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Old Mar 11, 2006, 3:23 PM   #1
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How safe is it to buy a camera on eBay? Looking through the forums I see a lot of people here have done so. Please share any words of caution, wisdom or advice. Of course, you should check the seller feedback, but beyond that, what? Thanks!
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Old Mar 11, 2006, 4:10 PM   #2
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CametaAuctions is a vendor I've used that sells on Ebay, and they have a pretty good reputation. But, check the package deals carefully, as most vendors try to sell no name accessories or poor quality lenses to increase their profit margins. ;-)

I typically avoid any packages.

I also check feedback very carefully for anything I buy, looking for any change in buying/selling habits.

For example, if someone has been selling $10 items and all of the sudden starts listing $5000 cameras, that would raise a huge red flag to me. Ditto for anyone wanting payment by Western Union only (scammers take the money and vanish).

Accounts have been known to get hijacked from time to time (probably as a result of naive computer users responding to official looking e-mails requesting a login to their ebay account).

So, sometimes the person with good feedback is not really the person selling items under that e-bay name. You can't be too careful checking feedback history for any pattern changes.

I usually ask questions of a seller, too (that gives me a better "feel" for them).

One common tactic you do see ebay vendors use is selling "gray market" gear (cameras and lenses not intended for sale in the US or the region you're in). Sometimes they'll say "US warranty), when they mean a store warranty that may or may not be worth the paper it's written on.

Some manufacturers will refuse to service a gray market camera, even if you are willing to pay them to perform the service. That's done, in part, to discourage bypassing of the authorized US Distributors for products.

Unless you're a good detective and check out all aspects of a purchase carefully, I'd suggest going with a known reputable dealer for any larger gear purchase.

[url=http://www.bhphotovideo.com]http://www.bhphotovideo.com is a very reputable dealer that you can trust.

If you want to save a few bucks, try http://www.buydig.com (a.k.a., http://www.beachcamera.com ). Sometimes they have lower prices on the camera bodies.

But, I'd personally avoid their "package deals", as that's probably how they make their money. ;-)

They're the lowest price dealer I'd do business with. Some of the rest will try to get you to buy extras, etc.

But, smaller dealers like this are usually just drop shipping from the distributors (and most internet vendors don't really stock anything at all, as the distributors just include customized packing slips,etc. to make it look like the products came from the vendor you ordered from).

They also have a restocking fee you decide something isn't suitable for your purposes.

B&H has a no restocking fee policy for 7 days on digital (longer on non-digital lenses, cameras and more). See their online policies for restrictions.

I'd rather have a large dealer that doesn't drop ship from distributors and has their own stock if the price is close between dealers. They also have good customer service when you have problems, and you pay a bit extra to get that on some items.

But, if you look at things like name brand accessories (for example, Lexar 80X WA and Sandisk Ultra II or Extreme III memory cards versus the no name accessories you often see at vendors like Beach Camera/Buydig, you typically make up some of that difference because they have fair prices on everything.

The lowest priced dealers on the camera bodies are probably making their profit on the packages with no name accessories if I had to guess.

Some of the lower priced dealers are also scam artists (so be careful). Always check a vendor out using http://www.resellerratings.com , instead of relying on the feedback in most other price search engines.

If I were on a very tight budget, I'd go Beach/Buydig if I was postive I would be happy with a product, and wanted to save a few bucks, depending on the shipping hassles to split up orders (since I wouldn't want the no name memory cards they offer and they tend to be high on the better ones).

B&H tends to have a more even price structure (fair on the items they offer, versus trying to use a camera body as a "loss leader" (or low profit item).

They don't try to make it up by charigng more on other stuff, and stay with fair pricing across the board.

The guys selling the bodies for less have to make it up somewhere to make a profit. ;-) Compare prices on name brand memory cards (Sandisk Ultra II, Exreme III; Lexar faster cards) and accessories and you'll see what I mean.

17th Street Photo is another reputable vendor with a good return policy.


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Old Mar 13, 2006, 12:15 PM   #3
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I've had good expiriences with ebay, I've bought many things including two used cameras and several lenses. (I've also sold things, all the way up to a jeep and a motorcycle!) While there are sharks in the water, most sellers are just your average joe. Many items for sale are listed by the same people you'll find in forums like these.

I have a good "feel" for what an auction looks like if its created by a reseller type business, a con man, or an ignorant newbie. I judge auctions using that feel as much as anything, by what kinds of words are used to describe the product, how much of the listing is devoted to the product and how much is devoted to "policies". Wath for the kinds of contradictions or discrepencies that you would only make if you didnt actually have the product in hand.

NEVER buy new things which are in ultra high demand, and are sold "everywhere" (i.e., there is good competition), like memory cards. Lots of high-dollar things are not sold as ubiquitously, so its more believable to come by a good deal on eBay. The things like memory cards are a scam magnet, few people can ACTUALLY compete with places like newegg but there is enough demand to make it worth the risk to fake them.

Just watch for things that throw up a red flag, it gets easy to spot once you've browsed enough auctions. Always check prices at known stores (I usually just use amazon as a "quick reference"), auctions often go above retail pricing. I pass on any auction with forty dollar shipping or similar, for one its a HUGE ripoff, for another its a big red flag about the marketing tactics of the seller (trying to trick newbies into thinking the price is low). Unfortunatly its becoming so common that everyone almost "has to" do it.

I buy camera stuff from adorama, b&h, keh, and ebay (used only). Sometimes (as with memory cards) its worth a couple bucks to just go with a really good dealer like these, shipping often makes up the difference anyway.
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 1:29 PM   #4
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i looked on ebay to see what olympus e300s where fetching here in the UK, most where quoteing retail prices that where by far the highest price around.

i bought mine from a big chain of shops called "dixons" in the end because the saving was minimal on ebay when u added insured postage onto the price and i got full 1 years warranty via the store so i would have no probs if item was faulty

its a bit like life, its a gamble.....u gotta work out what the saving is and take it from there
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 3:46 PM   #5
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~I bought my G5 off of Ritz Camera's ebay auctions; no problems at all.~

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Old Mar 14, 2006, 7:45 PM   #6
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I've bought several lenses and filters on eBay without any nasty surprises. Everything I bought was as advertised by the vendors.

If it's used stuff you're looking for, check out www.keh.com. They sell used and new cameras, lenses, etc. They guarantee their stuff and a lot of times, their prices on used cameras are pretty competitive with what you see as the winning bid on eBay for the same camera that the seller guaranties to be in working order. Keh sells mostly film cameras, though they are including more digitals all the time.

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Old Mar 17, 2006, 7:19 PM   #7
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Last year I bought 2 Rebel XT's and some lenses from Cameta Cameras off of Ebay. No complaints at all, fast, good price, all you could ask for in an Internet transaction.

When dealing online, do be sure and look at feedback.
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Old Mar 17, 2006, 10:32 PM   #8
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You should read this. Feedback doesn't mean anything for some of these companies.

I bought a D50 this week from completephotoUSA. They are the Internet arm of Cordle. Everything looks like it went well, except that it took them 1.5 days to get the camera shipped, versus the same day they promise in the eBay posting. I'm not complaining.
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Old Mar 17, 2006, 11:09 PM   #9
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I have never bought anything from Ebay but from B&H and they were fine. Regards. Jaki
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Old Mar 22, 2006, 11:52 AM   #10
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i just got my D50 today which i ordered last thursday from ebay-cameta! Packaged very well, everything included, perfect condition, exactly as described. I buy everything off of ebay that i can (electronics/books/clothes/shoes/car parts/etc...) its always a good price and i have never had a problem with anyone!
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