Please see update #24 at the end of this sotry for an important update.
“I will make sure you will never be able to place an order on the internet again.” “I’m an attorney, I will sue you.” “I will call the CEO of your company and play him the tape of this phone call.” “I’m going to call your local police and have two officers come over and arrest you.” “You’d better get this through your thick skull.” “You have no idea who you are dealing with.”
These are all direct threats that I received today from an individual who identified himself as Steve Phillips, the manager of PriceRitePhoto in Brooklyn, New York when I called to inquire about my order with them. My crime? Telling him that I planned to write an article about my unfortunate experience with his company regarding the camera order I had placed with him yesterday.
How are these people able to stay in business?
I suppose I should have been duly warned based on PC World’s Camera Confidential expose written a few years back about unscrupulous camera operators operating out of New York, but I have never been so utterly offended by a retailer in my life. I guess in some ways this is my own fault, or as Steve Phillips reminded me, you’re a “professional photographer you should know better than to buy things on the internet this way.”
I have been keeping track of The new Canon EOS 5D for a while. As those of you who visit this site regularly know, photography is a passionate hobby of mine. I’ve told myself that I’d pick up a 5D as soon as the price dropped below $3,000. I’ve been regularly checking both Yahoo! Shopping and PriceGrabber for a while waiting for one to drop. Well yesterday for the first time I saw that the 5D was for sale for $2,899 at PriceRitePhoto. I placed an order online and this is where my trouble began. The order went through and was confirmed and is shown below.
The first thing that happened was I received a call from an individual who identified himself as Joseph telling me that there was a “problem” with my order. He said he needed to “verify” the security code on my American Express. Although I had given that security code in the order I gave him this code again. He then tried to explain to me that I was going to need some accessories with this camera. For starters I was going to need a new memory card. When I told him that I already had a memory card he became somewhat insistent that mine was not good enough. After I wouldn’t buy his memory card he said I’d need new batteries for the camera. Again I told him that I already had two batteries at home and would not be needing to purchase these from him. And of course he then tried to sell me the ever famous “extended warranty” that I politely declined. He then thanked me for my time, confirmed my order verbally, said that it would be shipping out in the next few days and hung up.
So today I checked on my order online again and saw that it had not been routed to shipping and called the company back again. Four times I was put on hold for a substantial amount of time and had to hang up and call the company again. Finally I was able to connect with an individual who said his name was Steve Phillips. Steve Phillips abruptly told me that the camera was out of stock. When I protested and told him that it was confirmed online yesterday and verbally by his sales rep he refused to budge. When I told him that even right now as we speak the camera was still showing online at that price on his website,(see below with today’s date) he still insisted that he did not have the camera.
At this point I thanked him and informed him that I would be writing an article about my experience with his company. It was at this point that he went ballistic. He first told me that if I did this that he would not cancel my order but just never fill it. If I cancelled it he said he’d charge me a 15% restocking fee. When I told him that that would be unethical he went nuts. He accused me of trying to “extort” him and said that he was going to have two local police officers come over and arrest me. He then went on to say that as a “professional photographer” I should have known better than to try and buy a camera this way and that he was an attorney and would sue me if I wrote an article about my experience.
He told me that I had no idea who I was dealing with and that as he had my work contact info that he was going to call both my immediate supervisor and the CEO of my company and tell them that I was trying to extort him.
“I will take this very personally,” he said. He claimed to have recorded our phone call and said that he would make sure that I would “never be able to order anything on the internet again.”
Of course these threats only served to agitate me more. After about 20 minutes of this abuse I told him that I had to go and he refused to get off the line. He said that if I hung up that he would just charge me for the whole camera and never ship it. I hung up and he called me back. I left for my meeting and he called back asking to speak with my boss.
This is by far the most abusive situation I have ever encountered with any retailer on the internet.
One of the things that troubles me the most about this situation is that I found this retailer through Yahoo! shopping and they were perceived to have positive feedback. Is the feedback mechanism for Yahoo! Shopping broken? How could this horrible retailer have a four star rating with 858 ratings? I’m convinced that there is a possibility that many of the “reviews” for this company could be fake. I should though have sorted through the reviews to the worst to see that many others had fallen prey to similar fraud by this company.
How is this company still allowed to offer their products through Yahoo! Shopping?
PriceRitePhoto may also be doing business as C&A; Marketing and TheCameraMall.com
Below are some examples from other users:
“very bad place for shoppping. Ordered a TV a week ago. when checking out, the shipping price was higher than displayed by Yahoo. That is ok. Called customer service 2 days later to make sure the order was ok. The guy from customer service tried to sell other things to me, and promised the item will come in 2 days. After 3 days, called again, I was told they over sold the item, and my order was cancelled. what a joke! Don’t buy thing from this merchant!!!”
“In all the years I’ve done business with online stores(and I’ve done plenty), this is by far the ABSOLUTE WORST company I’ve conducted business with yet. They’re customer service is almost completely inaccessible despite their 24/7 365 claim, they don’t deliver on anything they say they will, they’re rude and pushy, and any information that IS sent back is usually filled with vague half-answers that do nothing to solve any problems. This is just an awful business experience. Case in point: They claim to be open on Sundays over the phone from 10AM to 4PM EDT. Well, what they really mean is that the sales department is open, but customer service(who will place you on hold forever during the week) is closed, as is billing. STAY AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY. And warn your friends. …”
“I gave this store an overall rating of 1. That is because Yahoo does not allow me to rate it any lowe
r. I cannot stress enough how poor the customer service from the wretched excuse of a store. First off, they stress ‘we ship in less than 24 hours’. That is a blatant lie. An hour after placing the order, I received a call to confirm that I had indeed purchased a camera, and that the delivery address was correct. So far, so good. I returned the call, and informed them that yes I had indeed purchased a camera, and yes, the information was correct. The next day, I received another phone call to confirm the shipping address, and did I also want to purchase an extended warranty? Yes, the address is correct, and no, I don’t want your warranty. They assured me my camera would be shipped that day. Three days later, I again received a phone call to confirm the shipping address, which had now been done 3 times, and did I want to purchase the extended warranty? Yes, the information is correct, no I don’t want your stupid warranty, I was assured the camera would be shipped that day. It is, in my opinion unconscionable to delay shipping an order for over a week, just so a company can try a high pressure sales job, on a warranty a customer has already told them, repeatedly, that they don’t want. It has now been ten days since the date of purchase, and still no camera. My experience with this store is one I will never repeat, nor would I wish it upon my worst enemy!!”
and yet another review I found on the company:
“I placed an order with TheCameraMall.com (aka PriceRitePhoto aka C&A;
Marketing) on June 9, 2005 for a Sony DSR-PD170 camcorder. At the time
the price advertised on-line was very low, which should have raised a
warning flag, but a call to the company confirmed the item was in stock
ready to be shipped, that it was a US model, the user’s manual was in
English, and the salesman (Joseph) seemed helpful. There was some
pressure to add unwanted items like a tripod, extra battery, etc, but they
were declined. An offer to add insurance was offered, and initially I
declined but then agreed after being told that otherwise if the product
arrived and was non-functional I would be taking full risk. Before the
product could be shipped I was asked to sign and fax a form, appended
below, that indicated that if I wrote any negative feedback I would agree
to have my credit card charged $100, and that I also agreed to waive my
right to chargeback to the credit card company, and that product could not
be returned for any reason. I signed and returned this form with the
understanding that the company would send the item I ordered. However
after a week there was no indication of a product even having been
shipped, and the customer service contact indicated that only the
salesperson could give me order status, so after several tried I reached
Joseph again, and now he indicated that he couldn’t ship the product
unless I faxed him a copy of my credit-card!!! This I refused to do, and
have never, ever had to do for a transaction. I sent email to the company
requesting cancelation of the order, and received yet another email asked
me to sign and fax back a form indicating that I would not post negative
feedback and if I did I was authorizing my credit card to be charged
$100. I refused to sign this.
I did post feedback to
the feedback links provided by the customer describing the details of the
transaction, including the forms I had been sent.
The day after posting the feedback describing my attempt to buy the video
camera from PriceRitePhoto/CameraMall, I received a call from a “John
Hancock”, claiming to be the owner of the camera companies, and demanding
that I remove the feedback I posted. He said that he would charge my
credit card for the amount of the camera and and additional $250 for each
posting. He also said that he was shipping a Malaysian version of the
camera, without a lens, to me, and that he would make money on the deal,
and I couldn’t stop the shipment, or dispute the charge. My credit card
company confirmed that a pending charge had been placed by PriceRite, but
the charge was not yet posted, and once it was posted, I could dispute.
The next day, July 6, I received several calls from “John Hancock”,
demanding again that I remove the feedback I had posted, and when I agreed
that I would remove anything that he felt was not accurate, but if he
could not indicate any inaccuracy, then the feedback would remain. He
screamed and swore at me over the phone, and said that he would post my
credit card number on the internet if I didn’t comply.
On July 8 a charge was posted to my credit card for $2139.99 and a second
charge was posted for $100.00. I called my credit card company and
initiated the dispute process. The security department of BankOne Credit
strongly suggested that I cancel my credit card, and complete an internet
Description of how you were defrauded:
My credit card has been charged $2238.99 for an cancelled order.
I’ve been threatened with additional multiple charges against my
credit card unless I change feedback posted to the Internet, and I’ve
been threatened with having my credit card number posted to the
Internet. I’ve had to cancel my credit card on the advice of my
credit card provider.”
Update #1: Found this text on their eBay store ad: “We guarantee our customers to have the best quality products and the best customer service! Our customers love us for our friendly attitude, buy with confidence!”
This just makes me sick. If you want to Digg this story you can here.
Update #2: Well I just received a call back from Steve Phillips at PriceRitePhoto. He said that I should be expecting a call from the “FBI” shortly and that “my tactics” of flooding his store’s phone lines was “illegal.” When I asked him to hold on as I wanted to turn on my recorder to record our conversation he hung up on me.
Of course I have not called his store at all but I’d imagine that the attention that his abuse has received from Digg and other places on the internet may have something to do with that.
My boss did have a conversation with me about the fact that this guy called him yesterday and was very understanding about the situation.
Update #3: Also since calling my boss, Steve Phillips has called my boss’ assistant several times this morning as well. Contrary to Steve Phillips claims, I still have had no police officers show up at my office to “arrest me.” Nor have I been contacted by the “FBI.”
Last night when I called AMEX it appeared that PriceRitePhoto had not charged my card yet. My guess is that when I refused to buy their high priced accessories that they never had any intention of sending me the camera at their advertised price. I blocked the card with AMEX and will be getting a new number to prevent them from further abusing my credit card.
I have also filed a complaint with the New York Attorney General’s office regarding their behavior and have left negative reviews on my experience with their company on most of the shopping comparison services that they are included in. Hopefully from the attention that this story has received they will reflect on the appropriateness of their sales tactics going forward.
If anyone has a contact at Yahoo! Shopping it would be nice to learn from them that they were being delisted or at least investigated over this.
Interestingly enough, it was just two weeks back that Yahoo! made
an announcement about an overhaul to their shopping service. It would seem that they plan to include more social networking type reviews on products and vendors in the future. Hopefully whatever new system they put in place will help weed out the bad apples like PriceRitePhoto.
Of course even as late as today, they still have the camera that they told me as out of stock on their internet site for sale for $2,899.
Update #4: Received this email back from the New York State Attorney General’s Office today: “Dear Consumer:
Thank you for your submission to the New York State Attorney General’s Internet Bureau. On behalf of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, I want to thank you for taking the time to alert us to this matter. Your assistance is vital to our efforts to serve the people of the State of New York.
We have added your submission to our files. It is through complaints such as yours that we learn of patterns of fraud and illegality. If you have any questions about this matter, please call us at (212) 416-8433. For other consumer-related matters, please call our consumer hotline at (800) 771-7755.
Thank you for contacting us.”
Update #5: Thanks to a complaint by Digg User loker269, PriceGrabber has now delisted PriceRitePhoto. Nice to see PriceGrabber do the responsible thing here.
Update #6: This story has risen to the number one dugg story on Digg this year with 5439 diggs so far today. Thanks diggers!
I also received this email today from Joe Lazarus, Director of Marketing for Yahoo! Inc.: “Tom, I wanted to follow up on a comment I added to your post on PriceRitePhoto. I work at Yahoo! Shopping. I passed your issue along to our Customer Care team who will investigate and take the appropriate action per our merchant Guidelines and Terms of Service. I covered some more details in my comment. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions. ~ Joe”
Update #7: This story just made the front page of Slashdot. It was also on Boing Boing and Metafilter today along with many, many other blogs. I truly hope that this attention shines a light on the abusive bait and switch tactics that so many of you have also unfortunately experienced and shared in your comments.
The support is overwhelming and very much appreciated. And, yes, yes, yes, I do know that I was stupid and should have known better and done my homework before buying from these guys — but that doesn’t negate the fact that their sales tactics are wrong and deserve to be stopped.
Update #8: Although I have not heard directly back from Yahoo! or their Marketing Director Joe Lazarus. It would appear at least that for the time being, today, PriceRitePhoto is not operating on Yahoo! Shopping. They are still listed as a merchant there and there is a link to their store but when you do a search by their store for products for sale through Yahoo! you get the following message: “We didn’t find any product results for mid:1016578.” I’m not sure if Yahoo! pulled their listings or if PriceRitePhoto did or if that is just part of what happens when Yahoo! investigates a company. I hope that if after investigating Yahoo! concludes that this company is acting unethically that they will in fact delist them altogether. I will update as I hear more on this.
Also, fortunately, my server has held up remarkably well with all of the traffic being sent to this story from the above sources. I recently had to move from a shared server to a dedicated server with lots of excess capacity because I’ve had many highly ranked Google Images that had been eating through my bandwidth in the past. Also it helps keep my bandwidth usage down as the photos that are included as part of this story are actually hosted by Flickr, my favorite site on the internet and as I oft like to repeat, “almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.” Ironically, of course in all of this, Flickr is owned by Yahoo!
Below is an image of the company’s website this morning. As you can see, the camera that was supposedly “out of stock” when I refused to purchase their high priced accessories is still being shown for sale at the $2,899 price even still today. I suspect that they do actually have the camera in stock but that they only sell it to those who load up on expensive accessories and warranty plans from them.
