Yahoo! Shoppers Beware, PriceRitePhoto Strikes Back
Back on November 29th I wrote an article entitled PriceRitePhoto: Abusive Bait and Switch Camera Store. If you missed it on my blog then you may also have seen it on Slashdot or Boing Boing or on Digg where it was the most dugg story of all time. Or maybe you saw it on one of the other literally hundreds of blogs who covered it. The story was also picked up by both The New York Post and that other little
At the time when the story got all of the attention PriceRitePhoto was delisted from all of the major shopping comparison sites — and rightfully so. Not only had they been abusive to me, but when the story spread many others came out of the woodwork to corroborate the retailer as a first class abusive bait and switch camera shop.
Yahoo! Shopping delisted the retailer at the time, of course, and Yahoo! Vice President Rob Solomon explained in an article by Forbes that PriceRitePhoto had “rigged Yahoo’s feedback system.”
What was interesting to me at the time when the PriceRitePhoto story was going on was that PriceRitePhoto had supposedly been delisted a year earlier from comparison shopping site PriceGrabber. What I never could get is how after being delisted on PriceGrabber that PriceRitePhoto ended back on there a year latter to try and rip me off. Of course that first delisting didn’t get the visibility that mine did, but not to worry, not only is PriceRitePhoto back in business at Yahoo! Shopping, they are back in business on PriceGrabber as well. This after being delisted there at least twice that I know of.
In order to get relisted with both Yahoo! Shopping and PriceGrabber, PriceRitePhoto had to change their name of course. But this was no secret. I had reported this name change here on my blog when it happened. Of course if you missed the name change on my blog, MediaPost also reported on it. Yet still, there they are back doing business as usual at both PriceGrabber and Yahoo! Shopping.
Some of the more recent customer comments on their service at PriceGrabber are pretty interesting:
How about this one from PriceGrabber user stamw:
“WARNING:DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM THIS STORE!THEY ARE NOT HONEST. No confirmation are given. After 8 days and numerous calls (after verifying shipping address twice) they told me item has been back ordered and they cancelled my order without asking me.Yet they are still taking the order for same item at different price. Pushy at selling accessories.”
or here’s another good one from PriceGrabber user Gerodev:
“I ordered a Sony Camcorder from these guys. The order processed fine. I then received an email from them stating I needed to give them a call because they needed more information. When I called they tried to upsell the sale and sell me a huge package for the camera that I didn’t want and used every sales trick in the book to try and push it. I refused. The next day I got an email stating my order had been canceled. I will be ordering from another vendor and will never use these guys again.”
Way to look after your customers PriceGrabber. Guess you’re too busy counting your (how many millions was that you just sold your company for?) to care about your customers.
So here’s the question. How, after becoming probably the most visible online sleazy retailer in the last year, does PriceRitePhoto (aka BarclaysPhoto) end back up on Yahoo! Shopping in three months? And how are they allowed to continue to do business on PriceGrabber after being delisted there twice already?
Does PriceRitePhoto have some mysterious super power that allows them to invisibly sneak by comparison shopping site screeners? Do they just pay them off? Does owner Chaim Pikarski have some kind of magical trick voice that renders his opponents unable to resist? Perhaps a rewrite of Star Wars is in order:
“Yahoo Shopping: Let me see your identification.
PriceRitePhoto: [influencing the stormtrooper's mind] You don’t need to see his identification.
Yahoo Shopping: We don’t need to see his identification.
PriceRitePhoto: This is not the camera store you’re looking for.
Yahoo Shopping: This is not the camera store we’re looking for.
PriceRitePhoto: He can go about his business.
Yahoo Shopping: You can go about your business.
PriceRitePhoto: Move along.
Yahoo Shopping Move along… move along. “
I’m sure at minimum Yahoo! Shopping looks up who registered the domain name for the retailers that list with them. Although BarclaysPhoto.com is not registered by “Ed Lopez” like PriceRitePhoto was, their domain is instead currently registered to a “John Smith” with no address out of Brooklyn, New York. Not that that should have been a red flag or anything. I mean, what, there’s lots of John Smiths running online camera stores out of
And here’s another one that I don’t get. The domain for PriceRitePhoto’s new name BarclaysPhoto that PriceGrabber lists as their site was only registered in December of 2005 (shortly after our falling out) and yet PriceGrabber inexplicably has testimonial data on BarclaysPhoto on their site going back all th
e way to 2001. What’s up with that?
One thing that is for sure is you’d better damn well know that if you see a retailer on Yahoo! Shopping or PriceGrabber, definitely DO NOT put any faith whatsoever in their recommendations or in their ability to protect you from fraudsters. Yahoo! already admitted in Forbes having their recommendation system rigged and it only took the company who rigged it about three months to get right back on.
By the way, the way that I found out about PriceRitePhoto being relisted was that someone who said they were an, obviously disgruntled, employee there called me up and told me that the company’s owner Chaim Pikarski was bragging about how easy it was for him to get back on the comparison shopping sites. Take it with a grain of salt as this individual definitely had an axe to grind, accusing Pikarski of other illegal activity towards him, but still, bottom line is they’re back online.
The same employee also told me that “Ed Lopez” who wrote me an apology letter after the original incident to try and halt the denial of service attack and harassment his company was receiving didn’t exist. According to this employee the person that I was speaking to after the story got big on Digg was actually owner Chaim Pikarski himself and not “Ed Lopez.” Again, take it with a grain of salt.
I guess I hope that Barclay’s Photo does in fact get delisted from Yahoo! shopping and for yet a third time at PriceGrabber. But I also wish these companies did more to protect their customers from these kinds of shady retailers. It was interesting for me to read this weekend that Google looks like they may also be getting into the “seller recommendation” business per Mike Arrington. Hopefully they can come up with something better than PriceGrabber and Yahoo! Shopping.
But for now I guess the moral of the story is that you can treat your customers horribly and rip people off on Yahoo! Shopping. Feel free to manipulate their recommendation rating system by the way, and when you get kicked off, just reapply under a new name and you’ll be back in business in no time. And, wow, look it that, they’ve even got a $900 Canon Digital Rebel XT for $665! Such a deal!
Oh and I should at least give credit to CNET Shopper. CNET had also delisted PriceRitePhoto and it does not appear that they were able to make it back on there… yet.
Update #1: One of my readers points out that BarclaysPhoto also has been relisted at MSN Shopping as well. Also they are listed with a bunch of positive feedback on some comparison shopping site called “Smarter.”
Update #2: Just received an email from Joe Lazarus from Yahoo! Shopping: “Hi Thomas, We appreciate our users alerting us to potential issues. In this particular case, the merchant was investigated by our Customer Care team and was found to be in violation of Yahoo!’s Terms of Service. All listings from this merchant will cease to appear on Yahoo! Shopping within the next 24 hours.”
I’ve yet to hear from PriceGrabber.