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Old 07-03-2008, 11:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
Please touch this.
 
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A small warning to online shoppers.

Low prices are good, but if the price is TOO low, then stay away. It IS too good to be true. I'd like to tell you about one company that I recently had a meeting with that might open your eyes to how some online operations run. I won't reveal the name of this business, but I will tell you how they are designed to operate so that you can avoid them.

The sales strategy goes like this:
1. Offer a crazy low price on a piece of electronic equipment.
2. Receive online orders.
3. Inform the customer that there is a problem with their order.
4. Customer will contact customer service.
5. Customer service is actually a salesman who will up-sell accessories at grossly marked up prices.
6. If customer declines up-sell offer, they are informed that their item is on back order for 3-6 weeks.

If you want to have an idea of how badly these accessories are marked up, I saw the actual data. A part that cost this company $21 to purchase was marked up to $229. If they offer it to you and you don't buy it, they delay your order. They don't even have the intention of fulfilling it.

After my meeting with this company (they want my company to build a new website for them) I looked up BOTH websites that they run on a consumer review site. Their overall rating: 0.15 out of 10. WOW! 500 reviews. If you consider the people who get burned and don't say anything versus the people who do: they've burned a hell of a lot of people. DON'T be one of those people.

Now, I'm not saying "buy only from popular dealers" because my company supports a lot of the unknown dealers who are just trying to make a name for themselves. Just be wary of the GREAT DEAL you're getting. This potential client might not make our salesman bat an eye but for me, and the account executive that has to deal with them, and some of our business partners who help us with projects... we'll be uneasy if we have to aid this company in scamming the public. One partner who I've already talked to has stated that they have refused to work with companies like these in the past.

I'm actually surprised that I wasn't more aware of this activity before. I've been working in e-commerce for a while now and I've suspected it happening, but never really got involved. Now I know first hand. I'm just warning you all.

DIGG THIS
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Last edited by Halx; 07-03-2008 at 02:27 PM..
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Old 07-03-2008, 11:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
... a sort of licensed troubleshooter.
 
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This type of scam was inevitable with the anonymity of the internet.

While I recognize the importance of supporting new vendors who are trying to make their way, it's because of scams like you described above that I'm more likely to check Amazon first.
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Old 07-03-2008, 11:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
Upright
 
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cheers for the info. i figured there are places out there that operate something like this. i always keep in mind that the company has to make money somehow...
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the heads up. This is precisely why I spend weeks researching before I buy anything. And I buy a lot of stuff online.
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I hope you told this company to fuck themselves
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have not found myself in this situation, but let's say that I'm at Step 3. What would be the best way to extract myself from the situation? I'm thinking "call to credit card company to challenge payment", but I'm not sure.
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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For the record, this technique is called a "bait & switch" and has been long used in retail sales--long before the Internet.

The key is to use your head, and be patient. Don't make any impulse purchases. Ever.
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
Please touch this.
 
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Derwood,
Its not my position to do that.

Redlemon,
The only way to save yourself at this point is to call your credit card company. This particular company (based off some of the 500 negative reviews I skimmed over) doesn't charge the card unless they ship the item to you. The funds, however, are reserved.

Baraka,
Its not technically a bait & switch because the original item is still on the table. But that's just semantics. You can call it that if you wish.
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Last edited by Halx; 07-03-2008 at 01:28 PM..
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redlemon
I have not found myself in this situation, but let's say that I'm at Step 3. What would be the best way to extract myself from the situation? I'm thinking "call to credit card company to challenge payment", but I'm not sure.
Yes, but you won't know to do it at Step 3. It just sounds like a garden variety shipping problem or back-order at that point. You don't know you've been had until around step 5. Step 6 only confirms it.

I worked with a company that sold all sorts of terrible cheap products that nobody would want, and sold them with spam. They'd send tens of millions of emails, and something like %0.002 would result in a sale, which meant a total windfall for the company every time they did a so-called "mail push".

Problem was, their hosting company (us) would get blacklisted, then we'd move them to a new colocation facility (because they paid really really well--never mind our good name) which would before long get blacklisted, lather rinse repeat.

That company doesn't exist anymore under that name, which is a good thing because it's STILL on some spam blacklist watchlists, seven or eight years later.
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
Let's put a smile on that face
 
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Location: On the road...
I have actually noticed this lots with certain retailers on Ebay. I was in the market for a DSLR and looked them up on ebay. There are some amazing deals with them, such as a $2,000 dollar camera set going for around $1200.

They do the backorder, you call and then they try to upsell to you. They also include shitty sigma and other brand lenses instead of the Canon lenses.