Update #9: One of the best stories I have read in conjunction with this article was a letter that Slashdot user DrWho42 (558107) wrote to PriceGrabber regarding his own personal experience with PriceRitePhoto about a year ago. It is a well articulated letter and pretty much describes PriceRitePhoto perfectly. Apparently because of this well written letter PriceGrabber, according to the user, took PriceRitePhoto off of their site a year ago. He wonders how they could have gotten back on PriceGrabber. I would be interested if someone at PriceGrabber could comment on this report and tell us why after this merchant was removed from their site a year ago and a known bait and switch merchant who used extortion to try and influence feedback, that they would be allowed back on. I see that they are pulled off PriceGrabber now, but if it is true that they were banned a year ago and still made it back on then I’d say PriceGrabber’s system is pretty much broken. It’s a long read but very worthwhile.
Update #10: Although the priceritephoto.com site is still up, I received an email today from a reader who complained to their hosting provider Webair.com. I’m not sure exactly the ramifications of the email from Webair. It was sent from firstname.lastname@example.org and was forwarded to me as follows:
“This client has been sent a TOS violation for illegal activity.
Webair Abuse Team”
Update #11: I received a call this morning from Ed Lopez, the owner of PriceRitePhoto. We spoke at length and he told me that the activity that has resulted from my post on my experience with his business has most certainly impacted his business. Mr. Lopez told me that he was calling to apologize and that Mr. Philips was going to be terminated at a company board meeting later on this morning. He confirmed to me that they do have the camera in question in stock and although I am not interested in purchasing it from them at this point indicated that he would sell it for me at the advertised price. Subsequently Ed sent me the following email:
“On behalf of Priceritephoto I would like
to sincerely apologize for the negative experience that you have experienced with our company. As a company this is not representative of the way we treat our customers. If there is anything that we can do at this point to rectify the situation, please let me know. We have tens of thousands of happy customers who have purchased form us in the past and it is our commitment to give our customers the best value when dealing with us. We are doing a comprehensive review of our company’s procedures to ensure that something like this never occurs. We have also terminated Mr. Philips from his position with our company.”
Although I do not believe my “Steve Philips experience” was an isolated case by this merchant (and certainly the other testimonials suggest that this is in fact more of a common practice by them), my own personal view is that any retaliation towards this vendor should be channeled through legitimate and legal channels. Although some of the crank phone calls are actually pretty funny I think that it is better to take the high road in this case and to use legitimate resources where they exist, whether reporting them to the comparison pricing services or contacting the Attorney General (as I have done) or reporting them to people like the Better Business Bureau.
I think that the popularity of this story comes in large part because the message resonates so strongly with all of us. Although in a sense it is the classic tale of David and Goliath retold, it is much more than this. We all have at one point or another in our lives been bullied and most of us have been defrauded or ripped off. The fact that so many times in the past there was nothing we could do about it makes us feel all that much better about the fact that in today’s internet and blogosphere we actually CAN do something about it.
It is tremendously empowering for all of us to be able to turn the powerlessness that we felt in the past into justice in todays’ blogosphere through the help of things like Digg and Slashdot and Boing Boing. And although every rip off does not receive this level of attention, I believe this story in a greater sense is representative of perhaps thousands of rip off experiences that we have all suffered in the past and been able to do nothing about – some directly with this vendor, some directly with New York based camera vendors like this one, and some with just fraudulent internet businesses wherever they happen to be located. Because we in the past have had to live with the bitterness of our own personal frauds, our feelings towards the popularity of this story is that much stronger – as is our desire to retaliate.
This being said, I again would encourage everyone to take the high road with respect to this vendor. I believe that the power of this story and the ultimate outcome, whatever that may be, will carry much more weight if as a public we handle things responsibly and do not resort to illegal tactics or harassment. Although there is a sense that we all must feel that these folks have gotten what they deserved, I think it would be a far greater legacy for this story to have if change takes place in legal and legitimate channels.
I cannot speak to the sincerity of Ed Lopez. He has sent me an apology letter and I feel it appropriate to print it. His motivation very well may be legitimate — or it could also be the only possible avenue Mr. Lopez has left to try to salvage his business at this point.
Out of all of this, hopefully more than anything, this story will serve as a reminder to shady businesses everywhere that in the end fraud and abusive behavior towards customers does not pay. Perhaps I’m being overly idealistic here and perhaps this incident is the smallest possible blip in the greater world of internet fraud — but one thing I do know is that the power of the consumer is growing. And in a new world today with tools like blogs and Slashdot and Digg the consumer is empowered in great ways that they never have been in the past.
Update #12: This story is now on the first page search results for the term PriceRitePhoto for both Google and Yahoo! It is the number one returned search result, even ahead of their store, on MSN Search. Their site has been down now since yesterday afternoon — I’m not sure if this is the result of hacker activity or a reaction from their hosting company for bandwidth useage or TOS violations. The story was also picked up by Digital Life TV. You can view the episode here.
Update #13: PriceRitePhoto has been delisted from both Yahoo! Shopping and PriceGrabber. They still do appear however to have a profile listing giving them four stars at CNET. I could not find any products for sale from them on CNET but they still are up as a four star internet retailer. Their internet site is still down as of this morning and the story has moved up to the number 4th search result for the term priceritephoto on Google. A wikipedia entry was started for priceritephoto but it appears to have been edited out of wikipedia.
Update #14: I’ve written a follow-up post asking if PriceRitePhoto and TheCameraMall are the same company.
Update #15: I just received an email from David Bricker, the Director of Partner Services at CNET Networks. According to David: “We have pulled PriceRitePhoto.com from our site(s) and their affiliated companies. The “profile” page, while still live, is impossible to navigate to. That said, we’ll be pulling that page down from our web servers shortly.”
I have sent a follow up email to David asking if he can provide me the names of their “affiliated companies.”
Update #16: I just received an email back from CNET’s David Bricker who pointed me to a Better Business Bureau report identifying additional companies that are affiliated with PriceRitePhoto. Although TheCameraMall is not listed on a Better Business Bureau report as one of PriceRitePhoto’s affiliates, according to the Better Business Bureau of New York, PriceRitePhoto is in fact affiliated with many other names and ultimately would seem to fall under a parent company going by the name of Let’s Go Digital that is owned by Jack Heffner. You can see the report yourself here which includes their contact and other information. According to the BBB they additional are using the following business names: A. Heffco Technologies, Inc., C&A; Marketing, Dealz Net, Hype Audio, Ideal Audio/Video, Ideal Photo and Video, Let’s Go Digital, LGD Superstore, Price Rite Photo, Prices Rite Photo.
Yesterday when I was on the phone with Ed Lopez he denied that Jack Heffner was affiliated with PriceRitePhoto although he did acknowledge knowing Jack Heffner and identified him as the owner of LGD Superstore (another alleged affiliate according to the BBB)
Update #17: Although PriceRitePhoto’s website is still offline and they appear to have been dropped from all of the major shopping comparison sites, they are still operating on eBay. They are listed there as a “power seller.”
Update #18: After being down for much of the later half of last week, PriceRitePhoto appears to be back up again this morning. They have a note on their website: “For those of you who tried to contact us in the past few days, we would like to apologize for any inconvenience that you may have incurred. Our website was down for maintenance and we are back up and fully operational. If you have placed an order with us please be assured that it will be shipped in a timely manner. Happy Holidays.”
This article is now the number two search result behind their store for anyone searching PriceRitePhoto on Google. This article is the number two story behind their store for anyone searching PriceRitePhoto on Yahoo! And it is still the number one search result for the term PriceRitePhoto at MSN Search. Kevin and Alex also chat about the story on the latest Diggnation podcast recorded in Tokyo.
Update #19: The New York Post covered the story.
Update #20: Well in addition to the PriceRitePhoto story being picked up by the New York Post today, I received a bit more information in one of my comments. Since the beginning of my problems with PriceRitePhoto I’ve suspected that PriceRitePhoto’s purported owner “Ed Lopez” was a fictional name. It seemed to me unusual that PriceRitePhoto had an individual by the name of Eduardo Lopez register their domain name while another camera store linked to them TheCameraMall had an Eduardo Sanchez register their domain name. According the the New York Post: “a call to PriceRitePhoto produced no Ed Lopez, and further calls and an e-mail went unanswered.”
Today I received the following comment on my blog: “By the way, the owner’s 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.”
Turns out upon doing a Google search for “Chaim Pikarski” one of the results back is a directory for the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp. They have Chaim Pikarski listed at the following address: 140 58th St., Unit 4E, BX 37 in Brooklyn and a phone number of (718) 491-4300. Interestingly enough, one of the addresses that comes up under Don Wiss’ excellent series of Brooklyn Camera Store Storefronts for CP Industries, dba TheCameraMall is the same address in Brooklyn, 140 58th St. Also, if you do a Google search for the phone number 718-491-4300 you can find an old cached page listing that phone number as a number for The Camera Zone, another company which has been identified by Wiss as being under the same management as TheCameraMall.
This site , Digital Paradise (The Digital Paradise is an automated electronic marketplace designed to streamline the purchasing and selling processes of games & electronics for the gaming community) also lists the exact same phone number and address for The Camera Zone as is listed for Pikarski in the Googled Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp.
Now this is in no way conclusive evidence that Chaim Pikarski is the true individual behind TheCameraMall and PriceRitePhoto, but I would be interested if anyone else had any information on Chaim Pikarski and/or information regarding his involvement in these businesses.
Also to note, and I’m not sure why, the Better Business Bureau of New York has pulled down some of the information regarding PriceRitePhoto from their website. The report where PriceRitePhoto was previously named by them is “being updated,” and the following message is on the site: “The Bureau’s report on this business is currently being updated, and no report is available at this time. Please check this site in approximately four to six weeks.”
Update #21: Update #21: One of the things that these shady camera dealers seem to have a reputation for is carrying multiple different company identities and then changing names when things go wrong with an existing identitiy. So go figure that PriceRitePhoto has just changed their identity on on eBay on Monday of this week from PriceRitePhoto to “Barclay’s Photo.” Now barclaysphoto can welcome in a whole new round of suckers. Barclay’s, like the bank, now that sounds catchy.
Of course Barclay’s (formerly known as PriceRitePhoto) seems to have a bit better feedback on eBay than they’ve had on the other shopping comparison sites (where they’ve been bounced). My guess is that this is because it is harder to bait and switch on eBay. You can’t make up fake feedback there like you can at Yahoo! Shopping and PriceGrabber because each feedback must be tied to a specific transaction. Perhaps their behavior and treatment of eBay customers is better than the other comparison shopping sites. It is interesting though that almost everything that they’ve sold on eBay seems to be packaged with accesories. This might make it easier for them to be nice when they are making money on a transaction and not advertising rock bottom prices to then bait and switch.
They still do have some negative feedback on eBay of course with things like: “great product and great deal,but shipping took forever and alot of telemarketing,” and “Terrible co. to deal with. Misrepresentation. Bait & Switch on their web site.”
So welcome to the new world of online shopping Barclay’s Photo. Hopefully you do better than your evil twin (er, exact same company) PriceRitePhoto. And thanks eBay for having such a nifty feature as allowing online shopping companies the ability to change names and identity. We wouldn’t want any eBay online stores being weighed down with a bad name for bad behavior now would we?
And here’s another interesting point, before being called PriceRitePhoto, it seems Barclay’s/PriceRitePhoto was once called Film4Less — they’ve also gone by edigix as well.
Update #22: Comparison Shopping on Sale – Forbes.com: From Forbes: “While the vast majority of user reviews and merchant ratings provide a useful service, online shoppers can still get caught by disreputable merchants. One blogger, Thomas Hawk of San Francisco, recently attempted to purchase a Canon EOS 5D camera that he saw listed for $2,899 at PriceRitePhoto—the lowest price online at the time. Hawk checked and found positive store reviews, but after placing the order, Hawk claims he was c
ontacted by a PriceRitePhoto, employee who tried to sell Hawk expensive accessories to go with the camera. When Hawk declined, the employee said the camera was no longer available and threatened to charge Hawk’s credit card and never send the camera. (PriceRitePhoto did not return phone calls requesting a comment.)
Yahoo Shopping’s vice president, Rob Solomon, said that PriceRitePhoto had rigged Yahoo’s feedback system to garner positive reviews. Hawk was lucky because he was able to cancel his credit card before any money was charged. However, things could have been worse. Yahoo Shopping offers a money-back guarantee to its buyers, but that guarantee is capped at $1,000. Sites like Become.com and NexTag offer no such guarantees.”
Update #23: In a Flash, Camera Dealers Feel the Web’s Wrath – New York Times: The New York Times today published a good expose on the recent PriceRitePhoto issue. 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.””
Update #24: Yesterday I received an email from an individual identifying himself as Gabe Heffez from A. Heffco Technologies. Mr. Heffez seemed somewhat distraught over the fact that in my reporting on PriceRitePhoto that his company and companies had been erroneously identified as being associated with PriceRitePhoto. In my reporting on my experience with PriceRitePhoto I had identified A. Heffco Technologies as possibly being associated with PriceRitePhoto based on a report that linked the two from the Better Business Bureau of New York. I was first made aware of this report and connection from CNET’s David Bricker when he pointed me to the BBB report when I first began reporting on PriceRitePhoto and included my first mention of A. Heffco Technologies based on this report.
Contrary to this report from the BBB Mr. Heffez wrote me yesterday saying, “our company is in no way related to PriceRitePhoto,” he added, “we don’t know who C&A; Marketing is or who Ideal Photo Video is. We have sent dozens of faxes and made numerous phone calls to the BBB to correct the issue so far to no avail.” Mr. Heffez further went on in a subsequent email to say, “This (action) caused us to reap the wrath of the public and our own advertisers. In early-mid December, our host, Yahoo! also terminated our stores and three of our personal ID’s without explanation. A seven year relationship was ended in the blink of an eye.” Mr. Heffez also said that CNET dropped them as well and added, “your David vs. Goliath blog unfortunately turned into our instant termination. We all have families to feed and this past Christmas our job was that much harder.”
In response to Mr. Heffez’s claims of not being associated with PriceRitePhoto I have been in contact with Tony Barbera, Manager of Information and Investigations with the BBB serving Metropolitan NY expressing my concerns over having possibly hurt an innocent company based on a potential wrongful association on the part of the BBB. Mr. Barbera, who was aware of the coverage that this story received yesterday by the New York Times told me that the company’s report has been suspended pending further results of an investigation. “I was contaced by Mr. Heffez yesterday, and we will be working with the companies in order to establish correct and complete records for each entity if it is determined they are separate,” wrote Mr. Barbera.
