Not all camera stores are equal

This is not something I usually do, but I am so sick of the way stores treat people according to what they see. The whole idea that they can judge someone like that is so frustrating.

There is a store in Melbourne, or Australia, and I haven’t been in there much, but after hearing others talk about it being a good store, thought I would see..

I want to learn about mirrorless cameras. I don’t know much about them, and I have friends who want me to help them buy one. Then there are the people who follow me and want my advice on what they should get. I want to be able to give them all informed decisions, which means getting advice from people, like shops.

I went in with a client so she could look at the Peak Design camera straps, and then she purchased one. I thought while the nice guy who served us and helped her put it on her camera I could get one of the others to help me understand the Fuji range of cameras. He was rude, patronising and quite arrogant as well. He basically wouldn’t give me any information. Wouldn’t explain the difference between any of them. I gave up and walked away. It was ridiculous.

There are a few camera stores around Melbourne and with all the complaints from them about people buying gear online can they really afford to have staff that are like that.

I will never go to that store again. Three strikes and that’s it. There are other stores where I know I can get help, so I will go there next time.

Have you had an experience like this?


It is the photography challenge on The Photographer’s Mentor today and it is STREET PHOTOGRAPHY.  I thought I would show you an image that I have shown before, but this time instead of the black and white version, I did it in colour. It is a little different.


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    1. Thank you so much, unfortunately it is not something I do. critiquing is very personal, and takes a lot of time. I’m sure they are fantastic.

  1. First rule of business: “Don’t antagonize a potential customer, whether they’re looking around or there to purchase.”

    Seems the salesperson needs remedial training before the new job at the new retail outlet. Most unfortunate that happened to you. I wouldn’t ascribe much more to it than very, very poor sales training on part of the retail chain. We have very few camera stores in our area, and so the competition is very keen when it comes to their walk-in customers. They’ll give you a chance to handle a demo model, and answer your questions. When there’s an opportunity to buy a camera, maybe a few extras, our stores prefer if you walk out with a bag.

    1. Or antagonise someone who may have the potential to refer many potential customers to you.

      They do have a problem though I really hope that it has been resolved now. I think there are very few camera stores anywhere now, it is so easy to do the shopping from your computer. I think all stores prefer you to walk out with something, which is why they are there, but they should also be thinking future sales too. We went there because they had the Peak Design range, which other stores don’t, she did buy it. I took her there, so who know. I don’t know. I was just shocked I think. Thanks David.

  2. Sexism is everywhere, and needs to be stamped out. This blog post reminded me of a terrible experience at a place in Tweed Heads called Wayne’s (from memory).
    I went in to ask about a particular tripod. As an overweight 50+ female using a walking stick, he treated me with the utmost contempt. He patronisingly told me I wouldn’t need a big tripod like that for any little point and shoot I might have. I acted all innocent and said I’d go and get my camera bag from the car.
    When I walked in with my monster Billingham bag I saw the first traces of ‘oh, shit’ creep over his face. When I opened it to show digital Hasselblad with 3 lenses and Canon 1Ds MkII ditto, he went sort of green. He started spluttering and I said, never mind, I wouldn’t even buy a lens cap from you, I just thought you needed a lesson about NOT judging people by how they look to you.
    As there was other photographer friend in there at the time at another counter it ended up being fun. But for the ordinary female tog trying to learn and get info it could be the thing that drives them to give up photography.
    Such behaviour needs to be stamped out.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, though was recently told that I talk about it too much and that people are sick of it, mind you it is only men who have said that.
      You sound like me, minus the walking stick.
      You go girl, love it, that is so good. Mind you, I had shown them that I had the Nikon D850 with a rather expensive lens on it, but apparently that didn’t impress him. Can you come down to Melbourne and do the same thing, maybe I can stand outside with your great, so when you come to get it I can hand it over, lol.
      It is wrong, I think it stinks, and I agree it needs to stop. We need to do more.
      Thank you Odille,

  3. Hi Leanne,
    Sorry to hear of your problems. I haven’t delt with digiDIRECT in Melbourne but have ordered gear from Bondi, Sydney, and online. Their staff couldn’t have been nore helpful to me and others I notice while in the store.
    As a manager for over 40 years, manufacturing, I always welcomed feedback from customers either good or bad so we could see how we were performing. I like those organizations who follow up a sale to see how they performed so they can improve the experience.
    I think it important that you speak to the store manager of your experience.

