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Thread: Foto scare

  1. #1
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    Foto scare

    Anyone use the NYC Alpa dealer Foto Care? Once again I've had a very bad experience from them. The staff are generally not knowledgeble about Alpa gear (with the exception of Jeff, more on that later). And service is almost nonexistent. Left hanging at the counter while Jeff was out at lunch... he being the only one who knows anything about Alpa. I usally don't mind waiting if I didn't make an appointment with him previously which he totally forgot.

    When I finally did see him an hour later, he was dismissive and gave me the impression that he couldn't wait for the meeting to be over. When I asked about the price of a rosewood grip he had, he quoted me $1399, forgetting that he had quoted me $899 the week before over the phone. The grip was an used one. When I pointed out the discrepency he said the Swiss Franc gained value over the weekend. This was the second such experience I've had with him over the period of 4 months. I will not have another.

    I talked to another Alpa user about my experience and she told me it was similar for her. She calls them Foto Scare.

    Anyone had any luck with them?

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    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    I've bought several items from Jeff, and found him to be both knowledgeable and helpful. Items that he didn't have in stock were obtained within a week or so from Switzerland, and the prices were as good or better than other dealers.

    As for staff not being knowledgeable about ALPA gear, I think you'll be unlikely to find any dealer where everyone knows about the brand. I once called Samy's in LA to ask about an ALPA part, and the guy I spoke to -- in their Pro sales department -- didn't know what I was talking about.

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    Re: Foto scare

    My experience is similar to Stephen's. Jeff has always been very prompt in answering emails and getting Alpa stuff not in stock, and prices have always been reasonable (if you can use that word and Alpa in the same sentence :-). However, I have never visited the store, so can not comment about the staff.

    Cheers, -Peter
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    Senior Member stngoldberg's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by mmbma View Post
    Anyone use the NYC Alpa dealer Foto Care? Once again I've had a very bad experience from them. The staff are generally not knowledgeble about Alpa gear (with the exception of Jeff, more on that later). And service is almost nonexistent. Left hanging at the counter while Jeff was out at lunch... he being the only one who knows anything about Alpa. I usally don't mind waiting if I didn't make an appointment with him previously which he totally forgot.

    When I finally did see him an hour later, he was dismissive and gave me the impression that he couldn't wait for the meeting to be over. When I asked about the price of a rosewood grip he had, he quoted me $1399, forgetting that he had quoted me $899 the week before over the phone. The grip was an used one. When I pointed out the discrepency he said the Swiss Franc gained value over the weekend. This was the second such experience I've had with him over the period of 4 months. I will not have another.

    I talked to another Alpa user about my experience and she told me it was similar for her. She calls them Foto Scare.

    Anyone had any luck with them?

    I had the same experience trying to buy an Alpa from Fotocare
    That is why I am the proud owner of an Arca Swiss
    Stanley

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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    As for staff not being knowledgeable about ALPA gear, I think you'll be unlikely to find any dealer where everyone knows about the brand.
    Kind of reminds me about the time I called a photographic store and asked if they had Farmer's reducer. They referred me to Agway.

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    Re: Foto scare

    I've worked with Jeff over several years now, building my Alpa system. He has always been prompt and provided excellent customer service. One lens lost it's infinity focus and he had me send it to Schneider for repair at no charge. CLA too.
    If I've wanted to switch used parts for a different part (e.g., a 34mm T/S for a 17mm T/S+17mm extension, he's always given me a fair price.
    Sorry you had a lousy experience. I've not had any complaints working with Jeff...

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    It seems so strange how folks experiences with the same dealers can be so different ...

    The only Alpa dealer that I've only ever heard or had consistently a great experience with was Optechs Digital and Paul Slotboom / Ted Pedersen. Alas, they are also no longer in business although Ted is now with Bear Images (with whom I've had the same variable experiences as the OP describes with FotoCare).

    There's an opportunity here for someone.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    It seems so strange how folks experiences with the same dealers can be so different ...

    The only Alpa dealer that I've only ever heard or had consistently a great experience with was Optechs Digital and Paul Slotboom / Ted Pedersen. Alas, they are also no longer in business although Ted is now with Bear Images (with whom I've had the same variable experiences as the OP describes with FotoCare).

