B&H returns: shipping costs *not* refunded?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by anat|1, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. I just learned from B&H that on my lens return they wouldn't cover the return shipping cost nor refund the original shipping cost. I am returning a Nikkor 16-35 f4 as I wasn't happy with it. The copy didnt seem particularly sharp. Given that it was part of a larger order of over $10K, it was disappointing. This is one of my first major B&H purchases after several years of buying just filters etc from them.
    Have other PNers got the same return policy from B&H or is this because I'm a 'new' shopper on their site? Also, does Adorama have the same / similar policy? Would anything out there photog related compare to Amazon's return policy?
    Having largely bought from Amazon, I suppose I took their hassle-free, great return policy for granted. I was surprised that B&H has such a great reputation for easy shopping that this aspect of their return policy doesn't get more news.
    I suppose I will have to very carefully choose between B&H and Amazon based on the likelihood of a potential return. Most often the costs are the same, but B&H may carry more variety.
     
  2. If you do not get satisfaction, your best bet is feedback.
    Go on all sites you are members on and give then hell.
    At least it will make you feel better.
     
  3. LL Bean and Amazon are a couple shining examples of great customer service and great return policies. Most aren't like that. None of the big NYC stores offer return shipping and never have, to my knowledge. If there was something tangibly wrong with an item they probably would via an exchange.
     
  4. Seems reasonable to me. If you return something because you don't like it, you should be expected to pay the shipping. If there's a problem with it, then that's another story, but in that case you'd be returning for exchange or repair.
    I don't see why any company should be expected to cover shipping costs either to you or back to the company if you decide you simply don't like the item. Some might just to keep customers happy, but in that case all the other customers are paying for that service via higher retail prices. Have you compared L.L.Bean prices to other stores. Their quality is good, but on comparable items they are not the cheapest place in town. Amazon only have free returns on a few categories (basically clothing) and cameras and electronics aren't included.
    Many companies who offer "free shipping" will deduct actual shipping costs from the credit given for return items which are not defective. Shipping in that case is only "free" if you keep it. Again "free" in this context means that everybody pays for it via higher prices. There is no free lunch. Someone pays for everything.
     
  5. Ditto Amazon for customer service. Best around. But I do wonder how long they can maintain that, considering they rarely show a profit - although reportedly that's because they plow earnings back into R&D to create better content serving devices (e-readers and tablets). Never a hassle with undoing an accidental purchase, pre-paid returns, etc.
    But if Amazon is a perfect 10, B&H isn't far behind in my experience with 'em - maybe a 9.5 at worst. You can ask B&H a question and get an informed answer without high pressure sales or bait and switch tricks. And the B&H website is better. Amazon's is still a confusing mess for some stuff.
     
  6. On the one hand it seems as if he said it did have a problem, but it also seems like he would have asked for a replacement if that was the only issue. With such a big order though you'd think they would have worked harder to keep his business. Sometimes Amazon is annoying when they insist on a return instead of a replacement.
     
  7. If it were faulty merchandise I would expect them to cover shipping. KEH does exactly that. If you are sending it back because you don't like it I wouldn't expect them to cover the shipping either way.
    Rick H.
     
  8. Amazon doesn't charge shipping either way for a returned item with a problem but I think the last time I returned
    something because I decided I didn't want it I was charged shipping. Keh also does that. It seems perfectly reasonable to
    me - the merchant is already losing money if I return something that wasn't defective, why should shipping costs be
    added to their loss?
     
  9. It states on B&H website that return shipping charges are the responsibility of the customer. Can't find anything specific about refunding original shipping charges - seems unlikely that these would be refunded though. Often, items with free shipping will incur shipping charges both ways when returned.
     
  10. It's rarely "free shipping". What vendors really mean is "shipping included", i.e. the cost of the item is adjusted to include the shipping charges. Of course "free shipping" sounds much better and makes you think you're getting a better deal. Until you return something of course...
    Very few vendors have both "free shipping"yet refund the full purchase price and pay for return shipping if you don't like something.
     
  11. You bought the lens from B&H. You bought the "shipping" from a shipping company (FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.).
    If you return the lens to B&H, they will refund the price of the lens.
    There's no way to unship something once it arrives at your address. Shipping has already been completed. You can't undo the fact that it was shipped to you. FedEx has done their job, and they expect to get paid for that job. They can't reclaim used fuel.
    If you ship the item back, you are shipping it AGAIN. You are incurring ANOTHER shipping charge.
    Let's say the costs are as follows.
    Lens $600
    Shipping to you $40
    Shipping back to for a refund $40
    Full payment = $600 + $40 + $40 = $680
    When you return the lens, the $600 is refunded, but the $80 is not. The item was shipped both ways, and you paid for that service.
     
