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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 shop@bristolcameras.co.uk 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 shop@bristolcameras.co.uk 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

28 Comments

  1. politeengineer@yahoo.co.uk

    I went to Bristol Cameras today to purchase a Olumpus XZ-1. When i asked to check the price i was told a price higher than that advertised on thier website. When i queried this, the explanation was that with the webprice they expect that you will be paying the £10 postage. I was not offered the camera at the webprice, so left and will probably order elsewhere. Could it be that the 0844 number brings in so much revenue that they didn’t need my £300 purchase. They lost this sale and all future ones from me.What annoys me most is that the shop address is advertised on thier website, but you can’t purchase thier goods at these prices. I agree avoid and go elsewhere.

    1. webmaster@flish.co.uk

      At absolute best they are incredibly naive, and just don’t get ecommerce, but they’ve been round too long, so I assume they just don’t care :-/

  2. wilson.w@btinternet.com

    I have had exactly the opposite experience with this company- had very helpful advice regarding an underwater camera system- not in stock as new model- was ordered- arrived with them- promptly notified – and delivered quickly- also some good after sales advice on accessories etc.

    1. webmaster@flish.co.uk

      Good, and glad you took the time the post here to address the balance, I fully appreciate that good customer service is often rewarded with silence.
      That said good service *should* be the norm, and the real measure of a company is how they deal with mistakes, not dealing with them just makes things worse.

  3. duane.reed@gmx.com

    AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE! Order confirmation, then nothing for days, have to chase up by calling an 0844 number and NO email address anywhere on their site.
    Then emailed to say the camera I ordered is out of stock (after previously telling me it was being “picked” from their warehouse.

    Pursuaded by slick sales guy to change to different (more expensive camera) which he was “looking at”. Expected it to be shipped the same day, you guess: NOTHING.

    Rang next day to be fed some nonsense about my order being in a queue (it was, by then, a week old) but that he would “expedite” it.

    Then, a week later, my order declined because my card billing address did not match (have lived at the same address for 30 years!).

  4. vicb981@yahoo.com

    I’ve bought three cameras in past 2 years at BC including one in past month and have had no probs whatsoever. One was by ‘phone and two over net. Delivery very prompt and price as good as anywhere. I like their site which is informative and they answer questions promptly and correctly (one was a detailed one about a kit lens which required detailed knowledge). I guess that there will always be the occasional problem but BC is my first choice by a long way. Now I’m worried to see their site is down.

    1. webmaster@flish.co.uk

      Happy that you’re happy, and glad you took the time to comment, but as I say the real measure is in how problems are dealt with, Bristol Cameras didn’t deal with this one well 🙁
      Site looks up for me by the way

      1. neil.davidson2@mitie.com

        Not actually bought anything from them yet as the items I wanted were out of stock and was desperate to get them pre Christmas so tried elsewhere without luck. Decided to wait and order via the website but it has been down every time I’ve looked (inc Now). Prices seem very good for what I want so am going to try them, if the site comes back up and will report back

  5. stevestinton@hotmail.com

    I know this is quite an old post, but the number you need is 0117 914 0089

  6. henry11@talktalk.net

    ordered item 84970not recieved it
    mk63lb

  7. bostacchini@yahoo.co.uk

    I bought an 86mm Hoya Uvo filter from Bristol Cameras on line. When I opened it there were marks on the multi-coating,it didn’t look brand new although it was sold as such. I contacted them by phone and they told me to return it.They said they had a buff which would clean it. At a cost of over £7 I returned it to them.They were quick in returning the filter but it wasn’t properly cleaned.It didn’t look like a new filter when I bought it and it doesn’t look like one now. If they think this is acceptable, they have very low standards.If it was genuinely brand new then Hoya have dropped their standards. I checked out Bristol Cameras with Hoya’s importer and they told me Bristol Cameras are an authorised Hoya dealer. An all-round disappointing experience.

  8. robertpurdy@tiscali.co.uk

    I wish I’d read this web page before I ordered 2 weeks ago. At the same time I ordered a small item (Collar for a camera) I also ordered 2 spare batteries from a “hongkong” firm. These arrived 2 days later and it took bristol cameras 10 days to email me to say the collar was out of stock, that they had no idea when it would be in stock, and, to cancel the order it was necessary to telephone the shop……as I managed to order the item at a third of the price elsewhere, I wished to cancel the order and went down the the same route as you with the same result! Fortunately, I live in S.Wales, and it is only an hours ride to the centre of Bristol so, if this has not been satisfactorily brought to a close by early next week, I shall be paying them a visit. I am six foot seven and regularly play rugby, would you like me to query the above cases whilst I am there? Finally, if this is how British companies operate it’s no wonder that they are going to the wall……nothing to do with the recession just rubbish customer care.

