Monday, June 29, 2009

Caveat emptor

Buying camera gear can be a dicey proposition if you're not careful. Just realize one thing: retailers do not mark up cameras, bodies, or lenses very much. They make their money selling you memory cards, filters, batteries, straps, etc. So if you see a price on a new camera or lens that's significantly lower than you see it on Amazon, Adorama, or B&H, it's probably a bait-and-switch scam.

Say you buy a camera from one of these shady outfits, like Broadway Photo, Foto Connection, etc. About a day after you place your order, you'll get a "confirmation" phone call. During this call, the belligerent caller will try and "sell" you a whole bunch of items that should already come with your camera, like battery chargers, software, etc. They'll be pushy and mean, and you're probably not getting what you ordered in the mail. When you call them to complain, they basically tell you to piss off.

Most of these scammers have Brooklyn addresses, but they're not what you think — most are actually empty warehouses, shipping centers, or private residences. To his credit, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has begun cracking down on these unsavory business practices, but you still have to be careful.

If you're buying new camera gear, and you have any question about who you're dealing with, check one of these two sites before placing an order:

1. — you can see customer reviews of the stores themselves. Look for comments detailing bait-and-switch tactics.

2. Don Wiss' pictures of Brooklyn Camera Store storefronts. Some results may surprise you.

I have always received outstanding service from these retailers:
1. Crutchfield
2. B&H
3. Adorama
4. Freestyle Photo
5. Collectible Cameras
6. Beach Camera

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