  12. Also, does Adorama have the same / similar policy? Would anything out there photog related compare to Amazon's return policy?​
    I think our policy is pretty similar, actually; if a unit is faulty and you contact me or our main CS department within the first 30 days after purchase we'll usually send a pre-paid label for return. If it is simply 'change-of-mind' then we wouldn't.
    Amazon isn't really comparable with Adorama (or B&H); unfortunately, we can't even begin to think about competing with Amazon, which is the world's largest Internet retailer, with fulfilment centers in 12 US States, PLUS, 3 locations in Canada, 4 locations in Scotland, 5 in England, 3 in Wales, 5 in France, 4 in each of Germany and Japan, 3 in China, and 1 in each of Slovakia and Italy.

    Amazon operations, currently, are subsidized by investors who really care only about growth. They are in a position of being able to pay for things by selling stock and can therefore provide twice the service for half the price. I once read that if the market ever catches on Amazon would "fold like a paper castle on a rainy day!"
    [As someone I admire very much, professionally, said recently: "Amazon can undersell and outmanoeuvre any local New York City electronic retailer"]

    Adorama, on the other hand, is a family business in NYC with a single distribution center in New Jersey....
    Don't know whether you caught the news a week or two back, concerning Amazon's ongoing losses?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/technology/amazons-revenue-soars-but-no-profit-in-sight.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/t...ing-all-amazoncom-is-missing-is-a-profit.html
    Because Adorama is a specialist photography business, many of our representatives are actually professional photographers as well as being experts in their field, so we believe that we are offering far more than Amazon in terms of specialist customer support and product information, for example, Adorama TV and the Adorama Learning Center.
    All that being said, I've just given the heads up on this thread to someone over at B&H, who I'm sure will want to assist you in resolving this as quickly as possible.
    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador
    Helen@adorama.com
     
  13. I just learned from B&H that on my lens return they wouldn't cover the return shipping cost nor refund the original shipping cost. I am returning a Nikkor 16-35 f4 as I wasn't happy with it.​
    We offer free UPS domestic non-rush return shipping when the reason for the return is our error or to exchange a product that's defective out-of-the-box. Your reason for return is, "I wasn't happy with it." For that, we do not offer free return shipping.
    You can ask B&H a question and get an informed answer without high pressure sales or bait and switch tricks.​
    Thank you. There are retailers with well established credentials for customer service and I hope B&H remains among them forever, but there are few with both well established credentials for customer service and the opportunity to "get an informed answer without high pressure sales or bait and switch tricks."
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
    PS If I have correctly identified the transaction in question (Web No: 1026778185), our customer service department has supplied a pre-paid UPS return label to the customer as a one-time courtesy.
     
  14. Items purchased from costco.com often to not carry shipping charges. Items can be returned to any warehouse location and the shipping charges (if any) will also be refunded.
     
  15. Amazon operations, currently, are subsidized by investors who really care only about growth. They are in a position of being able to pay for things by selling stock and can therefore provide twice the service for half the price. I once read that if the market ever catches on Amazon would "fold like a paper castle on a rainy day!"​
    This would only be true if they were doing secondary offerings which I haven't heard about recently. It's not like Amazon never made a profit. Amazon is investing in their business and they are growing faster than the ecommerce space as a whole. Can Adorama say the same? Amazon's losses are not because they refund shipping. They have loses because they are popping open distribution centers everywhere, expanding into new markets, and building hardware. Amazon could be profitable tomorrow even with refunding shipping if it stopped opening new distribution centers and slashed hardware R&D spending. Bezos is trying to build something. If they slashed expenses to return to consistent profitability their stock price would plummet but I doubt they would go out of business.
    As for the loss, it was smaller than the 60 cents a share, or $274 million, the company lost last year. Much of the poor 2012 showing was related to an ill-fated investment in LivingSocial, a daily deals site.​
    I really doubt they did $274 million in free return shipping for customers that simply didn't like what they bought. I'm not saying Amazon is a good buy as a investment but let's not overblow the impact of free returns on their financials.
    Having said all that I have shopped at Adorama and B&H and not had any issues except for a few years ago I used the cheap Smartpost option which was terrible.
     
