20th September 2010

Dear CEO,

Saga of a Camcorder Buyer Looker

I am writing this open letter to all of the manufacturers involved in my shopping expedition over the weekend. After two weeks of internet research and reading reviews I ventured out this Sunday at 10am to buy a mid-range HD camcorder. On the 7th of October my wife and I are heading for the trip of a lifetime to see Israel for 8 days and we wanted to upgrade our Sony DCR-TRV230 Digital8 camcorder to something more portable with flash memory so we could show our children the trip on our return.

What has followed astounded even me. I have not been able to buy a camera because they are either not in stock, unable to be demonstrated or stocking old models they can’t clear. I went out looking for a camcorder with the following spec. Essential features included; Full HD 1920×1080, Flash Memory (SD) and Auto Focus. Additional features we hoped for included; Built-in memory, Touch screen and Touch to Focus. We hoped to end up buying a unit in the $550-$750 range.

We had narrowed our range suited to features and budget to probably the Panasonic HDC-SD60 or the Sony HDR-CX110 based on previous positive experiences. We were also keeping in mind the JVC Everio GZHD620, Canon Legria HF R106, as well as the Samsung H200 and Samsung HMX-H105.

Living in Loganholme we started our expedition and felt we were dealing with the premier retailers in our local area. This is a list of the retail outlets we visited from 10am to 5pm on Sunday.

Harvey Norman – Loganholme
Clive Peters – Loganholme
Good Guys – Loganholme
Dick Smith Powerhouse – Springwood
RT Edwards – Springwood
Harvey Norman – Garden City
JB HIFI – Garden City
Good Guys – Upper Mt. Gravatt
Clive Antony – Upper Mt. Gravatt

The key issues that came up time and time again were the same and as a distributor of the brands I went looking for I felt you may have more ability to effect change in the local store.

  1. No stock – often the key stock wasn’t available. When asked what was available most couldn’t tell me what was available in terms of other models or what was available and when from their supplier. I am yet to see/hold a Panasonic HDC-SD60
  2. Old stock – more often than not the display was taken up with old stock the retailer was trying to clear. When asked about current models I was told “that’s it”.
  3. Demonstration models – batteries weren’t charged and available in all but one store.
  4. Staff availability – Waiting in one case up to 15min at a counter for assistance.
  5. Staff training – This was perhaps the saddest aspect that occasionally finding stock I wasn’t able to find a staff member who could explain or demonstrate the unit. Given they didn’t have a charged battery that was probably the appropriate response.

This exercise has surprised me and if I were you as the manufacturer I would be highly disappointed. I didn’t mention that we also visited BigW, Officeworks and Kmart in the simple hope somebody would have stock. The best store for stock appeared to be Harvey Norman(Loganholme) but no one available to sell. The best store for service was JB HIFI Mt. Gravatt.

Good Guys Upper Mt. Gravatt advised that retailers at this time of year were reducing their range and only stocking what fit their local demographic. Considering they stocked a lot of cheap ($300 range) cameras in what I would consider reasonably affluent Mt. Gravatt I couldn’t understand the logic. He advised they would all be stocking more range and better prices closer to Christmas.

We remain without a camcorder so I continue to review the web and Lasoo looking for sales promotions. I hope this letter serves to position your brands for better service from the retail sector. You and the retail partners have invested in advertising to get me ‘through the door’ it would be to your benefit to have me walk out the door with my new camcorder.

If you are able to point us in the direction of a good deal for a camcorder that meets our previously mentioned specifications and we can see it touch it and have it demonstrated then we are ready to buy. If you are looking for a review of your product I would be more than willing to write a review based on our travel between the 7th and 18th October.

Yours Sincerely,

Andrew Pitchford

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