I was thrilled to get the delivery of my new macro lens. I slowly got down to the bottom floor, discovered the UPS guy had left it IN the garage so it didn’t get wet. I brought it upstairs and figured I’d give it a try.

I opened the box. Inside was the protective filter and a free camera cleaning kit, four puffy plastic protectors. No lens.

No lens? Okay, I figured someone forgot to put it in the box. I’ve been dealing with these same people online for 20 years. I used to go to their actual physical store in New York when I lived there, but it’s a bit of a drive these days. They’ve always been very dependable, efficient and they know how to pack a camera. When they send you something, it’s perfect.

So I called. I explained “No, the package was undamaged.” The only thing wrong with was the absence of the lens I paid for. The customer service lady said they would have to investigate what happened.

I said: “Investigate? You’re going to go to the warehouse and ask if anyone forgot to pack the lens in the box or better yet, stole it? Does this work? Do your employees leap to their feet, apologizing for their errors and admitting their faults? Because in all my years of work, I had never seen that happen.” I said I didn’t frankly care about their investigation. They could do all the investigating they liked. I just wanted my lens. For which I’d paid.

It was Friday. The people who own this shop are Orthodox Jews. This means they shut down early on Friday and don’t reopen until Sunday morning — and won’t begin to ship until Monday when the “regular team” shows up.

I pointed out my receipt said: “Thank you for being a loyal repeat customer.” I said if they wanted me to continue to be a loyal repeat customer, put my lens in a box and send it to me overnight immediately because it was Friday night and I knew they’d be shutting down soon. For Jews, the day begins at sunset the previous evening and this time of year, that’s early. They also close down for all of the holidays in September and October — about 12 days of holidays one right after the other in the fall and again for 10 days for Passover, which is the same time as Easter because “the Last Supper” was a Seder.

Jesus was Jewish. Just a reminder to anti-Semites. Hate us, hate your own.

With all the arguing back and forth immediately after dealing with Charter-Spectrum, I was not in the mood for another customer disservice row. Now talking to the manager, who sounded exactly like the same woman I’d been talking to earlier (no, it couldn’t be, could it?) right down to the slightly Israeli accent and she said they had their procedures. She asked me if I’d like to buy another one.


“Are you serious?” I said. “I just paid for one I don’t have. Now you think I should fork over another few hundred dollars to replace the one I didn’t get? Send me the lens or I am going to report you for fraud. I’ll find somewhere else to buy camera equipment. You aren’t the only game in town.”

I reiterated I could care less about their procedures. That was their problem. My problem was getting the lens for which I had already paid — or calling Barclay credit and reporting them. Which they probably didn’t want me to do. That sort of thing has a way of getting around. Also, considering I’d been their customer for 20 years online and for decades before that in person and had never complained about anything, maybe it was time to put that long, positive customer relationship on the plus side and treat me like the valued customer I have always been.

She eventually said: “It’s too late to ship it now. The warehouse closed at 2:30 because it’s Friday.” Which was why I’d asked to be taken care of immediately. I had moved from looking forward to trying out my new macro lens to having a headache and being extremely grumpy. Also, I still had all that cooking waiting for me in the kitchen.

She said it would be in an overnight shipment from UPS first thing Monday morning and I should have it Tuesday and she was really sorry for ruining my day. This was when she asked me to send her pictures of the box that didn’t have the lens in it. I pointed out that was completely bizarre. What would an empty box prove? You can’t prove an absence of something. But she said she really needed it so please could I do it.

I said I was sorry for being so irritable, but this was just one ugly customer relations experience over the line. I’d really had it with companies who seem to feel that getting our business is no big deal. Then I had a sudden memory of the manners of Israelis in general and the ultra-Orthodox in particular. Rudeness didn’t even begin to cover it. Israelis are not known for their good manners.

I sighed. I wasn’t going to get my lens tomorrow (which is today). I wished her the best of luck asking the guys in the warehouse if by any chance one of them had maybe accidentally dropped a macro lens in a pocket and wandered away with it? Or perhaps “forgot” to put it in the box? And they were so honest, they would leap to their feet to accept responsibility.

Does that happen? Ever? Because if it does, I’ve never seen or heard of it.

Lens on Tuesday. I hope.

Categories: #Photography, Anecdote, Cameras, Customer Service, online shopping, Shopping

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16 replies

  1. Ruining that absolute joy of unwrapping a new lens and immediately going in search of subject matter. I feel your frustration. Hope it worked out for you!


  2. Seriously bad news, here’s hoping Tuesday gets to you as quickly as the missing lens.


  3. How disappointing, Marilyn, both on not getting your lens and the poor service. I really hope it comes on Tuesday.


  4. That is disgusting treatment of someone who had been doing business with the company for so long. I can’t believe she actually thought that buying another lens was a solution. You wouldn’t even have got it before the weekend anyway.


    • Well she did apologize. I hope that following the apology will be the lens I already bought. Because I’m really REALLY tired of being treated like everything EXCEPT a good, reliable customer. I’m trying not to think about it anymore. Because they really are driving me crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That would piss me off as well, especially the part where she suggested you buy another one. Hey! she hadn’t even dealt with the one you ordered.., AND PAID for. Good luck Marilyn, I hope it all works out in your favor.


    • I don’t even understand the whole point of this. I assumed I would call and they would fix it. No one was more surprised than I was. I’m a good, dependable, repeat customer. So now — what — they’re going to ask the guys in the warehouse if by any chance they forgot to pack the lens? And someone is going to jump up, admit that he erred, and apologize? Does that happen?


  6. What a bummer! I hope you get it on Tuesday.


  7. For real, even if all are legit, no one will remember sending out an empty box. We can’t remember what we are not aware of.


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