  16. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    It's not like Amazon never made a profit.​

    Amazon rarely makes a profit these days and it's small when they do. This is a good description of Amazon's business by Matthew Iglesias, a notable business analyst:
    That's because Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers.​
     
  17. My one experience with a B&H return was one defective speaker (of a suite of home theatre speakers). Their response to my email notifying them of the problem was immediate acceptance and an enclosed (pdf) pre-payed shipping label, plus instructions.
    I guess it depends: if it's a defective product, it's clear-cut. If you've just had a change of heart, I don't know. But a lens with borderline sharpness, it's a tough call.
     
  18. Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
    PS If I have correctly identified the transaction in question (Web No: 1026778185), our customer service department has supplied a pre-paid UPS return label to the customer as a one-time courtesy.​
    And this is why I could NEVER be in retail. Not for a second. When did it become okay to ask someone else to pay for your change of whim?
    I do hope people realize what kind of service B&H and Adorama provide those of us who choose photography as a avocation or profession.
     
  19. "The copy didn't seem particularly sharp." [This was the next line after that quoted by Posner.]​
    Sounds like a reasonable basis for a replacement to me. A bad copy is a bad copy. It hardly sounds like "whim."
    I used to buy at B&H all the time. Now I do perhaps 30-40% of the time.
    All that savings in free shipping from Amazon adds up. (Okay, so there is a small fee for Amazon Prime, but over a year's worth of shopping, it is not very much per month or per item.)
    I used to never buy through Adorama. Why do I sometimes now buy through them? Because they advertise through Amazon. B&H does not.
    B&H will do well, even though it is coasting on its past record with many photographers. It is still a fine place to shop, and it almost always has what I want. Even so, every time that I want to buy something these days from B&H, I check to see what the price will be from Amazon--and I check shipping costs.
    Amazon increasingly has the best price.
    I will then go back to B&H and get accessories if I have to--but only if I have to.
    In spite of all the above, I have to add that many of the last few big items I have bought have been though KEH.COM. Their used prices are a bit high, but the quality is exceptional.
    --Lannie
     
  20. There's usually no reason to buy from Adorama via Amazon. Adorama typically don't charge shipping and all returns etc will be directly with Adorama, not Amazon. Amazon just takes their cut of Adorama's profit if you buy that way.
    "..You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon.com within 30 days of delivery for a full refund..."​
    Items sold by most 3rd party vendors are typically not fullfilled by Amazon.com
    If a lens doesn't seem particularly sharp and you want to return it, then it's a repair or exchange situation. If you just didn't like it because it wasn't as sharp as you hoped it might be, so you decided not to buy it, then that's a return because you just didn't like it. In that case (since you didn't ask for repair or exchange) you don't get shipping paid.
    B&H and similar companies aren't out there to provide you with free copies of a lens to test and pay the shipping both ways if you don't like it for some reason.
     
  21. At the B and H store, you can see and hold a huge selection to help make a decision on what to buy. You have free seminars and you can test equipment like printers. If you live in the NYC area or are visiting, B and H provides free parking within a block to two of their store in Manhattan if you buy more than $100 worth of stuff. You can't hold the product from Amazon.
     
  22. "...a few years ago I used the cheap Smartpost option which was terrible."​
    My experience with FedEx SmartPost was great until early 2013, including purchases directly from Adorama and via Amazon. But since early 2013 the weak point has been the post office. FedEx is generally are consistent nationwide. But USPS reliability seems very dependent on location. When the local USPS has its act together, SmartPost works great. Otherwise, not. It would take a magazine length article to detail the USPS problems we've had in our neighborhood this year, although it seems to finally have been resolved.
     
  23. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    All that savings in free shipping from Amazon adds up.​

    B&H has free shipping.
    Amazon increasingly has the best price.​

    It's been going the other way if you track pricing.

    The biggest reason is that Amazon, B&H and Adorama won't break MAP pricing, but B&H (and maybe Adorama) package free accessories with some MAP-priced items. I recently bought a fairly high end camera from B&H which included useful accessories. Amazon offered nothing extra. Not a huge price break, but another 3% in extras.

    And, in a real surprise, I ordered a filter and a card reader from B&H last week because the price was 10% lower than Amazon.
     