Millions of people each day turn to the Better Business Burea and rely on the accuracy of the information that they provide for making informed decisions regarding their purchases and which merchants they will do business with. The integrity of their information regarding merchants is super important. If in fact the BBB has erroneously linked PriceRitePhoto and Mr. Heffez’s company then I would be very personally disappointed to have hurt an innocent unrelated company. Mr. Heffez has informed me that over the past few weeks his phone lines have been ringing off the hook with nothing on the other end but hang ups or music and has told me that he is pretty sure that his sites have been bombarded with worthless traffic in an attempt to crash them.
I suspect that this story will be developing and hope to have more conclusive findings one way or the other shortly — but in the event that the information linking his company and their affiliates to PriceRitePhoto was incorrectly reported by the BBB, I apologize and am truly sorry for any role that I and my blogging may have had in hurting his business.
PriceRitePhoto Update #25: Last week I reported on a company Heffco possibly being erroneously connected with my reporting on PriceRitePhoto based on a report by the New York BBB.
I have received the following email back from Tony Barbera, Manager of the Information and Investigations Divsion of the BBB New York:
“Just letting you know our reports on PriceRitePhoto and PricesRite have been re-released and are listed as separate entities. Take a look, and let me know if you have any questions.”
PricesRite is still associated with Let’s Go Digital and ultimately also A. Heffco Technologies with a fairly negative BBB rating, but it is no longer associated per the BBB New York with PriceRitePhoto, the o
utfit that I had my run in with. It sounds like while distancing the companies, the BBB still is not willing to change the overall rating of Let’s Go Digital and that the unrelated complaints against them are still standing.
PriceRitePhoto is now listed as an affilate of C&A; Marketing, with a “Howard Baker” as it’s president. Interesting and suprisingly to me they only have three complaints filed with the BBB against them.
I received the following email from Gabe Heffez of Heffco, on the matter at hand: “Thank you for your help with the BBB. Although they still don’t have our information 100% correct, they have removed associations with priceritephoto and company. We will continue to write them and fax them the correct information so they can get it completely right. Thank you for the quick response and corrections on your side.”
and then a second email:
“Funny, I just checked again and it looks like we inherited all of their customer disputes. I checked their page and looks like they are a pretty clean cut company. The BBB has got to get their act together. We will continue to work on it.”
628 Replies to “PriceRitePhoto: Abusive Bait and Switch Camera Store”
Please, refrain yourself. Obviously intelligent discourse is not your forte… maybe you’ll understand this: fucking moron!
happened to me, too. wawadigital.com. i later did research and found that this is a common thing among camera dealers.
-i’ll never buy again from NYC
-i’ll never buy anything without checking resellerratings.com
Tom, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’m the Director of Marketing at Yahoo! Shopping. I passed this matter along to our Customer Care team for investigation. I’ll also send you an email with my contact information in case you’d like to follow up with me directly.
Ratings and reviews are the primary mechanism we have at Yahoo! to identify merchants with poor service levels and shoddy business practices. We don’t track activity once a customer leaves our site and buys an item from one of our merchant partners. Rather, we rely on our community of consumers to share feedback with each other through ratings and reviews on our site. That system works well, but it’s not perfect. So, we encourage people like you to contact us if they see reviews that are suspect, abusive, off-topic, or otherwise objectionable. Filing a report is easy – just click on the “report abuse” link that you see next to reviews on our site. Yahoo! Shopping Customer Care will look at the review and take appropriate action in accordance with our Guidelines and Terms of Service. I’m not personally familiar with the store you mentioned, but I assure you that we take these issues very seriously.
I hope that this one bad experience with the merchant you mentioned doesn’t cloud your impression of Yahoo! Shopping. Our site features over 100,000 stores and a huge collection of unbiased product and merchant reviews. Feedback from people like you is essential to the comparison shopping services that we provide.
I hope you’ll continue to use our service, especially as you shop for gifts during this Holiday season.
(shameless self-promotion ðŸ˜‰
furrybut1: Are you kidding me? Look: “You’re” is a contraction for “you are” while “your” is an adjective that means “of or relating to you or yourself or yourselves especially as possessor”. There’s a similar lesson regarding “their”, “there” and “they’re”, but I’ll leave you to learn that one on your own.
I’m usually not so impolite as to point these things out, but the fact that you broke the rules of grammar every time you typed a word, compounded with the fact that you appear to be a total douche, made me feel much better about my lapse of manners.
Hey you learned the hard way. It has taken me 3 scams over 12 years to realize the simple truth… you SHOULD NEVER BUY ANYTHING CAMERA RELATED FROM NY OR NJ…as far as I can tell the entire business model of these dealers is to set unrealistically low prices and then make up the difference through scams.
The main scams are pressure to buy overpriced and unneeded extras. Grey market product… the most popular scam. The other one I’ve encountered and have heard from others about is the “in stock” item which is nothing of the sort. The buyer is told that the item is unexpectedly back ordered… meanwhile they take weeks or months to gather enough orders to buy the items that never had in sufficient bulk to match the unrealistic price they set to start with…
I hate these people! All NYC camera dealers are petty mobsters and sleazoids!
Dude, this is common. As a rule I never buy electronic gear from a NY or NJ store, no matter how good the price seems (J&R; is the exception). They do this bait and switch all the time.
Always check out the retailer’s ratings at resellerratings.com before buying!
Actually, B&H; is a NY business, and I buy most of my photo gear there.
jeez, can’t we get visa to remove their ability to process credit card payments?!
Yanno, my girlfriend read this on LJ bad service Comm, and it rung a bell. 6 months to a year ago, I was looking for a camera, and stumbled on some website. I dont remember now what it was, but by everything I’ve read, and of various reviews on pricerunner, I’m pretty sure its the exact same company, as they’re doing the exact same things. (calling to confirm, pressuring for sales, “backordering” your camera, etc)
horrible horrible people.
Wow! I’ve read quite a few horror stories but this is pretty bad.
OK, a little help for many of you out there.
1. You read a story about someone getting ripped off.
A. Tell them they are stupid for getting ripped off while “expressing your sympathy.”
B. Shut the hell up.
The answer is B idiots.
If you answer A. you need to ask yourself this, “Why do I need so badly to feel superior to someone, at least briefly? Am I really really stupid? Do I need therapy? Am I a teenager who should wait a few years before commenting on websites?”
Good luck to you!
My mom had the same experience and tried to get them delisted on Yahoo Shopping to no avail. My mother placed a $800 camera order on a Monday. She was called to “confirm her address”, at which point they proceeded to try and sell her a $150 warranty and other expensive accessories. Once she refused, they suddenly informed her the product was out of stock, but they later said they could get it to her by Friday if she paid for a $150 warranty. She tried to cancel and they said there would be a $40 restocking fee (for restocking the product they didn’t have).
They also got caught in their own lies at numerous points. The first representative said it was his first day, and then later he said he had lied before and that he was there for six years (the BBB documents this company as being three years old).
They threatened her with their possession of her credit card and made nonsensical threats to trace down any bad review she or any of her family or friends made, which they could somehow magically do since they “had all the IP addresses of the computer in her household”.
The people she talked to at this company said their names were: Harvey Finkel and Moses Franco, though this was probably made up.
Their email tells the user to leave a five star review at shopping sites using the following link:
and the text below:
**Please do NOT mention this in the review, we do not offer this to all our customers.
**Please do NOT mention my name or the fact that we asked to write a review the websites will not post it. This will also make you eligible for FREE shipping on any accessory purchases in the future.
Furybut1 = steve phillips maybe?
LOL what a luser
Haha so sorry to hear your story but I think you’ve got a lot of people on your side now. I sent them an email letting them know I certainly won’t be buying any equipment from them.
Another vote of confidence here for B&H; Photo – very good service, been around for decades. When they sell “grey market” stuff they explicitly say so, they have good used department where you can find high-quality used lenses etc.
Anonymous Idiot said…
“OK, a little help for many of you out there.
“1. You read a story about someone getting ripped off. Do you:
“A. Tell them they are stupid for getting ripped off while “expressing your sympathy.”
“B. Shut the hell up.”
If you answer B, ask yourself: “Am I such a wuss that I let myself get intimidated by bullies who want to go on scamming?”
The answer is C: Make the scammers’ activity known and prevent others from getting ripped off.
I won’t have a futon delivered to my house anymore. They send some seriously shady characters to deliver stuff like that. Some of these Russian guys(i live in Brooklyn too) came to deliver a futon. They said it was part of what I’d already paid for to have it assembled so I said okay. As they were assembling it they kept asking me inappropriate questions about my belongings and what I was browsing on my computer. Then the Alpha character asks me “did you hear about the dead body they found a few blocks from here?” I said no. So he’s kind of elaborating on the story and tells me it was in the newspaper etc. By that point I was concerned and was asking him for more information. He let it go for quite a long time, then he says:”Yea – that was our boss who did it – he doesn’t like when he doesn’t get his money” and he continued to laugh. Oh, I see – you were kidding – I said. Good thing I’ve already paid
When they were finished, without having exited the house yet, one of them glaring at me with his head tipped forward, “don’t you have tips for nice guys?”. I said “of course” but it was obviously intended to be another threatening remark. I was ready to tip them as they left the door as is normal custom but they wanted to bring it up right there in my living room as they both made faces at me. After I gave them 7 bucks they snorted and made a remark and told me they’d take the box and plastic out to the trash for an extra charge. I said no thanks, I’d do it myself. They didn’t look happy about that and glared at me all the way out. They acted like bad guy, mob characters in a scary movie!
I guess I got mugged in a sense? I dunno – but watch the people who enter your house – plumber, delivery whatever – we’ve had things stolen too.
Those delivery guys told me they were Russian and the futon place they work for is the one in Greenpoint behind the keyfood on McGuiness. Watch out for those guys!
Hi – My name is Tom Horseonovich Colligan, and I saw this story at http://www.cruel.com. I just want to say that I feel for you, man. I have been abused by people at Cruel.com before. They sent me a pizza that I had to pay for, told everyone where I live, and never fail to point out that I am a bit overweight. They are not nice, and I hate myself because of it. I have a putrid fat body, yes – but I have feelings too. – Best of luck to you,
As a pro photographer and a frequent equipment buyer/renter I wanted to clarify the term “grey market”. I only buy from B&H;, and if you buy grey from them, it is covered by their warranty. Same terms, different “ship to”. You send it to them for repair/replace instead.
If you see a better deal than B&H;, be wary. They have the best arrangements with the manufacturers in the world.
The only other point that needs mentioning is that grey mkt products are meant for sale in markets that use metric measurements, so markers on lenses etc will use meters rather than feet, and may only show numbers with no indication of unit of measurement. This has lead to a lot of frustration to beginning photographers.
furrybut1’s use of your & you’re is pretty funny. “why don’t you cry to you are mommy instead.” minus the question mark…
The sad truth is that once their original name is tarnished beyond repair, they will only assume another. Scum always floats to the surface.
Ha, its great how they have an ad on their site saying:
“Want a FREE AC Adapter or LCD Screen Protector? All you have to do is click here and post a review online of your shopping experience with PriceRitePhoto.”
And then links to Yahoo shopping, PriGrabber, etc.
” To qualify for FREE ITEM you must post a Review on top 3 Sites. To qualify for both items you must post a review on all sites..
After Your Reviews have been posted, please copy and paste the reviews from All Search Engines and send them to email@example.com“
You got 223 comment, 5000 something hits on Digg… You did get somekink of revenge !! =D
Good for you !
Just to reinforce other posts along this vein: there are very respectable electronics stores operating in NYC that have storefronts to go along with their online business: B&H;, J&R;, Tekserve to name a few. There are also many of the “Brooklyn” stores that do deliver at very low prices. It would be a mistake to generalize based on this (very bad) experience.
i thought you might get a kick out of this. i went to that site thru the link i saw here, and take a look at the shopping cart at the top right of the screenshot i took. i have NEVER been to this site, and i assure you i did NOT just fill up a cart for a joke. i welcome someone else to click the link to their site here and see what happens. here is a link to the screenshot i took.
the url for the pic got cut off. i will post it again.
just copy and paste it to see the screenshot.
I would guess that this camera store is just a front for the Russian mob. Odds are, nothing will ever happen to them, (which is why they are so blatently inviting federal investigation).
Why won’t anything happen to them? Because we live in a country that has dismissed organized crime as a fact of life and has a wink and a nod agreement with these crooks.
How many major crime syndicate busts have you seen in the last decade?
Wake up America; you’ve been sold out by BOTH parties. They’re looting this country because they KNOW that our way of life will change forever as technology makes mass destruction easier for all.
America, how did you like being pillaged today by your career politicians? Be sure to vote Democrat or Republican in 2006 please.
Thank you Thomas for posting your bad experience with PriceRitePhoto. This remind of another “bad” merchant that I had confronted with: Broadway Photo. Look at their advertise prices on Videomaker magazine and Popular Photography magazine you will notice their price are always ridiculous low. Lately, I called them for a Canon Powershot Pro1, and had had the same problem like yours. They asked me to buy an extra battery (I already got a Canon G5 that uses the same battery), then asked me for compact flash memory, then extended warranty, when I refused everything he asked, he flatly told me the product was out of order.
This Broadway Photo has another store with the exact way of dealing with orders (i.e. we have to buy their kit which in turn cost more than a “non-kit” from a “regular” store).
By the way, my favorite stores are: B&H;, Adorama, Tristates, Smile (they went bankrupted few months ago). these stores I deal for over 14 year with no problem whatsoever. They are all very honest, reliable, though the way they talk might scare some of you.
If you want to make this company squirm, post this email address to some other forums.
That’s all one line, no spaces.
Every email that gets sent to that email address is sent to their fax machine. At least, that’s the theory anyway. Dunno if it actually works or not.
Feel free to use this email address instead of your own. Oh look, I just won an Xbox CrashCity… And it’s asking for my email address. Oh, coolsavings wants one too? Awesome…
epinions and resellerratings can be a huge help in situations like this. I run a site called iPhotoForum.com and like the name suggest, it is a photography forum. There have been several people who have tried to order from shady Brooklyn camera shops with similar results, sad to say. There is also a website that has cataloged what these storefronts actually look like, its rather impressive to see the list and extent that this person has gone to. Link is somehwere in the forums.
