"I'm sure some of the companies will say, 'Well, we run a whole lot of TV commercials to drive the market.' And yes," Woodland concedes, "it's certainly important that some of the legacy manufacturers continue to remind consumers of the importance of photography so when they're deciding where to spend that disposable income they spend it on picture-taking, printing, framing or whatever. With the exception of Kodak," says Woodland, "not much is being done. Kodak has some really nice ads it's running now. But in its transformation to try and survive they've also had to place a different value on different channels than they have previously."
Mark Leonard of Dodd Camera in Cleveland, Ohio, says manufacturer support is crucial to his business as it helps lower his overall cost of advertising and promotion. "I'd always like more (support)," he says, "but I think we're being treated fairly." However, Leonard would like to see manufacturers enforce MAP guidelines and the spirit of those guidelines. "Nowadays it seems there's a MAP price but it doesn't preclude people from throwing in memory cards, gift cards and other items that have value and violate the spirit of the MAP program. Manufacturers don't seem to have the heart or guts to pull co-op if (a retailer) doesn't maintain the guidelines they set." Leonard would also like to see manufacturers spend more time and money encouraging the general public to print pictures. "I still think they do a very poor job about encouraging people to print—they love to push capture, but they don't push print."
Photographic Works' Findysz says of her support system, "It's horrible. Everything we do we have to double check on with a few exceptions because there is no support. In the last year-and-a-half to two years I've seen a general decline in what I call customer service. There isn't anyone who cares at some of these companies; some of the people answering the phones don't even know what they're selling. We don't need to see a rep, but we like to order something and have it shipped correctly, in the right quantities, and arrive not broken—just logical, simple things."