    1. webmaster@flish.co.uk

      Sigh, despite this page being the second one you see when you google for ‘Bristol Cameras’, and having been in existence for almost 18 months (Bristol Cameras must be aware of it surely?) the exact same problems, process, and it seems lack of (awareness of?) customer care still stand.
      I hope you have better outcome than I did

  9. Claire-reed@hotmail.com

    Avoid the servicing department too, I called them regarding a fault and they told me to take the camera in before Thursday so i moved appointments around to make sure it was there on the Wednesday and on arrival i was told it would be collected on the following Monday.Described that the battery will charge but the camera is totally dead, I tried other cameras batteries in it and still dead, then plugged it directly into the mains and it works. It does not take a genius to work out that it is probably an electrical fault!

    They had it for three weeks and no communication, I rang to enquire about it and they said I needed a new battery. £50 new battery bought and it still does not work.
    I contacted them to say it was still faulty and they said bring it back in but it could take up to 6 weeks before it is back, I challenged them on this and they did not care and told me to go elsewhere for a second opinion. So I did.
    The next day after it being at The London camera Exchange I was contacted and advised I have an electrical fault.
    I decided to go back to Bristol cameras and take it up with them and they did not care. The man on the phone asked if i had bought the battery from them so he could refund it if it was packaged, well how would i know if it worked if it is still in the packaging and i could not buy one from them in the first place as they had no stock.
    I will never buy a camera from them nor will I have it serviced by them either. I have a new born whom I have not been able to photographer, a friends wedding, and two holidays missed let alone all the opportunistic moments I have also missed when I have been on days out.
    Thanks for absolutly nothing Bristol cameras.

  10. housemartins3@btinternet.com

    Very mixed experience with Bristol Cameras. I have misplaced the detachable centre column for my Giotto tripod. (OK I’ve been a numpty and left it on location somewhere1) hey stock Giotto so I called and, though it was a non-stock item was put on hold why they checked with supplier. To the reps surprise they had one and he would email and confirm price which he did. So I called and paid by card. After a week I called again to be told ‘it’s dispatched could be with you today’.
    Leave it another five days and call again. Oh it left the suppliers last Friday so it should be with us today. We’ll email you when it’s dispatched. So I presume the first guy just couldn’t be bothered to check and told me it was on it’s way? I’ll let you know if the second guy (could be the same person!) is any more accurate!

    Top marks for sourcing a non-stock item. Very poor after they have your money.

  11. magoo2u009-forum@yahoo.co.uk

    How glad I am that I came across this website, or forum column, while searching for an e-mail address for Bristol Cameras. Although there are some posts from people who are content with the service there, the thing that comes across to me first and foremost is the length of time that some people have apparently been experiencing dissatisfaction, going off the start date in 2011 and postings as recent this summer. My feeling therefore, is to go along with the sentiment in the title of the column and ‘avoid’.
    I am an elderly person, so cannot not risk any such problems arising. For decades, I have been hearing about service call problems, queuing for hours and waiting for progress, so in my advancing years, I neither have a phone line or the confidence to do anything like the sort of things that have been mentioned here. I can browse for what I want in a library, for example and I have e-mail access here and there. This weekend, I wanted to find a company that would accept a letter/order with a cheque for a genuine Canon charger, by post, in the old-fashioned way. As Bristol Cameras have a shop, as well as an on-line ordering facility, I thought I had found one that could help me. However, as there is, apparently, no e-mail address to be found and the dissatisfaction is apparently still going on, it seems I should look elsewhere.

    I have only found one other possible source so far. However, if anyone knows of a more traditional and accommodating source of help and accessories at reasonable prices, perhaps they could post a link to their website and/or point readers to another forum about it, rather than take this very informative column off-course.

  12. mattthehoople@hotmail.com

    I shop with them quite a lot in their shop (I’m based in Bristol) and I think the reason stuff like this happens so often is because there’s about 4 people that run the whole company.I’ve been in there several times where the shop is full of people vying for attention with 2 phones ringing non stop with no one to answer them. When they do they seem to be taking mail order queries – it’s no wonder that things fall through the cracks because they’re trying to run a full blown high street shop whilst simultaneously running a website.
    Their problem is that they don’t admit to the fact that they’re a tiny company, it’s like they’re pretending to be Jessops or someone when they’re not – If they were transparent about being small people may give them some slack.
    In any case they are really cheap. I guess if you want discounted goods you have to kind of accept a discount in service too.

    1. webmaster@flish.co.uk

      And look what happened to Jessops!
      Am sure you’re right though, and people will accept compromises, and different levels of service as long as you are open and honest with them. But if you’re pretending at anything and get caught out people are instantly negative. Be honest, play to your strengths, and don’t under deliver.

      Unfortunately, in my experience, they didn’t seem to care 🙁

  13. redriding@chancerrecords.com

    I really feel for Bristol Cameras given that this article appears really high in Google when you search for their company name. I have placed 2 orders combined worth around £1,000 on photography equipment with them recently and they’ve kept me up to date even though my orders were split into multiple deliveries and I’m very pleased with the experience overall.
    I can’t comment on their returns policy, but what I can guarantee you is that articles like this written for one bad purchasing experience out of (probably) thousands of good ones is driving people to buy from Amazon and not UK businesses who employ UK staff, form an important part of our high street and pay UK taxes.

