View Full Version : Is Midwest Photo Exchange Still in Business?

Scott Fleming
8-Mar-2005, 19:47
For three years I've heard nothing but good things about MPEX. I can't get a rise out of them. Their website is completely disfunctional and I called today and got no answer.

What mystifies me is how can such a nebulous bunch be so highly respected by the LF community? I get really ticked off when I'm shopping for a lens and can't even look it up on the website. I had the same experience with Badger tonight. Dysfunctional website. Could not even go to the large format section.

I have never had any such problems with B&H. I've ordered at least ten items from them. NEVER a problem. Their website never goes down. I never get put on hold when I call.

J. Wolfe
8-Mar-2005, 19:56
Interesting. I just got right into their website. Maybe the nebulosity is elsewhere. A check of your web address and phone number.

Steve Hamley
8-Mar-2005, 20:03

Old joke: Patient: "Doctor, it hurts when I do this!" Doctor: "Don't do that!"

Seriously, if someone or some business bugs you, go elsewhere, life's too short. You've complained about them and their website before, so buy from Badger or B&H. Besides, you might buy something from them I want!

You do have to frequently wait, they are a small business with a tremendous volume. For the kind of service and treatment I've received from them, I'll wait thank you. And I know because I actually go there 3-4 times a year (700 mile round trip) and have seen what it's like - amazing, but if you're wanting instant gratification and undivided attention in your shopping experience, you need to be shoppung elsewhere.

I visited their website a few hours ago and it was fine - and just checked now. Not as easy to browse as the old one, but you can do e-commerce on it so it appears. I called last Thursday without a hitch but forgot that Jim doesn't work Thursdays. Are you calling (614) 261-1264?


Scott Fleming
8-Mar-2005, 20:04
Got into. Yeah, I get to the first page ok. Try clicking around. At least the large format section. No go here.

Ken Lee
8-Mar-2005, 20:12
Their site works fine for me.

Perhaps their web site designer has made some implemenation choices that preclude certain web browsers.

I'm using a Mac with Safari browser.

Scott Fleming
8-Mar-2005, 20:13

Not asking for perfect service. I would think several weeks would be long enough to get a website to work properly. I can't even get to them through their 'contact us' button to tell them about it. Maybe their website only works for PC users.

Bruce Watson
8-Mar-2005, 20:22
MPEX.com website works fine for me. I paged through the LF lenses, 4x5 and 8x10 both. I'm using an older version of Mozilla, v1.7.2, FWIW.

Darin Boville
8-Mar-2005, 20:41
Hmmm. I'm using a Mac with Safari, too--their site is DOA. I get the front page but nothing works after that. Looks like they have a bad programming job...

Otherwise they've been great. Jim is top notch.



Steve Hamley
8-Mar-2005, 21:01
Works fine for me; all versions of Firefox under WinXP up to the current Firefox version 1.0.1


Dave Schneider
8-Mar-2005, 21:27
Scott, I thought you had given up on large format. I know you put alot of weight on a company's web site. I recall your suggesting that we do business with only Schneider for lenses because of their website and boycott Rodenstock, Nikon and Fuji based simply on the web site. Maybe I'm old fashioned but if the web site doesn't work I have a telephone.

Sam Crater
8-Mar-2005, 21:28
Jim knows his stuff, ships what he advertises, and has a really impressive inventory of used large format stuff at competitive prices. How about saving the outrage for the liars and cheats? I really don't get why this thread is necessary.

Glenn Kroeger
8-Mar-2005, 21:37
Got email from Jim yesterday, and bought two lenses from him last week, so I guess they are in business!

Brian Ellis
8-Mar-2005, 21:39
I just logged onto the MidWest web site, it looks and works fine here. Maybe the problem is at your end. I haven't tried calling since they're closed now but I've called many times in the past and always gotten an answer. Is it possible you called after hours (your message here was posted almost two hours after their closing time). B&H does have a great web site but they wouldn't accept a return of a $1,000 defective scanner they sold me so I don't buy anything from them any more.

Glenn Kroeger
8-Mar-2005, 21:39
Web site works in both IE and Firefox for me. Granted, I liked the old web site better, but they are making progress on the new one. Equipment is updated in real time, sold lenses disappear and new lenses appear.

Scott Fleming
8-Mar-2005, 21:49

That was before Schneideritis showed up. ;-) I still don't have much patience for sloppy marketing. As much as I am attracted to Arca Swiss I may yet not choose them because there is just no excuse for not having a website. None. It speaks ill of any company. Schneider's website is so good it makes me feel guilty to buy a Rodenstock lens. Although more and more I begin to think Rodenstock put their money in quality over marketing. They seem to be doing a bit better than Schneider lately.

