For years Alana Ecology have been the benchmark supplier for wildlife survey equipment. They were never the cheapest supplier, but their catalogue always drew together kit from a huge range of manufacturers. It always seemed to include the very best equipment and this was coupled with excellent advice: if you called you always found yourself speaking with someone who actually understood what you needed and knew the best solution.
Not surprisingly, for me and for many other people who work with wildlife, both professionally and as a hobby Alana became the standard supplier for everything: a reliable source of advice and good kit.
Over the past couple of years there seems to have been a disappointing deterioration in the standard of service provided by Alana: late and missing deliveries; failure to keep the customer informed, failure to call back etc. After several instances of this kind of poor service I started looking around to see who else is out there and a colleague told me about Envisage Wildcare. Their catalogue isn't quite as comprehensive as Alana's (and irritatingly, you have to download it, you can't simply view it on the web), but most of the key equipment is there.
When I needed a new endoscope I decided to give Envisage Wildcare a try. I phoned at 4pm and spoke to someone who took my order. Pushing my luck, I asked if it would be possible to have it delivered the next day? "Erm, yes, but the van is arriving so I'll need to put the phone down now and run". That is the kind of service that attracts attention and true enough, next morning the endoscope arrived.
Since then, I have heard about several other examples of this kind of thoughtful, professional service, experienced by others. I do think that we would be best served by two good companies in competition: that way they keep each other up to the mark and keep prices low. Having heard a couple of people say recently that had gone elsewhere, I hope that Alana recognise and address their service. They have great expertise and I certainly haven't written them off.
If I were to send messages to both companies it would be this:
Alana - sort out your service, keep your customers informed about their orders and lose the complacency.
Envisage - keep doing what you're doing, but for heaven's sake set up a proper on-line shop, instead of the irritating pdf download.
Take a look and decide for yourself:
My website: http://www.plecotus.co.uk/