    1. I think the same about the Bondi store and the manager, Stephen actually reached out to me to see if he could help in any way. He was fantastic, I told what you said and he asked me to thank you.
      I have spoken to the floor manager, and they assure me the issue is being dealth with, which is great.Thank you.

  4. I’m Adelaide based and visited Melbourne’s Digi store for the first time Lady month. My experience can be argued both ways. Like Justin I was served by Mark, although he seemed unenthusiastic the whole time when I factor in Melbourne culture and also the hell of a deal plus great above he provided I can’t say my experience was bad and I’d easily recommend it to any of my friends.

    1. I don’t know Mark, though he did email me. I’m glad it worked out for you Tony, unfortunately I was made to feel stupid, and like I was a total nuisance, even more unfortunately it wasn’t the first time it had happened to me. I hope it is something they will look into and make sure it doesn’t happen to others again. Thank you Tony.

  5. I use this store regularly and i usually deal with Mark mostly and my experiences are nothing short of great, i’ve asked questions and always been treated well and not like its another noob question, i always believe we shouldn’t judge people as we dont know what kind of day they have had or experiences they are going through, this sales person could have been going through some tough times and you were just there at the wrong time.

    1. I would say you have been lucky, unfortunatly it isn’t just me that has had that same experience there. I also think that the sales person, who cares if he had a bad day or not, you are always polite and helpful to your customers. I’ve worked in sales and I would have been sacked if I treated people that way. I have had the same experience three times there, every time I’ve gone there, I don’t think I will be seeing if it will be better next time. It is a shame that so many women, and one guy have all said that they have had similar experiences there, but somehow it is our fault.

  6. Love that image! I too have been in a camera store with a professional photographer who was treated rudely .. I have no idea why either. And I have also been in the same store solo, and had wonderful service! Go figure ..

    1. Thank you Julie, that is really interesting, what was the professional photographers reaction? Glad you were treated well.

  7. Staff at digiDIRECT Sydney are good as far as I observe. They are very open, friendly, yet honest so I could get more straight and honest advice or suggestion. It is really disappointing hence to hear what happened to you.
    The fact is that one person is enough to ruin rest of all good staff and hardworking by his/her unprofessional service manner, but some people don’t realise it. I hope digiDIRECT Melbourne will take follow-up action to improve their service quality.

    1. It was disappointing, though I should have stated that the shop is good, it is just that member of staff, and I hope things have changed there now. I believe they have, which is great for future customers. Thank you Macquie.

  8. Wow I thought it was just me, coz it has happened to me a few times too. I just hate the condescending sales people. One guy missed out on selling me my latest camera because of that condescending attitude. But I have found a few good sales people as well. Camera Warehouse in Northcote have some great sales people that I always feel comfortable buying my gear from and they are close to home. The best way to deal with bad customer service is to talk with your feet and walk right out of that store!

    1. Oh no Vicki, from what I can tell it happens to quite a few women who go there, especially women of a certain, and maybe look, not so sure on that. I haven’t been to Camera Warehouse, I’ve heard of them, but that’s it. It is good to have a store that you feel comfortable with. I agree, I won’t be going back, only this time I’m letting my fingers do the walking out via the keyboard. I hope they see what everyone is saying. Thank you for you sharing your experiences with the store.

  9. I had a rude sales person in Melbourne on the photographic store strip when the 850 came out they had 1 on show I asked if I could check it out his reply was are you going to buy it? I said not today I’m not, so he said you can look through the window, I told him what I thought and walked out and went into Michaels they were super friendly and helpful took it out and gave me a run through. I haven’t bought one yet but I know where I won’t be buying one.

    1. I am not surprised Ross, and I bet I can guess exactly who it was. How rude, the problem too is that the photography community in Melbourne isn’t that big, and we all talk. I have found Michael’s to be very helpful, and they don’t seem to care if you are buying or not. They could teach the other guys a lot. Thank you for sharing your experience with them Ross.

    1. I have no idea, I suspect it was more me, he just couldn’t be bothered, didn’t think I was a customer that was worth it. Thank you Nora.

    1. I think you are right Noel, Though he knew I wasn’t looking to buy one, I wanted information. It is a good thing to do, to test the waters, now I know not to send people there. Thank you Noel.

