Monday, March 16, 2009

too good to be true

If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

I suppose I should have learned that a long time ago. Way back when I bought my first pricey SLR Nikon camera body from a company advertising in the back of Popular Photography magazine. I thought I had a hot deal. For the same $800+ that everyone was charging, I was getting a lens cleaning kit and a tripod. When the camera arrived, my tripod was a table top diddy that could hardly support the weight of the camera if a lens was on it. And it won't take a picture without a lens, so what use was that?

Alas, I did not learn.

This past week I have had two companies try to pull a lure (bait) and switch (upsell?) on me. You see, I really want a Nikon D300. As far as digital SLR cameras go, this is the professional grade system. According to Nikon, the MSRP is $1799 - - too much for my wallet to handle and the credit cards are already in agony... Savvy shopper that I am, I priced the camera on the internet.

Sonic Camera
had it for $703. Wow, seriously? No. Upon placing my order and supplying my credit card information, I received an e-mail asking for verbal verification. I sat on hold for 10+ minutes and was shuffled through phone jockeys for 10 minutes more. The last guy says he needs the "last 3 numbers of the security code on the back of the card." I told him the card was not on me, I'd call back with the numbers. He says, "May I ask why you are ordering the body only?" I thought to myself, "dumb question." But instead, I said, "This is an upgrade. I already have the Nikon lenses."

"Okay. It'll be shipping from our overseas warehouse and will reach you in about three weeks. Any questions?" I thought to myself, "Dumb. I'm sure he realizes I researched this camera to death before investing." But I said, "Yes, what shipping company do you use?" I was told Fed Ex. I thanked him and said I'd call back. Thirty minutes later, I get an e-mail saying the camera I confirmed order on (which I was told was in stock) was back ordered. I called thinking this must be an error, as I just spoke to dude and he said it was reserved for me.

The new phone agent says the model I ordered was the foreign model (huh?) and nothing but the camera was in the box. This means no cables, no battery, no memory card, no software. Nothing to make the camera operational. Essentially: paperweight for $703 with free shipping. I was then told that the US Model was always in stock for the bargain price of $1600+.   No thanks.

When I returned to the website, the same "foreign" model had gone up in price to $809. Supply and demand at its finest.

I was not deterred, just disappointed. So I tried again.

This time? Camera Giants.
The website says :
List Price: $2,399.99
Our Price: $1,099.00
You Save: $1,300.99

And a disclaimer under the product photo says "lens not included."

And indeed the scam began. This time the phone clerk says, "You need to add a battery and cables."

I replied: "No. The website says it is a US model, those are included in the kit."

He says: "It comes with a 4 minute battery. Do you know how much this camera retails for?"

I say: "Yes."

He replies: "You're getting it for a third of the price. For $1099 you'll get the required cables and a 2-hour battery."

I say: "Cancel the order."

He says, shocked: "Cancel? You don't want it?"

I reply: "Not if you advertise a camera body kit and send me a paperweight."

Lesson learned? Yes, I get it.  If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

Now an "educated consumer," I looked to verify that this was indeed the US model. Y
es, it was. In fact, the "kit contents" as documented on the website included:

So I ordered the camera successfully on Friday and waited. This morning I was sent an e-mail for verbal confirmation. And I thought, here we go again. 

1 comment:

Lisa Julia Photography said...

*barging in*
Well that's a bummer!!..i didn't realize you were in the market for a new camera...what do you have now? I ask because if it's D40 on up, i think you are better off with some good glass! LMK if i can back to your regularly scheduled blogging =)