As for using the phone ... that's all well and good but I like to spend time on websites getting to know a company before I use them and I don't like calling people up asking a lot of questions. I call up when I'm ready to order. I'm actually wanting to find someone I can trust enough to get an entire kit from rather than shop around here and there never really building a relationship with anybody.

I'll tell you something else that bugs me while I'm at it. Being over charged. Or somebody trying to soak me. Anyone trying to sell lenses at two to six hundred dollars over B&H prices doesn't deserve to be in business. I won't mention any names.

Yes I quit LF and it was a mistake. I sold my kit and now I'm about to buy it all back. I don't plan to shoot much sheet film however.

Ted Harris
8-Mar-2005, 21:51
Website works with Safari, Firefox, IE, Camino, Opera and Omni .... probably with every other browser known to man as well nut those are what I have loaded on the laptop I am working with right this second.

Scott, if you have specific suggestions then send them to Jim ..... jim@mpex.com

By the way, I can tell you as a webmaster that it can easily take waaaaaaay more than a few weeks to get a site finely tuned. I can also tell you that Midwest is working very hard to make their site as useful as possible to their customers .... as someone else said if you don't want to be a customer that's fine, more good stuff for others. Oh yeah, like everyone else here,my only financial interest in Midwest is the money I spend there every year.

Scott Fleming
8-Mar-2005, 22:01
OK now it's working for me. Wierd. I waited three weeks without going there hoping they would get it together. Tonight when it wouldn't let me past the first page it really ticked me off. After hearing you all say it was working I went back and still ... nada. Now, an hour later, it's working for me. Maybe the webmaster kicked in the backup generator or something.

Scott Rosenberg
9-Mar-2005, 04:27

i'm glad you got your connectivity issues, with mpex at least, resolved. it's quite simple - if you do not care for their website, and that's how your asses a company, don't do business with them. as you mentioned, there are plenty of other options.

although i don't really follow your logic on that point - jim is not selling website authoring services, he's selling camera gear, and IMHO, he's running the best damn operation doing so today. if dealing with MPEX is getting you ticked off, feel free to spend your money elsewhere, as that will be one fewer person in front of me in the phone queue.

it's like my grandma used to say... "never eat in an empty restaurant"

Henry Ambrose
9-Mar-2005, 06:24
I've been writing back and forth with Jim and the web developer since they changed the site. Jim, MPEX and the developer really do want it to work. So when you have trouble email Jim or whoever you deal with there and let them know the problem.

At first it was unavailable on a Mac and they've fixed most of it. But still not for all browsers. I'm on OSX and Safari or iCab still does not work right but Firefox works very well. Since Firefox is free I suggest you try it. Most folks on windows machines have no problens with the MPEX site.

And of course you can always call them when you need something. In a retail world where personal contact is often a dissappointing experience MPEX is an outstanding operation. I value them for being the way they are - they really do want to do it right.

I am generally opposed to any site that breaks standards so that it only works with certain browsers. I know it does not have to be that way and that it is a resposibility of website developers to maintain the spirit of the internet by keeping availablity and function open to all. Apparently this is a fairly complex programming issue (I suspect made more so by Microsoft's desire to have the internet be their very own proprietary world.)

While I'm on my soapbox - many thanks to Tom Westbrook and everyone else involved with this site for making it great.

Gem Singer
9-Mar-2005, 06:57
Scott Fleming,

Please do not purchase anything from Midwest Photo Exchange. Although I have never met Jim Andrecki face-to-face, I consider him to be a trusted friend and advisor. He has always given me the best deal and service on equipment, and believe me, I have purchased, sold, and traded a lot of equipment, both new and previously owned, with Jim. Since I am buying sight unseen, Jim has always made it right if I was not happy with the item he sent,

I usually recommend everyone to Jim. But, I like Jim so much that I don't want him to be aggravated by you. He has enough stress in his life. He doesn't need more. However, Rod Klukas at Photomark, is another story. Deal with him. You and Klukas deserve one another. My advice to you, Scott Fleming, is to purchase your LF equipment from Rod and leave my friend Jim alone!

Oh yes, if anyone else wants to contact Jim, Midwest answers their phone from 10AM to 6PM on weekdays and from 10AM to 2PM on Saturdays (Eastern time). Jim takes Thursdays off, but he responds to his E-Mail 24-7 (jim@mpex.com).

Ben Calwell
9-Mar-2005, 07:41
I second Eugene's comments about Jim at Midwest. I have met Jim face-to-face, and I can tell you that he is a straight shooter and a gentleman. I trust him completely. If he were a surgeon, I'd go under his knife.

Graeme Hird
9-Mar-2005, 08:58
If I were in the business of selling a product which I knew was slightly inferior to those of my competitors, I'd be very pleased to meet someone who puts more faith in my marketing and web site presentation than the quality of the product!

