Reporter Pays Double MSRP For G1 Phone, Uses Flashmob To Get Revenge

A Time Out New York reporter paid nearly double MSRP for a new G1 phone she bought off Times Square from Cellular Stop. After she realized she’d been had (internet access and texting were sold to her as “add-ons”), she went back to the store asking for an explanation. Instead, she says, six clerks began circling her and her friends, screaming and cursing and threatening to “break” their “fucking faces.” Her friend was tossed against a wall and another clerk tried to smash her camera.

She then tried six different ways of solving the problem, from filing complaints with various bodies to trying to track down the elusive store owner to including having 25 TONY staffers come into the store and screw with the staff to calling the T-mobile media relations line and getting an investigation launched. None of them worked. T-mobile did end up “terminating its relationship with the store,” the reporter still never was able to return the device and get a refund.

That’s a lot of work with little to show for it. Try this order of events instead:

1) Pay for item with credit card
2) Realize you way overpaid
3) Ask to return item for refund
4) Get cursed and thrown out of the store
5) Call credit card company and do a chargeback
6) Get money back
7) Watch Scrubs

What to do if…you’ve been had [TONY]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cankles says:

    My Gawd, I hate people. Can’t she sue them for threatening her with physical violence?

    It can’t be said enough how important it is to purchase with a credit card, it makes no sense not to.

    • Cankles says:

      @Incognito: Although it’s great she’s a reporter, she can write nasty stories about them. Arg, why did I chose engineering… Oh yeah, that’s right, I have the grammar of a ten year old.

    • FeendRendor says:


      Do debit cards carry the same chargeback option credit cards do?

      • Xkeeper says:


        Generally, no. At least, that’s what this site has given me the idea of.

        Mostly because of the way debit works… once you pay for something, your money is gone. Credit is a bit different in that regard.

        Also, this thread is absolute hilarity. I love you people so much.

    • shufflemoomin says:

      @Incognito: @Incognito: Not everyone can get a credit card. I can’t. I’m a new resident to a country and they won’t look at me for 6 months as I have no credit history in this country. I know that’s likely not the case with the OP but there could be reasons she doesn’t have one.

      • Cankles says:

        @shufflemoomin: I’m not sure if it’s too late to get back to you, but apply for a check card, the ones with the visa and mastercard symbol, use it as credit and the insurance on it works the same.

    • shepd says:

      @Incognito: @Incognito:

      Yes, she can. Threats of assault are generally considered actual assault depending on your location. They phoned 911 and nobody responded. Personally, I would have remained at the crime scene and continued dialing 911 every 10 minutes until I had a response. Of course, then again, I would have requested an ambulance after being thrown against a wall like that, you need any bruises documented by medical professionals so you can sue for damages.

      I’m surprised NYC cops are this terrible, honestly. When I called for being shoved by a customer, three cruisers and six cops responded in under 5 minutes. ‘Course, that was in Canadia. :-) I’m starting to understand, now, perhaps why in the US handguns are allowed, if things are this lawless. Very sad.

  2. se7a7n7 says:

    I used to work in advertising in NYC. A lot those cell phone stores are crooks. They advertise great prices on phones that they don’t have, they lose/forget your rebates.

    I’m glad these jerks are getting in trouble with a carrier at least.

  3. midwestkel says:

    Police don’t work? If they threatened her and threw her against a wall?

  4. dlynch says:

    huge fail on this reporter’s part. documenting such fail should be a massive embarrassment, but clearly isn’t.

  5. midwestkel says:

    When they did the revenge it sounded like they stole 7 MP4 Players, I think that is what “racking up” means. Thats nice…

  6. whitefang2001 says:

    A Time Out reporter should know better than shopping at Times Square. That said, when I backpacked thru Europe I used many different types of travel guides and Time Out was the worst. Their guides were next to useless.

  7. Trick says:

    So the reporter did “her homework” yet still was ripped-off? As a “member of the press” she contacted other media people who couldn’t do anything. The she attempted to flash-mob the joint with co-workers and managed to do nothing more than perhaps steal some stuff?

