Custom Camera repair shop on Lake Street

October 22nd, 2004 - 2:11pm by Slye Fox
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If you've been reading these posts for a while, then you may know that the goober-camera has been out of commission since August when it went through one mohito party too many. (The zoom mechanism quit working, gears stripped or something, and it won't power down.) Anyway, after my move downtown, the box with the warranty and the receipt was tossed and didn't find it's way into my new place. Sucks. A lot. Means that even though the camera is under warranty, I've no proof and can't get it repaired for free.

So, resolved of that fact, I brought it to Custom Camera on Lake Street in Minneapolis. You know that building with the large camera mural on the side. Right away, the personnel there indicated my best bet was warranty repair, but as I've indicated, that wasn't an open option. So I agreed to their $175 estimate. They said they'd have to order parts; typically takes about a week to get and then one day to repair. Great, I think, I'll have my camera back in time for Boston.

Well, two weeks went by, no calls. I call them up... "Can you hold?"... "Sure..." -- five minutes pass. Disconnected. Okay, that was irritating. Call them back again, "Can you hold?"... "Well, I just called and was disconnected...", interrupts, "No, you hung up." Well, no I did not, I think. "I'm sorry, we were just disconnected. Either way, I'd like to find out the status of my repair." "Last name?"

After giving him my name, he puts me back on hold and after a minute or two tells me that the parts are still on order and that I should call back and talk to 'Gary' when he returns from lunch. (By the way, the technicians go to lunch every day between 12 and 2 or 3 and apparently are the only people in the shop capable of decision making or information handling.) "Can you have a technician call me back?", I ask. "Sure", he says and I make sure he has my work number.

Three hours later, I've still got no call back, so I call them again. "Can you hold?" Oh fucking-A, here we go again. "I guess." After a while, "Yes?" "Can I speak to Gary please?" "What do you want to speak to him for?" "Well, you told me around noon to call back and speak with him about my repair." "That wasn't me," he says. Who gives a shit, I thought, let me talk to the guy. "Hang on," he says.

So a new guy answers the phone -- Gary, I presume. "Yeah we're still waiting on some parts, we just got a confirmation email indicating that they were shipped yesterday and I would guess we should have them tomorrow or the next day. Then I can fix your camera the same day." "Okay, great," I say, "let me know when the camera is ready."

Another week goes by. No calls from my new friends at Custom Camera. I call them up. "Can you hold?" I'm thinking, I've been in this place, I've driven past it nearly everyday and peeked in the window. I've never seen anybody in there. They can't be that busy. Do they do this to intentionally irritate customers? "Sure, I guess I'll hold." Five minutes go by and I'm disconnected. You know, I have a lot of patience and it takes a bit to push my buttons and get me fired up, but these assholes were sure doing a fine job of it. I call back. After the same fun and games of explaining my desire to talk to a 'technician', I get to speak to the man of the hour again. "Oh yeah, we got some of the parts in, but we're still waiting for the rest of the gears." My god, I think, that doesn't sound like the biggest line of bullshit I've ever heard. "When do you expect these other parts?" I ask, flatly. "Well, you never know," he says, "Could be a week, maybe more. Olympus is like that." Yeah right. "Alright, fine. please let me know when you get these other parts in and so you can fix my camera." "Yup," he says and hangs up.

At this point, I just want my damn camera back from these incompetent boobs. But, seeing as how I don't have the receipt, I figure they're still my quickest route to having it fixed. So giving them the benefit of the doubt, I patiently wait another week. Of course I get no encouragement that parts have arrived or that my camera will ever see the light of day again. In the mean time, M has been kind enough to loan me his Olympus camera for various goober-events (hence the still updated albums.) Thanks, M. But damnitall, I want my camera back. It's been over a month now. So yesterday, I stopped by the camera shop over my lunch.

"Hello, I would like to pick my camera up." "Last name?" After disposing said information, he goes to the back room and rummages around. He returns empty-handed and says, "Oh, you don't want it repaired then?" "No," I say, "I can't afford to wait for this repair any longer. I've been waiting over a month for these "parts" to come in and I would prefer to just deal with Olympus directly at this point." He doesn't say a word and returns to the back room. He comes back with a shoe box full of my camera guts. I'm sure shock and horror registered on my face. "Well that doesn't do me much good," I say, "Can I have it re-assembled?" "The technician is out for lunch." Of course he is, I thought. How convenient. "Do you think that he'll be able to put this back together this afternoon?" I ask. "That's up to him to say." "Well, can you have him give me a call when he returns from lunch, then?" "Sure," he says. "Do you have my number?" I ask. He points to my work number on the repair estimate in his hand. "Okay, good," I say and walk out the door.

Around 2:30 that afternoon, I still hadn't gotten any call. I call them up. Let's guess what I heard -- "Can you hold?" Oh yes, love this fuckin' game. Of course I was once again disconnected after five minutes of listening to their damn muzac. I call back again. "Can I speak to a technician, please." "The technicians don't talk on the phone," he says, "What can I help you with?" Bullshit, I'm thinking, who was it that I talked to all those other times, then? I say, "Sir, you told me that a technician would call me back this afternoon and let me know if he could have my camera put back together. I'm the guy who stopped in at lunch today." Knowing full well he knew who I was. "I wasn't the guy you talked to then," he says. Alright folks, this was becoming really difficult to not swear directly into the phone at the bugger at this point. I ask evenly, "Is the technician back from lunch now?" "Hang on," he says. Another minute or two passes and someone else speaks into the phone. "Your camera is back together," the voice says. This gets me a bit of guard. "Oh -- the camera is back together?" "That's what I said, isn't it?" he blurts. Jesus, how rude can a person be, I think. "Alright, you're open until six, correct?" "Yes," he says. "Good, I'll be in before you close to pick it up."

