Saturday, April 07, 2012

A lesson learnt

When you find an item on sale at a cheap price, there is often a catch involved somewhere.

As my friend Pete knows, I am a great fan of Canon L series lenses. They are not cheap but are of top quality both mechanically and optically. I have four of them in my collection ranging in focal lengths from 17mm to 200mm (I also have a 1.4x extender which takes the 200mm to 280mm).

The first lens came with the camera, the others have been bought since from a company called Simply Electronics who are renowned for offering the best prices on this type of equipment. You’ll find adverts for them on the Telegraph and Guardian websites.

There is a drawback though and that is the lenses are all so called “grey” imports because Simply Electronics are based in Hong Kong. Still they are genuine Canon lenses, work perfectly well and come with a worldwide warranty.

Actually, there is another drawback to buying from Simple Electronics and that is the waiting time for goods to arrive. They claim dispatch within 1 to 3 working days but never achieve it. They claim to have stock but actually don’t, not in their dispatch centre in England that is. The first lens I bought from them took six days to dispatch, the last lens took 13 days. Still, for the amount I was saving it was worth waiting – two weeks isn’t like a lifetime is it?

I recently decided to upgrade my 70-200mm lens to the Mk II f2.8 version and so, with trepidation, I ordered from Simply Electronics again. I knew that I was tempting fate but still the saving was compelling. That was a mistake because my order did not change from new for days and so I wrote to them.

From past experience and the experience of others, the answers you get to emails come from a bank of replies which are designed to fob you off. The story usually goes along the lines that they are experiencing a huge demand for their products which has entailed a delay. Yes they have the lens but their dispatch centre is working flat out and it will take several days for them to clear the backlog. Several emails later, it was obvious that I was not going to receive my lens anytime soon so I decided to cancel and buy elsewhere.

I’ve paid a bit more to get the same thing from Amazon but at least I know that my lens is on its way – it was last tracked leaving the airport at Koeln on its way to Spain.

As for the order from Simply Electronics, as I say that was cancelled and I now await a refund of the money paid. I know from what I have read on the web, that will take even longer than dispatch. Many have had to resort to the law, to PayPal or to their Visa card supplier to get their money back. As for me, I’ll give them five working days and then take decisive action.

So the moral of all this, if you want a pain free purchasing experience avoid Simply Electronics like the plague. Just Google the name to see what I mean.I did but then told myself that I would be one of the lucky ones. That worked for me four times but not on the fifth. 

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