Don't Get Burned: Bait & Switch Camera Dealers Exposed at DVinfo.net

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Old January 16th, 2003, 02:25 AM   #1
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Don't Get Burned: Bait & Switch Camera Dealers Exposed

The February 2003 issue of PC World has a great exposÚ of the Bait & Switch camera sales industry in New York called "Camera Confidential." If you've ever found a too-good-to-be-true price for a DV camera or digital still camera in the back of a magazine or on the web, you may have ended up calling one of these warehouses that deal in gray market goods or use unethical business practices. You may have even bought a camera from them (back when I was an artless young lad I got my first XL1 from bait & switcher Abe's of Maine [of New York]--it came with a $400 shipping & handling fee through a fictional buffer delivery service that in turn used UPS; in retrospect I can see I was lucky it arrived at all), but more likely if you've dealt with them you received nothing but grief.

The exposÚ used two shoppers (one shopper took on the role of savvy uncompromiser, not easily swayed by pressure-tactic sales pitches, while the other assumed the role of na´ve pushover) who attempted to purchase a camera at each of five dealers identified as bait & switchers: 1 Stop Camera & Electronics, Bilibi, Broadway Photo, Cambridge Camera, CCI Camera City, IbuyDigital, and Regency Camera. (Regency Camera closed up shop right out from under the journalists, stealing $900 in the process.) Orders were placed on the phone and over the web, and three stores that had physical locations were visited in person.

The article goes on to categorize the ripoff stratagems stores like these are known to employ, and includes warning signs and countermeasures for each: Bait and Stuff, in which a good deal on a new camera is coupled to mandatory purchase of way overpriced accessories (often the ones like AC adapter and camera strap that are supposed come in the regular camera box for free!); Gray-market goods, in which items intended for overseas sale are rerouted to the US, and usually come with foreign-language menus and manuals or have non-US power supplies; the Obligatory sales call, in which a low-pressure internet sale is followed up by a telephone "confirmation" of an order, with insistence that accessories be purchased against the threat of never shipping the order; Pricey shipping, wherein companies tack on their own shipping surcharges (cf. my experience with Abe's of Maine above); and phony or expired Seals of approval from web buyer protection sites like BBB, BizRate.com, and Gomez. (I've also seen retailer review web sites stuffed with boilerplate positive feedback by employees of bait & switch sellers.)

A host of problems can come with trying to buy from bait & switchers beyond being shortchanged or never receiving ordered goods. Manufacturer's warranties typically aren't honored for factory-reject and gray market items often sold by these businesses. And the stress of trying to buy from belligerent salespeople who abuse telephone customers with profanity, dissemble hidden surcharges, and ignore order status inquiries can have its associated health toll.

All the more reason to stick with trusted, reputable businesses when buying your DV gear--some excellent retailers can be found here: http://www.dvinfo.net/sponsors/

For the moment, at least, the entire article "Camera Confidential" can be found here: http://www.pcworld.com/features/arti...,107855,00.asp
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Old January 16th, 2003, 03:27 PM   #2
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Yeah, I got that issue in the mail yesterday too. I posted a thread in the off topic forum about a couple of those shops having ads in (at least) the latest DVMag issue.
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Old January 19th, 2003, 01:30 PM   #3
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The article mentioned the owners and presidents are related to each other. Don't suppose they have the last name of
'Soprano'? hehehe.

This is classic mob stuff.
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Old January 22nd, 2003, 10:16 AM   #4
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I checked with PC World's reprint service about what it would take to run a copy of this excellent article on DV Info Net. Our cost to offer a downloadable PDF version directly from our server would start at about $2500. Needless to say, we can't afford to do that. Pity... this is a great piece which needs to be seen by anyone in the market to buy a camera or camcorder. We could have given it much more exposure. Even linking to the article from the DV Info Net site would cost serious money, so it looks like we'll have to write our own buyer's guide after all.
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Old January 22nd, 2003, 03:50 PM   #5
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$2500!! JEESH! Who are the crooks? I guess the idea that they were actually trying to do something good by exposing the frauds was inaccurate. They are apparently just trying to sell more magazines to give the frauds more chances to rip the consumers off.

Sounds typical.
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Old January 22nd, 2003, 04:06 PM   #6
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That's actually a pretty modest electronic reprint fee. Fees of $10,000+ are not at all unusual for e-print rights from Dow Jones and other large publishers. Many publishers refuse e-print permissions altogether. Purchasing paper reprints is much less expensive.

