I’m what you might call a pretty understanding, patient, tolerant, “give a guy a second chance” type of guy. I mean it. Ask my friends. It really takes a ton to ruffle my feathers. Then again, I do have a few what you might call “hot buttons.” But, in general these are matters of ethics. Why am I saying all this? Well, to be quite honest I really never intended to write a negative review. I’m not a sour grapes kind of guy and I think that many negative reviews tend to be just that. They’re either rooted in some degree of ignorance or some prima-donna wanting to just bitch because his brand new Leica M88,000-z34345 fell into his Gray Poupon and the camera actually had the audacity to stop working.
No, I’m not a negative guy. I knew it would take something pretty special for me to take the time and effort to pen something negative. Focusing on the positive and sharing those experiences is more my style. Well, let me tell you this. I’ve found something THAT special. Indeed I have!
I purchased what amounts to approx an 11 x 17 contact printing frame off of eBay many moons ago. It’s old and built like a brick shit-shouse. I think you could whip through a wall boomerang style if the spirit moved you to such an act and still use it for infinity. Well, it had it’s limitations due to size. Finding larger ones for larger contact printing proved nearly impossible. The new ones cost a fortune, upwards of $300 and them some, and used ones just never show up on eBay. One day, as I was in need of a number of small items, I found myself cruising around the B&H website when I stumbled upon the Photographers Formulary 20 x 24 inch contact printing frame. I was surprised. Surprised in the first place to just find it and then that Photographers Formulary made it. I mean, I love them. I’m a fanatic about their products using PMK Pyro and TF-4 exclusively for my B&W film development; period!! However, I was most surprised at the $108 price tag. Shabang! Now that’s what I’m talking about. These guys make great quality product. They’re branded in my mind! B&H has also never let me down. SOLD! ORDER! Cha-Ching! Happy!! Happy!! Happy!!
Well, one fine sunny afternoon it arrived. I was thrilled and opened the packaged. As I removed the frame, well, it all came tumbling down.
The sound of glass cascading down on to my floor around my feet just sent chills up my spine and a bit of panic set in. Yes, no sooner had I withdrawn the frame from the box, it disintegrated before my very eyes and all over my floor. The frame was a wreck.
All four corners were separated. The glass was all over the place and wedged down into the sides of the frame. I just stood there dumbfounded. It was then that I started to take stock of all that was before me. The box itself was indeed quite thin. But, what was more alarming was the single tissue thin piece of bubble wrap that had been placed across the front of the frame. That was it! Nothing more.
This was amazing! Some nut actually felt like this was sufficient for shipping a frame with a large sheet of glass in it? I mean, setting aside the fact that [pick your shipping agent] are careless apes when it comes to handling packages, this would not have had good odds even WITH good handling. I was steamed. What was B&H thinking! I have purchased many gallery quality archival frames from Dick Blick over the years and they arrive without a hitch.
As I returned with the shop vac and dust pan, the salt in the wounded appeared. There, on the ground behind me, was the second package I’d received from B&H. It contained a single package of COT 320 printing paper.
Dare I say that the quality and quantity of bubble wrap in this box, for a single package of PAPER, would suffice as a substitute for an airbag in a pinch. Incredible I thought to myself as I stood there in disbelief scratching my head. Yards of high quality, large, heavy, thick bubble wrap for a package of paper in one box and a single wafer thin sheet of teeny bubble wrap in another for a friggin sheet of glass in a frame!? Boy, B&H really stepped on their crank with this one.
But wait! There’s more. Let’s talk about the quality of the frame despite its demise at the hands of an inept pack/wrap/ship department within B&H and the careless handling of the shipper. In short, it’s crap. The joinery here would have failed 8th grade shop teacher inspection and netted the poor would be junior carpenter a session with the guidance counsellor during which he/she would likely have been pointed towards an IT career. Did I say the joinery was crap? Well, it’s crap.
So, where did it all leave me? I sent B&H hate mail. They sent me a return label. I told them to stuff that! I thanked them for the opportunity deep clean my floor and rugs, to practice my carpentry skills and that I honestly didn’t mind the trip to Lowe’s to pick up a replacement sheet of glass; I needed some thumb tacks anyway!
So, what can you expect should you decided to not heed my advice here?
Fun times! Yes, this is THE UGLY.