Something’s Not Kosher with B&H Photo

For the past several years, Canon has rewards its consumers with a Summer Rebate program.  This year’s program is even better since the instant rebates apply at the point of purchase.  It’s a great way to encourage sales when everyone is so careful about spending!

I have written about B&H Photo in NYC before.  They are a price leader for photographic equipment across most brands.  Usually my experiences have been favorable, but Fourth of July Weekend was a different story.

I was shopping for one of Canon’s iconic lenses, the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L.  This lens is a top seller for Canon and highly priced by Canon photographers.  Of course, I went to B&H.  The following ads represent B&H Photo’s latest in the top photography magazines, with yellow highlights for the listing of the lens (US Market):

bhphoto-july2009-popphoto

bhphoto-august2009-shutterb

bhphoto-july2009-digitalpho

The 70-200mm f/2.8 L has a $200 instant rebate from Canon. All previous B&H ads listed this lens at $1,499 (including the rebate).  Popular Photography’s July 2009 is the first ad to show a price increase at $1,599 (including the rebate).  Yet, this is not B&H’s current price!  Take a look at a screen shot of their website from 7/7/2009:

bhphoto-web07072009

The Canon instant rebate is still in effect; it expires on 7/11/2009.  So what is going on?  I asked Eli, one of the Floor Manager’s at B&H Photo on Friday 7/3/2009.  He called B&H’s Buyer and was told that Canon had raised their price and they are passing the increase along.  During a rebate period? Eli said that B&H would not honor their currently advertised price (even though the B&H Summer 2009 catalog lists the cheaper price of $1699 … apply the $200 instant rebate and it matches the $1499 magazine price).  He also said that they would not price match another NYC vendor J&R Music & Video who was selling the same lens for $1599.  See below:

jr-web07072009

I called Canon’s US Corporate Office to try to confirm the price increase.  The rep was not aware of a price increase, but would check on it.  As of today, I have not heard back from her.

Hmmmm … something is not kosher here. But, for now, got to go to J&R not B&H!

17 thoughts on “Something’s Not Kosher with B&H Photo

  1. This has been discussed at length in numerous online forums for weeks now. As has been amply demonstrated elsewhere, market conditions beyond our control forced several legitimate retailers to raise prices on SOME but not all rebated lenses and on SOME but not all non-rebated lenses.

    B&H has never claimed this was due to a Canon USA price hike, although Canon USA did hike prices at the start of an earlier rebate program a couple of years ago.

    B&H endeavors to honor price match inquiries whenever possible and regrets when we cannot. Declining to honor a price match request certainly isn’t “non-kosher.”

    Our catalogs and magazine ads all state, “Prices contained herein are valid at the time of publication and are subject to change without notice.” Certainly in these times of ever fluctuating prices and other unpredictable market conditions, the disclaimer is reasonable.

    In closing, we’re sorry for your discontent, but we certainly do not deserve your “non kosher” headline.

    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

  2. TWO different people (your sales clerk AND Eli the Floor Manager) called your buyer and was told the same thing – that Canon raised the price and you were passing the increase along. You need to have a discussion with your buyer.

    Why does J&R still have a lower price? Why does Cameta Camera still have a lower price?? I guess they value their customers more than B&H. It seems like you are eating the instant rebate to make a little extra profit. THAT is not Kosher!

  3. Valuing our customers doesn’t mean having the lowest prices. Valuing our customers means honesty, ethical integrity, accessibility, knowledgeable sales associates, speedy shipping, keeping merchandise in stock, not compensating for artificially low product prices with inflated s&h and so on.

    I have no idea why another retailer has a different price for any item. I’ve never worked for any other retailer. If you, or any other prospective Canon lens buyer, prefers to shop elsewhere, that’s perfectly within your right. But having a different price than the fellow across the street doesn’t make either of us particularly “non-kosher.”

    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

  4. What about honoring your own published prices? You can not claim “typos” is ALL of those magazines (and even your own catalog). Those ads bring traffic into your store. THAT is valuing customers who respond. Such discrepancies deserve to be pointed out to the general public! Otherwise, you are no different than Broadway Photo and other bait-n-switch retailers.

    THAT is not kosher.

  5. Respectfully, I never mentioned typos. I said our disclaimer states, “Prices contained herein are valid at the time of publication and are subject to change without notice.”

    These rebates went into effect May 3, 2009 and this has been a topic of discussion ever since in several well-regarded forums. For all your vociferous enthusiasm for the topic, this is a little bit of now-old news.

    As I said elsewhere, we regret your dissatisfaction. I’m not sure there’s anything more to add to this tired debate.

    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

  6. All of you ads are labeled with “Canon Instant Rebates” which clearly indicates the existent of the rebates and that your prices have been adjusted accordingly. The ads are even dated with expiration dates.

    If the prices were not “typos” and you acknowledge that they are not correct, then they are intentionally misleading. The ads have been published in several magazines for months and should have been corrected when your company knew they were no longer accurate. One month is forgivable, three months is intentionally misleading to generate traffic!

    And, as for Macy’s, they would and do honor their own ads … even when they are at fault. Otherwise, they publish a retraction stating the error. Since this has been going on for months and discussed in such “well-regarded forums”, where is B&H’s retraction and public statement addressing the error??

    But, none of this excuses the statements from your buyer relayed through two different B&H employees. Canon was not to blame. Canon did not raise your prices. B&H decided to raise its prices and NOT to honor its printed ads and continue using those misleading ads to generate traffic!

