Samy’s Camera is a group of large, professional camera stores in Southern California. They’ve been around since 1976, and if you’re a professional photographer in Los Angeles, you’ve bought and rented stuff there. Their stores are well-stocked with great stuff, and their website is easy to use, if not simply designed.
But there’s a big problem with going into the store versus shopping online. Their website has truly competitive prices, but when you walk into the store, not everything has a price tag on it. And here’s why: they typically mark up anything not tagged by 50% or more to increase profits. It pays to know what the real-world price is when you walk in, or at least by using your smartphone and checking online.
Today, I walked into the store to buy a couple of things. Two of them had price tags and were reasonably priced. But I went up to the counter and asked for a particular step-up ring. I’d priced it online at a couple of places, should’ve been around $7-8. The salesman grabbed one and when I asked the price, he said “it should be around $12. (scans it) Yep! $11.95″. I flinched. He has the nerve to ask me “Is that too steep for you?”. I rolled that off and said it sounded a little pricey for what it was. I paid for it, and on my way to my car I looked it up on Samy’s own website. Same brand, $7.95. That means I paid 50% MORE for it than they advertise.
I walked back in and confronted the salesman, who said something about online pricing vs. in-store. Another salesman walked over and started telling me about that policy, trying to repeat the parts about the expertise of the salespeople. I had just asked for what I wanted. A 16-year-old with no job experience could have grabbed that ring for me. I’m not paying a premium for people doing their job! The salesman actually started to argue the math on this, saying it was only 30%. Like it matters how MUCH you bilk your customers?!?
This wasn’t the first time, I’ve gone in to buy a professional card reader and they tried to charge me $300 when their own site (and B&H, AND Amazon) had it for $200. And many more instances between myself and several colleagues.
The ONLY reason I buy from Samy’s is if I need something right now and can’t get it at Bel Air or someplace else. Otherwise I much prefer B&H (I’ve been in their amazing superstore in NYC, and I don’t recall them trying to cheat their customers this way). If you do shop at Samy’s in person instead of online, remember to know what price you should be paying or look it up while there or be prepared to pay a massive premium for their shady policies.