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Old June 26th, 2009, 11:53 AM   #1
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Broadway Photo, others fined by State of New York

Online Electronics Stores Caught in Consumer Fraud - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com

Check out the last line:
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Customers seeking restitution will be able to submit claims to the New York Better Business Bureau from July through December.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 11:56 AM   #2
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It's about time. These crooks have been ripping people off for years. They should go after Google, Yahoo and others who knowingly permitted them to advertise despite the long list of complaints.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 12:02 PM   #3
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I doubt $765K (the settlement) even begins to cover what those rip-off artists have stolen from folks over the years.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 12:53 PM   #4
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It may not cover buyers losses, but it sends a pretty strong signal. It least now
those resellers will be monitored.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 01:08 PM   #5
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Way back in college my (now) wife bought a VX2000 from these guys for a crazy low price. We didn't hear anything from them about shipping for a good week or two after making the payment and were getting worried that we were scammed then suddenly out of the blue one day the UPS guy drops the camera off. It wasn't missing any pieces or parts and worked great for years and years. It's actually sitting on my desk right now. I figured at the time that every now and then they make good on their claimed price to stay out of trouble and we were the lucky ones. No clue.

Glad they finally got a slap on the wrist and someone is looking over their shoulder.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #6
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Way back in college my (now) wife bought a VX2000 from these guys for a crazy low price. We didn't hear anything from them about shipping for a good week or two after making the payment and were getting worried that we were scammed then suddenly out of the blue one day the UPS guy drops the camera off. It wasn't missing any pieces or parts and worked great for years and years. It's actually sitting on my desk right now. I figured at the time that every now and then they make good on their claimed price to stay out of trouble and we were the lucky ones. No clue.

Glad they finally got a slap on the wrist and someone is looking over their shoulder.
Ethan, I'd recommend that you buy lottery tickets, spend your vacations gambling in Las Vegas, and try out for Jeopardy. You clearly have one-in-a-million luck! ;)
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Old June 26th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #7
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I'm from NY and have known about these scammers for the longest.......they are the worst- I'm so glad they've fined them!
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Old June 26th, 2009, 04:19 PM   #8
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Very similar situation here, about 8 years ago I ordered a VX2000 and various accessories from amphotoworld.com and received my items on time and as described. Years later when I got back into video I considered them for my new equipment but was convinced by the multitude of negative information available on them and their other "Crooklyn" style shops. Good to see they got what they deserved.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 04:36 PM   #9
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I'm not saying these scammers didn't get what they deserve. But don't you think the only reason scammers, bait-n-switchers, and swindlers are able to prosper and get away with their tactics is because of fools who see an unbelievably low price on a website and ordered from them.

These companies only thrive because of the public's greed to get something for next to nothing.

People are idiots. B-b-but not you.

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Old June 26th, 2009, 06:58 PM   #10
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Why are they allowed to remain in business?
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Old June 26th, 2009, 09:26 PM   #11
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Not all is greed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Emery View Post
I'm not saying these scammers didn't get what they deserve. But don't you think the only reason scammers, bait-n-switchers, and swindlers are able to prosper and get away with their tactics is because of fools who see an unbelievably low price on a website and ordered from them.

These companies only thrive because of the public's greed to get something for next to nothing.

People are idiots. B-b-but not you.

Jeff

Jeff,

That I will agree with you that some are greedy, you have to admit that there is really intent to defraud the buyer with these stores. Not all are greedy. If you are new to the camera buying as many are, you have no idea of how things work or how much they cost till you do the research. And if you are not savvy or not know better, you'd get hooked and can't get out.

About 15 years ago, I was working for a company with lots of American friends. I saw their ads in the magazines and told them if they could get me some stuff there when they go home. Now, I didn't know there were scammers like that who publishes stuff in PopPhoto or the like. But because they knew, they told me and they just said they'll get it elsewhere, though it would cost more. Is that greed on my part?

Another recent example is my friend who wanted to buy a videocam and he happened to be in NYC. He has a 2 year old kid and a 6-month old baby and video is the best for that. The model we wanted was 2x-2.5 more expensive in our country. Don't ask me why, but the canon hf-100 was around U$1,250 over here. Anyway, because I knew better, I told him to shop at BHPhoto. Sure, they are pricier, but he got good customer satisfaction. In fact, he was impressed. He didn't know better, so is that greed? BTW, the price of the hf-100 went up and he was better off buying the HF-11 for U$700. Still cheaper than the price of it over here w/c was around U$1,500!

Finally, you have to really put it that these guys are out to scam us. I mean, if you walk in to store and see a price tag on a pair of shoe, then when you are going to buy it, they say you have to pay U$20 for the shoe laces! Even worse, they might say that is only for one shoe! The other shoe will cost you another U$30! Of course, they are not selling shoes, but it's what they do with cameras. The batteries are not covered in the price, or the charger isn't covered yet, or the cables, or manuals will be additional charges, aside from the hard selling tactics. I'm not talking of bait-and-switch yet!

And when there is another holding store or they pad their own ratings, then it's not just greed. They are really working on a scam.

