to dupe people and hang up. I wanted nothing more to do with these arrogant, liers. But you know what story don’t end there !!!
Day 16
I get an email from eBay saying I haven’t paid for the auction? What the hell, I go look and because Barclays sent me a Paypal request not from eBay but from Paypal its showing like I didn’t pay for the auction. Adding insult to injury Barclays posts a negative feedback saying “BEWARE CUST IS HYPOCRITICAL TRIES 2 EXTORT CREDIT TO HIS ACC. RCVD FREE UPG SHIP” now what being hypocritical has to do with winning an auction I’m not sure, but it did make me pissed. Luckily I still have my paypal card so I start a paypal dispute.
Here is the Barclays Post:
All merchandise has been shipped and received within the 7-10 time frame. Furthermore we have expedited the shipment of the camera without charge. This transaction has been a loss to us from the start - not a gain! We are merely following the guidelines set forth to us by eBay!
Now they are not even admitting all items were not in the box !!!. I continue to ask them why they filed eBay non payment when they are replying to my Paypal dispute !! duh.
This is still up for a decision. They are trying to get me to remove my feedback through Sqauretrade and I since notice my negative feedback is gone from eBay.
Here’s what I learned, a good price is often too good to be true. Barclays Photo knows the system and will lie, cheat and screw you in any way they can. You must be prepared when dealing with people like this as I found out. I know most people on eBay are screwed by these guys but are like me and don’t know (and shouldn’t have to know) the system. This Blog is a great idea I think I’ll put up my own !