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buyer beware - a lengthy customer service rant


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#1 brooksrobinson

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 11:53 AM

I didn’t want to hijack another discussion, or appear to be speaking about one specific equipment vendor, so I’m starting a new topic, aimed primarily at those just starting out who are looking to purchase new equipment.

I’ve been operating a steadicam long enough to understand how important it is to purchase equipment from a vendor that not only makes quality gear, but supports it…regardless of whether my shoot is happening around the block from their shop, or on the other side of the world.

There are vendors whose names are mentioned again and again in a positive light. Their gear works without issue out of the box and performs as advertised. When something does go wrong in the field, those vendors do whatever is necessary to get the operator out of the bind, either by getting a back-up to them immediately, or by talking them through a repair on the phone. They care, and that is why top operators the world over buy their gear – not just once, but repeatedly over the years.

There are also manufacturers who seemingly are more interested in an initial sale than an ongoing relationship with the owners of their gear. They don’t seem to understand that there are other available options, and when we spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, we expect help when we need it…immediately. We also expect their gear to work exactly as they promised it would when we purchased it. I simply do not understand purchasing new equipment, only to turn around and have work done to it because it wasn’t wired or built right the first time. Unacceptable!

This group unfortunately isn’t limited to one vendor, and without finger pointing, their names seem to pop up on the Steadicam Forum over and over again for one issue or another. I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of these companies, as for me, the risk of bad service or poor equipment is too great to even consider. I learned many years ago to stick with companies that I knew would support me…companies that nobody ever complained about, or had issues with. They are out there on both sides of the pond.

Do some due diligence before making a purchase – ask other operators (both local and on the Forum) why they like their gear and what their experience has been dealing with the manufacturer after the sale. It is in your best interest to know what to expect post-sale. The answer to these questions can affect your wallet as you deal with costly repairs, or potentially more devastating…dealing with the fall-out from a bad equipment experience on a job.

For better or worse, you are only as good as your equipment allows you to be. Quality jobs and clients are hard to come by under the best of conditions, and to risk losing one to faulty or questionable equipment simply isn’t worth the risk. Regardless of any possible “cool” factor associated with owning a particular piece of gear, service should be a primary consideration when making an equipment decision of this magnitude. How cool will that same gear be when it is malfunctioning in the middle of the set and you can’t get the company to respond, much less Fed Ex you a replacement?

There is no reason to purchase from companies that fail their customers – even once. There are too many customer oriented companies out there that make fantastic gear. Why run the risk that you might be the next one writing a lengthy post on the Steadicam Forum complaining about your ongoing experience? Remember, you are only as good as your equipment allows you to be, and your equipment is only as good as the service it receives from your vendor.

Sorry for the lengthy rant, but it seems like we hear the same things over and over about certain manufacturers. Frustrated operators tell their tales of woe. These are followed by responses: some written by operators with similar experiences, some by operators who have had good experiences with the vendor, and then others written by people with little or no understanding of the events or the financial impact. These people (some of whom are yet to become working steadicam operators) write to defend the vendor by saying how the events mentioned in the tale of despair couldn’t be entirely accurate, as they themselves had a conversation or two with the vendor and he/she seemed like a really great guy/gal on the phone or at the expo. While that sounds nice for them, for me, I simply need to know how the equipment works and how I’ll be treated after I buy the gear if something should go wrong.

Thanks for listening.

Brooks Robinson
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#2 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 01:11 PM

Thank you Brooks for probally the single best post on this forum.

Heed Brooks advice folks, it's hard earned.
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#3 Matthew Clarke-Irons

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:23 AM

Experience is hard earned and advice can be taken freely or ignored at a cost!

It is good that people, whom ever they are and with various levels of experience have a place to express and discuss there views and opinions but we must be careful to keep our emotions to one side.

It is totally unacceptable that you can buy equipment that doesn't do what is say on the box when it's out the box! I know what I would do.

If I had doubts kit might not fulfill is promises I wouldn't buy it.

Everyone starts somewhere and some people by their nature have to discover things the hard way.

It does make you wonder why the same products/companies are talked about over and over again and the same advice is given, why the problem continue???

If I knew that perhaps I'd be Head of the IMF, but that would be a pay cut and not as much fun!
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#4 Mike Heathcote SOC

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 06:48 PM

Thank you Brooks! Invaluable advice.
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#5 Joyce Go

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:16 AM

Thank you for your post. I xan understand your experience. As a vendor,I am educated and will be more responsible to my customers and will treasure everyone of my client..


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#6 thomas-english

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 04:08 AM

Hey Lemo Connector,

 

It is the policy here to only use your real names on the forum. That way when we talk about people behind their backs whilst drinking beer in various bars, trade shows and strip clubs we know we are talking about the same person and they aren't whithin earshot. 


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#7 Joyce Go

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 10:17 PM

Hey Lemo Connector,

 

It is the policy here to only use your real names on the forum. That way when we talk about people behind their backs whilst drinking beer in various bars, trade shows and strip clubs we know we are talking about the same person and they aren't whithin earshot. 

 Okay,I think the administrator help me to turn my names back to my own..


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#8 Alessandro Ugo

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 05:53 AM

As long as helpful


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#9 Elliot Gabor

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 11:25 AM

It would only be helpful to me if I knew which vendor you were referring too.  Seems like it's obvious to some of you but I'd like to avoid or be cautious when upgrading my rig.  You can PM me if you don't want to post it here. 


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#10 RonBaldwin

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 12:11 PM

The vendors ith reliable gear and excellent customer service he is referring to are XCS and Pro.
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#11 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 01:03 PM

I can add Transvideo to this list, great products and service for 15 plus years
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#12 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 01:07 PM

And of course, Preston & Bartech.
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#13 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 01:44 PM

Walter Klassen deserves to be added to this list as well.


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#14 Richard James Lewis

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 02:01 PM

...and Curt at Artemis.
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#15 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 02:14 PM

I know some of you have your issues with Tiffen/Steadicam,  

But I assure you they are doing everything possible to become #1 in customer support . . . . . .   =)


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