In PC World's defense, remember that theirs is an intellectual property business supported by principally by advertising and secondarily by subscriptions. Granting a 3rd party the right to, in effect, re-publish your property can dilute the attractiveness of your publication and, logically, your revenue base. A magazine must be adequately compensated for such grants.

So this is absolutely not a "crooked" practice whatsoever. It's a reasonable and very normal part of the periodical publishing business and has been for many years.
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Old January 22nd, 2003, 04:41 PM   #7
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Ken is absolutely correct, there's nothing "crooked" about this, it's simply out of our budget, that's all.
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Old January 22nd, 2003, 09:55 PM   #8
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I don't really think they are "crooked", I just think that if they really were reporting on it from a consumer protection standpoint (instead of a publicity stunt), they would be happy to make accommodations for forums like this (where a great many people buy from these type vendors).
But unfortunately the name of the game isn't let's protect the public from these vermin, it is let's make money off these vermin by running their ads to our readership so they can rip them off.

I understand everyone has to make a living, but there is more to life than just money and good business practice. I think America needs to wake up and figure that out.


p.s. Chris, I understand it isn't financially feasable for you to run the article here so don't sweat it. You run a great ship and I really appreciate it.-thanks
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Old January 31st, 2003, 09:24 PM   #9
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Being a NYC native all my life- I can tell you that B&H and Adorama seem to be the ONLY honest electronic/camera retailers out there with B&H being the absolute best! If you've never visited B&H you'll be amazed at the operation- overhead are green Fuji bins floating around the store on rails with processed rolls of prints going to the print center for customer pickup. 2 people in the know say B&H is a $110,000+ a day operation....if you go there it's 100% believeable... their digital video department has multiple kiosks with all current dv cameras mounted with ntsc monitors as well as thousands of dollars of tripods and mounting options within feet of these kiosks, another few feet away are the high-end cameras (ENG etc)..they have flat screen Hi-Def LCD's on the walls.....it's an amazing place (the digital camera section is unreal!)

I've been to just about every camera store in NYC and they seem to be able to spot native NY'ers and skip us altogether (they usually wont come over to you or help you- and always seem to ask "where are you from"( if you tell them you're from NYC- the item will magically not be in stock )- they prey on the constant year round tourists who are looking to buy cheap here in NYC.....

go with one of the sites sponsors or if you have to go to a brick and mortar store in NYC- B&H...

...or else!
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Old February 1st, 2003, 11:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Being a NYC native all my life- I can tell you that B&H and Adorama seem to be the ONLY honest electronic/camera retailers out there with B&H being the absolute best!
I agree that Adorama and, particularly, B&H are great, and I've bought gear from both of them. I'll add one more to your list, though: J&R Musicworld. I've gotten two of my last three camcorders from them, along with a lot of other equipment, and found them scrupulously honest and reliable.
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Old February 1st, 2003, 07:48 PM   #11
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J&R are definitely legitimate.......they've lowered their prices to real world numbers- definitely worth looking at!
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Old April 2nd, 2003, 10:36 PM   #12
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Most of the NY dealers are a joke,(cept for BnH)Glad I bought through a authorized Canon dealer.I checked this sites sponsors and will more than likely go through one of them for future purchases.
Whats amazing is that occasionally Fed Law enforcement used to go around seizing bootlegged,and grey mkt goods,with court orders in hand.It'd be nice if they nailed some of the dirtbags with bedroom operations.
If youre really brave, try to buy a piece of gear on e bay for over 2500 bucks. the offers youll get will amaze you at how ones level of stupidity will be tested.........
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Old April 29th, 2003, 05:49 PM   #13
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Megadittos about B&H, the place is just incredible and worth the trip to NYC just to see it. I know they are not a sponsor here, but I have never had a problem with these guys.
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Old April 29th, 2003, 10:52 PM   #14
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B&H...absolutely. Great dealer. Adorama? Hmmm. Hem-haw...cough.

The DVInfo.net sponsors and B&H get pretty much all my business. Adorama won't ever see another penny from me.
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Old June 9th, 2003, 03:13 PM   #15
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One More to List

I'm from New "Joisey" and my quarterly New York City trips are not complete without a visit to B & H. I've made numerous purchases from them over the counter and via phone and let me tell you, nary a glitch. Going to B & H holds as much excitement for me as the Broadway plays. I know nothing of Adorama. I'd just like to add that just over the Hudson River is another nifty place called ZGC.
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Mountain Lakes, NJ

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