Confessions of a Ritz Camera Salesperson

The Consumerist has an interesting post, which details 10 Confessions of a Ritz Camera Salesperson.  The most alarming “confession” was the practice of selling demo cameras as new:

Demo Cameras- We sell them to you and you don’t even know it. Everyone’s grubby hands have probably been on your camera. It’s probably been dropped at some point, not to mention the boxes we get shipments in from UPS look like they’ve been kicked all the way from the home office to our store. We sell demo cameras at no discount, we just clean them up and put them in a box. Then we are told to lie to you and tell you it’s brand new.

I really hope this is not a company practice; however, it is disturbing regardless of how widespread it is.  What kind of experiences have you had with Ritz?  Any other salespersons or representives from Ritz care to chime in on this one?

 

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    I used to work at Ritz. This sounds a lot like nothing more than a disgruntled employee. Most of these are just plain wrong. The commentary on Prices, the Image Rewards Card (The Digital Xtra package), Prints, and Scanning are the only sections that are right. The others are all half-truths, or just plain wrong.

  2. Anon says

    I worked at ritz for a little over 2 years and I rose up to the position of key lab technician (underpaid mechanic) and I have to say that this sounds exactly like Ritz. It’s a shady operation that does its best to gouge you like a big box store while maintaining very small selection of actual product in the store.

    I’m not going to get into the specifics of the management, but lets just say that the higher up you go the lower the competence.

    One small note that he got wrong is that your printer shouldn’t smell like fish unless you DON’T CLEAN it every 2 weeks like you are required.

    I’m not going to even get into how the ritz website would constantly undercut our prices in store and we would be chastized for not being able to compete with no tax on your purchase.

  3. Jason says

    I went into Ritz a while back, I need some ISO-100 film. While I was there I decided to look to see if they had an inexpensive pocket slave-flash. While I was browsing the display case, I heard the sales man trying to sell this young couple (who quiet obviously from there question barely knew which was the business end of the camera), a Canon 5D with some nice L-Glass, and I believe a speedlite flash. I think the lens was the EF 24-105mm IS USM. Anyway, the guy is telling this couple its a good starter camera to learn on…. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I hope to someday get my skills to a level where I could justify the expense of that rig. After a few minutes, the couple decides they need to go think about it. So I go ask the guy about a slave flash, while he is looking around for one, fishing, I ask him about the 30D in the case. “Oh yeah” he says, “I have a 20D at home, its more camera than I ever been able to use….” Unbelievable! What a schmuck! Trying to unload a 5D on a couple of kids who didn’t know any better. Kind of left a dirty taste in my mouth about that chain.

  4. Logan says

    I work at Wolf Camera, and we are told that if the demo is all thats left, we give the customer the option of buying the demo or ordering through ritz express. I will make the demo look like new if the customer decides to buy it, but the customer knows full well what he is buying.

  5. elmer says

    I ordered a product Nikkor Lens and they sent me a Quantaray.

    In order to avoid any confusion with my planed order I had an online chat with a sales person. In this conversation I asked pointedly: “is this a NIKKOR AF-S DX lens as well?” and the res ponce was: “Yes, you are correct.”

    However, they shipped me a Quantaray lens that isn’t worth the cost of the shipping much less of Nikkor quality, and they expect me to just be ok with this product because it fits on my camera.

    Below is the entire online chat:
    wolf: Hi me! Welcome to live help at WolfCamera.com
    me: hi
    me: i am looking at buying a nikon d90
    me: and i wanted to clear up a few questions i had
    me: could you verify that there is no sales tax, no shipping, and 10% off of this purchace if i pay with paypal.
    wolf: How may I help you today?
    wolf: Yes.
    me: yes on all 3 questions above?
    wolf: Yes, you are correct.
    me: can i pick this item up in the store
    wolf: I am sorry, online and local are two different companies.
    me: can you give me more information about the “free” lens?
    wolf: It will come with the camera.
    me: yes, who makes it?
    me: “Price PLUS Bonus FREE 55-200mm Lens!” is this a NIKKOR AF-S DX lens as well?
    wolf: It is manufacturer by US.
    wolf: Yes, you are correct.
    me: thank you
    wolf: You are welcome

