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Gary Fong Customer Support: Lightsphere

October 30, 2007

If you do any flash photography you’ve probably heard of Gary Fong and his amazingly popular Lightsphere line of products. For the uninitiated, it’s a big plastic cone you fit onto the business end of your external flash unit and it disperses the light in a pleasing way, making for better photographs. Or so they say. I’ll let you know when mine arrives.

But this isn’t a blog entry about Lightsphere. It’s about customer service. Bad customer service.

You see, the product page on the Lightsphere at the Gary Fong store has some information about which flash units it fits onto. Mine isn’t listed. it does have some advice on how to measure your flash unit to see if it will work, but, not having my flash handy I seized upon a link that said “if you don’t see your flash listed here, email us.”

So I did. I asked if the Lightsphere worked on the Sigma EF-500 flash unit. I got back this:

Scott – check here:

http://garyfong.helpserve.com/index.php?_m=knowledgebase&_a=viewarticle&kbarticleid=34

Which is of course the same information I’d already seen. So I replied:

Yeah, I saw that. But it also said “it can be used on hundreds of flashes… if you do not see yours listed, please email me!” My flash isn’t listed.

Which got me:

Yes – since you flash is not listed, you will have to measure it and determine which LS will be the best fit

Finally, I sent this:

You really should take off the “email me” link on the product page. It’s obviously no more help than the page itself.

Incidentally, I didn’t try to measure my flash. I did some creative googling and found that other photographers have used a Lightsphere in their EF-500, but that it was a tight fit. I guess I’ll risk it for $40 and see how it goes. I hope the product is better than the email support.

Update: It gets better! Customer “Service” sent this:

Scott – I gave you directions — including a drawing!

At this point I figure I need to spell it out more clearly:

Yes, I am aware. But I didn’t have my flash or a measuring tape handy when I was perusing the site, thinking of making a purchase. I just assumed that “It works on hundreds of flashes…if you do not see yours listed, please email me!” meant that you might be prepared to answer such a question via email. See where I’m coming from? If you are simply going to refer such questioners to the table on the very page which prompts us to email you, fine; but in that case you should not be inviting us to email with these questions in the first place.

I’m not trying to be a jerk about it. I have in fact ordered myself a Lightsphere, having learned from another web site that it fits – albeit rather tightly – on my flash. But there is a disconnect between what your web site says and what your customer service department is prepared to actually do. One of them should change to avoid people wasting their time in a frustrating circle of pointless emails.

Christ, what is it that these guys do not understand here? If you have a web site that lists compatibility with other products, even if it includes instructions on how to measure unlisted products for compatibility, that’s great. Very helpful. But if that very same page also says “email me!” if you don’t see your other product listed, you should actually be prepared to tell people something other than simply referring them to the same instructions they saw in the first place.

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No comments yet

  1. You had a bad experience and .. you still bought from them. Is there not another place to buy your doohickey?

    All the negative comments don’t mean a lot if the vendor can look and see you still bought his product.


  2. No, there’s no other place that makes it. There are other flash diffusers, but it’s widely understood that Gary Fong’s Lightsphere is a unique and innovative product.

    Besides, I did get one more response in which the support guy acknowledged my point and thanked me for explaining it to him.


  3. Saw that reviewed in JPG a couple months ago. Got good reviews.



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