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Cheap camera on unknown website? READ THIS FIRST!

Travel Forums Travel Photography Cheap camera on unknown website? READ THIS FIRST!

1. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4365 posts) 8 Mar '08 02:59

Over the last year I've seen a number of people on here almost fall for the infamous Brooklyn-based bait 'n switch shops, and just now someone mentioned that they'd actually gone for it. :( In order to prevent others falling for the same, I thought it'd be good to create this thread. (Maybe a fellow moderator would be so good as to sticky it?)

So, the deal: You've settled on the one specific camera you want to buy, and you start googling for the best deal you can find. Most big-name websites you've heard of before have prices which are all about the same, but then suddenly you find this awesome deal, 20% or more below what other stores offer.

Warning sign #1: If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is!

What you should do at this point is one of the following:

  • Google the domain name of this website in combination with the word "scam". The recent example on here was for techondigital, so let's google them: roughly 7000 hits.
  • Go to a site like resellerratings.com and enter the name of the company there. In this case it'll tell you "techondigital: see TheDigitalNerds", and a further search for TheDigitalNerds gives you these 73 reviews with a lifetime rating of 0.51 (out of 10).
  • Find out where this website's store is based. 99% of the time with bait 'n switch shops, they're based in Brooklyn. Look at the website's contact and about page; half the time they'll list their address right there. If they don't, find a whois tool and enter the domain name. Scroll down to the "administrative contact" and behold, "brooklyn, New York 11204".

But let's say you are blinded by the awesome price for this camera and forget (or don't know) about this thread. So you order it. The next thing which will happen is that you'll get a call from the store (or an email, asking you to call them) to "confirm" your order.

Warning sign #2: Legit online stores will have asked for all the information they needed right at the website! Manning phones costs them money.

This is where the upselling will start to happen. You ordered only the camera, but it's below cost price for the store, so they need to make back that money somewhere. They do this by trying to sell you all manner of crap at 200%-1000% of the real value. Memory cards for $100+. Lens caps for $30 (while they are an accessory that comes with the camera or lens by default). Batteries for $60 (idem). Carrying pouches. Filters. Carrying straps. They won't relent until you've agreed to buy so much of this junk at such inflated prices that the total cost of the camera is well above market price. Only then will they actually send you the camera. (Which, if you're lucky, will actually be the brand new camera that you originally ordered. But it's also not unknown for this camera to be a used or refurbished model, or even the next cheaper version.)
If you remain firm and say you don't want any of these accessories, the camera which you ordered will magically appear to have gone out of stock. You will never receive it. This is actually the best you can hope for at this point, as it'll make it easier to cancel your order.
That's the thing which should be your absolute priority now. Tell the person on the phone in no uncertain terms that you wan't to cancel the order. Then make certain they don't charge your creditcard anyway. Contact your bank or creditcard company and have them block the payment (or reverse it if it's already gone through). Also contact the better business bureau to report this company. (You'll probably be the umptieth report they'll have gotten about this place.)

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