I actually emailed every single person in Canada who ordered the camera from this particular dealer and asked them about their experience (I sent about 50 emails out, got about 8 responses). Every single response mentioned the upsale, and most went for it.

I ended up buying my camera from a local dealer here who specializes in cameras and I bought a whack of stuff, and he gave me about $400 off anyways.

/threadjack.
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Yeah, sites selling cameras are notorious for that shit. I browse craigslist a lot for camera stuff hoping to one day see some nice old lady selling a 1Ds for like $200 because she has no idea what it is.

One day I saw a 5D for $1,300. I thought "jackpot!" and sent off the email since it had just been posted. Sure enough, it was some lame ass up-sale trick they were pushing through craigslist.
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
Let's put a smile on that face
 
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Location: On the road...
The body only D5 is on sale for $1,800 in Calgary right now!! I almost bought it, but then realized that was a little much for me and went with the 40D instead
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Old 07-03-2008, 02:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Yeah, I read an article once about how a bunch of these companies doing such scams with camera and electronics were operating from the New York area. Something about the Russian mafia...
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Old 07-03-2008, 02:20 PM   #14 (permalink)
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More like Israeli mafia.

(I didn't just say that. But if you saw Adam Sandler's latest movie, you'd know what I mean.)
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Old 07-03-2008, 02:25 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I fell for this exact con about five-six years ago when I bought my first digital camera. Went on-line and found a site offering the camera I wanted for about 1/2 to 2/3 of what I just saw it for at Costco. I went through all the steps of on-line ordering, everything seemed fine. The next morning I got a call saying there was a "probelm" with my order. I never even heard what the problem was but during the call the helpful person on the other end of the phone mentioned "you know this camera you ordered doesn't really come with (insert shit load of unneeded accessories here)" I was really busy at the time, had an on-line Christmas wreath business that was occupying much of my attention. I basically said- "sure, great, fine... it'll ship tomorrow? Great thanks." I woke up early in the morning about two days later and thought "hey, wait a minute..."

I didn't try to stop the order. The next day it showed up, all the crap they sold me with the camera was just that... crap. I saw the SD card they sold me at Costco for $35, they got $125 out of me for the same brand and memory. They told me the camera didn't even come with any memory, it did.

I figured screw it- $250 lesson.
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Old 07-03-2008, 02:30 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halx
Baraka,
Its not technically a bait & switch because the original item is still on the table. But that's just semantics. You can call it that if you wish.
Yeah, I'd say it's close enough. You didn't get your original bait, but you are switched onto something else. Maybe this is a "subgenre"?

Seriously, though, there are many techniques to this. I'm sure the more "classic" forms of bait & switch used similar methods. "Oh yeah, it'll be on back order....but you could have this one now, eh?" I'm sure that's an old line with this kind of thing.
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Old 07-03-2008, 04:45 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Location: on the back, bitch
As JumpinJesus said, this is a rampant scam among camera dealers. Broadway Camera is probably the most notorious and they have offshoot side businesses such as OneWayPhoto.
I was looking for an A100 and found one for under $500 from an outfit that was part of Broadway's. They took the order, saying it was in stock, then I got an email saying it was backordered, called their tollfree number and the guy tried to sell me a "better version" as the one I ordered was a "cheaper style body". Huh??? I declined and he wasn't pushy and the order was cancelled. I got a better deal from B&H and the camera came the next day.
When in doubt, check'em out. Hell, check'em out anyway before making the purchase.
http://forums.photographyreview.com/...ad.php?t=13289
http://www.resellerratings.com/topstores.pl
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Old 07-03-2008, 04:48 PM   #18 (permalink)
Living in a Warmer Insanity
 
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Yep! Broadway got me. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Didn't even smell it 'til after it happened.
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:58 PM   #19 (permalink)
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It never ceases to amaze me how many people in this world think it's a great idea to completely screw as many people as possible
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:39 PM   #20 (permalink)
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derwood you need to give em the finger
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Old 07-03-2008, 10:20 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Yeah. My mom's camera has been backordered for 4 months. Same deal. Try to sell them overpriced accessories, deal with a super friendly guy at customer service who keeps telling him it's on backorder and they expect it in 11 weeks. Never charged them. Cancelled the order without a hassle.

Dad finally walked into a local camera shop and bought her the same camera. A little more expensive, but not significantly.
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Old 07-03-2008, 10:23 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Location: Seattle.
Usually, I just buy stuff from Amazon. If it's something I want, but can't afford, I rationalize, and don't buy it.