  24. I just bought 5 rolls of Velvia 50 120 format from B and H. I just checked Amazon - same prices except for a couple of dealers who charged less but had a high charge for shipping. Came out the same. I like buying from B and H. They're ethical. You don't have to worry.
     
  25. "The copy didn't seem particularly sharp." [This was the next line after that quoted by Posner.]
    Sounds like a reasonable basis for a replacement to me. A bad copy is a bad copy. It hardly sounds like "whim."​
    He didn't say it was "a bad copy." He gave an entirely subjective opinion about how the lens seemed to him. He's entitled to that opinion but that doesn't mean he received a defective product.
    B&H will do well, even though it is coasting on its past record with many photographers.​
    Also an entirely subjective opinion; in fact a broad generalization unsupported by facts. What we know, what we think, and what we believe are three different entities and of the three only one, what we know, has any factual basis. IMO presuming what we think or believe are factual when they're not is a problem we se too often in every conversation from this to global warming to evolution. YMMV.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
     
  26. I buy gear at B&H as well as a handful of other highly regarded, dependable retailers. I don't spend money for "coasting"
    on a reputation. I spend it on service, quality, reliability, honesty, and selection. I find all of the above at B&H and have for
    over a decade.
     
  27. Another Plus 1 for B&H.
     
  28. I've always had good experiences with B&H. It's on my short list of go-to suppliers. I'm confident that if I were to receive
    an item from them that's actually defective I would get a return without issues.

    I had something similar happen last year only with Adorama. I bought a lens that, though not defective, didn't meet my
    expectations. I should have been more careful but it was a pretty new product that wasn't available locally yet. I don't
    recall exactly what I ended up spending but I'm pretty sure I paid the shipping charges, and didn't mind because it was
    mostly my own fault.
     
  29. Amazon rarely makes a profit these days​
    They also rarely pay tax... at least, in the UK
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22549434
     
  30. Amazon rarely makes a profit these days and it's small when they do. This is a good description of Amazon's business by Matthew Iglesias, a notable business analyst:​
    Although Matthew Yglesias is a well educated individual he has no degree in economics, business, nor mathematics. Neither has he ever done anything remotely close to running a business or managing a portfolio. A huge chunk of his resume consists of blogging. I like one of his latest blog posts showing the results of his twitter survey asking why cocaine is sold in metric units. People are getting investment advice from this guy? He is not a "notable business analyst." I'm sure Mark Twain wrote a lot of amusing, insightful, and memorable things about business but you would go broke if you followed his investing patterns.
    I read Mr. Yglesias"analysis" of Amazon and it was quite thin. He mentions half the $274 million loss was due to the Living Social acquisition. Okay. That's a noncore business and a one time loss. That is absolutely one of the best losses to have. He doesn't even bother digging in to find out what comprises the other half of the $274 million loss. As I stated before a chunk of that is opening new fulfillment centers. In business there are losses and then there are losses. I would much rather have a $274 million loss because of a bad acquisition and opening fulfillment centers than have a $10 million loss because my core business can't turn a profit.
    Amazon isn't twitter or facebook. They actual sell stuff to a large swath of society. They also have multiple subscription products. I am not a professional business analyst but what I posted in this thread echoes the comments of a former Amazon employee.
    I'm convinced Amazon could easily turn a quarterly profit now. Many times in its history, it could have been content to stop investing in new product lines, new fulfillment centers, new countries. The fixed cost base would flatten out, its sales would continue growing for some period of time and then flatten out, and it would harvest some annuity of profits. Even the first year I joined Amazon in 1997, when it was just a domestic book business, it could have been content to rest on its laurels.​
    Amazon could turn off the switch at any moment and stop acquisitions and building out distribution centers and go net income positive very quickly. There is no reason to do that though.
    Interestingly Yglesias in another article/blog post questions why Amazon turns in a loss and doesn't go down as much as Apple which is immensely profitable. What he doesn't realize is Apple could be argued to be fully priced. Also Apple doesn't sell a myraid of products to a large swath of society. It sells exactly two products. The iphone and ipad. That's it. When the gig is up at Apple they are going to crater hard. Amazon is just a plain vanilla retailer selling the "necessities" of life everybody.
     
  31. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    Amazon makes very little money to no money in any given quarter, regardless of your personal opinion of Yglesias.
     
