I’ve been a big fan of The Camera Store in Calgary since I started purchasing and renting camera and film equipment. I’ve had consistently good service and wasn’t tempted to even bother trying anywhere else. When it came time to rent gear for an upcoming project of mine, I of course called The Camera Store to see what they had. They didn’t have the steadycam I needed, so I booked a backdrop from them and gave Vistek a call. Not only did Vistek have a better selection of rentals, they provided me with better service in the long run.
Vistek offered me a 20% student discount on my rentals. I was super impressed with that. When I mentioned to The Camera Store that Vistek was offering me 20% off my rentals, they said they couldn’t offer me anything to match it.
The shoot went great and all the equipment was perfect. Especially the enormous 50′ x 24′ backdrop that The Camera Store rented to me. Which by the way, is not listed on the rental list and cost $45, the same price a Glidecam 4000 and softbox from Vistek cost me. As with most things film related, it took twice as long as we expected. We ended up tearing down our set at about 1am. Unfortunately, the earliest I was able to return everything was about 2:00pm the next day, a Tuesday.
Vistek once again blew me away. No late charges of any sort and really great service. The Camera Store on the other hand was a different story. I have rented from them on 6 or 7 occasions now and have gotten to know the rental staff. When I came into the store, there was no one in rentals, so a salesman came to help me. After inspecting a solid 4 square feet of the 1000 square foot plus backdrop, he told me that since it was after 10am, I had to pay for a second day. I knew this was the policy and made the decision the previous night that I would have to do so. I was fine with that.
He then told me that someone had needed the backdrop today, and I prevented that from happening. So the salesman who doesn’t work in rentals magically knows that rentals had to turn someone down? Not for a camera or lens, but for a rare, excessively large backdrop that isn’t even on the rental list, or in the computer system? I’m highly doubtful. I asked him why I didn’t get a call and did not get a straight answer. There is no way to know if he was indeed making it up, but I certainly got the impression. I understand the policy, but what really got to me was the fact that the salesman may have been making stuff up to soften the blow of the extra $40 charge.
In addition, the experience I had before this at The Camera Store was just as bad. I had lost my charger for my Canon. I stopped by in a hurry, on my way to class. A salesman grabbed me a charger I was on my way. I picked my camera up for the first time almost a month later to discover he had sold me the wrong charger. When I went to exchange it, the manager made a pretty big fuss about it. I eventually received the correct charger, and the $9 difference was placed as a credit on my account.
So what reason do I have to go back to The Camera Store? Based off my last two experiences, not a whole lot.
Vistek just won themselves a new customer.