Man Tries To Buy From "The Camera Professionals," Fails

“The Camera Professionals” are not actually that professional, nor do they have cameras to sell you. That’s what ZDNet reporter Josh Taylor discovered when he decided to take their Google AdWord bait and buy a camcorder they were offering for nearly $300 less than other stores. He didn’t expect much success, and he was richly rewarded:

While stories like mine are sadly not that uncommon, I’m still absolutely stumped at what kind of scheme The Camera Professionals is trying to pull off. They never tried to upsell me, they never charged my credit card, they simply appeared to have taken an order for an item they seemingly have no intention of trying to fill.

After reading complaints online about the company, Taylor was expecting a call-to-confirm scam that would lead to an aggressive upsell, and a subsequent out of stock notice if he didn’t take the bait. Instead, he simply got nowhere with them. We wonder if it had to do with his manner of payment (Amex).

What’s funniest about the experience is that the company actually paid a small amount of money to take Taylor’s order:

But that’s not all. Since I clicked on a Google sponsored link to visit them in the first place, they actually paid Google for the privilege of taking an order. It wasn’t much – looks to be about a nickel a click for the search term “Vixia HF10? – but it’s still a nickel more than they made off my order.

“The worst shopping experience on the web?” [The ToyBox / ZDNet]

Comments

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  1. TheBigLewinski says:

    I had this happen to me from two different Camera Stores on the net. I was buying a Canon XTi and they were $200 less than any other place but they could not deliver the goods. Freaking wierd…

  2. chiieddy says:

    That’s just odd. You have to be super-uber-careful with camera companies in general, though. They are often scammers. I would run a Google search on their name at minimum and perhaps check with the BBB before giving any company that I hit through an ad my credit card information. Of course, the best way is to look around for good reviews. Such as how Butterfly Photo initially got my business through personal recommendation.

  3. Buran says:

    The only ones in Manhattan that I’d trust are B&H (the one I use) and Adorama. Too many scammers there to trust anyone else, and frankly, with B&H’s huge selection, I would not need anyone else.

  4. sysak says:

    Step 1: Advertise product
    Step 2: Take order for product
    Step 3: Collect no payment for product
    Step 4: Profit???

  5. I’m sorry, but the “Worst Shopping Experience on the Web” would be going to Broadway Photo (or one of their ilk), placing an order, being upsold, and then being sold a gray-market product that is not covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.

    If this reporter wants that experience, he should try Broadway Photo. That’s Broadway Photo. Remember the name. (I canceled before anything actually happened, but these poor bastards didn’t.

  6. atrixe says:

    If the deal seemed to good to be true, why bother in the first place?

    When it comes to something like a camcorder, I’d stick to Amazon or B&H Photo Video when ordering. A common scam that I have seen from businesses selling video and photographic equipment at a cheaper price than most other places involves ‘Gray Market’ items. They import the products from foreign countries where it is cheaper, and then you get stuck with something that is not covered by warranty where you live.

  7. Camera storefronts are notoriously the worst (esp. Brooklyn)

    Ever wonder why they’re so cheap? When the camera malfunctions and you need to make a warranty claim, you’ll know. And the merchant will probably be out of business.

  8. RokMartian says:

    A friend of mine was scammed by an upsell technique; A camera was offered at well below the expected price. He orders it and immediately gets a call and is informed the camera doesn’t come with the battery, strap, and all the other accessories that usually come standard. By the time those items were included, it cost a few hundred more than buying it from a legit dealer.

    Check out http://www.resellerratings.com before buying online. If they are based out of NY and are not B&H or Adorama, then be wary.

  9. MikeGrenade says:

    B&H, Adorama, and Amazon are basically the only sure shots for ordering photographic equipment online.

    The thing that seems to take a while for a lot of people to realize is there are no deep discounts in photography. Especially lenses, which can still fetch 90% or more of their retail value on the used market.

  10. joshthephenom says:

    I have purchased thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment from Adorama over the years and they rock. Their printing services are also top notch, and very affordable!

  11. graymulligan says:

    No love for Beachcamera.com? I’ve bought my last 3 high end purchases from them, and have been thrilled. Adorama is THE place for used glass though…great deals.

  12. parliboy says:

    So… for a nickel, they got fairly reliable contact information on you and a pre-existing business relationship for future selling to you / selling of your data to “partners”.