  10. Note that being a pretty young woman has ALWAYS made service better. My non-white husband can tell you a LOT of stories. That is, until they realize they’ve seen him on TV and THEN watch them become downright servile. People are scum.

  11. Honestly, that sounds like EVERY experience I’ve ever had at any Apple store I’ve been to throughout the years. There’s a reason i won’t buy Apple products … and that’s it. They have this attitude that they understand everything and YOU are stupid. I’ve had mixed experiences at camera stores ranging from fantastic to ready to blow them out of the mall.

    It’s not you. It’s them. Some of them — not all, but many — get this attitude that they are the smartest, coolest folks and they forget that they are supposed to serve YOU. Especially the young ones. I sometimes think it’s generational.

    We have just one local store and it’s not all that local, but when I was printing, I wanted my pictures printed the way I wanted them printed. Exactly the way i told them, which was to print them the size and colors I set in Photoshop.

    They NEVER did it. Not once. They ALWAYS pushed the color and cropped them according to what THEY thought i should want and when I refused to pay them, they STILL didn’t get it. I gave up and found on online place they does a fantastic job at less than half the price.

    I also get very good service from online sellers. They have consultants who will explain absolutely everything you need to know and find you the best price, lowest shipping cost AND throw in extras without your even asking.

    There’s a reason why online has so outstripped brick & mortar shopping. Very few of the real retail shops seem to “get” making their customers feel well served. Whether it’s a camera store or a clothing shop, it’s the same story. I’ve been very thin and very fat. Young, medium, and old … and how they treat me has had nothing to do with anything except their crappy attitudes. The next time you catch them complaining about how they feel people no longer want to shop in their stores, it’s time to remind them that they have long since stopped being the kind of places anyone would WANT to shop.

    1. I sypathise Marilyn, Yes, I can believe Apple would think that their customers are all young people.

      I believe you are right, it is their problem, I know what I know, and I now how good I am or not.

      It is terrible that you have had that experience, but I really understand. It is such a shame when they assume they know more. That you couldn’t possibly understand what it is that you want.

      There is that, absolutely. If people are made to feel like crap then they won’t be back, that’s for sure. I agree, it is always their prejudices, which is sad. Thank you so much Marilyn.

  12. Hi, Leanne. Sorry you encountered such treatment. Perhaps elevate the matter to management and let them know you’ve shared your experience? It seems all the more disappointing given that it seems the other employee provided good service. Either way, bad service should be the store’s issue, and not something that leaves a prospective customer feeling it was due to her/his age or appearance.

    I’m in my late 50s and, while I wouldn’t be surprised by a younger person getting better service at a night club (haha), I’ve not experienced what you encountered. Most retailers seem to recognise that discretionary income levels tend to have a corelation with increasing age, and they should also be increasingly savvy to the fact that bricks and mortar businesses face stiff competition in the form of e-commerce.

    Anyway, I think you’re great and wanted to send a friendly e-hug from Canada.

    1. I did send them an email, but didn’t share this post with them.Maybe I should send them another email with the link. I agree, one guy was great, but a couple of the others really weren’t.

      I’m glad you haven’t experienced that, unfortunately I actually get it a lot, people see me, I’m overweight, I’m over 50 and therefore, somehow I must be stupid or know nothing, it is unbelievable. I think there is some disbelief that I might know what I’m talking about when it comes to my photography. Oh yes, with so many people going online to buy stuff, you would think they would make every customers experience fantastic.

      Thank you so much, I love the hug. Take care.

    2. You’re very welcome, Leanne, and I think it’s worth educating the management team at that shop with a link to your article. Take good care.

  13. Hi Leanne.

    Have you tried discussing this incident with the manager of the store? I’m sure any manager of any retail store in Australia would be horrified to hear this – as we are reading about it after the fact. digiDIRECT staff may even be reading this very blog.

    The retail managers I know always appreciate this kind of feedback – especially immediate feedback – from customers and the opportunity to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of the customer. Not to mention the obvious issue here: train staff.

    I truly hope you’ve achieved something positive with this post. As you’re no doubt aware, there’s not much we, as readers, can do other than sympathise. However, as the author, you’re in a powerful and unique position to invite dialogue from the camera stores and help them see things from their customers’ perspective. Perhaps even help them improve. They’re trying to make a living too.

    Spare a thought for the hotel managers forced to post repeated apologies on Tripadvisor due to similar incidents. Almost all of them express disappointment that nothing was said at the time so they could listen to the customer, clear up any misunderstanding and fix it there and then. You seem to be at a loss as to why this happened. Might have helped to find out why. Just saying.