    Sorry, but it appears this “member of the press” is screaming “I can do gonzo journalism too.”

    It read more like someone trying to abuse what little powers they had and failed miserably at it…

  8. BeyondtheTech says:

    The first home theater system I bought from these guys was from some brand called “Fujigawa.” They swore it had “Sony guts” in it.

    I knew I was being had when they tried to sell me a phone that had supposedly had a one-button free HBO feature.

    If anyone sees Yossi in that store, spit in his face for me. ;)

  9. dohtem says:

    one of us, pretending to speak little English, asked to buy an iPhone. Taken into a back area of the store, he was told it’d be $600, plus an extra $100 to unlock it (“so it will work in your country”), and an extra $50 for “Internet, YouTube, the works.” Total cost: $750, or $450 more than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Our man presented a Visa gift card. When it was denied, the clerk refused to return it until “you bring your passport and come back.”

    These Cellular Shop people should be in jail.
    Nothing about these guys is honest.

  10. johnnya2 says:

    There is NOTHING that prevents a retailer from charging whatever the market will bear on items like a G1 phone. The MSRP stands for Manufacturers SUGGESTED Retail Price. A manufacturer can not force a dealer to charge anything . McDonald’s owner operators do not have to charge $1 for the dollar meal (in NYC they do not). She paid what she thought the phone was worth, and then had buyers remorse.That is on her, not the retailer.

    • Trick says:


      You are 100% correct. Then she tried to get out of her buyers remorse by abusing her so-called media job. Even then she failed at doing so.

    • shan6 says:

      @johnnya2: I disagree slightly. When a salesperson tells you that you need to spend additional money for them to activate the internet and “youtube” on your phone, they are being completely dishonest.

    • Pylon83 says:

      Agreed. I don’t see how buying something and later figuring out you paid way too much is grounds for a chargeback. I certainly hope Visa/Amex refuses to process one. The stuff about being threatened in the store is another matter though, but one to be handled by the legal system. She overpaid for a phone, too bad, That’s what happens when you don’t do proper research before buying something. Demanding a refund outside their return policy unreasonable. Doing a chargeback is even more unreasonable.

      • dohtem says:

        @Pylon83: Did you even read the article?

        the clerks sold me features the phone already comes with (Internet access, texting capabilities, a protective case, etc.)

        Selling the phone for more money is one thing.

        Selling features that the phone comes with and charging for them is another entirely.

        I would concede your point if they sold her a G1 outright for $400. But no, they lied to her, making her believe she was paying extra to have these features.

        • Anonymous says:

          @dohtem: Usually this will happen in the grey market with cameras. The difference here is that it will initially be CHEAPER before the things that came with the camera are sold back to you and you’re required to be upsold into lens packages.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      @johnnya2: Did you read the article? The author conceded that selling the phone at an outrageous price was nothing illegal or even worth arguing about. But she was also fraudulently sold made-up features that were already included with the device, she was promised a phony rebate, a defective battery, and the clerks even refused to give an itemized receipt.

      • johnnya2 says:

        @Shadowman615: @dohtem: Again, what is wrong with that. If she spent even two seconds READING the box, she would know. A G1 is hardly a necessity in life, and the fact she didn’t bother to read anything about it prior to shopping, she deserves what happens to her. It sounds like the bitch was looking for a story. How convenient she is a reporter. I do not believe or trust her in any way.

  11. Caprica Six says:

    first of all, I wouldn’t buy a cell phone off or anything from any of those shops down Broadway or thereabouts on Times Square. They are so sleezy with their bright lights, swarmy sales people, etc. Geez, go on ninth or on Park Ave, at least it’s away from sleeze. Or, er, um, maybe not…..I do know of a good dry cleaner by Grand Central though…

  12. Subliminal0182 says:

    If she could get 25 people to go there, why couldn’t she get them to dress in suits, pretending to be FBI (but never say it), and scare the hell out of em that way?

  13. DixonJalooloo says:

    I wonder why she would even attempt buying a cell phone from those stores. No TMO corp store in NYC?