  6. Bruce says

    Just purchased a D90 with Nikor 18-200 AF VR and received the best service one could expect. Very knowledgeable and exacting about the simplicity or complexity as one moves up the Nikon line-up. Even though it was on the shelf the manager insisted on ordering a new camera and lens. The follow-up service has been outstanding. Two other sales staff in the store, both of whom I had encountered on earlier visits would never have sold me a camera due to their lack of product knowledge, and in one case knowledge of cameras in general.

    A company is only as good as the team in the field. I may have been lucky to find a knowledgeable and honest manager. As the economy continues to slump, it will become more of a buyer beware purchasing environment.

  7. John says

    I had worked for Ritz for about 5 years. First of all to the person who calls him/herself “anon” key lab technician does not mean anything. I became a kel lab technician after working for ritz for 2 months. I worked for for a store that was ranked in the top ten of the company everymonth. Our store would never sell a display model anything unless the customer knew about it. The reason for not selling a display camera at a discounted price is because of the top rated protection plans we sold on our products. This employee just sounds bitter most likely because he was fired. Which Ritz will do in a heart beat if you are not good enough. In the store I worked in the customer was always number one and we knew we did not have a job if it weren’t for the customer. When an associate sold a camera to a customer that associate would call the customer about a week later to see if the customer was enjoying their purchase and to thank them for buying the camera from them. To give a bit of advice never buy a camera from ritz online, anything else is good, but you are better off buying the camera from the store becasue there are usually better deals in the store and you can talk to one of the associates who knows what they are talking about unlike most of the online reps. Also not all associates are going to be knowledgeable about the products. If you are talking to an associate who does not seem to know what they are talking about ask for the manager. Every Ritz Store manager i have ever met will know alot. Also the buy an ESP with every camera. Resaon being not only does if cover for anything that happens but what I do is I usually buy a 3 year protection plan and near the end of the three years I will completley distroy the camera. Reason being is you will either get a brand new camera (the newest and greatest version of the one you just broke) or you will get the money back that you spent originally on the camera to buy a new one. I do this to keep from having to buy a new camera every three years once the technology is outdated.

  8. Kate says

    I think it rather depends on the store and who the manager is. I’ve worked at two different stores – in the first store, we always made sure the customer was aware if all we had left was the demo. If they wanted it, we would clean it up for them and tell them they had a month to bring it back if they decided they didn’t want it or wanted a new one. If they didn’t, we would see if they wanted to order a new one or see if other stores in the area had one new in box.

    In that first store, i was fortunate enough to have a very honest, ethical manager, as well as honest coworkers. The manager screens all applications and interviews prospective employees before passing them on to the district manager, who does the actual hiring. Obviously, each manager will look for different things when hiring – mine was rather picky and would hire based on personality more than anything else. I know of other managers who prefer to look for sales prowess and gloss over the rest, whether out of apathy or desperation.

    The store i moved to (and where i currently work) is a bit different. The manager doesn’t care as much about ethical selling, as long as no one gets caught. Plus, the store is rather a mess as compared with the last one – half the time, demos are packaged and sold without the costumer’s knowledge because an associate will neglect to check for a new-in-box model while talking to the costumer over the phone or the like. It’s not as sketchy as it could be, but i feel rather sorry for some of the costumers who buy cameras at my current store.

    Sadly, a lot of is the fault of the numbers game – associates are told to ‘sell, sell, sell’ and are awarded for having good sales numbers (mainly through the cunning use of sales incentives), but not told off often enough when a customer comes to complain about shady sales practices. Ethical selling very much rests on the honor system, and in most cases, the ethical seller doesn’t sell as much.