In any event, stick with larger online companies, check Canon’s official website to see who they say are offical retailers in your area, or pay the slightly higher price to buy it locally to avoid all hassles with this sad situation.
I ran into the same type of issue with about 3 vendors selling mid- range video cameras. They were interested in selling me the accessories, but not the camera. I had to cancel 3 orders before I gave up, and paid more at a reliable dealer for the camera.
I have never run into this particualr scam except for camera purchases. Not sure why.
Good luck and keep posting the updates.
I’ve got to say, I think these types of stories/lessons are especially important now, around the holiday season. I know plenty of young people who have gotten these camera type deals from their parents, w/ weird memory cards, bad cases, and no lenses. The parents didn’t know better, and that’s what their kids (most photography students) asked for… In an age when many, many people are still sort of internet shopping illiterate, we have to do everything we can to make sure people know about scams, and know what’s right, and what’s definitely not. Typically, good deals only go so far, and no amount of price break is worth even more hassle this holiday season.
Whoa, shady stuff.
Note to self: never give out a cc’s security code over the phone.
The heavy-handed attempts to sell unneeded accessories, worthless extended warrantees, and so forth are typical for the New York City camera trade. It’s a really low-rent business…
At least Abes of Maine is reliable, honest, handles credits without a fuss, and has been in business for, what, 40 years.
As to calling your boss, what a bizarre approach. Presumably the vendor is involved in some kind of criminal scam, and his extreme behavior suggests that he was terrified that he had an articulate and well-connected customer who was going to expose them.
Wow. I once had a vaguely similar experience here in Australia where I ordered an XBOX game via an online electronics store (I did it online because I hadn’t been able to find the particular game in any stores). Similarly, the website told me that the item was in stock and that it would ship within 2 days.
Well, 2 weeks later, I still had not recieved anything, although my card had been charged. After checking my order status, it advised me that the order was “shipping”. Maybe it was coming from the far side of the moon.
Because the purchase was only around $100, I didn’t think too much of it and opted to wait.
Another week later, I emailed their customer service centre, and received no reply. After a couple of days of lonely emails I called the company and got a recorded message to the tune of “all ou operators are out… try again later”.
Not being a complete idiot, I smelt a rat. So I wrote another email stating that I want to cancel the order and have a full refund, otherwise I’ll be reporting this with the ACCC (an Australian Government consumer watchdog) and within an hour I received a reply saying that I’d been given a full refund, with the receipt attached, and that they apologised that the item was “out of stock” even though the site clearly stated that it was in stock (the site even regularly updated the stock levels).
Although this was only a $100 purchase and not a $3000 camera, my advise is that if it’s a major purchase, do your homework, or go in-store. Believe me, I love the convience of online shopping, but there are some times when you just have to get in your car and trek across town.
I also noticed that one person responded to your story saying that they’d been asked for their security number (after they’d already given it). NEVER ever give this number to anyone. It’s easy for someone to get your credit card number, but not so easy to get the security number, and it’s all someone needs to start using your card online.
There was a big scam here in Oz where “representatives” from Master Card were calling card holders to confirm their security numbers (and not “Is this your number? Yes or no” but “Can you tell me your number”). I received such a call, and when I asked that seeing they’re my credit card company, shouldn’t they already have that information on record, the call abruptly ended.
So the moral of the story is that threatening to get your watchdog involved (I don’t know what the US equilevant is) generally gets results.
And one last thing to my afternoon procrastination. I came across this link for C&A; Marketing aka PriceRitePhoto aka Camera Mall:
I think you’ll all agree that it looks like nothing less than a reputable company.
There are only a couple of NYC shops I trust! I remember back in the day checking all these camera shops in shutterbug and getting excited with some of the pricing. Only to learn about Gray market products! Anyhow its great now with the net…the info is quickly available.
Sorry to hear about your experience but I have always been weary of buying from NYC shops…all except a few.
just emailed them from my russian account asking how they like being criminal / scammers among other fun questions ðŸ™‚
You have my support. I will spread the word in Southern California to all I know not to use these criminals.
I had a similar story, which was corrected after I contacted the FBI’s Internet Fraud Department via there website.
Give it a try, and also the BBB of new York.
Good luck to you!!
I feel your pain, I went through a similar hassle over a 35mm body a few years ago. Kudos to you for going public though. In the end I went with Cameta camera (which someone above also recommended) and had an excellent experience w/ great price. My only dealings with them was the one body (Nikon n80) several years ago, but for what its worth I was very pleased.
I am an employee for a “Mom & Pop” camera shop in Oregon. We have actual store locations and have been in business for the last 35 years. I have personally sold two of the Canon EOS 5D’s, and helped sell another 2 for my manager. We have it priced as competitively as we can with other AUTHORIZED Canon dealers. We also deal with lots of customers who price shop online for smaller cameras who have also been screwed over. The most common issue I’ve encountered is that the customer gets the camera online, saving an average of $30, but still has to pay for shipping, and in the end still has to pay for basic accessories that are normally supplied with the camera. Some of these online resellers will “white box,” or strip cameras of necessary accessories to get you to buy the camera. Other sellers will only sell you the camera at the lower price if you buy all of the extra accessories they recommend with it.
My 2 cents about this is that you should be buying from an actual camera store that has a good reputation. More importantly, buy from someone you trust. In most cases, “if a deal looks too good to be true, then it’s not good” so that saying goes.
The company I work for has a website, although it’s not maintained as well as it could be. You still have the option to call our 1-800 number to talk to someone at our office and order via phone, which we have had people do — and best of all, we charge no tax. If there are any questions or issues, you are able to call us (the company or an individual rep) and we do our best to help you out.
Just some food for thought. Thank you for this eye-opening report on one of internet camera “retailers.”
By the way, I did mean a store that specializes in selling cameras when looking for a camera, especially a small business “Mom & Pop” shop. Chances are very good that any rep you talk to will know about the camera, how to use, and how to get you one, WITHOUT ripping you off. Plus, you get the added satisfaction of have live human interaction if you have any questions. I can tell you BestBuy, CircuitCity, OfficeMax, OfficeDepot, Costco, etc. (the big name department stores) have been known to pull “bait and switch” scenarios as well, but they protect themselves with disclaimers that the item is “limited to stock on hand,” which means they’ll sell you something else as soon as you’re in the store.
I am quite sorry to hear about this sickening abuse. It is wonderful to see how you stuck up for what you knew is correct, and reported him to the Attorney General’s office. ðŸ™‚
Also, this story has reached the ranks of Slashdot! The News is getting out! You will be getting flooded soon. ðŸ˜‰
Great job there chief. Next time save everyone the drama. A tiny bit of research before your purchase would’ve saved everyone one the hassle: http://www.resellerratings.com/seller8613.html
Took the freedom of posting your story on my website http://www.400iso.com … We need to spread this story to avoid anybody else to get scammed by these people. Thanks for sharing !
Fred @ 400iso.com
shoulda used B&H;!they are about the
only ones who are not douchebags.
That is really unfortunate. I am sorry you had such a miserable experience with them.
well, judging by their location in brooklyn i’m not entirely sure i’d have bought anything from them myself… sunset park stores aren’t exactly known for ethical business practices.
trust me, if this guy has any ties to the fbi its probably because their investigating him ðŸ˜‰
leave reviews on the sites they link to:
Just to add here another sad story. I purchased a $700 digital camera in 2001 as a wedding present for my brother from one of these New York internet camera shops. Went thru the same “up-sell” swindle attempts and deceptions. Finally got the thing, shipped to me in a very large box, with the camera package (small box) bouncing around inside with absolutely NO PACKAGING material! Thankfully, it still worked. I had to unpackage and fully check it out myself before wrapping in gift wrap. Didn’t want my brother to get a dud gift. Anyway, this crap has been going on for years (at least 4+ by my count) and we must crack down hard and make the crooks pay by exchanging info here on the net and getting the authorites to go after known scammers in a big way. The most leverage we have as consumers is probably to publically shame the big semi-endorser of these guys internet shops (Yahoo in this case) into revoking their affiliation. It will cripple the scammers operation and kill some roaches at the same time. P.S. Always check epinions and resellerratings sites before buying from an unknown. And don’t ever let techno-lust keep you from making these checks first. Anyone on earth can post a price on the internet. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a liar.
They offer free accessories for anyone who gives them positive reviews on shopping sites, one of the reasons that they nagative reviews are buried under an avalanche of positive.
Part of the problem is Yahoo. I have had an incredible bad experience with Yahoo. I had three domains that were do for renewal. The credit card I had originally used had expired. I gave them new credit card info and told them over the phone to only renew one.
They of course renewed all three. I complained about being slammed and they told me that was too bad. I closed the existing domain and asked for my money back and they said no after keeping me on the hook for thirty days. I am now at google and very happy. I admire the man who runs yahoo but I really think he has the pirates of the caribbean working for him. I tried the comptrollers office and was told too bad.
This is a good time to point out that some credit card companies (like citibank) offer virtual one time use credit card numbers that you can use to make online purchases. This usually works by logging into your companies website and using some tool there to generate a credit card number that maps to your real one. It can only be used once so companies can’t keep adding charges or do other illegal bad things.
I have a tip:
File a complaint regarding this e-tailer to every credit card company that they accept. CC companies are sensitive to potential problems with ‘disputes’ because you can refuse to pay the bill. They may drop the e-tailer if they get enough complaints.
Also BEWARE that there is a common practice to sell an ‘import’ version without warrantee or US version accessories. ‘Import’ versions will have NO Manufacturer warrantee available from the USA distributor !!! Ran into this with my NIKON purchase.
To the person who said this:
“Just to reinforce other posts along this vein: there are very respectable electronics stores operating in NYC that have storefronts to go along with their online business: B&H;, J&R;, Tekserve to name a few.”
J&R; is full of lying, shameless salesman same as anywhere – they just have more selection. I h8 that fuggin place.
Hi, I have been shopping for my camera three years ago and I had bad experiences with several shops that started like yours but did not escalate so much and I managed to cancel the orders in the end. When I studied what these shops had in common, I have found that all three had been based in Brooklyn, NY. I would never again buy anything online from any store based in the NY state. I am sorry I cannot provide names, its already three years.
You’re registered with Google? Thats a new one for me… (wtf?)
I’ve had the same problem with ALL online photo stores based in NY, they say they have the camera with retail box at a fixed price but when you order they will call you and say its OEM or that they’re sold out. How exactly do they sell anything when they’re such A-holes about everything?
Slashdotted! If you didn’t get enough negative attention focused on these buttplugs, you have now recruited the wrath of the online geek community. PriceRitePhoto doesn’t stand a chance now. I forsee a DDoS in the near future…
Hey! Holland calling in. Found your story on Slashdot: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/01/0359252&from;=rss
Let’s hope we can take this store out of business soon. This reminds me of Charlie Wenzel (www.wenzeled.com). Maybe he works there?
A common thread amongst bad sellers seems to be the “restocking fee”. Unless it is a well known name this is almost always a sign of trouble.. this is coming from personal experience. Hey, these guys even make TigerDirect look good now.
Good job…. I have had simliar problems with Amazon sellers. Luckily, Amazon protects you…
Very informative article … thank you for sharing … the comments here have really added to the magnitude of this issue as well.
Exhausting all your report and complaint processes is a good idea … enough of that and they will be investigated and shut down … but your most effective move was getting this BLOG entry on slashdot … congratulations!
I read this, and all the comments, and the only thing that ran through my mind is that for all our consumer protection laws, both in Canada and the US, crap like this still happens after all these years…
As a legitmate online retailer, I’m saddened to hear how scammers are only hurting all of us with these stunts.
However, there are a couple things you can do to try and get even, other than blogging about it. First off, for an internet company, or at least an internet arm of a company, getting a means of payment is absolutely critical. If you can’t get paid, its pointless to scam. For the internet, this pretty much means you must have either a credit card, and a means of processing it, or else have a paypal or paypal equivalent system. For the Credit Card system, some of them, Visa, Amex, Mastercard have all told me explictly, in writing, that if chargebacks are on 2% or more of my transactions they will terminate my ability to process CCs, not to mention bill me some outrageous fee per chargeback (the reason I say outrageous is that I’ve found a bit of a problem with CC fraud at the buyer’s end, and I have no reliable way to identify them because of data handling limitations). I’m also not positive on this, but for merchants, I believe Visa requires merchants to jump through something like 30 hoops if they are doing online transactions to reduce or prevent fraud, some of them relate to information handling, and that should Visa determine that they are not abiding by those terms, then Visa will not honor any transaction with that company (I’m not sure because I use a third party handling system, and so its someone else’s headache). Either way, in reporting them, and/or contesting the charges with the credit companies is particularly important in fighting these guys because the major credit card companies have an interest in making sure scammers don’t get into their networks.
Paypal-like accounts and payment systems are the other major means for scammers to get paid, and I’ve had nothing but abuse from Paypal (I swear by whatever you want me to swear by I’m legit, which pisses me off no end because I’m not the one at fault here). Paypal IMHO pretty much screws retailers, someone even complains to them of fraud, and paypal doesn’t check twice, they simply freeze the retailer account, sieze all assets in it, and refund the complainer, all without informing the retailer, or even verifying the source of the complaint. This has happened in my case twice, and both cases the actual fraud was buyer side, and I never recieved a response to my requests for information from Paypal. I now no longer deal with Paypal. Either way you look at it, there are two extremely easy ways to really affect these scammers: make it extremely difficult for them to recieve payment for their attempts.
The other major thing to do, most police forces will have both a high-tech crimes, and an economic crimes divisions. I’ve talked to my municipal, regional, national, and now even International police agencies regarding these fields in conjunction with complaints of this nature. The single biggest point they had to make to me was that most of this stuff goes unreported. They can only act on, and get funding for the stuff they know about, and for that, you have to report this. It sucks, but thats the important part: Call your police depts, if they need to pass it to the FBI, I assume they will. I know the Canuck police branches in those fields are wonderfully connected, and share information on those regularly so that those who need, and can act on the information have it available when they need it.