Scott, it seems the overwhelming concensus is for the quality of service you'll get from MPEX. Be patient and form a relationship from which both you and they will benefit. That relationship will last you a life time, if you're lucky. (Who knows? Jim may have even advised against selling your gear the last time - he sounds like that sort of guy.)


Scott Rosenberg
9-Mar-2005, 09:02
scott, to answer your original question:

Is Midwest Photo Exchange Still in Business?

no, no they are not. do not bother trying to call them, rather, take eugene's advice and call rod at photomark and enjoy the arca swiss in your future.

Scott Rosenberg
9-Mar-2005, 10:22
just to clarify, i only specifically mentioned the arca because the two times i spoke to Rod he was REALLY pushing them...

Scott Fleming
9-Mar-2005, 11:51
Well I appreciate everyone's anser(s) excepting Dan Smith's. Dan seems to be cooking on another planet.

The main info I wished to illicit with my post was ... Just how good IS MPEX ... AND to let them know they still have a problem.

On a side note: I'm surprised that certain people would openly deride a company and a seller on this site. I thought that was pretty raw. Guess that explains why they never come here.

Please note that I did not disparage MPEX apart from an open complaint about their website and that this thread adds up to a giant free advertisement for them. You have convinced me that I should deal with them. Unless certain of the fold believe I should withold my $10k worth of business I plan on spending in the next few months from them? (like I'd give a good GD)

Thanks for all your help. Hope MPEX gets their website fixed.

Scott Rosenberg
9-Mar-2005, 12:08
scott, please consider this (http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/501291.html#543759) comment carefully and know that having $10k to spend with someone doesn't make you any more important to them than someone with $10 to spend and an opinion valued by others.

Scott Fleming
9-Mar-2005, 12:38

I assume you were meaning Graeme's comment. Your link brings up three posts on my screen.

Well if one reads my posts it is clear that I don't put MORE worth in a website than the product. It's just one of the legs of the stool. Everyone's seeming total and absolute faith in MPEX here ... far outweighs the fact that they hired a lousy web development company.

Dave Moeller
9-Mar-2005, 15:01
Not that this thread needs another endorsement of Midwest, but...

I've been looking for a travel camera for those times when I take business trips and don't want to, or can't, take along a Crown Graphic. I found a Fuji GA645 on the MPEX site listed as being in "8/8+" condition. I contacted Jim via the contact form on the web site, asking specifically why the camera had that rating. He wrote back within about 20 minutes, detailing everything that was "wrong" with the camera (in this case, it amounted to cosmetics only) as well as those things that would be important for using the camera (lens condition, winder condition, etc.). You can bet I scooped the camera up five minutes later on the phone.

Jim's been great to deal with over the years. Even though I've never spoken with him directly (he's always busy when I call), I trust him and am happy to send my money his way.

Janko Belaj
9-Mar-2005, 16:40
just my 2 cents... (and I have nothing against MPEX as a firm or shop!!) I have noticed here are lot of us Mac users, few Web-masters (that is something between hobby and 2nd profession in my case), but I have to admit that mpex.com is ... a bit more than just a little bit clumsy. I'm browsing with probably all available browsers on Mac OS 9 and MacOS X and I had a lot of troubles... Not completely disfunctional, but have you tried change something in search fields? It is completely wrong for search engine to start while you are still entering and/or modifying query. And quite annoying... And not to mention code behind what we see... (and have different look on different renderers)... again: I'm just referring to the part of thread which talks about their web site... just try to examine this uri: http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fmpex.com%2F&charset=%28detect+automatically%29&doctype=%28detect+automatically%29
(copy and paste whole line)

Harley Goldman
9-Mar-2005, 16:47
I have bought quite a bit of LF gear from Jim at Midwest. He is extremely knowledgeable, very nice and gives me about as good a buying experience as I could ever ask for. Regardless of whether their website was running properly, I would still call Jim first if I needed something. And I have found they often have stock that is not on their website. Always worth a call. My $0.02 worth.

9-Mar-2005, 22:54
another attaboy for jim,

everytime i've ordered used gear that jim and co. have rated an 8...

i seem to get a 10,


p.s. maybe USPS is refurbing stuff in route?

John Berry ( Roadkill )
10-Mar-2005, 00:21
I saw a holga advertised the other day, but it was on a real spiffy web site.

Kevin Kemner
10-Mar-2005, 21:31
Well, I'm late to this party but, MPEX is an exceptional retailer. I have purchased from them over the internet and in person at the store and would say that there a very few camera stores of similar quality and value anywhere. Now that I've said that....I wonder if a review of other internet sites related to large format equipment and sales would reflect their respective quality? For what its worth, internet sites are expensive to launch and maintain. Certainly, for photographic manufacturers and retailers working on small margins websites represent a major investment and I tolerate less than perfect performance and design. I hope your return to large format goes well and I wouldn't hesitate to call Midwest.