    1. webmaster@flish.co.uk

      I take your point, but the article is not out out of one negative experience, it’s about continued negative experiences stemming from a single issue – and most of all that they didn’t care. If they don’t care about the customers experience then people deserve to know so they can make an informed decision before they buy. If they have thousands of good, satisfied customer experiences then each of those is an opportunity to shout about it, like this.

  14. corneliusmaw@outlook.com

    Don’t use them, they advertise items that they do not have in stock. They will not answer email, complaints.

  15. john.stenhouse@nhs.net

    Ordered gopro filter 12/1. 21/1 no sign of it, so called, mail order no constantly engaged so called shop, told person on phone didn’t have access to that information and would call back. didn’t. I called them a few hours later and was told filter was “awaiting production” at suppliers. Funnily enough I need this filter for a project so it would have been nice of them to let me know that it was out of stock (for example by putting “out of stock” on their web site or that there would be a significant delay in the filter arriving. When I asked why they didn’t do this he said they “”didn’t have access to this information” – what? they don’t know that they don’t have an item in stock? Two comments form above ring truea – they really don’t have a clue about ecommerce
    b- they have less of a clue about customer service.
    No wonder Amazon is taking over the world.

  16. warspite2013@gmail.com

    Reading these comment I have to add one of my own I recently took some equipment in expecting a certain trade-in price and the guy with the glasses who was sat behind the high counter without looking gave me a price that was completly unjust for the huge profit he would make on it(Yes I used to work in The Photography Retail Market so I know what roughly it was worth trade in.I left quickly and ended up trading my eqipment to LCE Horsefair where they gave me a decent price on a new DLSR camera which was at a fantastic price.
    luckly I did not purchase nor PX anything with them as the guy sounded a bit patronising and he either did not know the trade in price or He assumed that everybody was gullible to what he offered on a trade in.I recommend that in addition to other comments that has been made concerning This Company that there are more suitble photographic retailers that provide an excellent service which are well known to us. The Amateur Photographer has some well know companies which offer excellent mail order service. unfortunatly This Company has “Shot Itself In The Foot”,as far as reputations are concerned.

  17. jim.ballantyne@sky.com

    I have ordered many items from Bristol cameras and Never repest never had any pproblems.I would not hesitate in buying from them again. I find most of these complains unbelievable. Just part of today’s complane about any thing and every thing justified or not.

    1. webmaster@flish.co.uk

      Am glad you have had a positive experience, and thanks for taking the time to post and show balance. My complaint was justified though, and the fact that they didn’t care was the annoyance, they had every opportunity to fix and resolve and leave me a satisfied customer – they chose not to in my case 🙁

  18. h4rsx@hotmail.com

    Purchased a Sony rear semi-hard LCD protector and paid for special delivery next day delivery as I was going away.
    In short, nothing arrived. When I contacted them, they said the package was being shipped out that day, which was just ridiculous. Why would I have paid for Special delivery and stated the urgency of the item only for them to treat it non-urgently.

    To make matters worse the item still never arrived the day after or the day after that. When I chased them up again, they realised they had shipped the item to my billing address and not the address I specifically asked them to.

    A complete waste of my time over a £10 item. If they can’t get that right, I certainly wouldn’t trust them with anything of a higher value.

    I wish I had read this thread before placing my order, as the above reports all tell a familiar tale.

    A shame as they are helpful over the phone and refunded my postage upon request.

  19. benedict.winchester@gmail.com

    I own a 35mm SLR, which I use to take nearly all of my photos (as I prefer film as a format). I recently went on a family holiday, and took 5 reels of photos, which I decided to get developed and scanned at Bristol Cameras. When the CD arrived in the post, all of the negatives had been scanned at funny angles: with black bars on the top, bottom or sides of varying photos. And a reel I took at night had been chopped and scanned completely wrong: with firework displays cut in half and stitched together in weird ways. I phoned up, and said “I think they’ve been scanned in wrong”, when an angry man replied “well, for £2.99 I’m not going to hand scan each negative and make sure it’s lined up!” I wasn’t expecting hand scanning (I usually get them machine scanned), but I was expecting them to be lined up!Needless to say, when I asked “could I have a refund please?” I was told “No… but you can bring them back and I’ll try again.”
    I will not be trying again with Bristol Cameras, I will take all future business elsewhere!
    Yours,
    An unhappy customer

  20. tim.bright@btinternet.com

    Avoid this company!! I bought a battery for my video camera from them, it was faulty so I returned it at my expense, they said they would refund my money but never did, phone calls and e-mails were ignored, fortunately I paid via Pay Pal so opened a dispute, again they totally ignored all correspondence through Pay Pal resulting in Pay Pal having to rule in my favour and refunding me my money. Disgraceful service, keep well clear and shop elsewhere.

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