Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Shopping Derecommendation is St. John's #1: Phototec Services
Before we begin, I want you to know that this won't be a throwdown, Phototec sucks review. This is a more going to be an "in comparison to" review and how this place simply doesn't do as well as others.
It was approximately 1 year ago that I started to shop seriously for better photo and DSLR equipment. In town at the time, you could buy things at a few places, Newfoundland Camera, Wal Mart, Futureshop, Staples, and Phototec. There were a couple of other places, but these would be considered the major players.
Phototec is a camera shop over in Pippy Park. It originally started out as a small repair shop for lens' and the like, but grew into something more. It sells all forms and sorts of cameras, from purse/family cameras to top of the line Digital SLRs, filters, bags, and so on. You can purchase used gear there as well, albeit a very limited selection of it. You can even purchase GPS equipment there (Magellan Brand only).
There is also an output service through this store as well. Given the fact that I do not use this service I cannot
make any comment on it.
Phototec repair services are what the business was built from and what truly carries it. I have never used this, as I have been lucky (knock on wood) to not need it as of yet. I have taken reports however, and Phototec is basically the "go-to" service in the St. John's area for camera and lens repair. Other shops, such as Henry's Camera, offer repair services, but actually just take the camera and your money, and ship the goods to Phototec for repair.
Everything about this store is small. It's a little "elbow room only" shop with gear everywhere. I was completely overwhelmed the first time I walked in the store. To your right, there was the small GPS counter, then the small selection of bags. On the back wall there was a selection of filters and small camera nick nacks, and to the left you'll find a small display cabinet with new and used lens' and cameras. It's all perfectly serviceable, mind you. If you aren't too picky, there should be something there to meet your needs. However, why go to a place like this when basically EVERY other dealer of camera gear has a better, AND CHEAPER selection?
The thing that really turned me from this store wasn't it's size or the quantity of goods in carries. It was the "we can order that for you" line given to me by the owner, and to this day (approximately one year later) I've yet to receive a call concerning the goods. This little store has little in it, so if they ARE going to be an "order it for you" store, they better damned well do it and do it well. This store gets a big effing red "X" in that department. From my own experience to those of friends of mine who have also experienced this poor service, this alone makes this store a de-recommended shop in St. John's. Truth be told, if one wants to live with "pay now, get later", one should simply buy from the much cheaper services on ebay. At least there, most dealers will actually stay in contact with you.
With regards to their GPS sales, they carry the #3 brand in the province, Magellan GPS. the Triton series of GPS was released late 2008, early 2009 and is not only usable, but even quite pleasant to use. While this is a perfectly serviceable and usable brand, it's #3 for a reason. The customer service for this brand of GPS is absolutely, mind-numbingly awful, to the point of non-existent. Accessories are hard to find, and map updates are difficult to do. (For anyone interested, if you DO have a Triton, I DO have a Go Maps chip available for this product, that work easily when you insert the chip, with 100% hands on customer service by yours truly :P) The Magellan service shouldn't reflect upon Phototec, but the poor choice of this brand over the National #1 brand, Garmin, is near mind boggling.
In conclusion, the simple frustration of poor ordering services are what turns me from Phototec. Everything they do and have is completely serviceable and good enough if you aren't picky over what you want, and their repair service is second to none. However, if there are places in this city that provide better selection, better customer service, and better prices, why would you shop there? I'm not a professional photographer nor a professional reviewer. I am simply a guy who looks for good service and good prices. Sorry Phototec. I usually side with the little guy, but this time you come up a little short.