Recent KEH Experiences

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., Jun 10, 2010.

  1. I have always had positive experience when ordering from KEH, and the opinion(including my own) has always been that they under rate their bargain equipment which can be excellent purchases.
    However I must note that my with my recent purchases the frustration is running extremely high with them. The quality control has definitely suffered a major hit, and I can only say that it is either my bad luck or something is wrong with this well known photo equipment retailer.
    To Illustrate:
    1. Picked up Topcon RE Super 2 months ago in bargain condition, when it arrived, the prism was banged up almost beyond recognition, an ugly rating would have been way too high for it. Disappointed, it returned and lost $20 for shipping and handling both ways.
    2. Picked up a Nikkor AF 28-85mm(yes I know, not a classic, nevertheless) in bargain condition, came in with a banged up barrel, misaligned focusing scale(while focusing at infinity, it was showing 5 feet) and scratches on the front element. I called to complain and was told that this is "normal bargaining grade"(BS) and that it is normal for the focusing scale to misalign as long as the desired object was in focus. However, I was told I could return it if I wished, of course dropping another $20 in shipping both ways.
    3. Picked up a replacement for the Nikkor 28-85mm in Excellent condition this time, it arrived in excellent condition, cosmetically anyway with good glass. I started testing it with both my N70 and my D80, alas this PoS would not autofocus between 28mm-50mm focal length. Yet another return, $20 wasted in shipping.
    What's happened to this company? They used to be excellent and spoke about with high regard by a lot of photographers, amateurs and professional. Has success gotten to their head?
    Has anyone in our classic forum had such poor experience with them recently?
     
  2. Yes, I had to pay as their bargain lens apparently was expected to have scratches in the optics, so according to them, it was my choice to return but as far as they were concerned the description was acurate.
     
  3. My post recent purchases from Keh were components like diopters and lens hoods, and I had no problems. When I purchased cameras that had complicated features, such as a Canon T90, I found that their testing is not comprehensive, but Keh was always easy to negotiate with. They are an honest company, but apparently don't have the time to thoroughly check out all functions, and with today's DSLRs, that would take forever.
     
  4. KEH was once one of my two or three favorite stores. Most recently, they sold me a pan-tilt head that moved so roughly as to make it useless. I am pretty sure it was not "bargain" or "ug." Also, their web site is far slower than it once was. I don't know what has happened to them.
     
  5. Last year I noticed KEH at a used camera show. Twice this year I've bumped into them at the same venue. (Philly/NYC area of USA) They were/are in a buying up all the old film gear and digital mode. I know nothing of their business model, but the guy doing the buying is pretty saavy and makes judgements in a few seconds. (as do I when handling something). They've been getting loads of stuff in, from my 3 brief, witnessed events.
    I think they grade mostly on cosmetics not total functionality, so things will elude them. I've bought 4 cameras (MF & 35mm) along with assorted finders and lenses. I've never had a bad piece. I worked with usually excellent, but sometimes bargain grade. A bit more paint loss on the bargains, but never a glass or 'workability' issue. However, I have not gotten anything form them in 11 months now.
    I hope they don't slip-slide into an also ran.
    Jim
     
  6. From my point of view, their products and services are as good as ever. I'm still amazed at how good their BGN and UG stuff is. Their website is pretty awful, though.
     
  7. I've had some + and - experiences and a close friend had a pretty negative one (they sold him a Nikon DSLR which had a defective memory cards slot -- when he got it, it couldn't read ANY memory card so obviously it wasn't tested very thoroughly). They took it back with no fuss and replaced it for him.
    A recent experience could've been negative but ended up being positive. They sent me a lens for my 'blad which didn't focus accurately (to the marked scale). Optically and mechanically, it worked fine. As it was a costly lens (marked EX), I wanted the focus scale to be accurate so I returned it (at no cost to me) and they ended up sending me a BETTER lens (EX+/LN-) to replace it. No fuss.
    Overall, my experiences have been positive and their equipment continues to be conservatively rated.
    I suspect that their equipment testing discipline might be wavering but their Customer Service continues to be outstanding. I will continue to buy from them but I hope they do read this thread and make some changes to their QC process.
     