Lastly, I hate to say this, but you guys down there are mighty litigious as a society. First off, any transaction, esp if it involves your CCs, make sure you get a reciept. That reciept is a contract, and contracts are fun for legal purposes…he’s a lawyer, lets find out how good of one… also, if the contract is formed (parties, property, price) and both parties agree to it, they in offering it to you in that manner, and you submitting your payment info, it should be binding. They have to honor it. Now if its ambiguous and all that crap…they, as the contract creator, are at a disadvantage. In Canada we call it the Contra Proferentum Rule, basically means that if you wrote it, and its unclear, then it’ll be interpreted against you. Standard form contracts can be a very very bad thing. If you have a complete contract, with a reciept of payment, suddenly if you’re feeling ambitious, you can sue them for breach of contract. Although, at that point, they close up shop and reincorporate the next day. Also, if they call you up, and ask you to fax them stuff, I make a point of asking them to fax me a copy if the entire agreement in writing of exactly what is happening in this transaction. They won’t do it, then they have something to hide.
Either way you look at it, Scammers are a problem, and always will be. They make a point of operating in unclear or chaotic areas of the world, all you can do is try and do your best to not get burnt, and when you do, make em pay for it. You’ve started it here in this case, and I hope they get nailed for all they’re worth. I don’t like scammers and cons.
According to the BBB they operate under at least 10 names (below).
A. Heffco Technologies, Inc.
Ideal Photo and Video
Let’s Go Digital
Price Rite Photo
Prices Rite Photo
I don’t know anything about B&H; since I live in Taiwan, but I feel like B&H; is spamming your great post. 1 out of 5 posts are saying how great B&H; is which just seems suspicious.
also, use Control-Find and type in the word “crusader”. That post is a threat post by most likely Price Rite. The tone of the story just sounds wrong. “Keep this in mind in the future please. While you may feel like a Crusader for exposing these scumbags, remember what happened to most of the crusaders.”
You can delete that crusader post or keep it if you want. Just a heads up.
sigh, yes, I actually read through all 265 comments. But I learned something ^_^ I plan to buy a Canon Digital Rebel. Now I will only buy from an official Canon branch store. Luckily they have one in Taipei.
GO YOU, thank you for being one of few who do something about people like this, you are a good man and i hope everything works out for you in the end.
I had a similar experience with a Yahoo! Shopping vendor called Cellpoint (http://shop.store.yahoo.com/cellpoint/). It wasn’t as abusive as this, but it dragged on for months and I had to dispute the charge with my credit card company. The issue is that it seems to be easy for these vendors to fill their feedback reviews with shills; you have to dig deep to find the negative reviews.
Amazing story, Thomas.
These people are disgusting, and I hope free speech and the internet brings them to their needs. Hopefully while behind bars.
Good job, Digg. I’m proud.
WE should all email the store links to these articles !!!!! HahAHaha fockers
heres an email address, i couldnt find steve phillips but maybe title it after him
Uhh, B&H; is not spamming this website. B&H; is one of the best photo retailers out there.
Do some research on B&H; on the web. I’d recommend browsing the forums on one of the most well known photo sites out there, http://www.dpreview.com. You’ll see that B&H; is mentioned a lot, in very good ways.
There are people who have posted saying NEVER trust a dealer based in NY/NJ. B&H; is in NY/NJ, so I hope people don’t flat out decide not to buy from them just based on this.
You’re even listed in the ODP here.
With a ODP listing you’ll probably be #1 in Google for “PriceRitePhoto”… harhar.
I really have to say that for one we shouldn’t have to worry about things like this. If you advertise something then you should be held accountable. It sickens me to see people get burned. I also think that police agencies should make it really easy to file complaints about his. I don’t really know what i think really. I just am sickened but am very glad that you can find information about companies.
Maybe one day everyone will be able to use the internet this way (I mean people will find about companies first) and then we can weed out the bad ones. Then again people still buy things from SPAM so I guess I’m dreaming.
As everyone else has said: RESELLERRATINGS.COM
Numerous suggestions that “due diligence” wasn’t performed concern me here. There appears to be an expectation that online consumers know all about how to Google to find negative info about an online company. Many consumers are lucky simply to find a company that purports to sell the item they seek.
Blaming the consumer hardly seems appropriate, especially when the consumer has used a portal with ratings.
Online or B&M;, there are fraudulent sellers and it’s unfortunate that online sellers are generally more remote and anonymous than B&M; so probably hook more buyers.
Hopefully, a combination of law enforcement and better rating systems will reduce this travesty that casts a cloud over all etailing.
congrats on your blog by now likely to have been read by half the internet and quite possibly change the way some businesses operate:)
as many of your commenters have said, the guy can’t do a damned thing to you, half the stuff he told you was VERY likely illegal (i’m an attorney [you should have asked where he got his BAR exam], the crap about the FBI and police, definately the threat about making sure you’de never be able to buy anything on the net’ again, as well as the obvious threats like “You have no idea who you’re dealing with”, the obvious alias during a business transaction of “John Hancock”, contacting your boss over personal transactions [maybe if your company purchased it, but since it seems you used personal money], and again definately because of the harassment (the sales pitchs after declining them, the REPEATED threats).
What kinds of threats that he could have of made could he actually carry out (maybe “I’ll kill you”, which even if he could find you in person, it could likely have of been filed with the police as “conspiracy to commit murder”
jesus christ, what a nightmare! yeah, i bet the fbi and the fuzz alike will be involved, but not in the way that mr. phillips had fantasized. can we say prison, anyone? did you know that to threaten someone on the phone, over state lines, is a federal offense? years of call center work at least taught me that one. thanks for the info, and i’ll be sure to stay away from these jerkoffs.
I find it astounding that people buy from the lowest price and are then surprising that they’re dealing with crooks. Caveat emptor, and all that. If it seems too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. I have a personal assumption that all online retailers (including eBay) are crooks until proven otherwise, and I’m quite happy to let other people use their money to provide that proof. I only use online stores on personal recommendation.
You have some great pictures on Flickr!
Anyway, someone mentioned Abes of Maine here as a reputable retailer, and I would disagree. First of all, their NAME is deceptive, as they’re another Brooklyn retailer, despite their “Maine” claim.
Secondly, many folks (including my brother), have made purchases from them for NEW items, which have turned out to be used, returned items. For example, my brother’s camera had a memory card that already contained someone else’s pictures, and all of the seals were broken!
While Abes of “Maine” may be better than priceritephoto, it’s still awful compared to the good folks like Adorama and B&H;, as well as the regular retailers/box movers like Amazon and Dell.
Looking at the IP addresses, there may be a third website, which I don’t see mentioned here yet:
All the sites appear to use the same software too: “Everest E-Commerce Advanced Edition : Enterprise”
Additionally the FAQ/Help pages for each are remarkably similar:
Also, their “New Arrivals”, “Holiday Specials” and just about everything else show the same products in the same order.
This is possibly a total coincidence, or this third company may be a victim of circumstance, but I thought it worthy of a note in case others have had similar experiences.
This may be usefull. . . .
1274 49th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Domain Name: PRICERITEPHOTO.COM
Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
1274 49th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11218
I am a firm believer in buying online and I feeel that buyers should not have to worry about these kinds of thing. Shut them down!
Thanks for letting everyone know. I hope PriceRitePhoto.com closes down.
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Long live the blog,
crush the evil retailers!
I hope they burn in
Anyone think to check to see if “Steven Phillips” is registered with the NY Bar Association? _IF_ this person really is who and what they say,you can report them to the Bar. Of course, given that everything _else_ was a a scam….
Turns out, there are actually two Steven Phillips registered within New York, neither of which appears to be your guy.
It might still be worth reporting to the Bar. I’m sure they won’t be happy about someone claiming to be one of their lawyers…
I can’t get over how utterly wimpy so many of you are!
These guys are complete scumbags. They simply need their asses kicked.
They need to be dragged into the street, beaten, and tied naked to a stockade right there on 49th Street.
That’s always been my critique of NYC. Not only are people like these jerks a dime a dozen, but the worst part is that SOOO many people just LET THEM act this way. I swear to God, when anyone treats me this way, I will stomp them.
The first time an NYC deli counter guy got rude and abusive to me I started to go over the counter and he ran in the back screaming. These punks are all talk and we’re all to blame somewhat as long as we don’t properly stand up and smack them down.
Things brings back bad memories for me. I had a very similar experience with this same merchant a year ago, and I wrote the attached letter. I sent it through the mail to the New York BBB and the PriceGrabber offices out in CA. At that time (October, 2004), I spoke with a PriceGrabber rep on the phone and they removed PriceRitePhoto from their site. So how come these bastards got listed again?
To whom it may concern:
I am writing this letter to describe the experiences that I have had with a business called PriceRitePhoto.com. Their address is:1274 49th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11219 and their customer service phone number is (888) 365-4300. I found this business through the PriceGrabber.com website and attempted to purchase a camera from them. However this company was more interested in lying to me and manipulating me than selling me a camera.
I am spending my time and effort in order to inform you of the dirty tactics used by PriceRitePhoto.com with the hope that my story will save other potential customers the headaches and lost sleep that I have endured. The manager of PriceRitePhoto.com has already tried to silence my opinion through bribery and extortion but I think that the potential customers *deserve* to know the business strategies employed by PriceRitePhoto.com before deciding to do business with them.
I understand that I am the kind of customer that PriceRitePhoto.com doesn’t want. I am an informed consumer and a comparison shopper. If they had simply been honest with me and told me that they were unwilling to sell me the Canon Digital Rebel camera unless I purchased some other accessories, I would have just found another company from which to purchase this camera. I probably wouldn’t have submitted a negative review on PriceGrabber.com – I just would have gone my own way. But what I got instead of honesty were lies and manipulation, and I think these strategies are completely unacceptable for a professional organization and ought to be publicized.
I first read about the Canon Digital Rebel camera more than a year ago, and I instantly wanted one. However I was not able to afford to purchase one until recently. Several months ago I began researching the Digital Rebel and several other cameras in preparation for a purchase. I found the PriceGrabber.com website which offered reviews of many different merchants selling this camera, in addition to their prices. I saw that the various merchants fell into several different strata – about 7 or 8 were in the very lowest price range, from $799 to $850 including shipping. I found a merchant in the middle of this price range with a high rating and mostly positive reviews: PriceRitePhoto.com. I knew that I would also need some other accessories with the camera, and I planned on purchasing a USB 2.0 Compact Flash card reader and a Compact Flash card. I found that PriceRitePhoto.com had a USB 1.0 CF reader for $49, but did not offer a USB 2.0 reader. However Best Buy sold a USB 2.0 reader for $15, so I drove to purchase this item at Best Buy. After some research I decided that the CF card that I wanted was the Lexar 80x 1 gigabyte card. I looked on the PriceRitePhoto.com website but found that this merchant did not offer this card for sale, so instead I purchased it from TigerDirect.com.
So the only item left was the camera. On Thursday, September 16th, 2004 I placed order #7490 from PriceRitePhoto.com for a Canon Digital Rebel camera with 18-55mm EF-S lens for $799 plus $24.80 shipping. I thought I was getting a great deal at this time, but I had no idea what abuse I was in store for.
It began on the following Sunday, September 19th. I received an email at about 11:00 am, stating that I needed to call PriceRitePhoto.com to “confirm the information on your order”. This is where the deceptions began, because the real purpose of this phone call was not in fact to verify my order information, but to sell me some additional items. What follows is certainly one of the most unpleasant experiences that I’ve ever endured on the phone.
I called the PriceRitePhoto.com toll-free phone number at about 2pm in the afternoon. I was switched between several different people and spent several minutes on hold before I was routed to the sales representative.
Before I lay out the gruesome details of this initial conversation, I need to explain some personal background information about me. I am a professional engineer, and one of the trademark characteristics of engineers is the discovery and reliance upon the *truth*. One cannot lie to mother nature and make an invention work, nor can one write a computer program with false statements and expect it to perform correctly. So I am dedicated to finding the truth. Also I am a gentle person. I treat others with honesty and straightforwardness, and I expect others to treat me in the same manner. Of course as I have learned in my adult life, this world is sometimes a harsh one full of people with evil intentions. And so I have developed a strong mistrust for sales-people. I have found that often a salesman will make statements without any regard for the truth, in order to achieve his goal of selling something. Since this is completely at odds with my own philosophy, I detest and have absolutely no respect for these sales tactics. Naturally I have been taken advantage of many times by these types of people, and so I have developed a defense mechanism to prevent being ‘taken to the cleaners’.
My defense mechanism is very simple: whenever I begin to perceive that someone is trying to sell me something, I begin to resist. I tell him or her politely that I’m not interested, that I don’t need whatever he or she is selling. The harder he tries to sell, the harder I resist and the more I push back. I make my decisions when I am at peace, considering all of the alternatives, not when some sales person is jabbering at my face. Understanding this, you will have an appreciation for the reasons why the following events unfolded as they did.
To say that the salesman with whom I spoke on September 19th was trying as hard as he could to sell some camera accessories would be an understatement. He started by informing me that I would need a memory card and a memory card reader, and I told him that I already had both of these items. Then he started to turn on the sales language and my defense mechanism started to kick in. He tried to persuade me to purchase extra batteries and lens filters, saying things like “you absolutely need to have these (batteries, filters, etc) to be able to really use the camera”. Statements like that really turn me off, because they are patently false. The camera comes with a rechargeable Canon battery which lasts for over 400 shots. I think I can use that one without purchasing another, as I doubt that I will take more than 400 pictures in one day. This went on for a while and I informed him (in all sincerity) that I wasn’t interested and didn’t have the money to purchase these accessories right now, but that I was interested in buying a macro lens in several weeks and I would certainly come back to PriceRitePhoto.com if they satisfied me with this camera purchase.
But it wasn’t enough for him. He continued pressing me to buy more items, and moved on to an extended warranty. This one seemed to go on forever. I didn’t even want to hear about it, because I never buy extended warranties. He argued that being short of money was actually a greater reason to purchase the warranty, because I wouldn’t be able to afford to replace the camera if it broke. I told him that I was going to be in Russia for six months beginning in December, and asked if the warranty would cover the camera while I was there. He replied without hesitation that it would – he said “They probably have an office in Moscow where you could get it repaired”. Of course that wouldn’t do me any good, because I’ll be a 24 hour train-ride away from Moscow, but that word “probably” which he used, set off bells in my mind. It told me with no uncertainty that he was just ‘making t
his up’ and that he actually had no idea if the warranty would be good in Russia, or whether there is a repair office in Moscow. Since this ‘extended warranty’ was most likely through a third-party company (not Canon), I’m sure that they do not have an office in Russia. There’s not even a Wal-mart in Russia.
