PriceRitePhoto: Shut Down

PriceRitePhoto is, at least for now, off the internet. I received another call this afternoon from the Ed Lopez, the alleged owner of PriceRitePhoto. Ed has said that hackers have taken his site down off the internet. I assume he has been subjected to denial of service attacks that may have been inspired in part by my post on my horrible treatment that I received at his camera store.

This Digg/Slashdot/Boing Boing/Meta Filter, etc., etc., etc. experience has been an interesting one. When used for good I think it shows that the consumer today has an incredible amount of power — particularly when a bad experience strikes a chord with a number of others out there.

It is important to reflect on this experience though and make sure that we think about our reaction to PriceRitePhoto. I’d like to re-emphasize that I do not condone illegal attacks against Mr. Lopez’s business. This includes denial of service attacks and crank phone calls and the like. While these tactics certainly hit PriceRitePhoto where it hurts the most, in their pocketbook, they are in fact illegal. We should strive to use the power of Digg and other online promotional avenues for good but we should respond through legitimate channels — these channels include filing complaints with the Attorney General, contacting the BBB, contacting the Media, blogging it, Digging it, etc. etc. In my opinion we should be careful about not letting an online lynch mob mentality take over and allow us to resort to illegal tactics.

Although my story is very much true, and I think when stories get this big there is typically corroboration from other users one way or the other, it is also important for us all to think about the fact that social networking tools can in fact be misused. We need to be responsible with this power and I think part of being responsible is restricting our response to legal channels.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So you actually believe this guy is the owner? I definitely don’t…

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you read up and follow the trail of dirt on these guys, they had it coming.

    No one should weep a single tear for their downtime or “inconvenience”. Think of all the customers they have inconvenienced, ripped off, abused or worse.

    Oh yeah, they had this coming.

    Justice, and power to the people.

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    I’m not sure if the guy is the owner or not. It could be that Ed Lopez doesn’t exist, it could be that Steve Philips doesn’t exist, it could be that John Hancock doesn’t exist. It wouldn’t surprise me. While I don’t have much sympathy for these guys I do think it is important that we restrict our response to legal tactics.

    Certainly with all the dirt that has been dug up on them in the past few days it shows that my experience is more than a single isolated mis-deed. I just think we need to be careful to respond responsibly.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dude… read the comments from the new story on Digg. They’ve found so much stuff about this whole thing.

  5. Michael says:

    I agree we should pursue it legally.

    But the fact is in today’s society we want things instantly, easily, and we want to KNOW they got done.

    This makes the events we’ve seen over the last day inevitable.

    I’m sure we all hope the AG and BBB get this guy by the balls, but we’re too jaded to wait weeks or months (if ever) for the bureaucratic process.

  6. Miker says:

    I’ll bet he’s mistaking the flood of slashdot and digg visitors as a denial of service attack…..guess it kind of is, but its not illegal or even unethical by any means.

  7. t0ny says:

    So did he ever get the camera? From them or somewhere else? And what about the money?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Christ, Hawk… get off the high horse. The fact that your poor choices in vendors was made into the topic du jour of the blogosphere for half an instant makes little difference to anything in the long run. Thousands of people will have similar events happen to them, without the benefit of your event’s exposure. Try to find room in your noggin to parse that bit of info amidst all the schadenfreude that is certainly swimming around in there.

  9. joeconsumer says:

    While I agree with your point that hacking and DoS attacks are not the most legal thing to do, and that, in a perfect world, actions such as filing complaints, writing lawmakers, etc. would ultimately shut operations like this down, in reality, this does not work. These guys (and many others) have been in business for many years, and even in cases where they do get shut down (which is rare), they just change their names, locations, and websites and start again.

    The BBB and everyday consumers don’t have the resources to sue these guys, law enforcement has more important things to do, so usually they have nothing to fear. Actually, the reason they do persist is the fear that they invoke in the people that do complain, through thinly veiled extortion (i.e., threatening to charge your credit card for not doing things their way).