  8. I have had stuff from them with undisclosed functional issues, but it was always stuff that would have been difficult to test, like the arcane interlocks on RB67 film backs. I still find them conservative in their grading and am surprised to hear that they would grade a lens with scratched glass BGN instead of UG.
     
  9. I've had great service from KEH.
    One of the risks of "bottom feeding" is paying return shipping. Sorry it has happened to you so many times in a row, but that is one of the risks of shopping for bargains via mail order. To reduce this risk I generally buy higher-graded items unless it is something I don't mind losing some money on if it doesn't work out.
     
  10. Over the years I've bought four items from KEH: an excellent Nikkor 20mm f/2.8, an excellent Nikkor 24mm f/2.8, an excellent Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4, and a bargain F2A. Only the F2A had a problem - the meter was erratic. Keh replaced the camera with another, better one that I still have. The lenses never gave me any problems.
     
  11. My recent dealings with KEH have been good. I've ordered several lenses from them and all were fine except 1. The Tamron 17-50 I ordered arrived with a a dent and crack in the filter threads so no mounting the lens hood or filters. Spoke to Ken, great service over the phone and got an RMA to ship it back. Full refund in a couple weeks and taken care of. If you've seen photos of their warehouse, I can understand how a few things slip through. I've had much worse service from other used departments - the next 17-50 that I ordered from A-nother used department in EX condition arrived with the lens mount loose and the front ring loose. It only required me removing the front ring to tighten the screws and tightening the lens mount screws so I didn't want to bother trying to send it back. The rest of the lens was fine. This other department has also tried to charge me extra for a light meter because of I-don't-know-why. I received it in the mail and noticed on the invoice that there was a separate $29 charge on top of the $269 I paid for the meter. It was eventually corrected, but only after the 2nd phone call. IMO that's pretty low.
     
  12. My recent dealings with KEH have been good. I've ordered several lenses from them and all were fine except 1. The Tamron 17-50 I ordered arrived with a a dent and crack in the filter threads so no mounting the lens hood or filters. Spoke to Ken, great service over the phone and got an RMA to ship it back. Full refund in a couple weeks and taken care of. If you've seen photos of their warehouse, I can understand how a few things slip through. I've had much worse service from other used departments - the next 17-50 that I ordered from A-nother used department in EX condition arrived with the lens mount loose and the front ring loose. It only required me removing the front ring to tighten the screws and tightening the lens mount screws so I didn't want to bother trying to send it back. The rest of the lens was fine. This other department has also tried to charge me extra for a light meter because of I-don't-know-why. I received it in the mail and noticed on the invoice that there was a separate $29 charge on top of the $269 I paid for the meter. It was eventually corrected, but only after the 2nd phone call. IMO that's pretty low.
     
  13. My dealings with them have been mixed. They do not do a very thorough review of their equipment, so lots of little issues get through. I bought a medium format lens where one of the shutter speeds didn't work, and a point and shoot camera that apparently likes to focus at infinity 50% of the time. Older stuff can have odd quirks, and they simply don't have the time to find intermittent problems. I am now a raider of yard sales and used camera stores where I can handle the equipment first.
     
  14. Since I discovered KEH a couple of years ago, I have not had a problem once. Sorry to hear that you have had problems.
    I have two recent purchases from them, both good experiences.
    - a Bronica 250mm MC for ETR, EX grade. Glass was spotless, mechanically perfect. It wasn't "fresh out of the box" looking, but looked like it had spent it's lifetime in my camera case getting gentle use.
    - a Fuji GW690, BGN grade. I wasn't sure what to expect because I have never ordered BGN grade before. I have heard a few mixed reports, and the description given by KEH sounds ominous:
    "Bargain" 70-79% of original condition. Shows more than average wear. May have dents, dings and/or brassing and finish loss. Glass may have marks and/or blemishes that should not affect picture quality*.
    However, the Fuji GW690 arrived last night. The only blemish on the camera is that the top of the letter "F" on "Fujica" was worn off the top plate. The glass was pristine, functionality excellent. No dents, no dings. No scratches, no cosmetic problems. I wiped down the whole camera, and it would easily be rated EX+ by other sellers. The biggest indicator that it was BGN was that it didn't have a lens cap or hood, which didn't surprise me. I remain very pleased with KEH.
    I hope your luck with KEH turns around.
     