So by this time my defense mechanism was in full force and I had absolutely zero trust that anything that this salesman was saying to me was true, so I kept politely but firmly telling him no. But he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He told me that I was an incredibly hard sell and asked me if I was married (what does that have to do with not wanting to buy camera accessories)? He lowered the price on the extended warranty twice, from 50 per year to 40 per year to 30 per year. He claimed, “I’m just trying to make sure that you will be happy with this camera purchase”. When he said that I began to feel anger, because it’s such an obvious lie. I thought I’d trap him in it (and I did), by saying “What would make me the absolute happiest, would be if you would sell me this camera at the price that you have displayed on your website.” Of course he proved his own deceitfulness by continuing his sales pitches, becoming even more aggressive. After about 20 minutes on the phone I started to doubt whether they would sell me the camera. I said point blank, “Are you or are you not going to sell this camera that I want to purchase”. He dismissed me by saying, “Yes we are going to sell you this camera. Don’t even bring that up again.” I began to become more angry and frustrated, but used my patience to remain civil and not show my anger (which is what I desperately wanted to do). Finally after probably 25 or 30 minutes this guy gave up. Perhaps another customer was waiting to be harassed. I asked him when the camera would ship, and he told me that it would ship on Monday (September 20th) and that I would receive an email confirmation.
This conversation left me highly disturbed, and I needed to get away from the situation to calm down. So I drove to the grocery store and bought groceries. When I came back I heard the phone ringing but didn’t reach it in time. As I was putting away my groceries, the phone rang again. This time it was the manager of PriceRitePhoto.com. I don’t know what this guy’s name is but since he plays a big part in the remainder of this story I’ll just call him Rudy. This guy is a Grade A jerk, and he pretty much told me as much on the phone. He asked me if I had some kind of a problem with his salesman earlier. I told him that I didn’t really have a problem but his salesman was way too aggressive and I really didn’t appreciate the harassment. He said, “All of my sales people are tough, because I make them tough.” I thought, “Oh, so you’re like the king Jerk then.” He said, “We try to sell accessories to make a profit, because we’re selling the cameras at our purchase price and lose money on the credit card transactions.” Okay, I understand that, but he admitted, “But that’s not your problem – that’s our problem.” He said that he was concerned that I might be a re-seller who just wanted to buy the camera to sell it for a profit on ebay. (I don’t know how that’s a crime, since it’s exactly what PriceRite is doing – they don’t make the cameras). He said that I would not be able to use the camera without accessories (memory card and reader) and I told him that I had already purchased these. He asked me which ones I had bought, and from whom, and I told him. He seemed satisfied that I wasn’t a re-seller. He tried to sell me a battery or filter and I declined, and the end of the conversation came near. I asked him when my camera would ship, and he also said that it would ship on Monday and that I would receive a confirmation email with the tracking number. That was the end of this phone call – no major problems with Rudy yet.
At this point I started to become worried. I wondered what these guys were going to do to me – what kind of games they were going to play. After the harassment that I received on the phone I didn’t trust them to actually sell me the camera. So I went back onto PriceGrabber.com and started really digging through the reviews of some of the merchants selling the Digital Rebel at the lowest prices. I found some reviews from customers who said they waited months to receive their order and got the run-around from the merchant – claims of out-of-stock items, back-orders, etc. But what worried me the most were some reviews stating the cameras that they received appeared to be already used, with fingerprints on the LCD and/or lens, etc. I decided that if I was going to pay nearly a thousand dollars for a camera, I certainly wanted one that was new. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I finally decided to at least allow PriceRitePhoto.com to make good on their word. I decided that if they were halfway reputable and actually shipped me the camera as they had told me that they would, then I would go ahead and purchase that lens from them, even though their price was a little more expensive than some of the other merchants.
On Monday, September 20th, I did not receive the email as stated. So on Tuesday the 21st I called PriceRitePhoto.com in the morning to inquire about the status of my order. This is when the real lying and deception began in earnest. I spoke with a customer service representative (I’ll call him Jake). I gave him my order number and told him that I was told by his boss that the order should have shipped on Monday, yet it didn’t. He said that he could not find the order in his computer, and asked to call me back. So I said sure and gave him my work number, and went about my business. He called back in a few minutes and said that he still could not find my order. He offered to continue looking for my order during the day and cancel the order if he hadn’t found it by the end of the day. I told him that this was fine with me.
By the end of Tuesday I hadn’t heard back from PriceRitePhoto.com via phone or email, so I decided that my order had been canceled. I placed an order for the exact same camera, using the exact same credit card, from B&H; Photo on Tuesday night. On Wednesday I left a negative review (1-star) on PriceGrabber.com, expressing frustration with this company for their aggressive sales tactics, lies, and deception.
On Thursday, September 23rd, PriceRitePhoto.com left a response to my negative review which stated, “This person must have us confused with another merchant because we have no record of him.” This statement was another lie. That night I received my Canon Digital Rebel via UPS.. As I was unpacking it and checking it out, the phone rang. Upon answering the phone, I was speaking again with the customer service representative Jake. This reveals the statement on PriceGrabber.com to be false – if they had no record of me, how did they have my home phone number? Jake was upset at the negative review that I left for PriceRitePhoto.com. I explained that I had been told by two different people that my order would ship on Monday, but it didn’t. He tried to play the victim, saying “How can you be mad at us – I only did what you wanted us to do. You told me to cancel your order, and I did.” Sorry, but you don’t get any points for canceling the order. I told him that what I really wanted was to purchase this camera, but that PriceRitePhoto had lied and tried to manipulate me. He said that the order took longer to process because my shipping address and billing address were not the same. This is a very important statement to consider, because it reveals two lies. Firstly, this statement in and of itself is a lie – B&H; didn’t have any problems processing my order with the same credit card, and I had the camera in my hands 48 hours after I placed the order. Secondly, the fact that Jake knew that my billing and shipping addresses were not the same is further proof that PriceRitePhoto never ‘lost’ my order or my personal information. They were probably just going to wait until I either canceled the order or until they got a returned camera that they could send to m
e. I started to feel anger at PriceRitePhoto.com at this point and just stated that I would not change my review because they completely deserved it, and hung up the phone.
Several weeks went by. I thought that this bad situation was over and done. But sadly it was not. My review on PriceGrabber must have significantly hurt their online business, because on Sunday, October 3rd I got yet another phone call, this time it was Rudy. He asked me why I was unhappy with his company’s service and I told him. He asked if I had purchased the camera from another vendor and I said that I had. He said that cameras are like food (I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that – I think it has something to do with trust, which is a joke because these people are the LEAST trustworthy businesspeople that I’ve ever known), and he wanted to make me happy with his company. He tried playing the victim again, suggesting that they had lost my order through an honest mistake. He said, “When a sales representative is looking at an order on the computer, it only takes one keypress to completely delete the order.” I’m sure that’s also a lie – I haven’t seen too many computer programs that would let you delete something important without requiring a confirmation. He began to offer to give me a filter or an extra battery for my camera. I told him that it sounded like he was trying to bribe me to change my review on PriceGrabber.com. He said that he absolutely was not trying to bribe me, but he just want to ‘put a good taste in my mouth’ about the experience with his PriceRitePhoto.com. He said that he didn’t care about my negative review – that he already had a 5-star rating overall and my review didn’t hurt his rating very much. That was a lie, as will be revealed shortly. He said that if he could make me feel better about his company, maybe I could give him not a 5-star rating, but a 3 or 4 star rating. I told him that he could not take away the abuse that his company had already heaped upon me, and I would not be bought out. I told him that I thought that his potential customers should know about his business tactics and perhaps that would motivate him to change his strategies.
At this point he decided to ‘play hardball’. He said, “I really didn’t want to have to do this, but you forced me into this position.” I knew something very bad was coming. He started out by saying that PriceRitePhoto has a 25% restocking fee, and at that point I became absolutely livid and started freaking out. I yelled that he hadn’t even sent me the camera so he couldn’t charge me a re-stocking fee. He said that it wasn’t a restocking fee, but an order cancellation fee. I said that it was fraud and extortion and I would dispute the charge with my credit card. He said that he would win the dispute resolution because this charge was clearly displayed on his website. He said that he kept meticulous records. (Sure, but they ‘lose’ orders).
By threatening me in this manner he clearly showed his earlier statement to be a lie, that he did in fact care very much about my negative review and that it was probably greatly hurting his business. He further threatened to add 10% to the order cancellation fee because he had to call me.
Okay. Stop right here. This is extortion, and I believe that it is illegal. This is not an ‘order cancellation’ fee – if it were, it would have been charged when I canceled my order on September 22nd. This is a retaliation fee for leaving a negative review on PriceGrabber.com, plain and simple. This company, PriceRitePhoto.com, unambiguously threatened me. Rudy said, “I don’t want you to leave a 3 or 4 star review. I want you to completely remove your review from PriceGrabber.com. We have already charged your credit card, and if you don’t remove the review by the end of the day then we will not refund the charge.”
Now I’m a man of principles, but I’m not about to eat a $200 charge because of these jerks. I figured that Rudy was probably bluffing about the charge, but I didn’t want to take the risk. I didn’t see any choice but to give in. I told him that I would delete the review, and I did delete it later that day. The next day I searched through all of the PriceRitePhoto.com website to find this supposed “25% order cancellation fee”, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Apparently that was another lie. I found mention of a 15% restocking fee for returned items, but the only mention I could find for canceled orders states: “To cancel an order, you must contact our customer service executive either by mail of through telephone and they will give you further information”. Jake certainly never said anything about a 25% fee when I canceled my order.
His statement about the credit card charge turned out not to be a bluff after all – he did actually make a charge of $199.99 on my card on October 3rd, and refunded it the same day. So if they had lost my order, as he still claimed, how did he have my credit card number? So my credit card number is in the hands of these criminals.
I believe that the truth needs to be told, and I really am not at all happy about letting this dishonest man silence my opinion and revelations of his mafia-like business tactics. Consequently I have canceled the credit card with which I placed the order with PriceRitePhoto.com, so that they can no longer persecute me with threats of illegal credit card charges. And I have spent several hours writing this letter in order to inform PriceGrabber.com and the Better Business Bureau about the tactics used by this dirty organization. And tomorrow I intend to re-submit my negative review on PriceGrabber.com, so that other unsuspecting customers will know to avoid these guys. I encourage you to take whatever action you believe is appropriate to protect consumers from these criminals and convince PriceRitePhoto.com that its business tactics will not bring success.
This is a REALLY common scam in Brooklyn and its a problem that really needs some national exposure. Too many people are falling victims to the high pressure sales tactics.
Before buying from an unknown online retailer you should ALWAYS check with the various rating services.
One of these services is http://www.ripoffreport.com/ and and another is http://www.resellerratings.com .
On ResellerRatings, a quick lookup of “PriceRitePhoto” returns horrible results. If you had scene these ratings before your purchase you never would have followed through with the purchase.
Thanks for letting us know about this. It takes courage, and I truly mean that. Not necessarily just because of your experience over the phone, but because a lot of people who have been through such an experience keep quiet out of fear of ridicule (“You should have known” etc.)
I hope the store in question has some response to this. Any response, even a flat denial, would be better than stony silence. I doubt they’ll be getting any of my dollars, though.
If anything else happens, please follow up this story with updates.
Why not look them up here? Or add them. The site is moderated and known scam stores have fakes reviews removed.
Someone mentioned Cammeta in Hicksville – good guys – have a B&M; storefront. B&H; are the “Big Boys” with a BIG B&M; storefront – ditto J&R.; Adorama is also good. There are some pretty sleezly looking dealers in the photo district that are/were very good – but you really have to do research into them – and I always felt a lot better with some of them walking in and buying in person. Back when I was a serious amatuer, and living in NYC, the word of mouth chain used to let you know which of these “upstairs over the deli” places was real, and which were not – some had been around 10-20 years, but others were a joke
This guy picked this retailer because he was trying to save 0.367%. Deserves what he gets. Should’ve bought local instead of being a price whore.
make sure you all go to http://www.resellerrating.com and leave horrible feedback! Don’t let them get away with this!
I had a similar experience over a year ago with a camera place from Brooklyn. I was looking at the Nikon D70 and they had it for about $100 less than everyone else (other than a few other web sites that looked very similar to the site from which I tried to buy). After I placed the order, I received an email asking me to call to confirm some info. At that point they tried to sell me the battery for over $100 which the site had said was part of the deal. Fortunately, the guy I talked to didn’t protest too much – he did protest some – and I cancelled my order. I will never attempt to purchase anything from a camera shop located in Brooklyn.
fuckn losers get a life
< br />
someone said there are a suspicious number of posts praising B&H…; I have actually ordered things from them, and
I got the items in a reasonable time,
and packaged properly…all that aside
I work at UPS and we see packages from B&H; on the belt every day,they have their name printed on their tape.
Maybe all those other camera stores ship FedEx, so I don’t see the packages…maybe they really don’t ship at all!
Thomas – I’ve never visited your site before nor am I a camera enthusiast but I loved your story. Thanks. – Keith
The guy with the Jewish theory is right. I live in Queens and I know as a fact that most shady camera stores are owned by Russian Jews. Nothing against the religion though.
This guy picked this retailer because he was trying to save 0.367%. Deserves what he gets. Should’ve bought local instead of being a price whore.”
who ever this guy is must be from remote china and has yet to grasp the concept of a free market econonmy.
at anyrate these guys will get what they deserve. the only way to keep online retailers honest is by policing the community ourselves. this is a great example of how we can do this effectivly. kudos to your persistence and i hope you get your camera!
furrybut1 please help yourself to a nice cup of SHUT THE FUCK UP..
the rest of the internet
Yeah I tried to order a Mark II Dn from them… Had the same problems. I mean the price was great… Should have been the tip off I guess…
Hey Thomas, we’re with you in this!