    • jamar0303 says:

      @DixonJalooloo: Pretty sure there is one near Times Square… I’ve been in it. Why on earth would you go to one of those tiny little hole-in-the-wall places anyhow? That just screams “dumb”.

  14. Meathamper says:

    Just because the store is in Times Square doesn’t mean it’s reliable and won’t rip you off. Doing research online and in real life is the best way to find a deal.

  15. scoobydoo says:

    Brilliant move. Everyone gets scammed sooner or later, and it must feel great to screw them back.

  16. em2thrasher says:

    Try what this dood did… then run like hell.

  17. TechnoDestructo says:

    Why is it every complaint I see about electronics-retail-related scams that isn’t some Nigerian or Nigerian-like scammer is some shop in New York or New Jersey?

    Christ, you’d think they’d have run out of suckers by now.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @TechnoDestructo: “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        @GuinevereRucker: I’m not arguing with that. You’d just think that everyone in the region would know about these sorts of scumbags by now, and that maybe word would have gotten around to tourists.

        I’m amazed that they are able to find enough fools to stay in this business, and EXCLUSIVELY this business.

        It isn’t like Nigerian scammers where they have really low overhead. An electronics shop, even some fly-by-night bunch of scumbags, has some overhead.

  18. snoop-blog says:

    I lub me sum scrubs.

  19. richcreamerybutter says:

    I’m not blaming her, but I can’t figure out why anyone other than a tourist (especially a TONY reporter) even considers shopping at one of these sketchy Times Square-Broadway places for electronics, let alone phones (with all the corp stores on every corner). Or, just shop for a good price online as had been suggested already.

  20. rjflyn says:

    I have some Italian friends that have told me if I ever have any problems in NYC to just let them know. This would probably count.

  21. Adisharr says:

    There’s always some dope that will buy something expensive from one of the shifty retailing shitholes of NYC.

  22. seamer says:

    The bigger news article should be about why she was so clueless in the first place about what she wanted to buy. Then the bully crap.

  23. wtrwlkr says:

    So, looks like the only reason she got any resolution to this problem (Verizon launching an investigation) was because she was a reporter who could call Verizons media relations line. Us common folk will have to deal with the CSRs who can’t do anything about it.

    • TonyEuryale says:

      @wtrwlkr: Umm really? Where did you pick up the Verizon mention? Was it all the T-Mobile references or perhaps the fact that G1 is exclusive to T-Mobile? Oh, I bet it was the prominent T-Mobile Authorized Dealer sign in the photo. A “reporter” (I do work for a newspaper, so I have a faint idea) who would buy something like this without having a clue and then whining about it on her publication is no better than a commenter can’t read.

  24. lauy says:

    As someone who has worked in the financial services industry for 11 years and has spent much of that time working with chargebacks, I have to call BS on the chargeback suggestion. No financial institution can process a chargeback because you think you paid too much. Unless they just credit your account as a courtesy, but I can almost guarantee would NOT happen in this case. It usually only happens in cases of true fraud (lost stolen cards, etc.), which this is most certainly NOT.

  25. juri squared says:

    Well, at least she got to get her complaint out in public in a big way!

  26. rte148 says:

    To ANYONE visiting NYC for the first time.

    Every 5th Avenue electronics store is a ripoff. They are an embarrassment and a disgrace to every legitimate retailer in the world.

    As a former Manhattanite, I am ashamed that these establishments are allowed to exist, but I suppose the russian mob has to launder their money and stolen goods somewhere.

  27. Corporate-Shill says:

    Why is it when a “reporter” gets scammmed the merchants is lower than dirt.

    Ooops, forgot, the merchant is lower than dirt.

    So WTF was the reporter even buying something from the dirtbag? Gee whiz, doesn’t the University that trained this reported install a bit of brains along with the liberal education?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Speaking from experience I will guarantee you that the owner of the store is either Jewish or from an Arab speaking nation. Flame me all you want for being politically incorrect but 99% of the electronic stores in NYC that you always hear the complaints about have owners and employees from very definite backgrounds. This goes for those super cheapo online sites too. The bait is a low price on something they will never sell you unless you buy some very expensive add ons. Sorry if this offends anyone but, like I said, I speak from a lot of experience dealing with these people and their neverending scams.