  15. Well, shopping from the UK I recently bought a Pentax 645-67 adapter and bargain-grade Pentax 67 165mm f/2.8 from them. The adapter looked like it had just come out of the box, and worked out at about half the price I would have had
    to pay for one over here; the lens had some wear on the handling surfaces, a few scuffs on the
    hood, and a tiny rub mark on the front element. I placed the order Tuesday evening, received notification
    Wednesday that the package was on its way, had it in my hands Thursday morning - and that was using
    the cheapest shipping option.

    You have my sympathies - however all my dealings with them have been positive.
     
  16. Perhaps the insane pricing on Ebay and Craig's List have damaged the purchasing end of KEH's business model.
     
  17. Speaking of Keh appearing at camera swap meets, they were also at the one in Vancouver, Canada on April 25 of this year. I guess they're travelling across N. America and picking up all the used gear they can.
     
  18. I have not had any problems with KEH. In fact, I have only had to return one item since I began buying from them and that was a Hasselblad diopter that was the wrong strength. All else has been in great condition.
    Further, if you go to http://www.kehblog.com/ you can access a list of the places they will have their buyers in 2010.
     
  19. Did not see KEH at the Puyallup Show here near Seattle last May 1st. Lots of other dealers but perhaps KEH had a very small sign that I missed. I've never purchased anything from them so I can't comment. But at least they have a return policy. That's more than can be said of most Craigslist or ebay sellers.
     
  20. I have purchased from KEH several times in the past few years. My experiences have been quite good overall but one item they sent recently was most definitely not rated properly. This was a Minolta SRT-101 'bargain' body which was at least supposed to wind & fire. I expected the dead meter. The SRT-101 arrived with an inop shutter and the lens mount was obviously displaced from the body (obviously dropped & broken previously). Still only a $17 item but what bothered me most is KEH did not even respond to my 'most pleasantly worded' email. I'll do business again but my once excellent opinion of KEH took a hit. In reality they price most items very fairly and one can expect some risk on their lower cost / rated offerings. I have certainly had worse luck via eBay...but eBay / PayPal pretty much assures a reply to one's communication (can't say that for KEH this time around).
    Gary Turner in Bozeman, Montana
     
  21. OT-
    Has anyone noticed taht for the past 6 months or so their used lens inventory is almost nil? You used to be able to pick up a decent Noct for less then 5k, now they rarely even have 35ASPH or 75 Summiluxes in stock.
     
  22. I'd like to see them go to a dual rating system, where each item would get a mechanical and a cosmetic grade. (Yes, they need to do the mechanical testing for real.) As it is now, some listings are folly. Random example from a paper catalog on my desk, probably sold by now, a Canon rangefinder listing: "IVSB CHR *INOP EX+". To me, that's oxymoronic; it can't be excellent (or EX+) if it's inoperative! With a two-rating system, those of us looking for user classics could look for mech EX/cosmetic BGN (or even UG) cameras, while people looking for shelf queens could seek mech UG/cosmetic EX+. Everyone would know what they're getting and be happy. Right now, about the only mechanical info you get is "INOP" vs. lack of "INOP" -- very little to go on.
     
  23. I've only purchased a very few items from KEH, and always of "excellent" grade. Pricing was fair, and I've had no problems whatsoever with the equipment (not digital). One experience in particular sticks in my mind when I had to return something bought on emotion after an accident, and which I couldn't really afford. They were unbelievably kind about this; so much so that I feel guilty for not writing them up here at the time. If memory serves, I think the person I spoke with may well have been Ken, too.
    Sorry about your bad experiences.
     
  24. My experience with them have been mixed too. I just purchased 2 bargain-grade FD lenses from them which are immaculate.
    The Canon 100 Macro I bought from them was excelent-grade, but it was misfocusing extremely badly. I didn't get a chance to test and return it on time so I spent another $150 to get the lens fixed. That lens looks brand new, but it wasn't functionally good. I think that lens should not have been graded "excellent".
     
