Buying Arca Swiss overseas vs. US : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi, I want to buy an Arca Swiss 6x9 FC Metric, and the prices are much better at Robert White in the UK than anywhere in the US, where I live. (For example, I can get the Metric there for the price of the standard FC here, a $700 savings). I understand Arca is notoriously weak on customer service in the US, so it seems wise to choose a dealer who will be responsive to problems. I know Robert White has a good reputation, but has anyone had experience dealing overseas with them when there are problems? Are the shipping hassles worth the savings? Are there shipping hassles? Thanks!

-- Sandy Sorlien (, March 07, 2001



I have bought Arca-Swiss from Robert White, and from Badger Graphics. I can enthusiastically recommend both dealers. I had no shipping hassles from RW. There aren't likely to be problems with cameras, but I have gotten good support from Badger and Robert White, as well as from Arca-Swiss in Besancon, France. I just picked up the phone and called them and they were spectacularly helpful in answering my quesions.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, March 07, 2001.

The problems with Arca-Swiss support in the USA appear to be mostly in the relatively distant past (i.e., five plus years ago.). I haven't had any problems with support besides occassional unavailibility of an item. The A-S camera and tripod heads (B1 and B2 monoballs) I own have been completely trouble free.

-- Ellis Vener (, March 07, 2001.

Sandy: Just checking. Have you confirmed that the price from Robert White beats Badger Graphics? Jeff there is particularly knowledgeable and helpful. If in fact their price is closer to RW than the others you have been quoted, there could be a convenience advantage to going with Badger if you are based in the US. If it's really a $700 difference, then I agree Robert White is the way to go.


-- Nathan Congdon (, March 07, 2001.

Nathan, Yes, I talked to Jeff yesterday, as a matter of fact. He was very nice and helpful. Their price for the FC non-Metric is about the same as the Metric would be from Robert White, and usually there's a $700 difference between the two models. However, I didn't ask Jeff for a quote on the Metric so I'll check again and report back if there is any change.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, March 07, 2001.

As for whether there are shipping hassles from RW? Absolutely not, in my experience.

I've placed two orders from them in the past month and both were received quickly and without damage. I ordered the first item over the net on a Thursday night, the item shipped Friday and was delivered at 8:30 AM Monday morning! You can't ask for much more than that.

-- Tim Klein (, March 08, 2001.

Although RW's service and professionalism is high, his use of UPS for international shipments in my mind is a BIG negative. I've only ordered from RW once, and UPS customs brokerage completely messed-up the duty charged. To be honest, RW's support documentation for customs processing didn't help the matter. It was hand written, and not very easy to decipher unless you already knew what the package contained.

Try getting a problem like this fixed with UPS; I'd rather deal with the local phone company or bang my head against a wall for countless hours. The UPS customs specialists actually told me that when multiple items are shipped together where the tarrif rates are different, they take the highest rate and assign it to the amount of the whole shipment. I kept saying - "no, no, no - you don't understand - transfer me up the chain". Supervisors told me, "it's out of our hands - you have to contact customs now to fix this problem". The reality was UPS screwed up, it was within their reach to fix the problem, and it eventually got fixed 4 months later. This wasn't my first problem with international UPS either. Never had a problem with international FedEx.

So, RW may have some good prices, but there may be a hidden price to pay in real dollars and aggravation from UPS. If I were to order from RW again, I'd research the correct tariff category and number code via the customs website. I'd then email that information to RW, and ask him to use that exact language and coding in a typed bill. You really need to make it a no-brainer for the customs brokerage "experts" at UPS, otherwise it's a roll of the dice.

-- Larry Huppert (, March 08, 2001.

Sandy, I buy a lot of gear from RW. The service is spectucular and product pricing is fabulous... I have had no problems with any UPS shipments for the past 3 years. I think Larry's experience was the rare exception to this rule. I realize how frustrating this experience can be, but of all the people I know that get many shipments from RW this is the first time I have heard of this UPS problem. I am sure RW will ship using another carrier if the customer requests so, just ask him?

-- Bill Glickman (, March 09, 2001.

i have bought from rw and found them to be exceptionally helpful and easy to deal with. my order arrived early the next morning (in nyc) safe and sound with no import problems. that said, i did have one major problem which wasn't rw's fault. my bank decided, after quoting me the exchange rate and holding funds in said amount, to use a different rate when my billing statement generated. they blamed it on the merchant and later on the fluctuating exchange rate. for me it was a hidden $70 service charge (on an $850 order). needless to say i lost my fight with the bank on this one. my advice - make sure of your exchange rates when purchasing overseas. it has left me a little wary (not of rw but of american banking policies). also, while ups was fine that time, i have never had so many problems with one company in my life. just this week i was shipped an item through ups (not my decision) and it arrived so badly damaged they must have given it to a family of pcp using lowland gorillas to take their frustrations out on. i'll never see the insurance on this. i have to agree with the previous poster - stay away from ups if at all possible. i have also bought from jeff at badger graphics - for me this is the best combination of price, helpfulness, speed and convenience.

-- adam friedberg (, March 09, 2001.

Terms and conditions on exchange rates for credit card purchases vary from bank to bank. Many use Citibank for their international clearing, and I didn't find them to have the best deal out there. As Adam mentioned, it's worth checking ahead of time and understanding the whole thing. That great deal from RW can get eroded away by banks, extremely high shipping costs and improper duty.

Adam, sorry to hear about your latest UPS problem. I too had another bad experience with UPS today. They must have a poster with my picture on it at the depot telling all employees to hassle this guy. I had to ship a piece of lighting equipment for repair. Because of the value, they opened the box to check how well it was packaged. Apparently it didn't meet their standards which would have required it be shipped in a way that even the manufacturer didn't use when it was originally sent to me. They refused to take the package. I drove over to FedEx depot, and send it FedEx Ground service for less money than UPS Ground, and the desk clerk complemented me on how well it was packaged.

-- Larry Huppert (, March 09, 2001.

Please list an addresw for Robert White..U.K. Thanks................GARY (p:

-- Gary Ross (, March 16, 2001.

I used White's and they were very professional, plus I saved some money. Whether the savings are enough to justify the hassles of an international deal is of course up to you to decide.

-- Charles Mackay (, May 25, 2001.

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