Monday, November 13, 2006

A New Shopping Low: CCI Camera City

While my latest camera buying experience had some highs and lows, I have yet to blog about the biggest low. So here it is, my attempt to buy the camera from CCI Camera City.

To find the best price on the Canon SD 630 I simply went to Froogle and searched. I came across this deal:

Wow, I thought, $209 - that's a sweet price! So I bought it.

The next day, we got a call from CCI, I had to call back and verify the order. I took this as a good sign: they weren't some fly by the night operation simply out to take my cash, they were as worried about fraud as I was. How wrong I was.

So I called back the number they gave me, and was connected with Larry. Larry, is a salesman. A salesman's salesman. A sell ice to Eskimos kind of salesman.

He first wanted to know if I wanted to buy a case with the camera - they had one on special for $30.00. It was usually like $60.00. I explained to him a bit of what I was looking for in the case, and he explained to me that this was exactly it. And besides, I could return the case without any problems within 21 days. What did I have to lose?

Fine, I said, I'll take the case. First mistake.

Then, he explained to me that my $209.00 hadn't actually bought me the whole setup - just the camera body. The battery, manuals, etc. were $80.00 extra.

I was shocked an amazed. What a dirty trick. But still, Larry seemed nice. And he reassured me that I could return the whole setup if I wasn't happy. I had nothing to lose.

Fine, I said, I'll take the camera. Second, bigger, mistake.

The whole deal was done, and Larry explained to me that the order would be shipped first thing in the morning. He was quite convinced I was going to be happy.

I SMS'ed Shira later that night (she was off on business travel) about the situation. She wrote back immediately: "you idiot, why did you buy the camera?" Because "Larry told me to" just didn't seem like a good reason. So I kept quiet.

The next day I called Larry back and told him I wanted to cancel the order. He explained it had shipped, but not to worry, I could easily return the camera.

Sure enough, the camera came. And for one brief moment, I thought: "Ya know, this is going to work out great. The camera will be perfect. The case will be a great deal. And this will teach Shira about not trusting others."

Oy, how wrong I was. We opened up the package and I was greated with this $60.00 case:

Sure enough, I had been duped. I then checked the receipt. There weren't line items for the camera, battery and case. It was simply all lumped together for $359.00. Way more than I expected to pay for this little device.

I was annoyed, and disappointed - Larry had betrayed me. But I figured, no problem, I'll get my refund, and I'll be on my way.

I called Larry back this morning, and he explained to me that he was sales and I needed customer service. He then passed me onto the customer service department.

I was immediately connected with a nice supervisor type. I explained to him what had happened.

His first move out of the gate was a good one - he told me to keep the case, and that he would be sending me the right one. And that he would toss in a 64MB memory card. I thanked him, but explained I had since bought a new camera.

Then things kinda turned ugly. We had some words as I explained to him how disappointed I was, and how I had found a much better deal locally. In the end, he said he would give me a refund. Oh, and there would be a 5% restocking fee.

A WHAT?!?!

I pretty much lost it at this point. He explained it was company policy and well documented on the invoice, there was a 5% restocking fee - too bad. I explained to him the promise Larry had made and things kinda got ugly from there.

In the end, he did wave the restocking fee.

At the time, I was ready to sit down and write a scathing review of their company. I was ready to charge them with every abuse under the sun. But, after a few hours of calming down, I've decided that really, they are only guilty of a few wrongs:

  • Using the dirty trick of advertising the price of a camera, when you can't actually buy the camera for that price.
  • Not having sales connected with customer service. At the first hint of my disappointment, Larry should have had me talking to a customer service rep. They probably could have kept me from going out and buying a camera elsewhere.
  • Lying to me to get my business. One part of this transaction that really annoyed me was this ridiculous case. Why? Because they flat out lied to get me to buy it. I described what I wanted, and either Larry didn't know, or simply ignored me. True, we are talking about a rather minor accessory. But in the end, if they'll lie to you about that, what else will they lie to you about?
  • Not being clear about the return policy. I asked about the return policy multiple times, and was never told about the restocking fee. At the least, that's a lie of omission. Which, of course, is still a lie.

On the other hand, the camera was delivered quickly and was in great shape.

So sure, buy from them. But I think I've finally learned my lesson. I'll pass, thank you very much.


  1. Holy crap. That sucks!

    How about Top Ten most reputable online retailers? :)

  2. I'm not sure I could make that list.

    But I think I could make the The Top Ten Least Reputable Online Retailers without a problem.


  3. Anonymous3:38 PM

    This is such a Simon problem. Why is it Simon men never learned to say no? Did we miss a class or something in kidergarten?

  4. It's so true!

    I didn't even feel right trashing them in my blog, even though they clearly deserved it.

  5. Thanks for the tip Christian.