  25. update - Ken helped me with an RMA and prepaid shipping. Hope to have better luck with my next model.
     
  26. After decades of positives with KEH, my last experience, last year with them was poor. I ordered a mint flash unit and it never arrived but I was charged the sales price plus shipping. After weeks of waiting, numerous emails and some calls, their response was a refund minus the shipping for a unit never shipped as it turned out. Their web site really is substandard, imho. If I order now (not likely), it is strictly by phone and human interaction.
     
  27. i've purchased from them 2 or 3 times in the last six months. I am pleased with their service and surprised with the quality of the items they sold me in BGN condition. One of those BGN items was my OM-4T. Great condition and works beautifully.
    I'd much prefer buying from KEH than ebay when it comes to buying a body like the OM4. Peace of mind:)
     
  28. Mr. Jakoel et. al.,
    Could KEH have changed hands or management recently? Or, perhaps it has passed through to the next generation of family ownership/management? Both sale and generational change has deteriorated and/or ruined so many other businesses.
    A. T. Burke
     
  29. Does KEH have a showroom where you can look at the items. I may be traveling to Atlanta soon. I would like a BGN RB67 but would like to look at it first.
     
  30. paul f , Jun 11, 2010; 03:10 p.m.
    Perhaps the insane pricing on Ebay and Craig's List have damaged the purchasing end of KEH's business model​
    Please explain what you mean by "insane" (did you mean too high or too low? or randomly inconsistent?) and how they damege KEH (you mean KEH has been purchasing from ebay and CL ?)
     
  31. Over the years I have ordered quite a lot of gear from KEH and never had even the slightest issue with their products. Typically I have always bought the EX or above rated items, and they have been just that.
    Today I received shipment of a power winder from KEH. The one I ordered was in EX condition, and was listed as such on the invoice. The wrapper on the item I actually received was clearly marked BGN, and visually it was obvious the winder would never work as it was seriously bent.
    I called KEH and they apologized for the packing mistake from their warehouse, and immediately issued an order to send me the correct item, and sent an email with a FedEx free return shipping label to return the part I received. When I explained it would take a couple days for me to get the part shipped to them, the agent advised to just toss it, and again apologized for the inconvenience the mistake cost me.
    Sure I'm out a few days while the correct item ships, but I am ultimately very satisfied at the way KEH immediately ponied up to the error and made it right. I'll keep shopping KEH as long as they respect the customer this way.
     
  32. I guess the lesson learned here is that "bargain grade" is unknown territory. I don't buy from anybody if it's less than excellent grade, and the problems are almost nil.
    Question for KEH customers or KEH themselves: Do they buy only working cameras, or do they buy and repair as needed?
     
  33. Customer service is still outstanding, but I suspect places like Ebay have really hurt the quality and consistency of their products, at least for items that are popular. Why would anyone sell to KEH when they could sell it on Ebay for so much more?
     
  34. I've always had excellent service from KEH and I'll definitely buy more from them in the future. No testing can be perfect, as has already been pointed out. The KEH guy who bought things 'from the street" will certainly take the stuff for thorough checking at their place and then he may also discover bad things. I made 2 or 3 purchases where problems have arisen and these were quickly solved and always to my advantage. It is just impossible to test everything on high techs like cameras (they are no wheelbarrows) and we should keep it in mind every time and accept the fact.
     
  35. I've always had excellent service from KEH and I'll definitely buy more from them in the future. No testing can be perfect, as has already been pointed out. The KEH guy who bought things 'from the street" will certainly take the stuff for thorough checking at their place and then he may also discover bad things. I made 2 or 3 purchases where problems have arisen and these were quickly solved and always to my advantage. It is just impossible to test everything on high techs like cameras (they are no wheelbarrows) and we should keep it in mind every time and accept the fact.
     
  36. I just received a Fuji GA545zi as a BGN grade item. All looks cosmetically good except the LCD screen hardly works and it is very important for this camera! It is impossible to use without it!
    I live in Australia and have sent them an email asking them what to do. Fingers crossed.
    This was my first KEH purchase and I am really upset.
     

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