Death of the independant shop?

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a load of kit from 7dayshop. At the time, it was all listed as being in stock so I expected it to turn up within a few days. Also, because they will only deliver to the credit card holders registered address I actually went to the bother of telling my credit card company that I now lived in my office (rather strangely, they didn’t seem to be bothered by this).

Anyway, a few days after I placed the order part of it arrived. A 55 quid lens turned up – at my home address :-/. Luckily, my neighbour was around and took the order for me.

I expected the rest to turn up within a day or two.

The end of last week I dig around on the website to find that one of the items in the order is now listed as “STOCK – ON ORDER”. Slightly irritating as it claimed it was in stock at the time I ordered it.

I send a short email to 7dayshop asking if they could cancel this item and dispatch the rest as I’d quite like the rest before I head off to the GP on Friday. According to their own T&Cs I’m allowed to cancel a back ordered item if it has not yet been marked as in the dispatch process. It also says:

Items ordered which are found to be out of stock are placed on Back Order automatically by our system. These items are not charged for until they are dispatched.

They had charged me the full amount immediately. Odd…Anyway, I get a reply on monday:

Sorry as the order has been processed already we are unable to cancel it for you.

We appear to have a new status that isn’t mentioned in their T&Cs. I’m now in state “processed”. I reply suggesting that their webpage is a little misleading and also asking them to confirm where they will be shipping to once they do have the filter in stock. This morning I get a reply:

the item is not back ordered, where did you get this information from?

Thats it – the entire anonymous email. They seem to be getting a little confrontational :-). By this point I’m getting annoyed a little to I reply again. I send them a link to their own online catalog that shows the item out of stock and ask them to explain the difference between back ordered and “STOCK – ON ORDER”.

This afternoon I have an automated email from them. Not a reply to my question (or any of my earlier questions either):

We write to inform you that the following products were found to be out of stock when we packed your recent order.
Whilst our policy is normally not to charge for products that are out of stock at the time of ordering, unfortunately you have been charged as our systems showed the stock being available at the time of ordering.

Looking at my order status they have no dispatched the rest of my order and will forward the backordered item later. Exactly what I wanted in the first place. grrrrr.

I still don’t know where the hell they are sending it but hey ho.

This whole thing got me thinking. A few years ago I used to be a regular in Colourscope Cameras in Ashford. A little independant camera shop staffed with people who knew what they were talking about and who were willing to let me (a interested but skint 18yr old) play with the new shiny lenses that I could never have afforded. As a result, I bought all my film there. I had my processing done there. I bought my tripod, my monopod and most of my filters and other gadgets there. We were all happy.

Now I actually have the money to buy some of those nice lenses that I used to play with Colourscope have gone. They along with just about all of the independant camera shops have been swallowed up by Jessops.

The other day while waiting for someone I bought a copy of Amateur Photographer. Inside was an article about how the internet shops are killing the friendly, small independants. It had an interview with one of the Oddens who owned the famous Vic Oddens camera shop at London Bridge. I read today that just a few weeks later Vic Oddens shut down and have filed for bankrupcy :-(.

Where will keen 18yr olds go in the future to look at shiny toys and have a play with them? Jessops price match but when there is no one left to price match except Dixons prices will rocket again. Internet shopping is great but for somethings you can’t beat going and looking and *holding* the thing. Maybe I should have bought my 55 quid lens from Oddens (where it was 70 quid)? I’m sure I’d have got shit loads better customer service than I have had from 7dayshop. Jessops are becoming the Tesco of the camera world.

I await my parcel (at one of my addresses)…will it turn up in time for the GP?

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