  29. nevets68 says:

    As much as I hate to admit this, this reminds me of the scene in ” Don’t mess with the Zohan”. The shady electronics store named ” going out of business”.

    And yes I watched the movie under duress….hey the significant other wanted to rent it.

  30. reservoirr says:

    I went to NYC in 8th grade (1993) and ran out of 110 film, the tour group was in times square and I ran into one of of the 1000’s of camera shops, cost me $25.00 for 2 rolls. I kinda thought it was odd there were no prices listed anywhere…oh hindsight…

  31. bleigh says:

    OK, so in order to get the phone for X price, sometimes when you sign the contract it will have X features on it because it’s a requirement. She had to sign the contract which stated X features. Also, if it’s a Tmobile dealer, why the hell would there be iPhones in the cabinet? and why is there a don’t buy iPhones here sign?
    But like I said, certain places make you get X plan for X price (text,internet,gps) and you get the deal on the phone. they make you pay with a credit card so that if you change your plan, they charge you for the phone @ a more expensive price.

  32. clickable says:

    STEP 1: Try to solve the problem yourself
    I did my homework to find out exactly what the phone came with

    There’s the problem. This was the first step of the problem-solving. Ergo, she waited until after the purchase before she did her homework to find out exactly what the phone came with.

    The time to do your homework is before you pull out your wallet to pay.

  33. LINIS says:

    What in the hell? There’s no way that the clerks just randomly circled her and harassed her like that if she just went in to ask about a refund in a normal manner. She had to have done something to provoke it – not that it makes it OK.

    What the hell goes on with these crazy people? Do you need drama in your life that badly? Oh, and any smart consumer / reporter should have figured out that there’s this thing called the internet that provides almost completely transparent information on prices and MSRPs! No way she did her homework.

  34. bdgbill says:

    Umm wouldn’t it have been easier to do a little research before buying in the first place?

    The first thing her research would have told her is that YOU SHOULD NOT BUY CELL PHONES FROM SHITTY LITTLE STORES IN TIMES SQUARE! These are the places Tom Hanks character on SNL makes fun of (It has Sony Guts).

    I mean, come on! This person presumably lives in New York. She didn’t know this?

  35. BurnZ_ says:

    um here’s an Idea, Maybe do a little research on a large perchase like that BEFORE YOU BUY IT.

  36. TrueBlue63 says:

    Sorry consumerist, you have been scammed!!!!

    A reporter in NYC that does not know that the electronics shops around Times Square are rip off artists. That is simply not believable.

    Her next story will be about purchasing the Empire State Building from the Daily News Reporter, and wanting to start collecting rent.

  37. Anonymous says:

    If you live in New york or New Jersey you are supposed to know that you don’t shop in Times Square or Canal Street for Electronics. Those stores are solely there to rip off tourists. Most of those electronics are out dated or are refurbished and are sold as new for inflated prices. You can walk 6 blocks in any direction and eat and show for half. Shame on you for shopping in Times Square!

  38. jpdanzig says:

    Why in the world would a Time Out New York reporter set foot in one of those rip-off joints, much less buy something there?

    Aren’t TONY reporters supposed to know SOMETHING about the city they report on?

    That having been said, I agree with the other commmenter who noted that the reporter should have found a cop. Not only could she have pressed charges against these goons for threatening her and roughing her up, but I have heard cops can often get in the faces of these bums and score an “instant refund”.

    I hope she reported the store to the BBB as well…

  39. discounteggroll says:

    “I can’t get a refund on my phone all on my own, no I know, I’m no superman”

    /end theme song

  40. suburbancowboy says:

    Step 1: Know how much something is supposed to cost before you plunk hundreds of dollars down on something.

    Step 2-7: N/A because you didn’t let yourself get ripped off in the first place.

  41. donopolis says:

    This just cracks me up…I can’t believe you guys…
    “Why would she shop there?”
    “She is so stupid.”

    This is a reporter here…She obviously knew it was a rip off. She wanted to write a story about rip-offs and did.

