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In July 2007 I bought a camera on eBay from Cameta Camera. Despite their prior confirmation, they refused payment. They returned my PayPal payment and refused to read my mail messages. When I gave them negative feedback, they did the same for me, claiming fraud on my part. They appear to be a typical representative of a far too large group of incompetent merchants.

In summary, I wanted to pay with PayPal, and confirmed in advance that they would accept it. But they didn't: they wanted PayPal features that are not available (nor considered legal) in Australia, such as confirmation of the delivery address. Their communication was typical of the Microsoft mentality. I don't think they even read the messages, let alone addressed the issues. The following is an extract from my online diary about the incident.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

I've been meaning to buy a digital SLR camera for some time now, and for the last several weeks I've been watching the prices of Olympus E-510 on eBay. It seems that there are four main contenders:

So that only left Cameta. Today, after another couple of hours of deliberation, finally took the plunge and ordered a camera set. When it came time to pay, I didn't get the offer of PayPal, only credit card and money order. Sent them a message asking how to pay by PayPal.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

A reply (I think) from Cameta this morning, not quoting my message, and not answering the questions directly. The only thing of any use was the URL, which allowed me to pay for the camera with PayPal after all. What a pain these people are! If I was putting any price at all on my time, it would be cheaper to pay the $400 price difference and buy the camera in Australia.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Then into the office to discover an email in particularly emetic HTML from Cameta telling me that they had refunded my PayPal payment with the absurd claim:

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to accept payment via PayPal for your order. We cannot process your order at this time because we are unable to confirm your shipping address with PayPal. Your payment has been refunded and your order # 423077 has been reset in our system.

These people drive me mad! In addition, it's a very dubious practice. Apart from the fact that the statement is just plain wrong (the address I gave is marked as my home address in PayPal), this is a condition they imposed after the auction. Beforehand they said:

We do accept PayPal, as well as the following major credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover cards (as long as we can get an address verification for the card). If you prefer we also accept Money Orders in US Funds (sorry, no personal checks, no Escrow Accounts and no COD).

Nothing there about address verification for PayPal, which was the only form of payment I was happy with.

They offered to take credit card, so I paid by credit card, then discovered the sting in the tail:

Provide a credit card payment (American Express, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover Card) on which you can provide an acceptable address verification document (i.e. bank monthly billing statement that includes your name, your billing address, your credit card number and the logo of the issuing bank.) Your order must ship to the billing address on the document. The verification document can be emailed to lizy@cameta.com or faxed to 1-631-957-4921.

I'm gradually getting quite frustrated. Sent them a message asking for clarification on a number of points.

So, is Cameta a bad sheep? They claim 190,000 positive feedbacks, but the real number that counts is the percentage. My personal criterion (only one of them) is that they 99% or more positive feedback is very good, 98% is OK. At the time of writing, Cameta has 99.8% positive feedback, which is quite good. Even their detailed ratings give 5 stars for their communication, which I really can't accept. The other three companies that I considered have similarly high feedback ratings.

What does this mean? As I see it, three things:

  1. People are far too easily satisfied. J&K Cameras have an even better feedback rating, for example, but they don't communicate by email.
  2. These problems are only of concern to people living outside the USA. But for me, at any rate, it's enough. I've spent lots of time on this and had nothing but frustration.
  3. Cameta is guilty of misleading information. I rejected DigitalCorp because they don't take PayPal; but it seems that Cameta doesn't really either. They just don't tell you until after you've committed to buy the item. That's certainly a good enough reason to steer clear of them, of course.

To leave no stone unturned, I called my bank to see if they could issue a statement stating that my current address was correct. As if to confirm the situation, they refused: this is not in accordance with their recommendations, and sending credit card statement information is not either. I was told to beware of fly-by-night eBay operators who want this kind of information.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

In to the office this morning to discover no reply whatsoever from Cameta, just an indication that they had refunded the credit card payment as well. Given their responsiveness when they were trying to get me to buy something from them, this is of concern. In any case, I'm fed up with the people. Sent them a message telling them to cancel the purchase. My main reason for buying from them was because they claimed to accept PayPal. It's not acceptable for them to impose additional requirements after I have accepted the sale.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

The problems with Cameta still aren't over. Now they've given me negative feedback:


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All images taken on Friday, 26 September 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 26 September 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 26 September 2008

 

They also raised an issue with Square Trading to get me to retract my feedback. Why didn't they just contact me directly? If they had done that in the beginning, they wouldn't have this problem.

Part of the condition of the mediation with Square Trading (who appear at least as incompetent as Cameta) was that I should not disclose the details. But in summary, I gave in to the bullying and we mutually retracted the negative feedback. If you're wondering how Cameta has such good feedback, this should give a good indication.

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