Mail Order Camera Equipment – Buyer Beware

When a deal is too good to be true, it most certainly is.

Although I try very hard to support my local brick and mortar camera store, it is not uncommon for me to order from B&H Photo for a number of items.  I first ordered from B&H when I was in Iraq.  Ten days after placing an order, my 70-200 showed up.  Not bad considering where I was.  I accidentally ordered two of the same lenses over the next three weeks (I guess I was really tired or maybe the internet button just suckered me).  I wrote B&H from Iraq and asked to return one of the two.  To my surprise they said return it AFTER I returned home from my assignment.  Now that was service.  I have been with them ever since.

Back to my original point……… Everyone wants a deal, but a deal is not always a deal.  I’ve heard of bait-and-switch scams out of New York before but never with any details.  This summer I ran across some news which highlighted the NY Attorney Generals Attempts to bring a stop to this tactic.  With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it would be good to mention this.

“Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation revealed that these seven companies would advertise consumer electronics, such as cameras, camcorders, projectors, and related accessories online at prices significantly lower than their competitors to induce consumers to place orders via the internet. Once an order was placed, the companies would call consumers and try to sell them additional or “upgraded” merchandise at inflated prices. If the consumer refused to purchase the additional merchandise, the companies would cancel the sale or claim the item was backordered for months. If the consumer did agree to purchase the additional merchandise, the companies would send them lower quality merchandise than what was promised, or merchandise that the consumer never ordered in the first place. When customers tried to return the items, they would either be denied or be slammed with undisclosed fees. “

As first reported by the Consumerist, a listing of the stores and instructions for filing a claim are posted here. The bottom line is to pay attention to and buy armed with knowledge. If you are shopping on line, then you already know what the price should be.  Remember, a deal is seldom a real deal.

Cheers and happy photo’ing