This has been added and linked :–)
Whenever I purchase at an online store, I always use Shop Safe on my Visa or Discover card. Both credit card companies have their own software for download or over the Internet (for purchases at work). This is great since it automatically creates a random credit card number for one time use at a single merchant. You also set up a max limit so they can’t charge you more than you purchased. Just don’t use this for Airline or Movie tickets since the number on the card doesn’t match up.
have you thought about suing them for
You have a contract with them to deliver a camera for X USD, they don’t deliver, so they owe you the amount (or now the difference after booking back) the camera costs in a store that can deliver.
You can get your Canon EOS 350 D body from pricejapan.com delivered to you for USD 2,966. I have not used them yet but they seem interesting. Actually you may face some customs duty, maybe 2, 3, 5 %. I would of course do your research on them first, (as you should have with PriceRitePhoto) and Eliot Spitzer won’t be able to help you if there is a problem. But its an interesting option. Good on ya for pummeling PriceRitePhoto. Ya gotta read the ratings at pricegrabber first. Pricewatch has cheap stuff too, but more for computer stuff, and they seem to have some sketchier dealers IMHO.
Always always always check http://resellerratings.com before buying from a new store.
Looks like ole furybutt is trying his own “denial of service” attack against this site.
Good luck, buddy, I’ve been calling you all day with SKYPE.
If you dial 1-888-375-6700,
you can press 1 to leave a 3 minute message…I think I’m up to 60 minutes of messages now.
Shut the site down! Shut his Fax down! Shut his Phones down!
I’ve had the same problems with NY camera shops…I tried buying a Sony CamCorder a few years ago…same story…cheap camera, but won’t see it to you unless you buy the complete (overpriced) kit.
An idea for Thomas from a digg comment:
“If I was Thomas Hawk I’d be opening a Paypal donation site for the purchase of a new camera in exchange for all of the entertainment provided. LOL.
I’m guessing PriceRitePhoto is probably wishing they gave him a camera for free right about now.”
looks like Furrybut1’s real… Or should I say Ezra Halawani
Can’t imagine there being too many Furrybut1’s in the world… One seems bad enough!
Good thing you did the right steps in preventing any further abuse. Thanks for letting us all know about this story and site.
It’s amusing, it seems that PriceRitePhoto.com has been slashdotted to the full effect! In otherwords the site is not very responsive at this time ðŸ˜‰
That is just wrong that a place can do that. I’d like to help your effort. If you have time, log onto my website, http://www.eArticlesOnline.com and post your article and I’ll put it online. This should help it get into google pretty good, and picked up by other people with photography sites so other people don’t have to deal with this jerk.
PriceRitePhoto admists they are scum!
Just click here to what they have to say about this problem
Yes, this is just some XSS fun…but still!
Yet another sign that these folks are not operating above board is this photo from a great series of storefronts of Brooklyn Photo Stores.
I also have to praise B&H;, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them and I really had no clue where they were based out of.
I’m sorry that you had to deal with this suckiness..
Same thing happened to me last year. I ordered a camera from.. ah, I can’t even remember the name of the company. They were from Brooklyn though. I got a call early.. EARLY sunday morning wanting me to buy more stuff. They stated that the memory card that I ordered was not right and that I needed a “special” one. I was half asleep and really wasn’t sure what was going on. I agreed to it, but when I finally woke up later, realized that I had been jipped. I called back to cancel the order and they stated that it was too late. The order was already billed and ready to be shipped. Within a few hours of the call on Sunday. In other words, they nicely told me I was SOL.
After about Tuesday, no info on shipping. I called back to find out the status of my order and they stated that it would ship within the next few days. Waited.. still nothing. I finally realized that I had been scammed and called my credit card company to cancel the order. I also requested a new card/number.
I get a letter from them (with my credit card number printed everywhere on it) stating that I had to follow through with my order. It was a binding contract.. blah blah. I reported them to my CC company and through the BBB. They actually sent a consumer claims company after me, saying that I had recieved the camera and that I was the one that was actually trying to rip them off!!
To help cover my ass, I did a little bit of investigating. I started searching the company’s name, address, phone numbers and websites. It turns out that the company had many many many different websites on the net selling the same stuff. They were all leading back to the same area, Brooklyn. All, and I mean ALL of the websites looked exactly the same. http://www.priceritephoto.com looks exactly the same as the others I found as well. All from brooklyn.
I was able to resolve my issue, thank god, and it sounds like you are/will as well. Good luck and hopefully some of my ramblings will help bring these bastards down once and for all.
Good for you Thom, keep your chin up, you doing good. I think that this cartoon pretty much sums it up…
The BBB is good for issues that arise after you make a purchase and the retailer won’t make good on it.
Epinions is better for doing research before making a purchase
I’ll chime in with a caveat. I’d also like to recommend B&H; as a reputable option from the NYC area. While I agree that they have done “follow up” confirmations on orders as an opportunity to try to sell extras and/or warranties, I have never had a problem or delay with an order from B&H; whether I purchased said extras or not. Purchased several items over the last few years without incident (thankfully), and all items came complete as expected. However, I have not had to deal with any defective items. ==CS in MA.
I had an experience like this about 6 years ago when I bought my first Digital Camera. The company name sounds very familiar, and the tactics were no different then. Buy the camera REALLY cheap, they assure you it’s in stock, but they want to push all sorts of accessories. This was back in the day when digital cameras actually came with a decent amount of accessoires. I politely declined their pushiness, and then was told the camera was out of stock and would take a few weeks to ship. I do recall my credit card being charged very shortly thereafter, but the order taking a few weeks to ship. I got the impression after the pushy sales call that had I ordered their extra crap at a high profit margin that the camera would have shipped much more quickly.
I’ve since avoided any site that looks too good to be true based out of the NY/NJ region – just bad business.
Amazing that business tactics like this have survived this long!
First off, there’s nothing he can do; you made no implicit or explicit non-disclosure agreement. You also have the right to free speech, guaranteed by the first amendment.
Personally, I would contact American Express, and report this incident to them. I believe they would revoke his merchant account with them, and that other card agencies would follow suit shortly thereafter. At the very least, they would ensure that you were not responsible for paying for a product that you will never receive.
There is no way this guy will take legal action; doing so would result in an investigation of his business, which would probably result in jail time for him.
thomas, it is 10:39 AM December 1 and it seems like your article has had an affect – a possitive one as far as consumers are concerned.
as of now, http://www.priceritephoto.com website is down. their listings don’t show up on Yahoo! Shopping.
they still show up on eBay and a bunch of other shopping sites, but your activism definitely has had an impact!
job well done!
“Our website is currently being upgraded in order to better serve you.
We apologize for the inconvenience.”
this link will load pics from pricerite infinitely!!! that will show ’em! http://electronicchaos.com/pricewrongphoto.html [electronicchaos.com] http://electronicchaos.com/pricewrongphoto.html [electronicchaos.com]
I bought a Canon from B&H; photo/video a couple of years back; while the abrupt New Yoik phone manner took some getting used to, they were great, and sent the kit immediately. I was tempted to buy cheaper, but the economics didn’t add up and I decided to go with a known reseller charging slightly more. They still send me details of offers and stuff like that. Indeed, a very good offer is likely to be just a trap if you can’t see the goods first.
Great article. Shame that some people are getting extreme about it.
That’s enought for me to decide never to purchase anything online.
I had the same problem with these guys when I tried to buy a Sony PD-150 about 2 years ago. I was lucky though. I called the number to place the order, rather than placing the order over the internet. The first thing the guy did was try to sell me extra batteries. I said I didn’t need them, and he tried to sell me an extended warrenty. I said I didn’t need that either, but he continued to persist. The man was extremely rude, and the sale felt sketchy to me, so I decided not to order from him. I ended up ordering from B&H; instead, and they were great. B&H; actually called me the day after I placed my order to confirm that I in fact had placed to order, to help me avoid credit card fraud. I was very grateful for that, and always order from B&H; now.
No, it’s down. Check it out!
There are several well known scammers like PriceRite (they usually operate under several different names) that run the same exact scam. They advertise prices well below market, then they jerk you around unless you agree to buy a bunch of useless overpriced accessories, which is how they make money.
I have been ordering equipment from B&H; for 20 years and I haven’t found a reason to switch. If you find a price that is well below B&H;, then you know its a scam.
At least you used a credit card and not paypal or a debit card. That gives you a little more recourse.
We had a similar experience with Digitalfuze.com which is probably owned by the same people. My husband ordered a camera, got the call back and upsell. The guy who phoned was really pushy and when he refused the extras called him all sorts of names, asked “why would you f**k with someone who has your credit card number” then threatened to come to our house to beat my husband up. It was totally unbeliveable. We called their ISP, Enom, and filed a complaint but the site is still up. I for one am really glad to hear there’s some vigilante justice going on. Proper channels- RIGHT, file a complaint (which we did with the ISP, BBB and FBI) and nothing happens. Based on the whois search on Enom, Digitalfuze is the same company as Oneclickdigital.com;
Best Buy Digital, a.k.a. Circuit Digital, d.b.a. circuitdigital.com, sourcefordigital.com, etc. 1080 McDonald Ave, Suite 303
No doubt we should have done more research on them before placing an order but they deserve to be shut down becuase obviously the whole operation is fraudulent. Here’s where the slimes are operating out of:
Major Thanks to Don Wiss for the great resource!!
I’m pretty sure this is the place I ordered my Casio EX-Z3, and back then I was expecting it to arrive fairly quickly since the item was listed as in stock, and they are located where I am – in Brooklyn (roughly two miles separate us). However, more than a week passed without any word from them, while my card was already charged.
I called them and asked about the status of my order, and two phrases were burned into my memory:
(1) “so, you want the camera?” – needless to say, that was the dumbest rhetorical question I’ve ever heard.
(2) “< sigh > all right, we’ll send it out” – it’s as if I was forcing him to do something he didn’t want to do.
I finally received the camera a few days later, and I made my mind not to ever buy there again. It was obvious to me that it’s a small operations run by some cheap bastards, who were interested in keeping your money as long as they can before having to ship the goods.
The “Review Us” links on their website are now just pictures and not links to the review sites..
Mr. Hawk, you are my hero!
For years I have wondered how these camera shops are allowed to stay in business. Mr. Spitzer, please take these guys out. They have committed crimes and deserve jail. And would the Attorneys General in Pennsylvania (Philly area stores) and New Jersey please get on the ball too?
Crooks like these tarnish the reputation of honest retailers in these communities. Local politicos take note!
And why haven’t the credit card companies suspended these folks’ accounts?
BTW, to those admonishing Mr. Hawk for not performing due diligence… sure, if it sounds to good to be true it probably is, but one might also expect that eventuallly crooks get caught and tossed out of business. Not sure why this hasn’t yet happened with the crooked camera shops that everyone knows are crooked.
Anyway, thank you, Mr. Hawk.
My brother linked me to this article, and I’ve read the entire thing, plus all the comments (I believe, I may have missed some).
I have to say that the situation does indeed suck. Dishonest merchants are a terrible plague to sellers who actually care about their customers and their products.
The problem I see here is that too many people believe that all online customers have the ability to know everything there is about checking a retailer’s reliability. Too many people know nothing about news sites, ratings sites, or even Google. And these are the people who these scammers prey upon.
The solution, I believe, is not to berate this guy for making a poor choice. We’ve all made poor choices, I’m sure. The thing to do is do what we can to make sure that nobody else falls for this scam. If our online shopper community wisens up, these jerks will find themselves hurting.
As someone familiar with the media industry (having been a part of it for four years now) I can tell you that this is the time of year that news sources look for “feature stories.” Stories that will grab the attention of anybody – and this one could definitely catch the attention of anybody looking to make Christmas purchases of any kind.
So write or call your local news media. Ask them to do a feature story on the dangers of buying things online. Ask them to give the viewers resources so people can check the reliability of these sites before they give out their credit card numbers.
We may love the internet, but the television reaches more homes than the web does. The story has been broken – now it just needs to spread.
Ouch… Their site is taking a serious beating now.
I just sent the following email to all of the merchant review sites listed on the priceritephoto.com home page. Hopefully something will come of it:
“I just wanted to let you know that the web site ‘www.priceritephoto.com’ is using your logo without linking back to your site. This is a known scam site, as documented here: http://thomashawk.com/2005/11/priceritephoto-abusive-bait-and-switch.html
I trust you will take the appropriate action.”
Digital Moose Ebay experience
Had a similar experience a couple of years ago on Ebay with Digital Moose out of Canada. It was my first and last experience on Ebay. Long story short I tried to purchase an iPod through this company, that had their own web site at digital-moose.com, and that had very good ratings by other users. After many frustrating attempts talking (phone,fax,mail,email) to the ‘President’ Jonathan Nightingale, trying to get my money back I gave up. I found out that many other consumers had been tricked by him and some, in Canada, tried to sue but nothing came of it. He got away with quite a bit of money but his web site did eventually close down. I have no doubt that he has opened up in some other form…I keep searching. Good work with the story and I wish blogs had had the same effectiveness when I had my experience…the best thing I had was Bad Business Bureau (http://www.badbusinessbureau.com/reports/ripoff101007.htm)
Road Trip anyone?
I had similar problems with USAphotonation.com when buying a Cannon Digital Rebel XT. Placed an order online, got a call to call them back to check on the order, tried to get me to buy all kind of accessories (stupidly I ended up buying an extra battery, which I don’t really need), had to call back again when they told me my order was not the consumer kit but the body only (no lens). Argued with the sales person over this. Had to file a report with the BBB and the FTC, and asked my credit card company to cancel the order. The sales person was threatening, telling me that they had a “relationship” with the credit card company and that they would not cancel the order. Finally the CEO of the company called me back and we came to an agreement, I’d get the lens for an $100, I’d reverse by BBB complain, and we’d call it even. Never do business with this bastards.
Sorry you had to go through this horrible ordeal, There are many dishonest online merchants, And Mainly in New York! They are extremely rude, And yes if the price is too good to be true, its a scam, or its a product made for another country, which will not work in the US, I will never buy from any of these New York based Crooks!
Always read the reviews about the seller befor commiting, and call them, Lot of these set up a temporary shop, sell at a low price, then dissapear.