Of course, if it's something I need, and can't afford, I shop around, and I think it's always a good idea to check out the consumer reports sites.

Honestly, I think buying anything over 200$ from ebay is ridiculous. If it's something rare, like a baseball card, or the like, then it's a little bit better. But if it's something you could buy off of amazon or at a local store, I'd buy it from there. I really wouldn't risk it, seeing that ebay can be corrupted, and many people get cheated.

And just think, the extra money you pay is worth it, when you factor in the time and the risk of getting scammed, if not actually getting scammed.
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:00 AM   #23 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halx
Derwood,
Its not my position to do that.

Redlemon,
The only way to save yourself at this point is to call your credit card company. This particular company (based off some of the 500 negative reviews I skimmed over) doesn't charge the card unless they ship the item to you. The funds, however, are reserved.

One thing I learnt from working in the payment processing industry is if you don't get what you were expecting and the merchant is not dealing with you correctly, chargeback (dispute) the transaction with your credit card company. They will ask you to write and sign a letter explaining what happened and fax it in. They will refund you and the merchant will be charged.

Visa and MasterCard require that a merchant's chargeback rate is under a certain percentage if it is over they will be fined and eventually shut off.

With regards to reserved funds, this is temporary. An authorization reservs the funds on your card for approximately 3-7 days (depends on your card issuing bank) once that time has passed another charge that comes in can then reserve or take those funds.
An authorization number can still be used, after that time period, to settle or capture funds as long as as you still have credit available. The authorization number can be used for approximately 30days (depending on the card issuing bank).

Hope that helps.
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Old 07-04-2008, 08:26 PM   #24 (permalink)
MSD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willravel
This type of scam was inevitable with the anonymity of the internet.

While I recognize the importance of supporting new vendors who are trying to make their way, it's because of scams like you described above that I'm more likely to check Amazon first.
Agreed. The tragedy of the commons + anonymity is a recipe for disaster,

I don't necessarily check big retailers first, but I look for an overwhelming majority of positive reviews. There are also some things I will only buy from a reputable store or brick and mortar store with real liability, like flash memory, which is commonly counterfeited without small online retailers necessarily knowing about it, or cologne (check my cologne snob thread for the fake Himalaya story.)
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Old 07-05-2008, 02:52 AM   #25 (permalink)
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www.resellerratings.com

learn it, love it, live it. Never buy without checking it.
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Old 07-05-2008, 06:19 AM   #26 (permalink)
Living in a Warmer Insanity
 
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Super Moderator
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shauk
www.resellerratings.com

learn it, love it, live it. Never buy without checking it.
Great post and info, THANKS!

I looked up Broadway Photo on this site, a 1.18 out 10 rating. Read some of the comments. Basically sound just like my experience.

You Da Man, Shauk.
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Old 07-05-2008, 02:40 PM   #27 (permalink)
MSD
The sky calls to us ...
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tully Mars
Great post and info, THANKS!

I looked up Broadway Photo on this site, a 1.18 out 10 rating. Read some of the comments. Basically sound just like my experience.

You Da Man, Shauk.
These days, Broadway Photo is one of the most well-known scam sites out there. Sorry you had to deal with them and I hope you didn't lose much money.
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Old 07-05-2008, 02:56 PM   #28 (permalink)
Living in a Warmer Insanity
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSD
These days, Broadway Photo is one of the most well-known scam sites out there. Sorry you had to deal with them and I hope you didn't lose much money.
They taught me a couple hundred dollar lesson. If nothing else I take more time researching stores and sites now. Often as much as I do the product itself.
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Old 07-12-2008, 11:27 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I usually stick to buy.com, since most of the stuff I buy is there I just wait for a good deal.
The only thing those untrustworthy stores are good for is for getting trustworthy ones to match their price. It works.
the only expensive thing I'd ever consider getting from ebay is another iRiver HD-DAP, none of the good ones are sold anymore, and I haven't found a player I like as much as theirs.
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:52 AM   #30 (permalink)
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If i'm getting a CD or DVD or something - i always use play.com
They are reliable and always have been.

But i while back i nearly got stung because of "play.com" whihc was actually nothing more than a lame phishing scam.

So even if you are using a site that you think is legit, ALWAYS check the address bar link and make sure there isnt anything unusual looking.

I only realised because i had to login again.

So beware.
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Old 07-22-2008, 01:16 PM   #31 (permalink)
Junkie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derwood View Post
It never ceases to amaze me how many people in this world think it's a great idea to completely screw as many people as possible
It also doesn't amaze me how many of us just sit back and take it. This shit wouldn't happen if people stopped allowing it to happen.
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