13 April, 2011

How to Safely Buy Photographic Equipment on Internet

Someone told that photography is an expensive hobby. Many agree and it means photographic equipment is expensive. Even a cheaper lens costs around 200$. Now a days a lot of shopping happens online. You go to sites like amazon, ebay etc and buy things in matter of minutes, and your shopping is done.

Buying photographic equipment is not so different from buying your gadgets online. The only difference is the price of items. The DSLRs and Lenses take the major portion of your investment in this hobby. The DSLRs range from several hundreds of dollars to a few thousand dollars. And so do the lenses. Surprisingly (and painfully) some lenses cost more than your car.

When buying such expensive things should we take some care before paying with your credit cards? I say its worth considering the below points.

  • Trustworthiness of the selling party/parties
  • Security of your credircard information
  • Guarantee and Warranty on the products
  • Is your money protected against any fraud?
Now lets look into each scenario...

Trustworthiness - Obviously we want to put our hard earned cash in the hands of trusted people only. The no.1 thing to check is if the seller can be trusted for doing the business. Sellers like amazon.com, adorama and B & H Photo Video have built tremendous trust among the buyers. Their order fulfillment, query resolution centre are second to none. And it's no surprise that they have huge customer base.

If you are buying from auction sites like ebay, you need to consider more things before buying. Why? because ebay is not taking your orders for fulfillment. It's only a market place. You got to research on the merchant thats selling you the goods.

Many people fall prey to the ebay seller ratings and pay little attention to what they have been selling over the period of time. Recently did the merchant fulfilled orders that are worth greater than your current order? Did he grabbed all good ratings by selling a thousand 1$ products and suddenly listed big items (suspicious)? Did he offer cash and carry, if you are willing to do that?

Why this much care? Because if you lose money on auction sites, there are very less chances that you get it back. Don't fall for low prices even if you won the auction. No one, including you, is willing to lose so much. Just common sense. Be prepared to pay the price from a trustworthy source.

Security - Who wants to let their credit card details out in the open - sure way to get robbed? Once again the agency you are dealing with, their infrastructure should be able to conceal these details. Otherwise you would be the loser. I would depend on the reputation of the payment processor before giving my card details. Sense any trouble? Just keep away.

Guarantee/Warranty - Please make sure if the piece of equipment you are buying comes with manufacturer warranty (by default) and guarantee of replacement in case of malfunctions. Although it is very rare that these expensive equipments come out with defects, it is not unusual. There are many instances where the manufacturers recalled products, free services etc. If you happen to attract any such bad item (I wish not) you should be able to get it replaced immediately. The big players in the market are far ahead than the small vendors. This risk will be higher when you are purchasing online, simply because many small vendors can not afford the costs incurred in getting it replaced. Don't get lemons!

Your Hard Earned Money - is the most valuable thing for you. You want to make sure that it is well spent. What if the vendor doesn't fulfill your order in the given time? Do you have any opportunity to get a full refund? What if you got a different product than the one you bought? Many times the third party payment service providers doesn't give any or little help in such cases. Think about it. Its a matter of thousands or at least few hundreds of your dollars. Once again rely on the customer feed back and the reputation of the vendor.

I hope these precautions, if considered, will save you from being ripped off.


1 comment:

  1. Very useful information indeed. I always doubt ebay trading.


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