What Jessie Did Next...

...being the inane ramblings of a mundane Yorkshire bird.

Tag: jessops

I feel a tiny bit sorry for Jessops after the announcement they’d gone into administration, but surprised it’s taken this long for it to happen. Jessops is (was?) a bit like PC World where you went in an emergency and paid the ‘now’ tax, but as my good friend Mike Hughes points out, why do that when you can get it delivered the next morning from an online retailer for substantially less dosh?

I’ve bought from Jessops in the past: my Canon 5D Mark II came from them when they were in very short supply and (for some reason) the shop in Leeds had two in-stock where everyone else was quoting several weeks’ lead time; I also vaguely recall reasonable experiences buying an EOS 30D from them in an emergency when my 10D packed up a few days before travelling: the Leeds shop staff didn’t mind me taking the body outside and doing a CCD dirt check on it so I could get the cleanest unit after it turned out the one I bought was mucky. More recently the Wakefield shop (sadly now an empty unit) was staffed by a couple of people who knew what they were on about, so it was occasionally nice to pop in for a chinwag: shades of its former life as local independent Richards’ Cameras.

They were purely box-shifters however, and their long-term returns and repair process sucked golf balls through pipette tubing. Long-time readers of this blog will probably recall the fun I had when my 5D Mark II developed hot pixels and they lost the repair; a few months ago when I totalled a flashgun my heart sank when I found out that MoreThan wanted to send it to Jessops to be fixed; true to form it took three months for it to be returned. I should really blog about the whole insurance experience but that’s a story for another day…

I digress. We don’t have an independent now in Wakefield so I can’t shop locally, however here’s where I get my stuff from:

For film, chemicals, and darkroom bits and bobs I first try Dale Photographic in Leeds. They’re upstairs in the Merrion Centre, our last local bastion of independence, their secondhand shelf is occasionally good for a prod around (although they still haven’t found me a Bronica or Mamiya 6×6 body, and they’re more Nikon than Canon). Prices for digital kit are usually more expensive than online but they can be good for a ‘need it now’ purchase.

If the chemicals or film aren’t available from Dale, I’ll go try RK Photographic or First Call Photographic on t’interwebs. Although in the latter case the postage can be quite punitive if you only order a few little bits, they’re good for niche things such as C41 chemicals or empty film cans for bulk purchasing.

For camera bodies and things I could really do with taking back in person if they don’t work or develop a soon-after-purchase fault, I go to Calumet Photographic (our nearest branch is in Manchester). I’ve had splendid experiences with the staff there helping me with bits, chasing around to see if they can obtain me something that’s in short supply, or just having a chat when I saw Lynese (who runs the Twitter feed) at events. They also do ‘open days’ where you can go play with kit and talk to specialists in that particular area.

Finally, if I’m buying lenses and I know what I want (because obviously I’ll have tested it out with a week’s rental from Lenses4Hire), I’ll just go to Amazon. I think I found Bristol Cameras this way, and obtained things like my 17-35mm f/2.8 L-series glass via there. Check the feedback and returns policy though!

While Jessops going under isn’t surprising and their box-shifter role was usurped by other companies who could do it cheaper and better, it will still leave me without a place to go in an emergency if I’m stuck in somewhere without a ‘real’ camera shop because they had retail units everywhere. That bit’s tedious, at least.

Time for a bit of a sweep up on tales of photography which came to conclusions recently…

Remember my whinge about Jessops’ poor repair service where they’d taken 10 days to get it to Canon’s repair centre? I got my EOS 5D Mark 2 back with a note of ‘readjustment’ – after a little bit of research it turns out that this is a fairly common operation, and while they don’t map the pixels out they actually re-adjust the CCD (which bit I don’t know, so don’t ask). Jessops themselves are unrepentant about the delay, it’s fairly average for them and the Interwebs are full of complaints.

In the course of my investigations into quicker repair options I came across Canon Professional Network. While most of the website is open to everyone (I recommend the video tutorials/masterclasses from professionals), if you qualify for their full programme you get priority repairs and equipment loan if it takes more than a week to get the unit back to you. The entry requirements are fairly sizeable – you have to own at least 2 L-series lenses and 2 ‘professional’ bodies (base requirement is EOS 40D so your entry-level dSLRs don’t count nor do the older bodies).