    Interesting that the many of the Ritz employees or ex-employees who complain about shady sales practices either quit (or were fired) or are lab techs. As the latter, i am underpaid and overworked – because the company is cheap, and Ch. 11 hasn’t helped. I’m fortunate enough to be recognized for my mad lab skillz and was not only able to keep my job, but am also no longer expected to play the numbers game as much as i used to have to. The lab i work in is also in much better condition than it was when i started a month ago, and the imaging customers are generally happier. I only wish my own job search were going a bit better.

    That said, it’s not a bad thing to buy a camera at Ritz. It beats going to Best Buy, anyway, and the return policy is generally better than buying online. The trick is to be an informed consumer – go to a store more than once an get a feel for the associates and the products offered. Research on your own and question products before you buy. Or better yet, find a local, independently owned camera seller and go there instead.

  9. Guanita says

    I worked for Ritz for the past 9 years and was laid off 3 months ago due to Chapter 11 downsizing; they chose to stay with less experienced, cheaper staff, which is cool with me. This is the deal: If you pull a demo camera out of the showcase to show it to a customer and it is the last camera in stock, usually, you have no choice but to tell the customer that this is the last camera in the store. You can sell this demo to him/her but there will be no discount, period. HOWEVER, if the sales staff realizes the demo model is the last camera in stock, they are ordered to clean it up, repackage it, and sell it as new. Obviously, this is done discretely when customers are not around. Now, I have to say that this is not a written company policy. But, it’s a common practice, and upper management turns a blind eye.

  10. Bill says

    The person’s first “confession” told the whole story when they mentioned “Ritz/Proex”. Proex was a Minnesota-only company who was purchased by Wolf Camera, and then taken over by Ritz when they bought Wolf out of bankruptcy. Although this happened around 2001, to this day there are still a number of former AND current associates who resent this and the changes that were made by Ritz. The Proex name was kept on many stores due to recognition, and the fact that Proex’s specialty is portraits, something most Ritz stores don’t do. Up until the bankruptcy in Feb., the two brands were slowly being merged into single-site stores, and many “Proex” associates were being trained on how to sell cameras, something they didn’t have to do at Proex, and something that many Proex associates resented. Every one of the “confessions” were complaints that I heard from the “know-it-all Proex” (note: not all of them were/are “know-it-alls”, just the more vocal ones) associates while working at one of the co-branded Ritz/Proex stores.

  11. Current Ritz Guy says

    The demo statement above is very true. We walk it to the back, scrub her down of prints and then stick it to ya, with other crap you don’t need.

    It’s called upper management says to do it. I know my DM has said it!

