Sorry Fujifilm Australia, what were you thinking?
I'm a Fujifilm fan, so I'm generally fairly complementary about Fujifilm. Locally they have been pretty supportive of the community but the following example highlights how one bad deed can ultimately sour a relationship.
You may or may not know this, but when you get the Fujifilm X-H1 and Battery Grip as a combo, Fujifilm package it in a single box and included in the deal, you get 2 extras batteries. Yes, awesome isn't it?
So why is this such a big deal? Well, given the dismal battery life on the X-H1, this was a great compromise from Fujifilm, and one I was really happy to see them do given they released the X-H1 as a pro body and the 300 shot battery life is horrendous by pro standards. If you compare the battery life of the X-H1 to a Nikon D750 (cheaper) or a D850 (more expensive), both of them are around 3-4 times the battery life. I saw this as a compromise from Fuji to make up for the substandard pro battery because in reality, they probably should have gone for a GFX size battery. Ultimately, with the batteries, you save about $300 on the deal which is not unlike buying a combo with the 18-55 where you save $300.
Unfortunately, someone at Fujifilm Australia made the decision to bring in the boxes separately. Ultimately what this means for consumers in Australia is despite paying a premium on international pricing Australian photographers are also get screwed over on the contents of the box because when you buy the boxes separately, you don't actually get the extra batteries. DOH! Why should we as consumers suffer because of a business decision by Fujifilm?
Now I accept as a consumer we get pay more because we live in a small country. I accept that we pay more because of economies of scale. I DON'T accept that we pay more and get lessin the box. To me, this is a corporate making a bad decision that affects consumers and probably hoping consumers won't notice the difference.
Now, I've heard some excuses for what has occured like these below (not official responses from Fujifilm but attempts to justify this):
• We're doing the consumers a favour so people who already have batteries won't have to buy them
I looked at the calculations and the resale price would have to be $50 higher to get 2 batteries vs $250 to buy them. Who wouldn't take 2 batteries for $50? This is about the same as a third party battery. No one I know! How many people would buy the grip and not get extra batteries? Maybe 1% if you're lucky. If you have an X-T2 and you're selling it to buy this, getting fresh batteries would make sense. If you don't have one, you'll need extra batteries. Consumer Loses, Fujifilm Wins
• The retailers don't have to sell at RRP and will do deals with the batteries if you buy them with the camera
So lets be clear about what this ACTUALLY means: The retailers will take discount they would used for something like a presales discount and use it for the batteries, so really, what this means is that the retailer is covering the costs of the battery with the discount they were already planning to give you, and that assumes they were going to give you a discount. After presales period is over, Fujifilm is expecting the retailers to dig into their own margins. Big corporate wants small business to take on the costs for their decision? Worse yet, Fujifilm is still getting full price for the batteries you buy instead of you going to a third party.
What annoys me more about this is that Fujifilm actually think we are dumb enough to fall for this? Seriously? Yes, you've solved the problem by cutting the retailers margin instead of yourself, and reducing the chance of the consumer getting discounts. Well done. Now lets try something that actually solves the problem instead of passing it to someone else.
Consumer Loses, Retailer Loses, Fujifilm Wins
• The box with batteries would have been more expensive
As I mentioned above, it would have been $50 more for Fujifilm to sell this option, that's a poor excuse for a bad decision from Fujifilm. Who wins from this? Fujifilm because you have to pay normal pricing for batteries. Consumer Loses, Fujifilm Wins.
• It's your fault for pre-ordering, wait to see what happens on the release date.
Which manufacturer would not want customers pre-ordering? You have customer demand building, how is that bad? And how can you not plan for it?
Now, not one of the above scenarios shows Fujifilm actually losing out as a result of the decision. Every single one it's the consumer or the retailer taking the hit and that doesn't show me someone taking responsibility for a decision. It shows me someone justifying a decision and when the consumers feels like we're getting screwed, justifying bad decisions isn't going to help.
The "official" response from Fujifilm Australia is the following:
"Dear Athol, Thank you for contacting Fujifilm Australia.
We appreciate and share your passion for our products, and we are sincerely thankful that you have taken the time to raise these concerns with us.
Without feedback, the X and GFX systems would not be what they are today.
Your feedback has been shared with our Electronic Imaging division here at Fujifilm Australia and has been taken on board."
That doesn't really solve the problem. What it tells me is "hmmm, he's annoyed. Maybe if we leave it long enough the problem will go away" (which it won't).
So what should Fujifilm have done to solve the problem?
• Don't pass the buck onto the retailer to solve the problem.
• Admit it was an actual mistake (not publicly if you don't want to). You may have made a strategic decision for Fujifilm itself but if the consumer is getting screwed, that's a mistake, like it or not! The customer is always right.
• Provide an actual solution. My guess is batteries cost Fujifilm well under $25 a pop (given third party manufacturers can sell them for that with a distribution and retail margin) so why wouldn't you offer batteries on rebate to customers who purchased the X-H1? Sell them at $25/battery via a rebate and cap it at two batteries if you want to make sure customers don't abuse it, but provide a solution that gives them the same outcome so they aren't getting a worse outcome than the rest of the world, don't pass the buck onto the retailers. It costs you nothing over what it would have cost if you actually sold the batteries with the camera and grip the right way to start with. We're not asking for a better deal than anyone else, we're asking for the SAME deal.
Sorry Fujifilm Australia, I'll buy this camera locally but I'm doing so begrudgingly and that's the worst kind of way for a customer to do it because when that occurs, you've lost their loyalty and their trust and that's the hardest to get back. I'll buy it at a discount and you can be damned sure I won't be buying Fujifilm batteries because I will NOT be giving you any more business than I have to.
What does it mean in real terms?
• You can also be damned sure that when there is a non-Fujifilm alternative now, I will be taking a serious look. Wide angle 8-16? Maybe I'll just look at the Laowa or Samyang. That's what happens when customer loyalty is gone.
• if you have ever wondered why consumers go for grey market, it's exactly these kinds of decisions that make it happen. I won't be doing it, but there are plenty of people I know who will be. One I know who pre-ordered has cancelled and is taking an overseas trip in a couple of months so he'll buy his then. My guess is whatever you saved on the combined box, you'll probably lose on business not purchased locally. Think about that the next time you make these decisions.
• It's that moment when a family or friend asks you to recommend a camera and you can't say Fujifilm because you've lost faith. Will I recommend Fujifilm? Maybe, maybe not, but before this happened it would have been yes.
• It's the passion between decision to buy the X-H2 or just waiting another couple of years. The thing about passionate users is they upgrade regularly, they are bread and butter butter buyers for the manufacturer, but when they die down it's harder to attract new buyers than existing buyers. One year of delay in buying new gear equates to a big numbers.
And over what? A $50 cost to Fujifilm (vs a $250 cost to the customer) on a $3400 camera? Seriously? What were you thinking?
Am I potentially overreacting on this? No, it's about the principal. It's about Australians not getting screwed over on something when frankly, we shouldn't and that's what it comes down to. How much is enough for us to complain and say "That isn't acceptable".