    There is an inherent inbalance in these situations, putting the burden on everyday people who most of the time don’t have the time nor money to pursue lawsuits. I’ve followed this story for the last few days, and I’ve read many comments on eBay and other review sites that are unbelievable regarding pricerite. I am amazed that companies like this are allowed to operate – that they haven’t been shut down.

    I truly believe that priceritephoto has gotten justice, and no matter how much anyone says that this is not the “high” road, I disagree, because the people doing the DoS and continuous calling, etc., are, to me, not doing it for “evil” reasons, but are doing it because it is truly the right thing to do, from what they’ve done to countless others (and this is well documented). Once you start profiting from the users of the internet, the only real “citizens” in this world are the people that visit your site – the collective whole of the internet – and therefore justice should be served by them.

    To me, in a perfect world, there would be a task force that reviews cases such as yours, decides if a company has done wrong repeatedly through publicly available information, and doles out justice (whatever that entails – not necessarily what happened here, but if nothing gets done, then, perhaps).

    To me, this would be the high road.

  10. I don’t think they were hacked, I think they were shut down. You now get a cPanel “Nothing configured here” page, which looks like their ISP yanked them.

    Given the list of sites that Netcraft says use the same hosting provider, I’d say they got yanked for bandwidth use, not any higher moral standard. 🙂

  11. Ron Krauter says:

    Dude,
    When will it get to your head?? You have been screwed and you still support these people?? What is wrong with you?

    There is no Ed Lopez and nobody has been fired. Get it? The site was probably taken down by this guy who calls himself Lopez. He then calls you again knowing you would write about it on your blog.

    Tell him to stop calling you.

    These people are used to stuff like this – they will open a store under a different name and screw someone else that comes along.

    Ignore them…Peace out.

  12. digital unltd says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_rite_photo

    Priceritephoto wikipedia page – a diggmobb combats fraud
    The Priceritephoto story is a historical moment in digg’s history and the internet’s history. Contribute to the wiki article.

  13. Anonymous says:

    what goes around comes around

    they deserved it

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure the legal channels are going to help.

    This is not a new problem. If you search through consumer reviews at places like http://www.resellerratings.com , you’ll find that many of the Brooklyn based scammeras have been around for years.

    Also, there are many comments from consumers indicating that complaints were filed with the Attorney General’s Office for similar tactics used by some of the other Brooklyn based dealers.

    Yet, nothing appears to have been done about it (this has been going on for a LONG time).

    In other words, I think that the elected officials are most likely corrupt (which is probably why dealers can get away with these types of tactics in Brooklyn).

    Bryan Biggers has a pretty good article here that consumers should read:

    [url=http://webpages.charter.net/bbiggers/DCExperiments/html/body_buying.html]How to Buy a Digital Camera without being Robbed[/url]

    I am a moderator on a Digital Camera forum, and I see this type of thing reported often (almost always from various vendors based in Brooklyn).

  15. Dave! says:

    That is assuming (1) this guy is actually the owner (2) the site was actually taken off-line by DOS attacks.

    Given your (and countless others’) experiences with them, I find it at least plausible that they took down the site on their own, so they could blame it on “hackers” (such a convenient scape goat) and are already up and running, with the same deceitful tactics under a different domain name.

    Maybe I’m just too cynical, but let’s not be *so* hasty to blame our own community when this “company” doesn’t exactly have the best track record for truthfulness.

  16. Rain Bo says:

    Ed Lopez is apparently the owner of priceritephoto. The whois info on the site shows that the contact person is “Eduardo Lopez”.

  17. Anonymous says:

    By the way, the owners name is not Ed Lopez. His name is Chaim Pikarski. I know it because I worked for him in the past. His tactics do not surprise me, and all he is trying to do is hide his true identity through the alias of Ed Lopez. Actually, I would be very surprised if you ever spoke to the owner. It was most likely just an employee that provided you a fictitious name and is probably just a manager.