Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bait and Switch

How ironic. Shortly after posting a blurb about reputation terrorists, I was reminded, the hard way, how helpful it can be to review a seller's reputation before entering into a transaction. Here is the story:

I attempted to buy a camcorder on the internet. Using Froogle, I found an on-line reseller that was 25% cheaper than Amazon. Shame on me. I should have looked VIP Camera up on ResellerRatings.com first... The following story is identical to mine:

I ordered the camera using my credit card billing address as my shipping address to insure the order didn't have any problems. I do order a lot of items on line. I got a prompt email telling me my order was being processed. Then I got another email asking me to contact customer support to verify my order. I thought OK these guys are careful, I like that. When I called customer support the person verified my order then went on to ask me which battery I wanted with my order. I was confused because the website did mention two batteries options. I quickly figured out the person was trying to get me to upgrade my battery and increase my order sales amount. He seems upset when I declined the upgraded and more expensive battery. And was indignant when I didn't wish to purchase an extended warranty. After our conversation a fourth email advised me my order was now (since I didn't order anything else) a 4 to 6 week back order.

I canceled my order, of course. Turns out VIP Camera got 27 reviews on ResellerRatings.com (all of them negative) and earned a reputation score of ZERO out of 10. Using ResellerRatings.com again, I found a reseller who scored 8.89 over 472 reviews. Their prices are good, although not as low as the bait and switch artists at VIP Camera. That's where I ended up buying my gear.

Lesson learned: the internet is the best of places and the worst -- use it cautiously.


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