Avoid Bristol Cameras

Avoid Bristol Cameras

Update 27/11/11

I note that the returns page has now removed the non-existent / functional email address I refer to below, so *something* has fed back and been achieved – not that anyone has been in touch to get any more detail, ask for a right of reply, or work out what they could have done to be better. I also note that googling for ‘Bristol Cameras’ brings this page in at number two, so hopefully at least I’m helping you guys make an informed purchasing decision

I have deliberately left this a month from complaining (ranting?) at Bristol Cameras to give them every opportunity to fix, resolve, and generally be better, but they haven’t. As of now if you’re thinking of buying a new digital camera or accessories online then Bristol Cameras may not be for you, avoid Bristol Cameras.
Background, I was in the market for a decent wrist strap and a spare battery for my Canon G12, not surprisingly I wanted the best deal, so a Googling I went. The end result was with me at Bristol Cameras website where they had listed (not specifically claiming in stock) what I wanted, adding in carriage was a fair price, and my background checks showed no horror stories (till now?) and they seemed legit. This was the 10th May 2011.

I received my order confirmation email from a ‘no-reply@’ address (not unusual) and got on with life.

On the 16th May I had heard and recieved nothing and wanted to query the ETA, spotting the email address I went hunting over at the Bristol Cameras website, nothing obvious, the contact us page was empty other than an 0844 number and snail mail, but thankfully the Bristol Cameras returns page (http://www.bristolcameras…) offered me so an email was sent asking for an update. Edit: Image removed as host where image lived no longer exists, thank you Skitch / Evernote!The next day I got an email back stating that the wrist strap was out of stock. Knowing that I would have to purchase elsewhere (and incur another shipping charge) I replied asking them to cancel the entire order as I didn’t want to split with another vendor and loose money.

They ignored this email, shipped the battery, and charged me for it anyway. Now, I have no idea if they have *ever* read or replied to any of my emails, certainly none ever bounced back, and seems a co-incidence that I got the out of stock email a day after I contacted them.

I didn’t complain, assumed they had mis-interpreted my email and just cancelled the out of stock element.

On the 21st June I got another email with an order up date, wrist strap still out of stock 🙁 Annoyed, I pinged another email back to making it quite clear I did not want the wrist strap and to cancel the remaining order.

All quiet until the 7th July, Good News! The wrist strap is in stock and will be shipped shortly, **not amused**. Especially as it’s gone 5pm when I read this and they could have shipped already, no choice but premium rate 0844 with an impressive ire on me.

Which gets worse, they don’t answer, well their phone system does, but a human doesn’t, so I’m on hold and paying for it. Looking at the Bristol Cameras contact page doesn’t help, ‘the shop’ is open till 5, ‘mail order’ till 5.30′ there’s only one mind, the 0844 one. At this point I’m still paying, so I google some more for alternative numbers and dial them all on my mobile (still on hold on land line), but at this point it’s gone 5.30 so assuming all gone home, not that their phone system seems to know, it’s still suggesting someone will answer, at 5pm. I’m pretty sure the won’t, and after half an hour hang up, spin off a vitriolic email, and wait till morning.

In fact I wait till late morning to give them a chance to respond, they don’t, so I call (at 5pm again). To sum up, they don’t care, no apology, only a grumble that an email address is actually published on their own site, that apparently is a mistake! They are an E-commerce trader and actually admit to not wanting to communicate electronically? Daft thing is I’ve given them a month and it’s still there 🙁 But then the key revenue stream for Bristol Cameras seems to be from 0844 call share, and you guessed it, no apology for a phone system that keeps you on hold even when there’s no one to pick up, probably disappointed that I didn’t hang on longer.
This isn’t the worst case of Customer Service ever, but it’s bad and it’s a sad fact that these days people only seem to learn the hard way once we the disgruntled consumer start shouting, hence am typing. Bristol Cameras clearly have no respect for their customers, 0844 only and no published (working) email address just doesn’t cut the mustard for an online trader, it’s against all best practice. So if you where thinking of placing an order with Bristol Cameras then don’t, in my opinion Avoid Bristol Cameras
Rant Over

SEO, Twitter, and Shortened Links – Benefits?

SEO, Twitter, Social Networking and Shortened Links – Of Benefit?

As I relaunch this site, the impending new dotUK site (Anyone got a ’round tuit’ and a tardis to spare!) am looking at ways of promoting them better, getting more work, and ultimately money in my pocket.  Equally in current economic climes, especially up here in the North East, I’m not the only one.  We all want more business, we want more money, but where to we spend it to make it.  SEO unfortunately is not a small investment, it takes a lot of time, a lot of research, education, changes in practive, and potentially more money invested in Marketing and PR to reap the benefits.  I’m hoping to find the middle ground to allow people to ‘self promote’, and ‘self SEO’.

Social Networking, Blogs, Facebook, and in particular Twitter are where we all are, I’m normally some way behind the bandwagon, but Twit I do, and am aiming to use it more, and encourage my clients too.  Not a month ago I told a friend I wouldn’t use Twitter to promote dotUK, it didn’t feel ‘Commerically’ right, not the correct appearance.  Am sucking that one up, dotUK is on Twitter.  Why? and get to the point because this has nothing to do with the title, why I came here, or even saving people in the North East money on SEO.

Ok, well, we promote, especially to smaller business where money has to be well spent and see good investment, our CMS (Content Management System) so they can self populate and manage their sites.  Within this we have added the ability for them to automatically update a Twitter account (Which in turn can feed Facebook and pretty much anywhere else), creating external, short, sweet, keyword heavy external links to their content.  Self SEO, cheap, just needs some setup and some education.  The cost to do this for a client on our CMS system can be a as little as £50, once.

So, the point.  Twitter limits you to 140 characters, less if you allow room for retweets (double bonus!), so we offer the use of the url shortener, this is fully automated and gives you a bit more room to play with, but the question, and the title, do url shorteners give you the full SEO benbefit of external links.  In the main they do 301 redirects so yes, any Pagerank inheritance is kept, this is good, but of course any keywords in the url (you are making human friendly url names as best practive aren’t you?) are lost, so benefit from that is gone (much benefit?), and the human factor is gone too, will people click your link when they have no idea what sort of trip it will take them on.  Time will tell on this one I guess, I see no harm, PR (Pagerank) should be kept, and opinions are split on the rest.  Do you have any thoughts?

This posting is the personal opinion of Andy Flisher, and should be considered the thoughts, opinion and ramblings of one man, and one man alone.

Andy Flisher is a Software Developer based in the North East of England specialising in cross platform development. Mobile Development experience includes Windows Phone, Android, and iPhone Apps. Desktop Software Development includes bespoke Windows, Linux, and Mac Applications. Web Development Skills include PHP, Perl, Python, ASP (Classic and .NET) – Andy Flisher on Google+

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