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Bill Popejoy

Shopping Online For Digital Photography and Electronic Equipment:
More Than You Ever Wanted To Know

Bill Popejoy, CUGG

December 9, 2006

First: There are two ways these items enter the United States: (1) Each Manufacturer designates an official importer of their goods who then distributes them to the various merchants throughout the country. These goods carry the manufacture's USA warranty. The company then has factory trained technicians located throughout the US who can repair your purchases if needed. (2) Goods are purchased in a country outside the US and then imported. These are called "Grey Market" goods. You save a little money by purchasing them, but not much. They do not carry the manufacture's USA warranty. This is perfectly legal. However, in case repairs are needed, the manufacturer may refuse to repair the item or will charge more for the repairs, more than you saved by buying Grey Market. The item may need to be returned to Japan for repairs. The documentation may be in Japanese.

Buyer Beware: You have heard the saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". When shopping online, if you find a price much lower than all of the others, Beware!!!!!

An example: I typed "Canon EOS 30D" in "" is like "Google" only better. Up came several options. One was at "Express Cameras", Their price for this camera was $599 when the next lowest price I could find was a little over $1000. This price raised a red flag for me. I watched the price for a couple of weeks and suddenly it was lowered to $549. Next I "asked" (googled) "Express Cameras". You can't believe the information I found there, ALL OF IT BAD, REALLY BAD. One site I found there was There were letters after letters telling of really awful experiences buyers had there. The following themes evolved as I read the letters:

(1)Bait and Switch. You order online. The next day you receive a call from them informing you that the item you ordered was Grey Market and out of stock. They don't expect to receive more for 3 or 4 months. However; here is the switch, they can let you have the item with manufactures USA warrantor for $900 ($200 less than they usually charge) with the Deluxe Accessory Package for $400, for a package price of $1300. They go on to list the items in the package, most of which are junk, and try to convince you that you really need them. They are really convincing so you relent. You must have really wanted the item because you ordered it online. Sucker. You should not have done it. You could have obtained the item from a reputable dealer for less money.

(2)An order is placed online. The next day they call you and try to sell you additional items which you don't want and don't need. Being savvy, you stand firm and the end result is that they agree to ship the item the next day for the advertised price. A week later it has not arrived. You call only to be informed that your order has been cancelled. Great news. They can't sell an item for less than they paid for it.

(3)They take your order and ship a different, much less expensive item. You call. They are, to say the least, not very cooperative. You are stuck with an item you would never have ordered.

The men, never women, manning the phones are very good at what they do. They will sell you the Brooklyn Bridge if you are not careful. You must be firm. Sometimes they will hang up on you. Most of the shady sites are located in NYC or in nearby New Jersey.

If you ever get caught in one of these scams, call and cancel your order and immediately call you credit card company and inform them not to accept any charges from this company.

Not to Worry: There are reputable dealers out there. Before you order for the first time from any merchant go to the site,, click on "Store Ratings" and type in the name of the company. At this site you will probably only get negative comments. However, if there are many and they are really bad, you are probably better off not to order from them.

Another approach would be to go to the following sites and look for good prices. Then click on the ratings at the right to get information on the merchant. Only order from those with ratings of 4+. Check on shipping charges. Some charge much more than others. Some have free shipping.

Sites to check for best prices:

There are others.

Sites that I have ordered from and can recommend:

I order all my printer ink and paper here.


If you know of other reputable sites or sites that compare prices, E-Mail me and I will pass the information on to the group.

Bill Popejoy,

December, 2006


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