(This post is from an email conversation with a coworker. I thought the content might be useful for others.)
Q: [Where is the best place to buy?]
A: I’ve stopped buying from B&H because they are just too difficult to do business with. My main gripe among others is that they won’t ship to my primary shipping address because it’s a UPS store. (Apparently there is some potential fraud scheme with shipping there, though after many successful multi $K transactions you’d think they’d flip a switch and trust you.) And since they require a signature, I very frequently miss deliveries because there would be no one at the house. (That’s why I have an address at the UPS store. Sigh.)
For the last few years my main go-to store has become Berger Brothers in NY. Brad is the president and I have purchased a lot of stuff from him in the last few years. Because he’s not a B&H or Adorama, he often has the stuff in stock that everyone on the planet is trying to purchase from the other two. A number of times I have received hard to get stuff weeks earlier from him than I could have from the two other stores (e.g., TC-20e III, and D800). And he often matches, but always at least comes very close to the pricing from B&H. More than once he has personally taken my order down to the USPS or UPS to get it out same day if I called him after their normal pick-up time. I won’t get a dime, but here’s the number: 1-631-264-4160. I trust them and like them.
I like Adorama, as well, though they may have the same frustrating rules as B&H about shipping locations. I haven’t really ever bought big ticket items from them.