    There's an opportunity here for someone.
    I've heard great things about bear image.

    It is just perplexing that one could have such varied experiences, given that one's ready top spend 10k plus on camera gear.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by mmbma View Post
    I've heard great things about bear image.
    Which makes my point. I and a few other folks I know have had a poor experience at times with Bear. So go figure ...

    Quote Originally Posted by mmbma View Post
    It is just perplexing that one could have such varied experiences, given that one's ready top spend 10k plus on camera gear.
    Exactly. It almost feels like you have to go through a dealer dating game to get good consistent service. Still, I've also had the same experience when spending six figures on sports cars so I guess it's not limited to photographic dealers.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Foto scare

    YUP! I have lots of experience with Fotocare! Years ago I used to buy a lot of stuff from them. Their store was around the corner from my studio but chose to avoid them like the plague. Terrible support, terrible attitude.

    I decided to go with Arca. I have a great dealer a couple of blocks away - Digital Transitions. I wouldn't think of going with Alpa because Fotocare is the only dealer in NYC and the rest of their dealer network sucks. An associate of mine and fellow photographer sums it up this way: "Fotocare and Alpa are a match made in heaven. Fotocare like to charge a premium for their products and Alpa think that's just dandy. Jeff can charge pretty much whatever he wants, or thinks he can get away with, for Alpa products. After all,if the price went up by $500 overnight, it's because of the exchange rate."

    Fotocare => FotoScare => BRILLIANT!

    Jack

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    Why would you go to Foto Care or any dealer for questions? We have Graham and Steve right here at GetDPI..... Graham's Land Rover is like having a mobile dealer...

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    Re: Foto scare

    I've found Foto Care to be an outstanding dealer; Jeff is a great guy. One of the two best places for exotic gear in NYC.

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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by mmbma View Post
    When I finally did see him an hour later, he was dismissive and gave me the impression that he couldn't wait for the meeting to be over. When I asked about the price of a rosewood grip he had, he quoted me $1399, forgetting that he had quoted me $899 the week before over the phone. The grip was an used one. When I pointed out the discrepency he said the Swiss Franc gained value over the weekend. This was the second such experience I've had with him over the period of 4 months. I will not have another.

    I talked to another Alpa user about my experience and she told me it was similar for her. She calls them Foto Scare.

    Anyone had any luck with them?
    Jeff certainly does have a NY attitude. A shame because there are really very few Alpa dealers with the best (Optechs) now gone. If Dave at CI handled Alpa he would get 100% of my business.

    Victor

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    Re: Foto scare

    What happened to Optechs? Did the Swiss Franc gain value over the weekend and Alpa kept cutting their margins?

    I have no interest in Alpa or even live in the USA but when I started the tech camera journey their videos are still the most memorable and informative I've seen to date.

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    Re: Foto scare

    If you need to see something in person then you don't have a great deal of choice - you're stuck with the dealers you can get to.

    However ... it's the internet age, and that being the case - in the English speaking world (at least) - I would recommend Linhof & Studio in the UK for all your Alpa needs in a heartbeat. Knowledgable, polite, helpful, quick etc.

    Also, I should say that the couple of times I've contacted Alpa directly they've replied quickly and been very helpful. You can order from them direct - wish they offered some form of payment other than bank transfer though.

    Jim

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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by gazwas View Post
    What happened to Optechs? Did the Swiss Franc gain value over the weekend and Alpa kept cutting their margins?
    Paul left the business. He had wanted to for some time..... we discussed it occasionally. I never thought he would really do it but he did. A real shame!

    Victor

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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by f8orbust View Post
    If you need to see something in person then you don't have a great deal of choice - you're stuck with the dealers you can get to.

    However ... it's the internet age, and that being the case - in the English speaking world (at least) - I would recommend Linhof & Studio in the UK for all your Alpa needs in a heartbeat. Knowledgable, polite, helpful, quick etc.

