After the loss of Jacobs last autumn, the next of the UK’s major photographic retailers is slipping slowly down the pan, as Jessops has crashed into administration.
This is concerning, as I have just bought my new EOS 60D from them. My choice of Jessops was admittedly largely due to convenience, it allowed me to get my camera there and then (not that I have had much chance to use it yet), and not have to arrange time to wait in for it. Also, their prices were pretty much the best I found without going to some of the companies who have very good reviews for reliability and even after sales service, but do sell grey imports.
Canon, it is said, will honour the basic 1 year warranty, even on grey import goods. These are where the product has been purchased abroad, normally in the country of manufacture and imported by the retailer. This is not illegal provided duty has been paid by the importer, but is something that the companies tend not to condone, and they normally will not honour warranties. The shops doing this are still bound by laws such as the Sale of Goods Act 1979, but obviously you can run into problems with getting authorised repairs done.
So despite the fact I could have picked up a 7D body for a shade over £700 this way I elected to by legitimate import, from a shop that I have tended to use. I must admit that having looked at the prices now on Dale Photographic I am kicking myself a little as they are not much more, but hey, I went to Jessops.
I have a love/hate relationship with Jessops. At times they have been very helpful and there are some good lads working there, but at others they have messed me about, lost films in for developing and so on. I have to say that instore they managed to piss me off. Firstly they called me only a little after an hour after my arranged collect time twittering about when I would be collecting it as it was ‘in demand’. As I hadn’t paid, I wish I had left it now. What this meant was I then had to negotiate £650 worth of new kit, a hungry and wriggling 1 year old, a falling over push-chair, and a high-chair around the pub where I was going to take my lad to give him some lunch. Then when I paid, the spotty adolescent fool working there tried making conversation about prime lenses, getting it all wrong and thus showing his ignorance, and then aggressively tried to sell me extended cover based on incorrect ‘knowledge’ he had about my current insurance policy. Which of course now may have been useless anyway.
So what this collapse basically means for me is I have lost (most likely) the protection of the Sale of Goods Act over my purchase. Manufacturers warranties are not a legal obligation. So long a a product is safe, a manufacture can sell it to their dealers without any real guarantee of quality. It is the store that sells it to you who has the obligation to ensure that goods are ‘fit for purpose‘ and ‘of satisfactory quality‘. And key to this is an expectation of a reasonable lifespan, which for an electronic item is about 5 years.
So, I would have basically had the same protection, or maybe more on a grey import.
Jessops (and indeed Price Waterhouse Cooper) have come up with some prime chump about the problems. Apparently camera phones are responsible for the decline in digital camera sales. More to the point, I think Jessops tried to be something for everyone. They floated on the stock market a number of years ago with ridiculously high share prices, plainly thinking the business was more than it way, and kit out fancy stores with big refurbs when in a less than ideal situation to do so.
I hope a buyer can be found, and one who will honour their commitments. I am not in the worst position. I read on one of the reports a member of staff saying that they had one lady who had bought a £2700 camera which she would not now be able to collect. I feel for the member of staff having to tell her that. But more for the customer. I have to say, I saved up for some time for my Camera, collecting cash together from various places before topping it off with money that is technically to last me the next four months. I have to say if I had gone in and been told that, I would have had his balls off and be down in the stock room to get it myself before he had a chance to pick them up!