  7. sigh
    Our prices were not typos when the ad content was generated and laid out. There’s some lead time between then and when the ad lands in your mailbox during which things change, hence the disclaimer, which is similar to disclaimers used by almost every responsible retailer one can name. There’s nothing misleading about this, despite your misplaced insistence otherwise. You seem to embrace seeing conspiracies in a coincidence.
    /sigh

    I pass Macy’s NYC store daily. From time to time one will see a notice posted on their door regarding an error in an ad or flyer. They apologize and explain the ad price will not be honored. They do so politely and professionally, just as they should and just as B&H does.

    B&H continues to use the ads because there’s no way to recall them once they’ve been printed and mailed. The ad you’re exclaiming about today was created months ago.

    Asa I said, I’m not sure there’s anything more to add to this tired debate.

    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

  8. I understand the lead time in print ads for magazines. As I wrote, one month is forgivable, several month’s is intentionally misleading.

    Where is B&H’s retraction regarding the misleading price??? There was nothing posted in the store or on your website and there were no flyers being handed out ala Macy’s. There was no insert in the stacks of B&H Summer Catalogs which also have the misleading price. What’s your excuse for that?

    @JRblog just tweeted “FYI @photoframd Sometimes a vendor changes a rebate or price during an ad period. Our policy is to honor the ad’s price, unless it’s a typo.”

    THAT IS VALUING CUSTOMERS!

  9. From http://www.jr.com/: Online prices, selection, descriptions, specifications and images generally match our retail stores, but may vary and are subject to change without notice. Not all accessories pictured are included. Manufacturer rebates, terms, conditions and expiration dates are subject to manufacturers forms. Not responsible for typographical errors.


    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

  10. As you stated, B&H did not make a typo. And, J&R did respond to this discussion on Twitter:

    @JRblog FYI @photoframd Sometimes a vendor changes a rebate or price during an ad period. Our policy is to honor the ad’s price, unless it’s a typo.”

    I have invited Cameta Camera, Unique Photo, Abes of Maine, Beach Photo and Adorama to join this discussion and post their comments. Let’s see where it goes…

  11. The only J&R ads I’m aware of are the daily ads published in the NY Times. There’s a significant difference between a daily ad and a quarterly journal.

    http://www.cameta.com/store-policy.cfm: While we make every effort to ensure the product information and pricing on Cameta.com is accurate and current, there may be instances where inaccurate or incomplete data is displayed due to human error. In the event item data is incorrect, such as listed with an incorrect price, inaccurate availability, or with incorrect information, Cameta.com shall have the right, at our sole discretion, to refuse or cancel any orders placed for that item. In the event an item is incorrectly priced, Cameta.com, at our discretion, will do one of the following:

    If an item is priced lower than the displayed price, you will be charged the lower amount and we will ship the item.

    If an item is priced higher than the stated amount, we will either contact you for instructions or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation. If we cancel your order after your payment has been processed, we will issue you a full refund.

    We reserve the right to correct errors and/or update the content on our website at any time without notice.

    http://www.abesofmaine.com/support.do says: We endeavor to publish accurate selling prices for the products we offer. However on occasion we do make mistakes. In the event a product is listed at an incorrect price or with incorrect information due to typographical error or error in pricing or product information received from our suppliers, AbesofMaine.com shall have the right to refuse or cancel any orders placed for products listed at the incorrect price. AbesOfMaine.com shall have the right to refuse or cancel any such orders whether or not the order has been confirmed and your credit card charged…Prices are subject to change…We will notify you if we are unable to accommodate your order. Abe’s of Maine may, at its own discretion, limit or cancel quantities purchased per person, per household or per order.

    http://www.beachcamera.com/: Prices are subject to change at any time without notice based on a combination of factors that are generally out of our control. They are usually dictated by market and availability conditions and/or by the manufacturers themselves and are often as likely to increase as they are to decrease…Pricing Error: Despite our best efforts to advertise prices appropriately, some items may be advertised incorrectly due to a typographical error. We reserve the right to refuse or cancel an order for an item that was priced incorrectly, whether it has been confirmed, charged, and even shipped. If an order is refused after it was shipped due to a pricing error, we may issue a charge to reconcile the price difference. The pricing posted on our website may not always be identical to those found on some price comparison shopping websites.

    http://www.adorama.com/: This web site is intended to be a guide only. Some items illustrated are for display purposes only, and are not necessarily included in the purchase price. Specifications may change without notice.

    All items offered for sale are subject to availability. Many items in this catalog and web site come from various sources. Adorama is, therefore, bound to fluctuating currency exchange rates, making it necessary to occasionally increase prices. In addition some domestic and overseas products may be discontinued without our prior knowledge. Should this apply to your order, we will, at our discretion, either contact you for instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of such cancellation. We reaffirm our pledge to offer excellent service and the highest quality at the lowest price.

    We make every effort to provide you with an error-free website, in the event there is a misprint, we reserve the right to correct copy or pricing to reflect actual current status.

    We are not responsible for typographical or pictorial errors.


    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

  12. Yes, even Broadway Photo has similar statements regarding typos and they are currently being investigated by the New York State Better Business Bureau. You have already acknowledged that this price in numerous ads and your catalog was not a typo.

    * What steps did B&H take to notify the public regarding this misleading price?
    * Where is B&H’s retraction regarding the misleading price??? There was nothing posted in the store nor on your website.
    * Where were the corrective flyers being handed out ala Macy’s (a policy that you seemed to like)?
    * Where is the insert for the stacks of B&H Summer Catalogs which are still in your store and contain the misleading price?
    * Why did B&H not take steps to correct these ads in future publications once they were aware of the price change?
    * Why did B&H continue to run these same ads after they were aware of the price change?

  13. Seriously, tl;dr. How do we know you’re not some guy in the employ of J and R anyway?

  14. I have invited Cameta Camera, Unique Photo, Abes of Maine, Beach Photo and Adorama to join this discussion and post their comments. Let’s see where it goes…
    So, where did it go?

    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

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