July 2010 — Adorama, along with B&H Photo and Video and perhaps J&R, are probably the three stores in New York City that have cornered the photo market. If you want something photographic, from a lens to the latest digital camera, one of these stores is going to have it. And, if they don’t have it, they’ll order it. It goes without saying that such powerhouses of supply also have a bustling internet business. So, people from around the world can share the same supply chain as us New Yorkers.
To begin, Adorama is B&H’s little brother. While B&H appears to take up a whole city block on 34th Street, Adorama seems cozy and less institutional, with its hardwood floors and crowded floor space. I generally go to Adorama for my photo supplies, because it’s a little more convenient to get to and it carries more in-stock Voigtlander products than B&H. Apart from sometimes spotty and rushed service you get at Adorama (you get this at B&H and J&R, too), it’s a solid place to get your equipment from knowledgeable staff. (J&R is the last place you want to go to if you want sane advice).
I figured because it was such a good store, I’d figure their “Adoramapix” would be great, too, and particularly the framing department. Their website, Adoramapix, seemed snazzy and professional enough to take a chance with ordering pictures and having it framed. A one stop online shop. Boy was I completely wrong about that one on numerous levels.
While the ordering process was really easy with their automated “upload” and “pick a frame” system on their website, the order fulfillment was a completely different story.
1) I received an email a few days after I placed an order that the frames were ready to pickup at the store. I went to the store and my order was not there. The person stationed at Adoramapix (their section is tucked in the corner near the cash registers) explained that this is “normal,” in that, “you will get an email saying it is ‘ready’ for pickup, but it’s not really ‘ready,’ because of the framing part.” That was a bit of an interesting explanation, because the order was for a picture in a frame. That was the order, not simply a printed picture. There’s a million places in the City that can do that well while you wait.
2) Okay, fair enough. It wasn’t that long of a subway ride and I don’t mind going to the Adorama store to browse around. The Adoramapix agent explained that it “will definitely be ready in a couple of days.” I said, “Alright, fine.” I was giving the place the benefit of the doubt.
3) A couple of days later, I called the store to confirm whether my order was ready for pickup. The following conversation ensued:
Me: I’m just calling to confirm whether my order was ready for pickup.
Adoramapix: It’s not ready for pickup. It’s still pending.
Me: But I was told that it would be ready today.
Adoramapix: Well it’s not ready.
Me: Okay, when will it be ready?
Adoramapix: It takes five to seven business days.
Me: From the date I placed the order?
Me: But I placed the order more than seven business days ago.
Adoramapix: Well, it’s still pending. It should be ready in a couple of days.
At this point, I realized the conversation was going nowhere. I figured they probably put the people who couldn’t quite cut it on the main floor at Adoramapix, because the person I spoke with seemed irritated that I was calling. Okay, maybe she was having a bad day, even though it was on 10a.m. I was still giving the place the benefit of the doubt, despite the fact that the order was late. It would have been comforting to hear Adoramapix admit the order was late, but I would get no such admission.
4) I went to the store later that day to speak with manager, Morris Freeman. I wanted some assurance that the order was going to be done, particularly since a) an Adoramapix representative said it would be done and it wasn’t and b) the order was past due. Mr. Freeman couldn’t help me because the building where they do all the framing is “a couple of buildings away.” I asked, “Um, maybe you could call them?” He said, “No one picks up over there.” I said, “Okay. What do you want me to do here?” He said, “You can cancel your order or you can come back in a few days. It should be done then.”
I wasn’t going to cancel my order, even though a part of me believed that my order wasn’t even started, so there wasn’t much “canceling” to do. But I was in a good mood and said, “Okay, I’ll come back on Friday.” Mr. Freeman said, “It will be ready by then, for sure.” I said, “That’s what the other person told me.”
5) I came back on Friday and, not to my surprise, the order wasn’t done. It was still “pending.” Now my patience was starting to run a bit thin. The order was already four days past the five to seven business day promise. Mr. Freeman was not available, and none of the two Adoramapix employees had any idea what to do apart from look at a stack of boxes in the back.
6) The following week, I went back and the order was complete. Hallelujah! But when I returned to my office and opened up the box, everything was off. The picture wasn’t securely in the matte. The frame was scratched. The black and white picture I had ordered had a green tint. This is something I would expect from Target or CVS, but not Adorama. Photography is their primary business.
This is the last time I’m ordering from Adoramapix. Perhaps I just had a bad, isolated experience, but I’ve received no apologies, no discounts, nothing from Adoramapix. I’ve spoken with a few of my colleagues who ordered frames from Adoramapix, and they’ve had issues with timely order fulfillment. The bottom line seems to be this: be wary of Adoramapix frameshop, particularly if you are on a schedule, as most normal people are. Adoramapix has been unapologetically inferior in every way. I advise to avoid it until they fix their issues.
There are several other places that will do the same type of work at a much quicker pace, both online and in New York City.