    To me the most insulting thing about the article is poor me put on as she acts like she didn’t know she would be got ripped off.


  42. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    I’ve lived in NYC for a long time but even when I was a young naive Midwesterner I still was smart enough to realize never ever buy anything from a Time Square electronics shop. Why would someone from Time Out NY honestly buy a cell phone from one of these companies? Honestly, she should lose her money just for being so stupid.

  43. postnocomments says:

    there’s no reason to even step into those stores unless you’re looking for a rare Asian or European camera or unlocked cell phone -which you should be looking for online first anyway

  44. vastrightwing says:

    P.T. Barnum

  45. LoriLynn says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t pay $750 for ANY sort of phone. When they started tacking things on that needed to be “activated” I would have walked out. $750???

  46. dangermike says:

    What ever happened to caveat emptor? She went in with insufficient knowledge to avoid overpaying, then entered into a purchase agreement which was fulfilled by both parties and then later wanted to reverse that agreement. There is no right right to do that.

  47. applesanity says:

    Time Out New York is one of the worst guides for NYC. Frankly, I’m not surprised that one of their own staff is a moron.

    Even the wide-eyed, naive tourists in Times Square know that those stores are shady as hell.

  48. Canino says:

    A bunch of shady Times Square electronics/camera/phone dealers ripped off someone and then surrounded, intimidated, and assaulted them? SkokieGuy doesn’t believe it.

  49. banmojo says:

    This lady should really be ashamed to call herself a NYC reporter, getting taken in this way. I’ve only visited NYC as a tourist several times, and long before going there I was aware of these types of stores, these types of scams, so when my wife got all excited about some ultra cheap price on a camera she had wanted, I explained to her that I’d happily spend 30$ more online with a reliable distributor and have the peace of mind that I was getting quality merchandise from a reliable source.

    This woman, and anyone else who shops at those stores, are supporting commerce-terrorism and should be locked up at Guano Apes Bay for a weekend of spanking (is she hot?)

  50. monkeytown says:

    Huge outpoint in the first step listed:

    “I did my homework to find out exactly what the phone came with, and called Cellular Stop to ask for a clarification on the questionable charges; they hung up on me.”

    Doing your homework AFTER the fact. Before you put any significant amount of money toward something, research it and see what you should expect of the product first – functions, parts, everything.

  51. jacksonwhole says:

    “I did my homework to find out exactly what the phone came with.”

    She did this AFTER she bought it? And she is a journalist? Even my mother knows how to type in The price and info is there for the whole world to see. No wonder Village Voice is a sad shell of it’s former self. What a pathetic moron.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Actually, a chargeback wouldn’t work in this case. By signing the receipt you’re agreeing to pay the amount listed on the receipt. If the company bilks you and you agree to pay the higher price, the bank can’t override that agreement. A chargeback would work in the case where you agreed to a $50 item and got charged $500 (eg a processing error).

  53. geneb5 says:

    I remember when these shyster electronic stores (and similar carpet stores) used to infest 5th ave.

    Around 1980, when Sony walkmen first came out and were $100-$200, Peter Sellers heard about them and went shopping. They sold him a walkman for $1100.

    I remember also, when, some 10 years later, a now-famous actor got screwed at one of these stores on W. 32nd St. (not Willoughby’s).

    He went back and in his calm, tough-guy way, threatened to tear the store apart. He got his refund.

  54. Outrun1986 says:

    Even as a kid I knew that shady things were sold near Times Square and that you could buy fake Rolex’s. I have never been to NYC either.

    But my high school class went there and half my class got robbed of their valuable possessions (jewelry, etc) because they were trying to get fake ID’s. Another girl got money taken out of her purse because she was walking around NYC with her purse hanging open. Explains why I don’t want to go to my 10 year reunion coming up, I went to high school with a bunch of morons.

    I wonder if the cell phone she got was even real, or if it was some chinese knockoff.

  55. Atheist Jew says:

    Her friend was tossed against a wall? Doesn’t that constitute assault? Why not just call the cops at the very least right then and there?