So around 4, I go there once again to pick up my camera. A guy I haven't seen before (Gary maybe), comes from the back room. "Hello, I'm here to pick up my camera." "Driver's license or pink slip," he says dully. I produce my driver's license which he disappears into the back room with. He returns with my camera case and the estimate slip. "Sign here," he says. Ignoring this request for now, I take my camera out of the bag and proceed to load the batteries into it. I push the power button and nothing happens. "When I dropped this off, the camera would at least power up," I say. "So?" he says. I'm a little taken aback by his outward rudeness. "Well, don't you think that I should be able to expect that I get my camera back in the same condition that I left it in?" He returns with, "Well, you're going to have it fixed under the warranty anyway, right?" I say, "That's not the point, buddy. The camera isn't in the same state as it was before..." He interrupts and says, "Listen, aught, aught," giving me the 'speak to the hand' gesture, "Listen, when you bitch out two of my employees over the phone..." "I did no such thing," I say. Still holding up his hand, he says, "I was listening to the conversation. You cussed out two of..." I can't believe this guy. What the hell bullshit did these other two employees tell him? Obviously, he was not 'listening in' as he indicates. Again I say, "I did no such thing, buddy. Now what are we going to do about my camera?" He says, "When you take the camera apart, it puts the electronics into a 'fault state' and it won't power up anymore." Trusting him as much as a carnival worker at the ring toss, I'm thinking, sure -- whatever. But I say, "Well, alright, don't you think you could have told me that initially, instead of barking down my throat immediately?" And he ends with, "Get the fuck out of my store."

I'm thinking this must be candid camera or an SNL skit. This whole scenario is so over the top, it just seems ridiculous at this point. "You people are something else," I say as I'm leaving. "Yes you are," he says. Holy shit. Can you believe this? Well at least I have my camera back. Hopefully in a condition that a real repair center can still fix.

And then as I'm driving back to work, it occurs to me that I think I may remember where I purchased the camera from in the first place. (I'd forgotten this and didn't have a record of this since replacing my computer with my laptop this spring.) A bit of digging into my bank account purchases and a google search leads me to find the Digital Foto Discount Club where I had bought my camera last December. And I just happened to have a post-it on the wall yet with the tracking number of that shipment. (My cubicle doesn't get cleaned out all that often.) I type in my old tracking number on their site and voila! There's a record of my purchase and receipt of sale. :) :) :) God -- if only I had found that before, I'm thinking. But at least now I can send it in for warranty repair.

So today, the goober-camera is headed for the Olympus service center in NY next day air. The gal on the phone indicated that upon their receiving it, it would be a 7 to 10 business day turnaround. Wonderful. And I didn't get disconnected while on hold. :) So -- after that ordeal, at least I should have my camera back soon. And even if they do charge me for something they claim isn't warranty related, I bet it it'll be less than $175.

So the moral of the story -- stay the hell away from Custom Camera on Lake Street. Maybe they're just cranky and think anybody under 40 is just another uptown hipster. (They are across the street from the Bryant Lake Bowl after all.) I really can't figure out what their 'chip on the shoulder' with me was all about, but if ever considering that place for service, be forewarned. I think if these guys put half the effort into customer service as they do into being rude, they might actually have a successful business. But then again, some people are just pricks and that's all there is to it.

October 22, 2004 - 3:45pm
Rabbit says:

Good story, I enjoyed it. A well written post for the GooberBlog. I must say man, you have a damn lot more patience then I would have. After seeing that shoebox of parts of my "camera" I would have been out there an hour later with a match and gasoline. Haha.

October 22, 2004 - 3:50pm
Slye Fox says:

Believe me, thoughts of bricks and window-glass were definitely present. All I can say is, karma's a bitch, man. What goes around, comes around. These people must have really lead a sorry existence to treat others in such a way and be of such dismal disposition.

October 27, 2004 - 10:55am
Tim says:

Hmmmmmm....interesting. I can't stand people like that....how old was this guy??? I probably would have driven my car through the front window.

October 27, 2004 - 11:14am
Slye Fox says:

I don't think anyone can stand people like this. Probably in his 50's. Old enough to hate "the youth" anyway, which I'm sure is defined by anyone without gray hair or a bald spot.

October 27, 2004 - 7:27pm
sxymngirl69 says:

OH MY GOD!!! that is just crazy! I don't know what I would have done but I know it wouldn't have been nice!

October 16, 2006 - 11:47am
Slye Fox says:

Ha Ha - Karma is so sweet!

UPDATE - it's now a Dunn Bros. Right next to where I live now, too. I stop in to have web meetings cause they've got free wifi.

I love to go there and look around, thinking to myself that I might have helped with the Camera Shop's demise. It was one of the most popular and most read stories on goobertech, after all. :)