They also make sure there’s a repair centre on-site at major events such as Wimbledon and other major sports events, yada yada. That way if something goes bang you can get it sorted damn quick (and they cover your lenses too, hooray).

Anyway, I qualified for it in the end because I’ve acquired a Canon EOS 50D as a body for Nicky to use. The 30D has been very heavily used (the trigger is reluctant to fire sometimes) and the accessories will fit a 50D so it seemed like a sensible purchase. Nicky’s used it a little bit on holiday and I’m looking forward to the first gig pics using it.

I guess I’ll see how the repair service deals with the G9’s failure and will report sometime in the future, but bear in mind the experience may be a little different as it’s a travel-insurance job.

On a side-note, there’s unsubstantiated rumours of the EOS 7D (again) and of course the new G11 has been announced. Maybe if the G9 is irrepairable I’ll go find one of those instead.

I’m so Canon’s bitch.

OK, I’m annoyed. No, scratch that – I’m fucking livid.

After some nice experiences with Jessops over the past couple of years, they’ve done something that’s really irked me: they’ve sat on my repair job without sending it off.

Let’s backtrack: my Canon EOS 5D Mark II (list price over £2300) developed a small rash of measles on the CCD – dead pixels which would come up as red blobs indicating early CCD failure. Any photos which came out had to be manually retouched (including a lot of the ones from Pride London 2009), a completely unacceptable situation. I’d previously written about Jessops in both Leeds and Wakefield being excellent so let me be clear here, I’m not laying this at the door of the shops themselves.

I took the unit to the Wakefield branch of Jessops which (in my opinion) has a competent manager and isn’t so busy that they rush you along. Quite aside from the computer being a bit odd and linking the serial number to a Canon EOS 30D (!) they managed to book it in and said the courier would pick it up same day.

That was about a week and a half ago (10th July). I’ve started getting anxious for an update since I’m off on holiday next week and wanted to spend a good while getting to know the camera in bright conditions. I dug around on Jessops’ site for a link to repair updates: nothing there, no help at all – and the helpline I did phone said ‘call Canon on 0844 369 0100 and choose option 1’. So I did.

After sitting through what seemed like eons of ‘you must call xxx if you have yyy’ and other prerecorded messages I finally got through to a polite lady who took the serial number of the camera body, and then said she couldn’t tell me anything because of ‘data protection’. Right. Finally through a two-step comprising me telling her bits about what it was in for and stuff (and that it had been booked through Jessops) she let slip it hadn’t arrived at Canon until 20th July, it was in ‘the queue’ and the average wait time was 5-7 working days.

So, just to clarify: Jessops didn’t forward my 5 month-old camera body to Canon for almost 10 days.

(Sidenote: Jessops shouldn’t have told me to phone the Canon service centre apparently; “They know they’re not meant to do that.” said Polite Lady.)

I’m not optimistic of receiving the unit back before I go on holiday on 29th July. Indeed, aside from having to go back to the 30D I’m steeling myself for either a dash back up North on the Thursday, or getting a friend to courier the body out to Montpellier if it comes back in time (which might be a silly idea anyway, we’ll have to see).

To say I’m pissed off is an understatement. More as it unfolds.

OK, I got it wrong! A rather helpful chap from DSGi Head Office got in touch and pointed out that Jessops have never been a DSGi operation, stating:

“…in the UK DSGi operate Dixons, Currys, PCWorld; TheLink has sort of finished and is web only, as is Dixons, except the Airport stores. (There are also lots of European chains, which have names I can never remember); but Jessops has never been a DSGi operation.”

A couple of other comments from several folks indicate that Jessops competence is still very much changeable and your mileage will indeed vary. I must have been lucky!

Anyway, I won’t name names on this but thankyou for the clarification and consider me corrected.

As many folks know, there is no love lost between me and DSG (“Dixons Store Group”). The inefficient stores, the 16 year-old school-leavers and disinterested sales assistants, the “Mastercare” warranty debacle, the staff who aren’t particularly knowledgeable and the poor stock control all contribute to horrendous experiences in Currys and PC World (I won’t touch Leeds Headrow PC World with a bargepole – but that’s another story). Jessops seems to stand out in competence though. At least, they do now.

