Great Camera Price – or Bait and Switch… Buyers Beware

A buddy of mine brought me a print out from a web page yesterday and wanted my opinion on the deal he was looking at.  It was for a Canon 5D Mark II camera for the unbelievable price of just $1789.  That’s about $900 less than any other dealer in the US is currently selling it for.  I was doubtful right off the bat so I began to do a little more investigating about this deal.  Here is the ad from the website.

genius

The first thing that sticks out is that great price, but check out the pictures of the camera.  The 2nd and 3rd images aren’t even the 5D Mark II.  They look just like a 1D or 1Ds to me.  Now look at the line that says Condition.  It doesn’t say “New in box” or “Import”.  It simply says Brand New USA Warranty.  I call that a red flag if ever I saw one.  First, it should be a Canon USA Warranty.  Second, what does that have to do with the condition?  I’m pretty sure there aren’t a whole lot of used Mark II cameras floating around at this point.  A deeper look through the page led to a lot of cutting and pasting of information that probably came right from the Canon web page; things like box contents and Camera Features.  And here’s something kind of interesting.  I was checking out the testimonials and I found this one that read – The website is pretty helpful and the layout of the comparison of the companies & products are excellent written by Sonny21. I copied that text and pasted into a Google search and found the exact same comment from a A.Chua over at PriceGrabber.com for a merchant called P.C Richard & Son.  Searches of other testimonials turned up similar results.  I don’t know about you, but I think that faking a testimonial is pretty untrustworthy.

Obviously I couldn’t let it go at that so I did some more searching and found a pretty good blog post over at Thoughts-of-Dave about the parent company.  It pretty much confirmed what I had believed to be the case which was that anyone that gives this company their credit card info is going to end up with more than they bargained for.  The real info from this blog post is found in the reader comments, many from folks that had past dealings with this company.

Here’s the way it usually works, you find the item you want and place your Internet order.  A day or two later, you receive a telling you to contact the company for security reasons.  When you call, they proceed to put the hard sell on you to buy every crap accessory under the sun for outrageous prices.  If you stick to your guns and turn down their “Great Deals” you receive an email shortly thereafter telling you that the order has been back-ordered or canceled due to lack of stock.  Comment after comment on Dave’s blog gave the same story.

The bottom line is that too good to be true usually is.  Do your research, especially if you have never heard of the store before.  Here’s another thing to be cautious of, just because you see a retailer ad on Google or even Amazon, it doesn’t make them legit.  There are tons of these types of sites that will do most anything to separate you from your money and give you little in return but heartache.  If you have ordered and have had your order canceled, do yourself a favor and monitor your bank statements very carefully.

A great source for consumer information can be found at Ripoff Reports.

Comments

  1. When researching to by my first camera in 2007, I initially searched on Ebay for good deals. I saw some that were offering such wonderful deals, without realising at the time they were fakes. One shop had on offer the D200 body along with 2 lenses, and several other accessories for $1700. At the time I got it, the D200 RRP was about that same figure of $1700. Good thing I didn’t submit my card details, since I learned later that all these different companies on Ebay with these deals were actually fronts for just one company that had it’s office in some place in New York city. And like the example you mention, once you bought an item, they would call you and tell you that what was on offer was really just the body without the lenses, and that you’d have to pay extra for those. You also had to pay extra for things that came in the box such as the battery! The scare that I would have lost out on this made me buy my camera straight from Amazon. And not even any of their 3rd party sellers either!

  2. I had a similar experience as well. I bought some point and shoot digital Nikon cameras stating “USA Warranty” and when I received them, the box had Japanese writing all over it and the tell tale sign was in bold print on the bottom of the box that read in English – “Not for sale outside Japan”! Buyer beware.

  3. I tried one of these sites back in 2007. And the story played out exactly as you said. They got in touch, tried to up sell me (really, the battery costs $150 you say), and I said no to everything. I was immediately told that just the camera was back ordered. Really sleazy stuff. One of these companies has many websites and many names. Easy way to figure out if they’re legit….Do a google search with the website name and the word “scam”. You’ll find many people who’ve already had the bad experience.

    Fortunately you’ve always got B&H out there, and they’re trustworthy!

  4. Just to be clear, P.C. Richard wasn’t the one who was pulling this scam…Right?

    They’ve been around in NYC for close to 100 years and are extremely reputable and great to deal with.

  5. Another red flag is requests for payment over Western Union! Only buy from reputable sources, rather than looking for the cheapest deal you can find and you should be a lot more protected.

  6. There are 100’s of store fronts that seem to be from the same place. They are located in Brooklyn, NY….. The big tip here is if you get a call after ordering its a scam….

    They usually ask if you need a battery, and you say it comes with a battery and they say… no its only a 10min battery thats included, then you say I dont care I’ll take it so then they bump the shipping up to match MSRP if you say no they’ll cancel.

  7. Cash Haggerty says:

    Wow that bottom camera on the right does not even exist! It is a PS version of one of the 1Ds with a ton of extra buttons added to the back that don’t exists on the real version of the camera. It even has a beer and wine button! Here is a link that shows the mock camera that keeps popping on the POTN forum.

    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=609526

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