15 May 2012

A not so snappy camera seller

Retailers succeed or fail on the strength of their communication with customers.

With my now very old, all of four years, digital Canon PowerShot 1000is on the way out, I thought it would be a good idea to move on a couple of generations for my next point-and-shoot camera. A sucker for Canon even before the company flew me to Japan on a couple of press tours, where I saw the quality of its technology close up, I found a likely candidate in the new PowerShot SX260. Nice looking camera with an impressive zoom range.

Looking around, I could see that Amazon and Jessops have similar

prices, when you factor in Canon’s cashback deal. I dropped into Jessops on The Strand to see what it looked like. Satisfied that it would fit into a pocket, and good enough to let me leave the Canon SLR at home, after checking that my favourite supplier, Park Cameras in Burgess Hill, could not hope to match the on-line prices, I decided to order from Jessops on the grounds that while the company might be a little bit dearer, unlike Amazon, it does not refuse to pay corporation taxes in the UK.

Jessops had the item in stock. So, order placed on Sunday. Would you believe it? “In stock” for “next day delivery” suddenly turned out to be a myth.

On Monday the camera magically turned out to be “On Back-Order” with the promise of a 10-day wait, making it a bit tight before I am go off on holiday at the end of the month.

This did not stop Jessops from despatching a pair of spare batteries to go with the non-existent camera, despite the fact that they are pointless on their own. But what about getting the camera itself?

Jessops, it seems, does not believe in communicating with customers. No email to say that delivery is delayed. No suggestion as to how long it might really take. Just a message about sending the useless batteries.

OK, give them the benefit of the doubt. Use their web system to ask about changing the order from delivery to the much touted shop collection – Jessops’s system suggests that it is in stock at a couple of shops near me. Unfortunately, the promised “response within 24 hours” turns out to be a myth. The next move is to try to cancel the order to see if that will get some sort of response.

Communication is what sets suppliers apart. Customers don’t mind the odd hiccup if they know what is going on. Jessops fails on that front. So, corporation tax or not, it isn’t likely to get my business in future. Pity, the assistants in the store on The Strand were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They are just let down by the systems that are supposed to support their efforts.

Update – While writing this I finally received a reply. Not a solution, or any suggestion as to when new stock might arrive. But at least a reply. Maybe the solution will happen tomorrow.