    You said three strikes. Does this mean you’ve had previous similar experiences in the same store (or chain)?

    1. Hi John, I fixed it for you.

      I haven’t yet, it has been the weekend, but I have sent them an email and sent a message via their Facebook page, so will see what happens. Also a couple of people I know who deals with them said they would let management know, so I suppose I will find out if they are going to do anything tomorrow.

      Oh yes, the staff, and it isn’t just an issue for me, so I hope they do realise that some members of their staff are problems for them.

      I hope so too John, I should have added a link to it in my email. I really like what you have said, it makes a lot of sense, perhaps it is something I can do. I do know some people from camera stores, well other ones.

      Oh yes, it is the third time I’ve been to the store and each time I have hated the experience, it is like they don’t care at all about their customers, which I know isn’t true because there are people that love going there, and keep going back. It seems to be something about certain customers, like ones around 50, and women. I do believe that you should tell managers when you get treated like this, they should know, whether they do anything or not we will see.
      Thank you John.

  14. I’m lucky. Action Camera in Roseville CA is my go to place. I walk in with my challenges; and even brought in a used lens I was buying from another photographer for them to look at. They have always treated me well, given me advice, and used to clean cameras free. To say thanks, I try to buy what I can from them. Since I buy most of my gear used, I buy lenses online, By the way, I’m 74, have gray hair and hopefully average looking. I think your experience had to do with a non-caring, non-professional, having a bad hair day salesperson.

    1. It is good when you have a place you can go to and trust.That is great customer service and when they do that of course you go back and you recommend them to everyone. It is a good practice. I think you are right, though I believe there are a couple of them there that were like that. Thank you Anne.

  15. In addition, he may not have known the answers to your questions. Regardless, poor service is a frequent problem, especially in places where the salesperson is on commission. Don’t know if that applies to this store, but one tactic that often works is to find a decent salesperson, then ask for them whenever you go in and refer your friends to her/him. I’ve been with the same guy here for 20 years, even though he has worked at 3 different stores during that time (the other two went out of business). Finally, you may want to (if you haven’t already done so), send a copy of this post to the store manager. When he/she sees the number of followers you have, it may produce a reaction.

    1. Yes, that could have been a problem too, but then he should know them, I think. They don’t really do that on commission here, I have never seen it or heard of it. That is great that you can follow a person like that. I have been going to another photography store for almost 25 years, the staff have changed, and it has been a love hate relationship. but I still go. I didn’t think of sending the post to them, I did send an email, I might follow it up, thank you again Robin.

  16. I’m sure you felt like the young man in the photo, completely frustrated. My only complaint about camera stores is that no one understands my camera. When they finally look at it they all agree that it’s a great little camera but it’s set up differently than most and when they finally figure out how the settings work I’m lost and haven’t been able to follow them. I’ve even taken classes but again my camera is unlike anybody else’s and I feel guilty when someone has to spend more time with me. So I putter along and play with the settings and hope for the best. Some day I will sit down on the computer and pull up the manual for my camera and try to learn how to use it properly.

    1. What is your camera Mama? I’m intrigued. Sometimes it is the best thing to sit down and just read your manual.I really need to do it with my new camera too. Good luck Mama, I hope you get it sorted.

    2. Unfortunately it didn’t come with a manual. I have to go on-line to learn about the camera. It is a Lumix Panasonic DMC-GF7.

    3. I think that is happening more and more, Canon used to not send a manual, but I think they have gone back to giving them with each camera.

  17. As an older female I find that sales people usually start off being condescending, I don’t look like an expert. I usually change their tune fast when I show them something I know. I fix computers and I remember 🙂 two young lads in a computer parts store I often went to. One nudged the other and whispered as I came in, “That’s the one.” I find after show salespeople I am not an amateur they are more helpful. Here in NYC we have B&H Camera and Video. Their sales people are some of the best and most knowledgeable I have ever met.

    1. I find the same thing Sherry, I often feel like I have to prove to them that I do now what I’m talking about. It is unfortunate that we have to go through that, It is nice when you find people who really want to help. Thanks Sherry.

