Time for a Screed - Product Availability

What I see in many camera stores

What I see in many camera stores

Help me understand something. Retailers are complaining that retail revenue is down. This is a fact, phoney sales notwithstanding. On hand inventory in brick and mortar stores is at an all time low. Many B&M retailers are moving to, or have moved to online sales as their primary mode of transaction, and we can look at B&H Photo Video as an example of a company that has been successful in the industry, and Amazon as a general example.

It cannot be that there are not good web store platforms. Shopify is superb. It’s easy to use and if set up with any kind of plan, pays for itself, presuming of course that you can bring customers to your online store.

I recently needed to buy inks for a printer that my wife uses in her business. This is a current printer that is widely available. Finding inks for it at the retail level is like pulling teeth. I cannot understand why a store that sells this printer and purports to be a photographic seller, is always out of stock in one or more of the inks necessary for the printer to work. This is an Epson printer and like all printers these days, will not work at all if one tank is empty. Moreover, Epson has made clone tanks unusable in this printer by placing ID chips in their own tanks. I know, because I bought a full set of “fully supported” tanks on Amazon because they were in stock only to find that the printer would not recognize them at all. I posted a negative review, and never heard back from the seller or Amazon. Caveat Emptor, buyer beware.

Believe me, if Amazon offered Epson brand inks, I would have placed my order and had my stuff today. They don’t. More fools they, since they do carry all manner of everything else.

So when I got the call that the printer was out of ink on one tank and that no local seller carried the inks, one in fact, Staples Canada, doesn’t even list two of the six inks that the printer requires for operation, I went to the online store for a national photographic retailer that listed all the inks in stock. There normal delivery estimate was 4-7 business days and I know for a fact that this really means 10-14 days, so I chose to pay for 2-3 business day service.

When a store is open seven days a week, what does business day mean anyway? Just wondering.

I got two immediate acknowledgements of my order. Not picking confirmations, not shipping confirmations, just that my order had been received. Now over 24 hours later, I still have heard nothing. I have the luxury of a local store, but they don’t keep stock. I have no option but to go online. What I have learned from this is that the world has changed where everything is wanted by customers immediately but that fulfilling that demand is not going to happen, at least not in Canada.

I expect that I could have ordered directly from B&H, and the goods would be on their way already and I also suspect that even after exchange I would have paid less.

All the platitudes and politically correct “messaging” will not save a seller when they don’t deliver on customer demands. Bring back the attitude and leadership that understands that if you do not satisfy your customer, you are not going to have to worry about having customers for very long.


About six hours after this article posted, I received an email telling me that the order had shipped. This struck me as surprising since it was a Saturday. Shortly after I received a notice that the package would be delivered by Purolator and that I would get a reference number from them. One arrived about three hours later. When I checked today (Monday) shipped actually means that a shipping label has been created. Nothing has actually shipped yet, and the package as of noon Monday was still awaiting pickup by the courier for which I paid a premium for express delivery. Stuff that makes you go hmmmm

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I'm Ross Chevalier, thanks for reading, watching and listening and until next time, peace.