  12. Rondale says

    yesterday 11/09/2009 I went to the nearest Ritz camera store seeking my money back that I had used to pay for a brand new 755 Garmin gps unit. while there the associate was very nice and helpful and I really give him credit for that. however, I walked away upset, crying and feeling unjustified not by his actions but because of the mangers actions of whom he had to call. the associate had to call someone to find out if I could get a refund for the product I brought back to one of your locations. however, the location I had to drive to wasn’t the actual store the item was purchased at. the store I purchased the gps system from closed down and there were no longer any stores in my county AT ALL!! because of this, I had to drive well over 37 miles and lost a complete half tank of gas doing so! I not only had the original receipt but I had the emails sent back and forth to Garmin, the original gps box that the unit came in, the invoice letter Garmin sent to me when it was so-called repaired and fixed and even the box and wrapping Garmin sent the item back in when it was so-called fixed. the reason why I DID NOT send the item to Ritz camera store to be fixed when the unit kept blanking out on me in THE MIDDLE of the highway and making me lost wasting gas traveling long distances to find the right highway, is because the 30 day warranty the store offered was over. HOWEVER, Garmin’s website clearly states that I have a YEAR WARRANTY from the date of purchase! before I sent the unit to Garmin I spoke with a representative on the phone who set up the arrangement for me to send the unit in and he told me that there was a “GLITCH” in the gps system unit I purchased. I was also told that I had to pay shipping fee to have the unit sent to Garmin ( the address that it was sent to is posted on their website) to be fixed. very upset that I have to pay a shipping fee for a unit they already had a glitch in I proceeded to mail the unit anyway because I needed it. however, when I sent the unit out for repair and after waiting two entire weeks without using an item that I paid 500+ for, got the item back and IT DIDNT WORK!! I found out that the unit still didn’t work IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY!!! AGAIN!! this has caused myself emotional stress and I do not feel comfortable driving around with a faulty unit!! yesterday I was very reluctant giving my unit to the Ritz rep. but I only did so because I didn’t want anyone stating that I didn’t explore every avenue in trying to get this ALREADY FAULTY unit fixed. one of the other Ritz camera store clerks took the unit and tried to use it in her car and came back stating that I was right it DOESNT WORK. can you imagine me at night with my little girl using a unit that worked but in the middle of the highway turned off??? well…that’s what happened!! I not only suffered stress, but I missed the appointment, wasted gas, and wasted time. to make matters worse, I WAS IN ANOTHER COUNTY!! what is going to happen if I drive to another state and the unit I have shuts off?? this is insane!! as a customer I find this to be you robbing me of my money. I cannot drive to Philadelphia where my family resides with a unit I CANNOT TRUST!! I not only would be scared out my mind to use this unit but terrified even more if I do and this situation happens again of which I cannot give a chance for IN ANOTHER STATE! are you serious?? you cannot sell me something that already has problems and get away with this!! I am keeping every document because I haven’t lied about a thing and I am being treated like a criminal EVEN WITH A RECEIPT!! I contacted Garmin for a return but they informed me that once a store buys the product from them it is no longer in their care and that I must talk to Ritz for a refund!! well…I am talking to you and I am not getting what I want. I have already explained just about (if not all) information which in my opinion should be enough for someone to understand my dilemma!! however, I will call your office by 9 or 10 am this morning 11/10/2009 to see if you have this email of just to explain my situation again once more. once again, to buy something that is FAULTY and have a receipt and an item that doesn’t work is unlawful and if I am not granted my money back as said before I believe it’s my best interest to seek legal action.

  13. David J says

    Don’t buy anything from these people if you think there may be a chance you would want to return it. They don’t tell you that there will be 15 to 25 percent re-stocking fee. (The fee is at their discretion) Also, they won’t give you a RMA number. They say that their shipping and receiving department will handle everything. Isn’t that comforting? I will never do business with them again.

  14. Chuck says

    I worked for Ritz, first in an east coast mall store and then a midwest location, while I was in school and wanted to plug what would otherwise be a hole in my work history. The whole thing was a hustle: “associates” hustle the customers, associates hustle each other, customers try to hustle the associates and management hustles everybody.

    Ever hear of a back stabber? The people I worked with in the New England store would run at you with an ax. And the customers there were either foreign tourists who wanted to bargain or people would produce ads from 42nd St gray market sellers and demand to be matched on price. Then they hired this one kid who was the ultimate hustler. What hustler wouldn’t fall for another hustler, right? When the top-of-the-line Nikon went missing the regional manager, some Israeli putz, threatened to fire the entire store. They figured it out when a customer came in looking for “that nice Columbian boy” who was going to sell her the Nikon on a payment plan. In the Midwest store I went through a succession of managers, the last of which was a complete psychotic.

    The biggest hustles are the extended warranties, never buy one unless you plan to use the camera underwater or give it to your two year old, and the processing club. The idea of the club is you buy their crappy overpriced processing and they give you a short roll of no-name film for free. I had a few prints made from negatives in the East Coast store and when I looked at them I thought “is my camera really that lousy?”. No, the printer was out of focus and nobody noticed. They were probably selling fuzzy prints for years. Should have charged extra for that atmospheric effect.

    Hands down the most soul-killing job I ever had. They even told you exactly how to answer the phone. It was like a retail version of Jonestown. F ‘em.