  13. spinachdip says:

    @Ash78: Or more likely, you’re buying a gray market camera and the warranty won’t be valid for the States. Combine that with the upsell scam, it’s simply not worth shopping anywhere other than reputable places like BuyDig and B&H.

  14. firesign says:

    this is why i might pay more, but i buy all my camera stuff from my local cord camera. it’s right up the street, the staff knows what they’re talking about, and if there’s a problem they’ve always taken care of it. worth the extra $$ for me anyway.

  15. watduck says:

    Also, those shady camera stores often say that the cheap price is due to the camera having a nonexistent “plastic body”.

    As mentioned before ALWAYS check http://www.resellerratings.com!

  16. adent1066 says:

    Very simple, check the prices against B&H or Adorama, if they are much less, then it is a scam.

  17. Chongo says:

    one other drawback to grey market cameras is the Firmware updates. My boss recently purchased a grey market Nikon d40 with all the trimmings. The camera works great and all the extra’s are nice… however when I was trying to update the firmware for him I discovered that it was not offered for grey market cameras.

  18. ptkdude says:

    @sysak: I thought there was another step in there, which is completely blank. I could be wrong; it’s been awhile since I’ve seen that episode.

  19. macinjosh says:

    @ptkdude:
    The middle step is a bunch of question marks, and as far as I know, the origin is slashdot comments, not South Park. :)

  20. jchabotte says:

    B&H = THE Mothership!

  21. endless says:

    i remember back years ago when DOS attacks on websites were somewhat common.

    i wonder if there would be anyway to do such a thing to the phone lines of broadway camera.

    i for one would find it terribly amusing.

  22. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Why aren’t people upset that the Chinese version of camera products cost half price just because the menus are in Chinese? If manufacturers didn’t price gouge U.S. customers for the benefit of an English menu, crap stores like this wouldn’t be able to run these scams.

  23. tylerk4 says:

    The exact same thing happened to me with BestPriceCameras.com. Placed an order for a Sony HD camcorder with my AMEX, on a price significantly lower than other mainstream retailers… and nothing. Waited a week before following up with them, and was informed the product was out of stock indefinitely. No charges to my credit card and no voluntary contact from them. It was weird.

  24. geoffhazel says:

    So does Broadway Photo own [www.lowpricedigital.com]

    Lowpricedigital website? Seems like they have nothing but happy customers if you go there….

  25. robertbenda says:

    The scam could be that in six months you’ll start getting charges on your card for $9.75 from a company in Romania. I’d tell your bank your card was stolen and be safe.

  26. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I’d also like to recomend Canoga Camera. They are LA based, about as far from the Brooklyn scammers you can get. I got a USA XTI from them through an EBay auction, and it’s one of the best purchases I ever made.

  27. pestie says:

    Scams from camera stores are why I chose to buy my Nikon D80 from NewEgg. I’m new to buying camera stuff online, so despite the $100 or so higher cost vs. other retailers I’d never heard of, I bought from NewEgg and, of course, had no problems at all. Now I have to note some of these other companies mentioned in these comments for future reference.

    @macinjosh: No, that bit originated on South Park and became a Slashdot meme/cliché afterwards.

  28. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @graymulligan: I like Beach too, but they can be hit or miss on prices. Plus I had a bad experience in their B&M store in NJ.

  29. Lance Uppercut says:

    Some guy is on a mission to take pictures of every store in Brooklyn that sells digital cameras:

    [donwiss.com]

  30. spinachdip says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: Because when you buy a camera, you’re paying not just for the camera, but also the warranty (as well as bunch of other stuff – this post does a better job of explaining than I can: [www.revellphotography.com]).

    There’s nothing wrong with getting gray market cameras, per se. They’re fine as long as you’re happy to pay out of pocket for repairs or get a separate protection plan.

  31. Rm212 says:

    I’d like to throw a nod towards Newegg.com – bought a Canon 40D from them recently. Always have a good experience with them, and have found a few deals too. Their prices seem to stay at or near the low end of reputable sellers and I’ll pay a few extra bucks to know it’ll get to me as expected. I’ve also used B&H and BeachCamera with good results.

    @Spinachdip – I agree on the grey market thing, but more for lenses and other accessories than the camera.

  32. Buran says:

    @atrixe: B&H sells grey market stuff, but clearly labels what’s US market and what’s not, and has a convenient explanation for what “import” means.

