PriceRitePhoto Update #23, The Story Hits the New York Times

In a Flash, Camera Dealers Feel the Web’s Wrath – New York Times: What started out as a rant on a blog amplified by Digg and others across the blogosphere has ended in the New York Times with the PriceRitePhoto apparently now out of business.

The New York Times today published a good expose on the recent PriceRitePhoto case. It would appear that they are pretty much out of business at this point with mail stacking up at the door of their address which the owner won’t pick up according to a handyman at the building because he owes money.

“On Nov. 29, Mr. Hawk posted a 2,333-word complaint about Price Rite Photo on his Web site, describing hard sales tactics and threats. By 2 a.m. the next day, this dispute over a $3,000 camera was an enormously popular topic of discussion online, casting Mr. Hawk in the timeless role of the outraged underdog.

Internet gunslingers tend to shoot first and ask lots of questions while shooting, so the attacks on Price Rite came quickly and with much discussion. Some bragged of tying up the company’s phone lines, others of flooding its Web site with excess traffic. It is unclear whether that tactic worked.

“The world of blogs is such an echo chamber that, a few places pick it up, you literally are generating tons of traffic,” said Lee Holmes, 28, who posted similar complaints on his own site from his home near Seattle.

There were conscientious objectors, too. One discussion participant anonymously wrote, “This is vigilante justice; there are proper channels to deal with this.”

After reading Mr. Hawk’s complaints, Yahoo! Shopping blocked Price Rite from its service, according to Sabrina Crider, a spokeswoman for the company. Mr. Hawk quickly declared victory, and online discussion forums with names like Digg filed the story under headlines like “Digg Users Take Revenge at Bad Online Store.”

But the episode was not complete for Mr. Wiss, whose photographs of Brooklyn buildings had been mentioned in Mr. Hawk’s rant under the headline “Update #20.”

On Dec. 14, Mr. Wiss said, he received several calls accusing him of putting stores out of business and threatening him with death. He said the threats were all bluster, but he reported the calls to the police and adamantly refused to allow photographs of his face for this article. He said he hopes to trace the calls if they continue.

At the warehouse in Sunset Park, Mr. Colon, the handyman, had his own ideas about the whereabouts of Price Rite and its proprietor.

“He owes me money,” Mr. Colon said, explaining that he was never paid for moving an air-conditioner. “That’s why he doesn’t come here to pick up the mail.””

Loading Facebook Comments ...

8 Comments

  1. Congrats on getting your story in the Grey Lady. Also, I think Lee Holmes is mistaken about either the meaning of the word “literally” or the average weight of internet traffic.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I just hope PriceRitePhoto don’t sue you. That would be a PITA regardless of where the blame lies.

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    While a pain in the ass, the truth is always a terrific defense against libel suits. It would only bring more attention to their poor business tactics and their new business that they are doing as Barclaysphoto now on eBay and I doubt it.

  4. Lee says:

    George: I’m pretty prudish about the word “literally,” and dislike its abuse as much as you :) I think it might have been an incorect paraphrasing of our conversation, but could be mistaken.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cool that the story hit mainstream press. I was confused reading it on your site though until I realized you just posted selected excerpts from the full story….

  6. Anonymous says:

    I thought I was a lone victim and warrior against the deranged owners of PriceRite. I remember after multiple telephone calls to my home, harrassing my wife, my baby sitter, one of the Price Rite guys calls and identifies himself as an Ebay lawyer….Does anyone know if the recorded prank calls from Danny Start to Price Rite are still online?

  7. Lee: I didn’t mean to pick on you in particular, I just saw an opportunity for snark and took it. I know for a fact that I use the word “literally” incorrectly from time to time, and I’m just glad I’m not in a position for that to be exposed in the NYTimes. :)