Ritz Camera: Home to People Who Don’t Know Photography

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that Ritz Camera seems to be a haven for people who don’t really know anything about photography? I have been to stores in at least three states and am consistently disappointed. Maybe it’s their hiring practices but they seem to select for the choice combination of lack of knowledge and determination to belittle customers.

My most recent incident came this past week at the Ballston location, where a clerk told me I wanted something other than what I came in for.

“Trust me,” he said after a few minutes of going back and forth, “what you need is an IR transmitter.”

“Trust me,” I replied, “I know what I need and it’s nothing like an IR transmitter.” I suspect the guy just learned about IR transmitters and wanted to impress someone with his new vocabulary. I don’t claim to know everything, but I am a professional photographer, know what I need, know IR and the differences between the two.

After a few more minutes of being talked down to by someone who didn’t know much, I finally left, saying that I would rather go out to Penn Camera at Tyson’s than continue the conversation.

To any Ritz Camera representatives who might read this: hiring people who can dust shelves is not enough. You have to train people as well or else select for existing knowledge. It’s expensive but a good investment that can pay back quickly if you implement it the right way.

A lesson in customer service wouldn’t hurt either.

8 Comments so far

  1. Don (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

    They’re not stupid, they just don’t stock cable releases. I went into the one in Tyson’s looking for a cable release for my D80 and they pulled out a classic manual plunge one. Uh, no.

  2. Sweet (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 10:33 am

    Ugh. I hate that place. I sent them some digital shots for them to develop and after three times I still haven’t gotten all of them. They suck.

  3. Mayur (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Clearly, they are unable to recruit and train enough sales guys to keep up with all the Ritz camera locations that seem to open in the area. From my experience:

    @ ballston mall– sucks (and Carl is right; I go in to buy A, I am told that I need B. Aaargh!)
    @ Tysons — sucks.
    @ dupont — sucks. Guy doesn’t even know a tripod case when he is looking at it.

    Now, the one at 18th and L — that is yet to disappoint. Its the largest of Ritz stores that I have been to, they understand, they know and they want to help. Next time, I would recommend you pay them a visit.

  4. Seen_it_all (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

    I think for professionals and professional expertise, Penn Camera is the store to go to. As far as getting regular processing (non-professional), you may as well use on-line services like KodakGallery or Snapfish or even Costco. There are plenty of photo labs that would be happy to work with you if you want professional prints made. I wouldn’t waste my time with Ritz Camera or MotoPhoto.

  5. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

    Yeah – I agree, it’s not a place for professionals. However, all I needed was a $15 part any respectable place should have or else be out of. They didn’t have it and had never heard of it. I just wanted to avoid a trip into the city or else out to Tyson’s to go to Penn.

    Lesson learned. Again.

  6. Seen_it_all (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 5:53 pm

    I don’t know where you live but Penn Camera has several locations, one or two at least accessible by metro. Sorry about your experience – good luck with your future photographic equipment needs.

  7. A_Ritz Employee (unregistered) on December 4th, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

    I work for Ritz Camera and couldn’t agree more with what takes place at many of the stores. The problem is definetly with their hiring practices. They will hire employees and then pay them less than what they could make at McDonald’s and then tell them that they can make more if they just sell the right products that have the larger spiffs on them. There is little to know training that would actually help an employee to be able to sell to a professional unless that employee happens to be one or has worked in the industry for many years.

    It is truly sad… but all Ritz seems to care about is the dollar in their pocket right now and then playing catch up to the times later.

    For someone like me that has the knowledge and is a professional photographer… it gets quite embarassing when someone comes in to the store asking for a common item that a store like ours should have and then having to tell them we don’t carry it or i need to order it…

    Like the wise Ritz Upper Brass say… “It is what it is, deal with it and Ritz Express it”

    Oh well ;(

  8. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on December 4th, 2006 @ 2:39 pm

    Here’s my thing – there’s no shame in not having something in stock or even in not knowing what it is I want. The problem is that people don’t want to admit they don’t know so they make up some BS about the situation and stand by it when it’s just a bunch of nonsense.

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