  33. lordargent says:

    sysak: Step 1: Advertise product
    Step 2: Take order for product
    Step 3: Collect no payment for product
    Step 4: Profit???

    Step 1: Advertise product
    Step 2: Take order for product
    Step 3: Collect no payment for product
    Step 4: Sell credit card information to identity thieves.
    Step 5: Profit???

  34. Trai_Dep says:

    @Buran: I’m in California, and have had such pleasant experiences with B&H that I’ve bought from them a half-dozen-plus times. Over a grand’s worth, easy. Never a complaint.
    One time I tried to get them to price-match to a scam site (unknown to me at the time) and they demurred, then suggested I check up on the site, nicely. I came back to them the next day and bought my cyber-shot from them with no complaint.
    Quite the electronics mail-order company: cheap but not to the point of absurdity, no gotchas, and good customer service.

  35. strathmeyer says:

    Actually, one of the biggest problems is Google Adsense itself. Google makes money off these scammers and makes no effort to remove them, but why would I ever click an Adsense advertisement when this is the usual result? It seems we’re going the way of television advertisements, where they’re only catering to the dumbest of consumers.

  36. njrs says:

    I echo the positive comments on B&H but also want to concur with BuddyGuyMontag’s recommendation on Canoga Camera. I picked up a Manfrotto tripod from them in an EBay auction at substantial savings. I decided I wanted to get another head for it and called them. They were very knowledgeable, great to deal with, and added it to the order with no extra shipping.

  37. Buran says:

    @Trai_Dep: Yup. In fact I’m waiting for an order from them to arrive (tomorrow). The only “problem” I have with them is their weird hours/closings, which (thank you Murphy) strike when I need something the most. Never had an issue with them otherwise.

  38. spinachdip says:

    @Buran: “The only “problem” I have with them is their weird hours/closings, which”

    WHY DO YOU HATE THE JEWS???!!?!?!?

    The hours do mess with you a bit, but I kinda appreciate that they do whatever they want. But seriously, I love going to do that store, even if it is a bit overwhelming.

  39. Buran says:

    @spinachdip: Hah. I don’t, just commenting on the oddity. I can respect it, but it’s still odd and frustrating when you need something that the local shop doesn’t seem to have. (The local shop is also great, but just doesn’t have the space to carry all the neat stuff).

    I haven’t seen their actual store, but I hear it’s impressive.

  40. nsv says:

    Adorama FTW. B&H botched my order and nearly screwed me out of equipment I needed to photograph a wedding. Never had a problem with Adorama. Their prices are about the same as everyone else, and they ship quickly (unless you order on a Saturday. Get over it. B&H is the same.) They’ve handled returns better than I hoped. I always go there first.

  41. HOP says:

    i’ve dealt with both b&h and adorama with good results, so i have to add my kudos for those two…….

  42. arby says:

    @Buran: As spinachdip said, B&H can actually be overwhelming when you go visit it, especially since they expanded and put all the still cameras on their second floor (the first floor has MP3 players, video cameras, TVs, lighting equipment, darkroom materials, and binoculars, IIRC). I shop at both B&H and Adorama, and every time I go to Adorama I’m amused by how, since their own recent renovation, they refer to their “mega-store” — they must be less than a quarter the size of B&H.

  43. sagis9 says:

    Why do people think that a store will sell them something for a price that is clearly impossible. If everyone is selling a camera for 1000$, and this one web site sells it for 600$, It just screams out “Click here if you’re an idiot”

  44. Buran says:

    @arby: I do plan to go there the next time I’m in the area, but I have no idea when that will be.

  45. dlab says:

    @macinjosh: No, it’s from the underpants gnomes…

    1. Steal underpants.
    2. ….
    3. Profit!

  46. nycaviation says:

    Googling “The Camera Professionals” brings up page after page of complaints, no actual store called “TheCameraProfessionals.com” or anything like that. In a month or two I’d imagine his card will start receiving monthly charges posted from somewhere in Siberia or Moldova.

  47. math0ne says:

    Step 1: Advertise product
    Step 2: Take order for product
    Step 3: Collect no payment for product
    Step 4: Ship the order if they ordered enough other stuff to make it profitable, and try to upsell the most promising orders that did not.
    Step 5: Profit???

    This seems to be a lead collection technique to me.

  48. WolfDemon says:

    Beachcamera is great