    2. I’m so jealous Sherry that you have B&H as your local store 😉

  18. I’m completely partisan about mirrorless cameras, Leanne, having both a Fuji X-T1 and X-T2, and my latest Talking Images post looks at over 12 month’ use of these excellent cameras. Hope this is useful. You’re using full-frame Nikon of course and I still do too, but the APS-C X-T2 has plenty of pixels and I wouldn’t be without it. For me, going for cameras with sensors smaller than APS-C would require much thought – although I’m very impressed by the Olympus TG-5, which I’ve also been using for awhile now, but that’s a more specialist camera. A

    1. At this stage it isn’t something I want to get myself, but I need to know about them. I think it is important that I keep up to date, and I’m getting asked about mirrorless more and more, so I want to know. I will look at your post, thanks for sending the link Adrian. Sounds like you know your stuff Adrian, I wish I did. Thank you Adrian.

    2. My friend, if you have any questions re mirrorless, you can always ask me. I’m not an expert but I may have the answers. A 🙂

    3. My pleasure! As well as the link I’ve given you, if you search on the “written piece” tag in my tag cloud, you’ll find Talking Images posts that include one or two more on the X-T1 and X-T2. A 🙂

  19. Here in Western Canada I have been in a good number of stores and never did I experience the kind of unfriendly treatment you had in Melbourne. I agree with the comment above. I believe that there was one disgruntled employee in the store who did the store a great disservice by being rude to you. A complaint to the manager would do the trick I think. Is the picture above a study hall? Great shot, Leanne!

    1. It doesn’t happen here too often either Peter, I don’t think it is just one, unfortunately there are a couple of them that are like that. I have made complaints everywhere, so hopefully their attitude will be changed. They really should be careful, as they never know who they are talking to. Thanks Peter.

  20. I saw your Facebook, and while your client had a good experience, didn’t sound like you had a great one with them at all. I’ve been to digiDirect (Elizabeth Street, Melbourne) quite a number of times, and have purchased three things from them online over the last couple of years. I always went in to pick up what I bought online there in store, no issues there – I went in to show them my order confirmation print out, they went and got my purchase, I took it and went home. In and out – which is great if you don’t want a chat, but if you want more help, well, not really that good. That was the impression I got.

    One time I went in the store and was after a replaceable battery for one of my Canon cameras. The packaging looked legit (Canon packaging) and it came with the special guarantee sticker, and I bought the battery – not before asking a sales rep if the battery was genuine and from Canon, which they straight up confirmed it was a Canon battery. A few days later when I used this battery, my Canon camera recognised it was a fake and kept automatically shutting down. Not sure if this all was due to my own stupidity and naitivity when it came to buying batteries – I did online research genuine vs fake batteries prior to the purchase, but this was my firs time buying one. Or maybe the shop was to blame in some way, I don’t know.

    Sometimes I’d go into digiDirect just for a browse. Of all times I went in there, not once did a staff member come over and asked if I needed a hand. I did not need a hand on all occasions, but it really is good customer service to do that if you are the only person in the shop.

    1. Yes, the interaction with their customers can leave a lot to be decided, I’ve watched them help people, like here this is it, now pay and go please. It seems to happen more with some people than others, like women of a certain age.

      I hope you took the battery back and got your money back Mabel, that is shocking and they should have known.

      Yes, not being approached seems to be another problem there, they seem to like talking to one another far more than talking to customers. I do like to test out what they are like, if I am going to send people to them, then I need to know they are worth it. Right now I wouldn’t send anyone there. Thanks Mabel.

  21. Leeanne, Have you thought he or she does not have a clue about the products they are selling. I am convinced that it does not matter what you want to buy you cannot trust the sales person very much.

    1. You could be right Geoff, but then they shouldn’t be working there if they don’t know, just my thoughts, anyway, lol. You do have to do your own research. It was fairly obvious that this guy just didn’t want to help, from his first words being, when I asked if they could help me with mirrorless, he said, “please”, honestly. Thanks Geoff.

  22. Hey, Leanne….what do you think the reason behind this treatment was? Sounds like he just doesn’t enjoy his job…like you said, I don’t think anyone working customer service in a camera store these days can risk putting any customer off.

    1. I have no idea, but judging from the conversation on Facebook, maybe it has something to do with my age and and weight. Or maybe just my age, apparently women my age don’t really do photography. I totally agree, and places are a lot smaller now than they used to be. Work is easier to spread. I have a friend who swears by them, reckons they look after her, so I have no idea, she is younger and looks good, so maybe that has something to do with it.

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