Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns consumers hunting for deals on cameras and photography accessories to be cautious of two companies with a pattern of merchandise delivery issues: Camera Hunter and Crazy Cameras.
Camera Hunter: This Tacoma, Wash.-based business received 22 complaints in the past 36 months; 20 of which remain unanswered. While the online retailer promises great deals and cheap shipping, customers report that although charges are made to their credit cards, merchandise arrival is delayed or not delivered at all. Meanwhile, BBB is unable to confirm valid business licensing, and gives this company an "F" rating—BBB's lowest.
Crazy Cameras: Complainants indicate that the business promises 5 to 7 day product delivery, but consumers do not receive orders until 4 to 7 weeks later—despite the immediate credit card charges. When contacting the company for an explanation, consumers' phone calls go answered or they receive a generic e-mail response to cancel orders online. While Crazy Cameras presents the image of a United Kingdom-based company on www.crazycameras.co.uk, they claim a Portland location: 11918 SE Division St, #905. However, this address belongs to 'Mail Room Plus' and #905 is a drop-box number. To date, BBB has not been able to identify a local address for this company or valid Oregon business licensing. With an influx of inquiries and complaints since September 2009, Crazy Cameras has an "F" rating with BBB.
Avoid crooked online camera retailers by using the following online shopping tips:
Look for full contact information. If the business has a Web site or other advertisements, check for an address, e-mail address and phone number. Beware of businesses that try to disguise a post office or drop box number as a physical office or corporate location.
Search online. Look for customer feedback, testimonials and business reviews.
Ask for help. The state licensing agency where the company is located may be able to help determine if the business is properly licensed. Based on where the retailer is located, check with local organizations—like the Chamber of Commerce—to see if they have any information.
Search with BBB. BBB Reliability Reports provide general company background information, complaint history and more. Find reliable retailers by searching BBB's Accredited Business Directory. BBB Accredited Businesses are pre-screened and agree to resolve consumer complaints, if any should arise.
Collect purchase details before you buy. Read about the company's refund, shipping and return policies. If making a purchase online, print out and keep a copy of policies, warranties and the payment confirmation page.
Pay responsibly. Use a credit card or PayPal for online purchases; most credit cards include built-in consumer protections if the company does not deliver on promised goods.
Shop local. Consider shopping where you can retrieve the product directly and pay in person.
Remember, if it seems too good, it probably is: If a site offers products substantially cheaper than competitors, ask how and why they can make such drastic price cuts to merchandise – are they legitimate and are all parts included? Shop around, well-known companies can provide a pricing benchmark.