Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seller Rating Is Not a Guarantee

(I promise this will be the last post on scams - at least for a while!)
 
The hypothetical seller in yesterday's post about scams targetting sellers was me of course.  Not that hard to guess :) .  Yeah, I've been thinking of upgrading my D300 to a D700.  (I debated this with my colleague and fellow blog contributor mshafik -- I'll post that full frame vs. small sensor discussion soon).
 
Interestingly, I found a D700 on sale on Amazon's used marketplace for a little more than $1300 (current final eBay prices are at least $1800+ and usually over $2000).  Unlike the last time I tried to buy a D700, this seller had more than 760 ratings, averaging around 4.5 stars.  The seller was based in Illinois and looked legit.  No strange fine print either.  All it said was, "Used - Like New" and "In Stock."
 
So I ordered the item, using the exact same process as other Amazon purchases, and even got an email confirmation from Amazon.  However, the order didn't show up in my history.  I inquired with the seller but got no response.  Later I inquired with Amazon directly and they confirmed that the seller unilaterally canceled the order.  This morning I finally got a reply from the seller.  Apparently, their Amazon account was hacked and someone posted that amazing deal with the intent to pull a scam.  One indicator was the seller's name: conoverbooks.  As they explained in their email to me, they don't sell camera equipment, and their name was another hint that the sale was not kosher.  I guess I should be thankful that I didn't lose my $1300. 
 
Of course, Amazon accounts aren't the only accounts that can be hacked.  Some eBay accounts have been hacked as well for example.  This episode was a reminder to exercise caution especially when a deal sounds too good to be true, and that seller ratings are helpful but not an iron-clad assurance of legitimacy.