Lousy customer service

March 16, 2009 at 9:29 pm 6 comments

Something very bad happened over the weekend. My digital camera died.

I didn’t drop it. I didn’t get it wet. Nothing untoward happened to it. I just turned it on one day and something was wrong. The colors all looked wonky. I took some pictures and uploaded them onto my computer and they still looked very wrong. Here’s an example:


Notice the odd greenish tinge of the bricks? And the extremely odd magenta hue of the covered car, not to mention the strangely oversaturated roof of the house? Yeah, that’s not good.

I depended on this camera, not just to take snapshots while hiking (which would later become the reference for future paintings) but also to photograph my finished paintings (like this one) for this blog and for my personal archive. One of the things I really loved about the camera was its color accuracy.

Color accuracy? Um, obviously not any more!


That’s a shot I took in a park in Topanga Canyon. Something a little wrong with the color? Yikes!

Okay, no panic, I’ll just see about getting the camera fixed. I checked Sony’s web site for authorized repair shops in my area. Oops, there aren’t any. Okay, how about sending it directly to Sony for repair? Hmm, they will charge $140 to look at it, but complicated repairs will be extra. I’m pretty sure this is a complicated repair. It’s a 5 year old camera, it’s obsolete, and replacing it won’t cost much more than repairing it. I think I’ll take a pass on the repairs.

Right, so it’s apparently time for me to buy a new camera. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t bought a camera in over a decade. This camera was a gift, and a mighty fine gift it turned out to be too. But buying a new one shouldn’t be a huge problem, right? I’ll just pop into my local camera store and take a look. In fact, I’ll make up a color test chart first, and bring it with me so I can try all the cameras out and find one that will work for me. I quickly painted up a nice color chart using colors I often use in my paintings:


And off to the camera store I went. That’s when things really went  downhill.

Store owner: “Hi, what can I do for you?”

Me: “My digital camera broke. I need a new one.” (I show him my camera.)

Him: “I don’t carry Sony.” (Actually, he only sells two manufacturers. That’s not very many.)

Me: “Oh, I see. Well, the important thing is that it needs to have good color accuracy. This one was great. I had another digital camera that I never used because it couldn’t tell blue apart from purple. I use blue and purple in my paintings a lot, so I need a camera that can tell colors apart.”

Him: (doesn’t really say anything)

Me: “Is there any way I can test the cameras you have? I brought a color chart. Do you have a computer I could then look at the images on?”

Him: “No, I don’t let customers use my computer.”

Me: “Well, is there any way I can try the cameras out?”

Him: “No. The memory card in your Sony camera won’t work in any of these cameras.”

Me: “What if I bought a camera from you, and then if it doesn’t work out I can return it. What’s your returns policy?”

Him: “Store credit only.” (What good is that? If he doesn’t have any cameras that work for me, I don’t want store credit at his store!)

Me (getting annoyed): “You’re not giving me many options here. Is there anything you can do to help me out?”

Him: “No.” (Someone else walks into the store and he turns to them.)

I left, shaking my head in disbelief.

I’m pretty sure that if we’d tried we could have worked something out to let me test the cameras. Something like me buying a memory card that would work in his cameras. Or maybe a USB flash card. I’m sure there was something that could have been done, if he’d been willing to go to the effort.

But I guess he just didn’t want my business. Or he didn’t want to work that hard for it. I was there, willing to spend several hundred dollars on a new camera, and he turned me away. It was his choice, but it seems like pretty lousy customer service to me. You can bet I won’t ever be back to that store, nor will I ever recommend it to anyone else.

Anyway, I went back home and did what I should have done in the first place. I bought a new camera through Amazon.com, after reading dozens of helpful, detailed customer reviews. I have 30 days to return it for a full refund if it doesn’t work out. And I didn’t have to drive all over town or deal with any lousy customer service.

Entry filed under: Materials.

Another Art Bag New Painting: “Dots 3”


  • 1. Tina Mammoser  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:14 am

    That terrible Barbara. 😦 I was very lucky and bought my Canon at a local old-fashioned camera shop who were happy to take it back if it didn’t do what I needed, after I explained how difficult it was to photograph my paintings.

    Dare I suggest that you give the old camera a good hard whack? Sound silly but that is my tried and true method of fixing most electronics. 😉

  • 2. barbarajcarter  |  March 17, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Thanks Tina, I did try the whack method. No dice, but it’s always worth a shot.

  • 3. New Painting: “Dots 3″ « Barbara J Carter  |  March 18, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    […] temporarily (I hope) camera-less, I instead captured the image of this little painting on my flatbed scanner. An artist friend had […]

  • 4. Katrina Rogers  |  March 21, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I have found the customer reviews on Amazon to be the most valuable source of information about products on the internet, if it’s a product Amazon sells, and there are more than a few reviews.

    I use the existence of those criteria as part of my decision making process … if Amazon doesn’t sell it and it’s not well reviewed is it even worth considering … when buying items for which performance is critical.

    Sometimes what I want or need just can’t be found or found well-reviewed on Amazon, and my search spreads outward, but it works so much of the time!

  • 5. Lori Paximadis  |  March 27, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Sadly, this kind of experience happens all too often. I love to support local businesses, and in fact will pay a bit of a premium to do so, but they have to have great customer service to earn my business. Local business does not always equal good business.

  • 6. TertiaE  |  March 20, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Wow, I had the same experience, but with the computer store guy. I was quite annoyed since I knew I was being given the run around, with a week and half worth of “let me call you back,” and never ever got a response back. And, yes, Amazon has everything, to make my long story short.

Barbara J Carter

I'm an artist. I make paintings with dots.

I work in acrylic paint, in a couple of distinct styles: landscapes and abstracts.

Native to California, I've lived elsewhere and only recently returned to my home state. I now live in Los Angeles.

I mostly show my art in outdoor festivals in California. I also occasionally show my work in art galleries or open studio events. You can see an up-to-date list of upcoming shows on my website (click here).

I invite you to sign up to receive my free email newsletter, in which I list my upcoming shows and talk about my latest work. I send it irregularly, a few times a year.

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Follow me on Twitter: @barbarajcarter

Why I call my landscapes neo-Pointillist landscape paintings

A bunch of my abstract dot paintings

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