Here’s the story. We decided on a digital camera: model, brand, and “kit” number. We then shopped for price (on-line, natch). Found the lowest price offered through shopper.cnet.com, pricegrabber.com, and pricewatch.com. Checked the merchant’s reviews to ensure legitimacy. Whipped out the old credit card and place the order.
WOO-HOO! Got back an email confirmation in minutes. All looked good.
Ah, but next morning when Carol returned to the house after running some errands she found TWO emails and one telephone message from the merchant requesting us to call and “verify the order” before it could process.
She called and spoke with “Gene.” Gene reviewed the order with her, and then mentioned that she might want to consider an extra extended life battery pack since the battery pack that shipped with the camera didn’t last very long between charges.
A yellow caution flag went up in Carol’s mind. None of the extensive reviews we had read mentioned any concerns about the battery. And those reviews picked apart just about everything you can imagine, including the appearance and “feel” of the camera.
But we had talked about maybe getting an extra battery, so she said OK. He added, in glib tones, that we would want a charger for that, and he would add that in as well.
The discussion turned to filters for the lenses, and then a compact flash memory card (which she turned down because we had one ordered from another retailer), and then a carrying case, and more.
She asked him at one point what our new total for the entire order would be. He gave her the price.
It was HUNDREDS more than we wanted to spend!
Carol then understood what was going on. The camera was a “loss leader” and they made their profit selling overpriced accessories.
She promptly told Gene to cancel everything except the original order. He became snide and surly. His comment was, “Oh, come on. How much sense does THAT make?”
When she insisted, she suddenly heard a busy signal. She had been cut off.
About 30 seconds later my office telephone rang. Carol was spitting nails through the phone line! She
The phrase, “Hell hath no fury...” ran through my mind.
I eschewed speaking to Gene, but rather asked for customer service, told the person who answered that there was some confusion about what we had ordered, and would he review it with me. He pulled it up on his computer and told me it was just the camera kit, at the total price we had agreed upon. I thanked him and hung up.
When I told this story at work today, a co-worker smiled and nodded. He said, “That’s what they did to me, too. And when I insisted that all I wanted was the camera, suddenly it was backordered. Indefinitely. They never did ship it to me. I finally had to cancel the order and bought mine through eBay.”
So, I will now check my order status daily, and if there’s no tracking number by tomorrow I’ll have to call them again. If they then tell me it’s backordered, I guess I’ll just cancel the order.
Other adages I’m reminded of (in addition to the "woman scorned" one) include:
“The bitterness or poor quality (or service) lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
“You get what you pay for.”
At my age, you’d think I’d have learned some of this stuff.