    Also, I should say that the couple of times I've contacted Alpa directly they've replied quickly and been very helpful. You can order from them direct - wish they offered some form of payment other than bank transfer though.

    Jim
    I would not buy from Alpa directly....... and I would not buy from anyone who would not take my purchase back within a reasonable period of time. If you think everything Alpa makes is golden then you are delusional. I could speak at great length about the much hyped FPS which I owned for three days and promptly returned and got my money back. Lenses are iffy and should be tested if you have any sense and value your money. My motto is don't use anyone else as a benchmark. You can only be your own benchmark.

    Victor

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    Re: Foto scare

    I am not at all surprised by the range of experiences with Fotocare and the owner, Jeff. Based upon my experience, he is very much like the Maitre d' at a self-important, French resaurant in New York City, who evaluates the size of your wallet (probably inaccurately in many cases), and extrapolates from that how serious you are about purchasing expensive camera equipment. This determines whether you are worthy of his time and attention, and therefore the quality of the customer experience.
    In fairness, we are talking about Alpa camera gear, which is the ultimate camera bling, so why should one expect a dealer selling it be all that different from a Gucci dealer.

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    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    This thread shows the danger in relying on anecdotes to decide what you're going to do. I recently read a court opinion ordering that a lawyer be removed from a case because he didn't know how to write an appellate brief. After three tries, the court lost patience and ordered him removed. When I Googled his name, I found people claiming that he was a great lawyer, and others saying that he was terrible.

    Here, we have people objecting to Jeff's New York attitude and lack of regard for his customers. Others, including me, report that they are satisfied customers. When I dealt with Jeff -- by telephone and email -- he was courteous and knowledgeable. The prices were right, and on the one occasion when I got a lens that ALPA had mislabeled (a 43mm Digitar in a Helvetar box) Jeff got me the correct lens in days and shipped it to me before he had received my returned one.

    Sometimes I think that the best test of a business is how they correct errors. Foto Care passed that test, and I wouldn't hesitate to do business with them again.

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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by vjbelle View Post
    If you think everything Alpa makes is golden then you are delusional
    I'm assuming this is a general 'you' because I, er, don't - and nothing I said implied otherwise.

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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by f8orbust View Post
    I'm assuming this is a general 'you'
    Yes..... a very general 'you' and sound advice.

    Victor

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    I had a pleasant experience at Fotocare several years ago and dealt with Jeff. For another dealer we have a member here from Dodd Camera that also sells Alpa.

    http://www.doddpro.com/Products_-_Te...l_Cameras.html

    FYI. Whenever I call a dealer my first words out of my mouth are about me and who I am. That alone establishes your reputation as a photographer and your credentials. It means you are a serious customer.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    ....
    FYI. Whenever I call a dealer my first words out of my mouth are about me and who I am. That alone establishes your reputation as a photographer and your credentials. It means you are a serious customer.

    But very few photographers have your buying credentials, Guy.


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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Foto scare

    Not sure that really is it about more about your approach to get to know someone and introduce yourself first. Frankly bottom line you get a lot more with sugar than jalapeño peppers in a conversation. Lol
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Likes 6 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: Foto scare

    Let me begin by saying that the post regarding a dealers behavior when an issue arises with purchased equipment is correct. Regardless of how one's own sensitivities enter into the equation, it is the support the dealer provides after the sale. In this regard, my experience with Jeff has been most positive. While in Matera, Italy in Oct. the shutter on my FPS malfunctioned rendering the camera useless. I immediately called Jeff. He contacted Alpa and the two of them arranged for a replacement unit to be sent to my next destination, Ravello. When I arrived approx 48 hours after my initial call, the camera was at the front desk of my hotel. Forget what anyone says it is their behavior that counts and Jeff and Alpa unquestionably met the challenge.
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    Re: Foto scare

    My experience was mixed...The rental dept. is fantastic, and the only reason I'd use them.

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    Re: Foto scare

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Not sure that really is it about more about your approach to get to know someone and introduce yourself first. Frankly bottom line you get a lot more with sugar than jalapeño peppers in a conversation. Lol
    True, and agree. However I just expected a little more service and warmth for a purchase this size. wouldn't you?

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