  32. Amazon makes very little money to no money in any given quarter, regardless of your personal opinion of Yglesias.​
    You need to break out net income, cash flow, EBITDA, etc. A nebulous (and false) statement that they make "no money" is not business analysis. Neither are Yglesias' half baked statements. And that isn't an opinion that is a fact. In fact the article I linked to even addresses this sort of simplistic erroneous statement.
    Besides, we were most obsessed with free cash flow. Most armchair analysts love to dissect gross margin and net income because those are simpler to understand and easier to compute from public financial statements, but there are many problems with just looking at gross margin that any analyst worth their paycheck should understand.​
    That's just business 101. I learned this as a teenager in college. Yglesias may have gone to Harvard and did well studying poetry or whatever but he never learned how to analyze a financial statement. I am not saying Amazon is a great investment or it's stock price is justified. But to say they couldn't become profitable overnight if they ceased acquisitions and opening fulfillment centers is a bold statement when the person writing the blog post doesn't appear to have done even the most rudimentary financial statement analysis.
     
  33. If you buy something from a brick & mortar store, you have to spend time, burn fuel, put a bit of wear & tear on your car,
    or spend the time and bus fare to return an item you don't like. So where does anyone come up with the idea that the
    shipping cost should not be borne by the customer who is returning an online purchase? Consumers have always borne
    that cost!

    And what does a $10K order have to do with anything? How does anyone make a leap from "I just spent $10K" to "I
    shouldn't have to pay the shipping cost of a return." It doesn't make sense. Some people want the best of all worlds -
    superb online selection that no brick & mortar store can match, no responsibility for the cost of returns, no obvious
    purchase shipping cost in the first place, etc., etc. They want a perfectly cost-free online shopping experience. It's
    nonsense IMO - a pipe dream. Removing oneself from the advantages of brick & mortar store shopping is still a problem,
    and complaining about having to pay a company to ship a return after an online purchase isn't going to alter the fact that
    shipping companies work for money.

    Online retailers have absolutely no responsibility to shoulder the cost of consumer indecision or changes of heart.
     
  34. Would anything out there photog related compare to Amazon's return policy?​
    That is the bottom line for me. Whether or not Amazon or anyone else is seen to be "obligated" to offer free returns, Amazon is doing it--at least so far for me. I have exercised my "Changed my mind" option with Amazon a number of times--no further explanation needed.
    Saying this is really to take nothing away from B&H. If I want something, I still go to B&H first. I also read the customer reviews at B&H first. I also know that I will probably buy the accessories at B&H. Yes, I trust and respect B&H more than anyone out there. Yet, yet, before I buy, I check Amazon to see what the total price is going to be. Amazon does not always have the best price, if indeed they even have the item in stock. (B&H almost always does.)
    Still, if Amazon has the best price, I will buy there. I have had no problems with either company, but, more often than not, Amazon gives me the better overall price, and I wind up buying there.
    In addition, Amazon has given me a discount off further purchases each time I have bought something substantial (such as my D800E). How much total? I haven't figured out the formula, and I haven't asked. I just look at the item cost and shipping when I make my decision whether to purchase at Amazon or B&H.
    Is there anything wrong with that?
    --Lannie
     
  35. Not at all. It's a competitive world. Companies have changed their policies based on what the competition is doing. Macys provides free shipping returns and you can return for any reason. They're doing that because their competitors are doing it. WHen B&H gets to the point that they feel they have to change their policy, they will, I'm sure. They have to figure out how each way effects their bottom line. I'm sure they already have. Your post may help them change their policy. You know they're reading it as all other posts. Unlike other stores, our comments here probably have a bigger effect then with other products.
     
  36. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    I have had several bad experiences with refurbished Nikon lenses in the last couple of years, purchased from B&H and Adorama. Those lenses were not properly refurbished and still had defects, some subtle and some very serious. Both companies sent me shipping labels to send those defective lenses back on their expense.
     
  37. I have had several bad experiences with refurbished Nikon lenses in the last couple of years, purchased from B&H and Adorama​
    I am always sorry to learn a customer is dissatisfied with a product purchased from us. FWIW refurbished Nikon cameras & lenses are refurbished by Nikon USA, not the retailer.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
     
  38. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Henry, I had assumed that most people here understand refurbished Nikon lenses purchased from the likes are Adorama and B&H are refurbished by Nikon USA, not retailer.
    Unfortunately, while I have had great experiences with new Nikon products for over three decades, all 3 out of 3 refurbished Nikon USA lenses I have dealt with in the last 2+ years had problems. While statistically it was a small sample, the 100% failure rate is very annoying to me.
     

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