Also, some reputable stores, do drop prices now and then but we don't hear complaints. Maybe it is a closing out sale for the model. Maybe, the store is clearing inventory. Maybe, when I got my HF-100 for U$549 at BHPhoto, they are just clearing out inventory for the hf-s100. BTW, it shot up to around U$650 and then it was no longer in stock. Is BHPhoto out to defraud me, whether I am greedy or not? Were there any other strings or conditions for me to get this price like I have to pay extra for the battery or charger, or manual, cables, or whatever? No. Because they are legit and do not have the intent to defraud me, regardless if I am greedy or not.

If you come to our country, and you don't know better, and I sell you an souvenir only to charge a lot for the box, or some batteries, or maybe it comes with a shade but you'd have to pay extra for that, then isn't that an intent to scam or cheat you? Are you greedy for not knowing or assuming that what you see is what you are paying? Why do you have to ask a store if it comes with the box, manual, cables, battery, or charger when the manufacturer, by default bundles it with it? So, there is intent to scam you. It's not greed.

So, I disagree that it is all greed by the customers. Us good shoppers, we have the right to canvass and to seek the best price for what we want. Not all low prices are borne out of greed or scamming though. And not all of those searching for bargains are greedy. For sure, these stores are really not up to good. It's about time they get their comeuppance.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 10:55 PM   #12
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I stand by my statements.

And I believe the ending of my previous post covered folks like you.

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Old June 29th, 2009, 09:45 AM   #13
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It is about time! 10+ years ago, I bought a Canon XL1 package for almost $5000 and the "second battery" died within a year or so (it was a cheap knock-off). And the "tripod?" One of those $7 (literally) tripods I'd use with a $5 disposable camera...

I didn't know better, but at least B&H is solid, though I had some issues back then with people not knowing what they're selling and ending up with incomplete packages. But that was 10 years ago and now the folks at B&H are excellent!

FYI, I had a friend who moved from NYC to FL for college and he worked at one of those places. He hated them and lasted a few weeks.

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Old June 29th, 2009, 10:15 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jeff Emery View Post
These companies only thrive because of the public's greed to get something for next to nothing.
It's all part of the game manufacturers and retailers have created. A manufacturer sets an artificially high publicly promoted MSRP while setting a much lower MAP for the retailers - so even legitimate retailers can sell brand new items at a 30-40% 'discount'. The MAP is going to be anywhere from 30-100% over the wholesale cost to the retailer, so once the product is no longer the newest hottest thing there's a lot of room for legitimate discounts. This basically creates a situation where big 'discounts' and wide pricing variations are simply the norm - so a discount that's significantly lower than most but not so low as to appear suspicious to the average seller looks like part of the game.

If it was really based on "the public's greed to get something for next to nothing" then why aren't they selling cameras for $10, etc? They know the average buyer would be suspicious of something that low, so they set a price thats high enough to appear legitimate to the average buyer.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 10:54 PM   #15
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These companies survive because people who don't know any better get suckered in and/or won't stand up for themselves. The tactics used are classic "bait and switch" (fraud), but for some strange reason the particular locale (NY) doesn't crack down. Looks like that may be changing, and at least a couple of these "shops" are closing their doors, this is good.

Even regulars on this board sometimes ask about non-sponsor retailers, so it's not necessarily a matter of intelligence, it's a matter of trying to save a few dollars in a tough economy. OK, so some of us are "cheap", whether because of finances or just because we like to get a good deal... not everyone is made of money, or we have other priorities.

I buy used, because I can't afford new prices, but when it comes to buying the latest and greatest "must have" gear, sometimes it's tough to find a deal used, so you scout for "new", and that's where the "New York Camera Store Scammers" are waiting like some guy hawking "Rolexes" from his trenchcoat... Smart people just say "no"... but some people just don't know any better and get scammed. I remember a friend that said they had a "Canon" camera they wanted me to check out - it was a cheap piece of crap, but sure enough it had something resembling the Canon nameplate on the front... I had to tell them they got snookered. I won't even get into the HK/China sellers selling knockoff crap on eBay... most with carefully crafted "legit" looking packaging...

Anyone with a little patience can scope out prices on the Internet, the challenge is sorting out the legit places from the scam shops with fake "ratings". I don't know that you can blame the manufacturers - they have to support their dealers with markups large enough to assure there are dealers for next years line, and they have to compete with the scammers, making it tough because they probably get calls all the time saying "I can buy it here for $XX.XX less than YOUR price"... I get it all the time when selling my used stuff, and I say "go right ahead and try to buy it for that"...

But it's a PITA because the scam shops create a false expectation that you can get something for "nothing", which all you have to do is call them to discover that they will be taking your shirt and pants along with your wallet... sucker... if you let them.

Anytime there's a "bad operator" in the neighborhood (and let's face it with the Internet, EVERYTHING is our neighborhood), it hurts legitimate buyers, legitimate sellers, and the manufacturers. NO ONE benefits from scam but the perpetrator. The more like that that "disappear", the better!
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