I’ve had good experiences from Jessops branches over the past year: I bought the Canon G9 in Marlow’s branch and they were helpful and considerate. I chinwagged for an hour with the manager in the Wakefield store where I’ve not bought anything major for a year or two but he didn’t seem to mind. Then this past fortnight I have had exceptional service from the Headrow Leeds store.

So what happened in Leeds to warrant this outpouring of joyfulness? The EOS 5D Mk II I bought was faulty. Nothing major but definitely an annoyance – a hair looked to be trapped between the focusing grid and the lightbox: when I took the camera bodies to be cleaned the bloke at Calumet said he’d have to have most of the unit apart to remove it so I went for a replacement. The nice lady in Jessops got me a 5D shipped in from the only store in the UK which had one left, I kept the first body while the second arrived, and then was in the store for about 10 minutes today doing the switchover. During the process I had phonecalls advising me of progress which I really appreciated.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had good times with Leeds Jessops either – the Merrion Centre store (now closed) were equally helpful when I bought my 30D. I didn’t have time to get it cleaned before I went on holiday so needed one with a CCD as clean as possible: we had almost every 30D body out of the box doing a dust-check (f/22, point at sky, take photo, look for dust). Seems to be something they’re used to, and experience speaks volumes.

Let’s backtrack slightly here for some background: DSG tend to get “lowest common denominator” staff in – at least that’s how it appears. I’m sure the folks in charge of the stores are great but that’s not how it comes across. For instance, I can walk into Currys in Wakefield and there’s shop-floor staff staring into the middle distance in a sort of “sales droid standby mode”, who seem to bluescreen when you ask them anything past “how much does it cost”. That’s always seemed to be the norm for DSG-owned stores, but they’ve pulled a blinder with Jessops. Indeed, staff seem to know what they’re on about (for instance being able to discuss photographic techniques and scenarios rather than them reading from a sales document stored in their heads – almost like I’ve gone to an independent shop).

It’s not always been this way: when Jessops aggressively expanded (and bought up Wakefield’s own local camera shop, Richards Cameras) the shops were largely staffed by salesmonkeys and the aforementioned pubescent YTS staff. I think it all changed about 2 years ago when they decided to get some folks in who knew what they were on about.

I heartily recommend them – and coming from someone who passionately hates DSG, that’s a recommendation to take note of.

Edit: Jessops it turns out aren’t DSG – see my followup post here.

I’ve just spent the morning in Leeds, after turning up at the Commercial Street shop at 10ish with my not-very-good Canon EOS 30D.

The gentleman remembered me from Sunday, so it was reasonably easy just to get started. He brought out another 30D for me and I went outside to take some photos to test it was all OK – sadly not, there were 3 or 4 obvious marks. So another unit was procured, which had the same problem.

Then they’d run out of 30D bodies, so he walked up to the nearest branch on Headrow and picked up their remaining 30D. That had dust on it.

By that time I was getting a bit anxious, but the nice gentleman phoned the Merrion Centre branch which had a sealed one and a display model. The sealed unit also had dust on the CCD, so we tried the display model. That worked! So now I have a 30D which doesn’t have dust on it.

According to the sales guys I spoke to, they’ve had quite a few 400Ds returned with dirty CCDs which just won’t clean, and the current rumour is there’s a bad batch – this seemed to be the first 30D they’d had back but by their own admission they don’t sell many. Bizarrely, my 10D lasted two years before I needed to get the CCD cleaned, and I’m wondering if the CCD in the 30D is susceptible. It also shows that the 400D’s CCD-cleaning feature doesn’t actually seems to be that great.

Irritating, but I’m glad it’s sorted and Jessops were very helpful in rectifying the problem.

I’d noticed on some of the test shots I did on the 30D, that there were a couple of dark patches. Very faint, but there nontheless and if you know what you’re looking for it’s very distracting – a hallmark of dust on the CCD. This isn’t something you should have on a brand new camera.

Now I’ve had my suspicions that this camera I’d bought from Leeds Jessops had been pre-owned (the seal on the box seemed to be taped back up when I bought it but I paid it little mind – lots of companies do that to check contents before selling), but this seems to confirm it. I’ve barely had 1000 pics off it and all of them have the same dusty bit.

For those of you wondering how I checked – whack the aperture right up (f28 in this case), point it at a blue sky and take a pic. The uniform colour shows the problem areas.

I’m not even going to attempt to clean it – it’s off back tomorrow.