I’ve run into the same type of people, well, save for the threats and the boss-calling. That’s some crazy stuff. I wrote a blog entry last March about a company named, Wawa Digital/Starlight Camera/Accessoriesland, who also partake in the bate and switch tacticts. I also was curious why they were allowed to sell on Yahoo! Shopping for so long with such terrible rating, but after checking now I noticed that a) they are not on Yahoo! Shopping anymore b) they are actually not around anymore at all.. ðŸ™‚
Congrats on being Slashdotted…
I will continue to use B&H; photo and Amazon who may be a bit more expensive but are reliable. These guys sound like fucking scum bags, I’m sure they probably are Russian…
I got burned by a Yahoo Shopping retailer about a year ago on cell phone accessories (do NOT get near sfmobile.net!!). They charged my CC the day of order, promised receipt of product within 10 days, and never shipped anything until 2 mo. later after many attempts to contact and finally disputing the charge with CC company.
Not the same scale of problem, but my point being that Yahoo Shopping is totally useless at filtering out the bad apples and I’ll never trust Yahoo Shopping again.
Thank you for going through all the work to expose unethical merchants like this!!!
Gotta love Crooklyn! Never trust anything on Yahoo (even their news is untruthfull sometimes.) Sorry to hear your experience.
In my view fault lies with the referral services that fail to properly vet the stores that they use in their listings but Tony’s article mentions Yahoo Shopping so that came as a bit of suprise. I am aware of the sales method of these stores and also that they do ‘seed’ referral sites with positive comments. You can always tell the fake positives and can almost hear the eastern European accents that made them. The law says caveat emptor so watch it! Again, I blame not the stores, good look to them. I do blame pricegrabbers and others that lead buyers to these stores, it is these people that should be put up against a wall & shot. Come the revolution they will be the first to go.
For a photo of their operation:
Other locations can be seen here, along with photos of other online photo scams grey market places:
Well, since we’ve all come to know and love (more like hate IMO) our good friend
** FURRYBUT1 **
perhaps we should get to know him a little better… say hello to our 18yr old Brooklyn friend at http://www.myspace.com/furrybut1
I can’t believe I read every comment! I had heard about this scam a while back when a friend was searching for a digital camera. What surprises me, that this type of thing hasn’t reached its way into other markets, like PCs and accessories. IE: Advertise the latest video card at a cut rate price, but then try to extort you into buying other things at inflated prices.
Hehehe. The Internet has spoken, they are doomed.
I had similar experience with those camera stores in NY, Brooklyn area.
What pisses me the most is, how can someone observe Shabbat and run such an dishonest business!!!
If you look around you’ll find big similarities between stores in NYC, LA downtown and SF Fisherman’s Warf camera and electronics stores. What a disgrace!!!
Go here: http://www.oag.state.ny.us/consumer/consumer_issues.html
CONSUMER HELPLINE: 1-800-771-7755
The Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection prosecutes businesses and individuals engaged in fraudulent, misleading, deceptive or illegal trade practices. In addition to litigating, the Bureau mediates thousands of complaints each year from individual consumers. A large percentage of these complaints are resolved satisfactorily through the mediation process. As part of its mission, the Bureau provides information to consumers and seeks to ensure a fair and vigorous market place. The Bureau also drafts legislation and conducts studies and writes reports on emerging consumer problems and issues.
File a complaint in NY here:
I understand your frustration, we have encountered some bad egg companies, however some have been great. I usually try to stick to a hand full of good retailers I like. However it looks like the price on the EOS 5D may have dropped since the original post. Take a look here:
Thanks for the heads up..I came into your blog from Slashdot and am glad to see you fighting for whats right aginst those cyber bullies
So it takes 6000+ diggs, dozens of news stories thousands of complaints to pretty much anyone who will listen for Thomas Hawk to get the camera at the advertised price. What a load of BS.
I live in Brooklyn and love it – but man, there are dishonest sleazebags here.
I just hope that if there is an afterlife – they’ll spend it in hell with Furybut1.
I’ve seen comments favoring B&H; Photo, and seen a recent AP article praising it( e.g. http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/news/nation/13300921.htm )
As others have said, not all the Brooklyn (and other boro) stores are ripoffs, though many on the Internet may well be.
Years ago I dealt with Focus Camera, http://www.focuscamera.com, which also sells some electronics stuff, and I’ve been to their store in Brooklyn. They remind me of a much smaller version of 47th St. Photo (www.47thstphoto.com), Manhattan, which has had a good rep.
As for me, will be much more wary about Yahoo stores from now on on top of my general skepticism.
A quick Google search for the owner of these businesses, Jack Heffner, led me to this site –
Looks like he’s got bogus operations set up for selling audio equipment as well. Crash this site! Visit http://www.hypeaudio.com!
I had the same experience with usaphotonation.com. They called, I verified my security code, went through the whole upsell scam and asked me why I had purchased the wholesale kit which didn’t even include the docking station. It was the only version of the camera listed on their site. He had me search for “z750 usa” and sure enough a higher priced retail kit appeared in the results. When you search for just “z750” though only one camera kit shows. I tested this method of adding “usa” to the end of products and their whole site is rigged this way. Unbelievable.
It appears that they operate under several names, check this out under the BBB for New York:
Yep… they’re down now. Webair.com has changed their DNS entry on the web to 127.0.0.1. WTG!
It’s a scary story, but did you have to blatently ignore Reseller Rating’s copywright notice to tell it? C&Ping; whole reviews from other web sites is not “fair use”.
Another regarding the validity of comments praising B&H.; Search any photography forum you can think of, and you’ll always come back with the same impression. B&H; are far from the cheapest out there, but have a loyal following because they’ve earned it.
Good job man! way score one for the good guys.
Spitzer is a useless turd. He won’t do a thing for you.
Thanks for the heads up. Personally, I don’t care how many “honest dealers” there are in NYC; I won’t buy anything sold there now. The way I see it, if enough people decide to shop elsewhere, more stringent controls will be put into place to ensure that the customer (that’s right..not consumer, but customer, there is a difference) is better protected in the future. The economic power wielded by the public is immense, especially if said public can by unified, by such means as articles like yours. It’s time for comapanies, big and small, to wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that the control is in the hands of the people. No company or government is so large that it cannot be brought down, even by one man, should greed and corruption raise its head.
Let us all continue to show the world that the customer is a force to be reckoned with.
A similar New York ripoff camera dealer is Hot Buys Electronics.
Here’s my experience: http://hbe.baudbarf.com/
Thanks for making your experience public.
I have also had a similiar experience with a camera company in Broklyn NY. I’m surprised that the BBB and other enforcement agencies in NY seems to be very lax in responding to this behaviour.
The description you give is not a once off, it is their common business practise.
I also ordered a camera from a broklyn camera company and did not do enough research before clicking “OK”. I luckily found out my error and cancelled the order.
They left me an email and asked me to call and confirm the order. Then when I called, offered me a battery, an extended warranty, a lens cover, etc… They said it was a new camera but the camera price was more like a reconditioned unit and had a warranty that matched.
I’m glad a journalist has taken up the cause and caused them grief!
This sounds like the same crowd who run thier scam under several business names, another being ROYALCAMERA.COM
Online it looks great, but then they caal you and make you add stuff you did not want to the order – memory cards at 4x what you can get retail locally, a lens adapter for $100 ($24 value in reality), etc. And VERY ABUSIVE if you firmly decline.
We got burned by these people a year ago and it still hurts. From the accent on the phone, these are Middle Eastern persons. Why are they still in the USA and free?
why are you a racist and free?
reminds me of overstock.com. i once ordered a cd there and it took something like two months to get it off my credit card. oh yeah, and i never got my cd. small potatoes compared to a $3,000 camera, I know. Great post!
As has been said before, this practice is so common that I’m (happily) surprised so many are paying attention now. To the commenter deciding to blame every/any shop in NYC for this… is this the fault of NYC or the asshats at PriceRite (and elsewhere – sorry to report having had this experience as well) who’s doing the jerking? Strange logic…
What a sleeze…
Just so everyone know’s they have a ebay presence with the same name. I filed a claim with Ebay about them. As well as CNET list for shoppers.
I never even bother reading positive reviews of companies and products. I read negative ones and try to find things in common. If there are enough legitimate complaints, I take my business elsewhere.
I have had an extremely similar situation with Prestige, Broadway, Regal, A&M;, all falling under the same umbrella. I dug up these links:
I have also had a few experiences with these bait & switch tactics from online camera stores – GeniusCameras & USAPhotoNation. My orders just ended up being cancelled.
No online company should need to confirm anything verbally with you before shipping. This is an obvious tip-off that they are going to try and sell you additional stuff.
The thing that really annoys me is that these guys are able to advertise in magazines like Outdoor Photographer (which is how I found them) and other similar magazines. As an amateur photographer, I assumed that these resources would point me towards legitimate businesses…
It would be really nice if the photography magazines could be pressured into not accepting advertising from these scam artists or convinced to at least do some research into a company’s background before printing their advertisements.
Looks like said scumbags’ site is down. Ain’t that a shame.
eheh that is awsome that you took a stand, exact same thing happen to me, placed and order then I had to call back to verfy something. he tried to sell me the memory.
Unfortunetly dont think you won becauswe the site is down, when I called I noticed few sites that I visited had the same phone number for service so they have many fronts. You just ook one down.
Looks as though Furrybut1 is Steve’s little boytoy.
I had a similiar problem with one unscrupulous camera operator operating out of New York. I got the order cancelled…finally after many calls and arguements. Make sure it’s USA camera and not an Asian model, they baited and switched us like that. They suck. -Kidd
First of all anyone who berates a person because they’re trying to save a buck these days, needs to lay off the sauce. Who cares what percentage he was trying to save. He knows better now and that’s all that matters and for once, the little guy had a say for a change. Sure it may not change things in general but as I said for once someone had the stones to speak out and they were heard. Kudos Tom.
Now who is going to buy him a camera for all this trouble.
Just to say, I currently work for a company which sells electronic goods, cameras, etc (and no, I’m not posting the name :p) and if priceritephoto is anything like us they’ll be making a *loss* on any main items. All the profit comes from accessories. This might explain why they were so adamant to try and sell you additional items. It might also be that each employee has a quota to reach on accessories and people are pressuring customers so that they meet that quota. Not tat it makes it any more acceptable, just an idea
Good work man. I will make sure that other people know about this. you know you made http://www.slashdot.com right?
Is Lopez’s real name Sanchez? That is the name of the administrative contact for both PriceRitePhoto.com and TheCameraMall.com although they use different address to register their websites.
924 Bergen Ave Suite 160
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Domain Name: THECAMERAMALL.COM
Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
924 Bergen Ave Suite 160
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Domain created on 03-Jan-2000
Domain expires on 03-Jan-2010
Last updated on 01-Dec-2005
Domain servers in listed order:
1274 49th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Domain Name: PRICERITEPHOTO.COM
Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
1274 49th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Domain created on 22-Jun-2003
Domain expires on 20-Jun-2015
Last updated on 01-Dec-2005
Domain servers in listed order:
EXACTLY what happened to me w/ Broadway Photo – bad bad people. I wish I knew why the government allows these operations to stay in business – they are worse than drug dealers.
Yeah Tom i feel bad for you, but I absolutely think you did the right thing not only keeping calm but encouraging other people to do the same. That’s a respectable thing to do. It’s an awesome feeling though to see all these ppl tryin to take down scammers, whether the company can be represented that way or not. I only hope they are a bad company, and that this wasn’t an isolated incident, ’cause right about now this company is gonna tank.
Straight-up advice: Never buy the extended warranty. Never. And if the salesperson gives you any grief over that decision, tell them this will be the last time you ever shop there and walk away.
Extended warranties in and of themselves are scams. If they won’t simply sell you what you came to buy, then they are a dishonest business and should be shut down by word-of-mouth.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I shall spread the word to my friends….
well from what I have read and what I have seen these people are some real dirtbags. I’m glad they have been reported, and I hope they suffer for their sins
their site has gone down ðŸ™‚
Server Used: [ whois.domaindiscover.com ]
priceritephoto.com = [ 184.108.40.206 ]
1274 49th Street
Brooklyn NY 11218
Domain Name: PRICERITEPHOTO.COM
Administrative Contact Technical Contact Zone Contact:
1274 49th Street
Brooklyn NY 11218
Domain created on 22-Jun-2003
Domain expires on 20-Jun-2015
Last updated on 01-Dec-2005
Domain servers in listed order:
Register or transfer domains at http://www.BuyDomains.com – as low as 9/year.
Including FREE: Responsive toll-free support URL/frame/email forwarding
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Right now, message on website:
There is no website configured at this address.
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Something happen to me – not as bad, but dont be fooled. They “say” they will fire him. How do you know? Maybe it was his brother calling and who knows who that other “CEO” is. Trying to sweep it under the rug and etc. Stand to your story. Keep consumers informed. Small victory, at a high price – dont submit!
Goodluck and Good Job!
You should only buy products from authorized dealers who are selling sealed, US Warranty products.
Disreputable internet dealers will play games such as:
• listing a product as “in stock” when its really not in stock. Then after collecting interest on your money that they’re holding, they’ll either return you the money, or try to sell you something else (bait-and-switch).
• selling “Grey Market” cameras from overseas, which do not have a US warranty.
• selling Used/Opened/Demo/Refurbished products as new.
• removing the product from its original packaging, so that they can cannibalize the included accessories, or include inferior accessories (so that they can resell the standard accessories).
• list the price of a product at “below cost” and then charge you exorbitant shipping/handling/processing fees.
• take your personal information and sell it to marketers.
Beyond that, by dealing with one of these shady places, you’re missing out on advice and expertise from experienced dealers who get feedback from consumers and professionals like yourself on a daily basis. Experienced dealers can help you make decisions that will cost you less money and frustration in the long run, while increasing your productivity and positive experience immediately.
For instance, would a shady internet dealer:
• recommend that you buy a protective UV filter for a lens, and be able to recommend different quality UV filters for different quality lenses?
• be able to recommend FROM EXPERIENCE a lens (considering the lens conversion factor for many digital SLRs) and/or a lighting kit for portrait, macro, industrial, architectural, real estate, sports, journalism, product marketing, or medical photography?
• be able to take care of you if your product was D.O.A., needed warranty repair, or needed repair out of warranty?
In conclusion, if you want to save yourself time, money, and emotional frustration, then go to an experienced and reputable dealer. You will be glad that you did.
Disclosure: I work for an internationally renowned camera and video specialty store (established in 1974) in Newton, Massachusetts. And yes, we have New, US Warranty, Canon EOS 5D bodies in stock.
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