To whom it may concern:
I filed the following complaint with the NY Attorney Generals Office and the NY Better Business Bureaua against Sonic Cameras and I encourage all people scammed by these thiefs to do the same and seek criminal prosecution.
October 24, 2008
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo
Office of Attorney General/ Internet Bureau
New York, NY 10271-0332
I am filing a complaint with your office pertaining to the ongoing internet fraud operations of Sonic Cameras (3505 Quentin Road, Marine Park, NY 11234, 1-888-450-4111). My complaint narrative is listed below chronologically.
Monday October 6, 2008:
On this date, I placed an internet order for a digital camera package from Sonic Cameras (3505 Quentin Road, Marine Park, NY 11234, 1-888-450-4111). The package included a Canon EOS 40D IS (Image Stabilizer) camera with a Canon 17-85mm IS lens, a Canon 70-300mm IS lens and additional assorted items (See attached printout labeled A). The price was $1,099.00 with free shipping (UPS Ground that would take 7-10 days) and the package was paid for with a credit card. Shortly afterwards I received a generic email from Sonic Cameras (email@example.com) welcoming me and another email that stated thanks for shopping and labeled it as order #36500. There were no details of the transaction (an invoice) or of the items purchased and absolutely nothing in writing regarding the return & exchange policy(See attached printouts labeled B & C).
Within a few hours I received a call from a Ronald Daniel who identified himself as the Customer Service Manager from Sonic cameras and wanted to verify my credit card information. He knew all details of the transaction and I gave him the security code to verify the credit card. He then proceeded on a sales speech to upgrade my package. He claimed that he could upgrade the package with a better state of the art Canon 28-70mm lens, a Canon 70-300mm lens, (2) two 5-hour rechargeable batteries ($59.99 each on their web site), a $289.00 AC/DC professional charger and an upgrade of the camera body to a magnesium alloy frame. He claimed that the package I purchased was for a cheaper Japanese version of the camera and had a plastic body frame (not listed on the internet web page) and that the lenses I purchased had the cheaper plastic mounts (also not listed on the internet web page) and that the new lenses had far superior metal mounts. He claimed this package retailed for $2,599.00 but he would sell it to me for $1,498 with free shipping (UPS Ground that would take 7-10 days). (FALSE STATEMENTS: A later check with the Canon website showed that the Magnesium alloy frame was the only way the camera was made & the charger that arrived was part of the standard package when you bought the camera body).
I was hesitant about the lens change because I wanted Image Stabilizer lenses so I asked about their exchange policy. He assured me that I could exchange this package and lenses within 7-days of receipt without a problem and no additional charges. With this reassurance to exchange the items and because the price was still better then the competitors I agreed to the upgrade. I then asked him to e-mail me an electronic invoice reflecting these changes and he assured me that he would send a confirmation number and invoice shortly. I never received the upgraded electronic invoice.
Wednesday October 8, 2008:
I received the camera package via UPS. This surprised me because I did not expect 2-day delivery but when I read the enclosed invoice I discovered that the shipping was listed as free but they had charged me a whopping $31.00 for insurance which covered the faster delivery. The total bill was now $1,529.00. The package was not what I agreed to with Manager Daniel. (See attached invoice labeled D). The lenses were not manufactured by Canon. They were instead cheaper knock off lenses from Sigma. In addition he had promised two five hour batteries and a professional AC/DC charger system. These items were not included but because they had never sent me an electronic invoice I had nothing to compare it to prove this statement.
I immediately called Sonic Cameras and got a voice recording that the store was closed for the Holidays. I checked on their web site and here was a note saying they would be closed Wednesday October 8th and Thursday October 9th.
Friday October 10, 2008:
On this date, I called Sonic Cameras and spoke to a Kevin in customer service who sounded exactly like Manager Ronald Daniel. I explained the situation and told him I did not get what I ordered and wanted to exchange this package and specifically the lenses for the original package I ordered. He claimed I would have to talk to Ron Daniel who is the manager and the person who sold me the package and he wasn't in today. I explained my concern for the 7-day exchange period and he assured me that a note had been placed in the file and that would not be a consideration.
I felt this was strange why would I have to speak to the same salesman for an exchange that I was assured was standard company policy so I called back and again spoke to Kevin. I asked why he, as a customer service rep. could not do the exchange. He told me that he couldn't access the account and that only the salesman who sold it to me could do the transaction and that Ron Daniel would be in on Monday. This left me unsettled and I called my Credit Card company and filed a dispute, in the event I was being scammed. They made note of this and asked me to confirm the complaint after discussing it with Manager Daniel on Monday.
Monday October 13, 2008:
On this date I called the Sonic Cameras customer service department and again spoke to Kevin. I identified myself and asked to speak to Manager Daniel. He transferred me and Mr. Daniel picked up the line and once again his voice sounded exactly like Kevin.
I explained that he had not shipped me what was promised and that I did not want Sigma lenses, I wanted Canon lenses and that I wanted to exchange them for the original order. I also told him that he didn't include the professional AC/DC charging package, nor did he include the two five hour batteries. He first exclaimed, What's the problem?,. they're good lenses, did you try them?. I told him, No, I didn't try them, they are not what I ordered and I haven't even taken them out of the box yet because I want to exchange them for the originally ordered Canon image stabilizer lenses. He also stated that the battery and charger that came with the camera were the ones I ordered. I said, That's ridiculous. I have purchased several cameras in my life and no manufacturer sells camera's without a battery & charger because they come standard in the box with every Camera body (see attachment E which is a picture and list of standard equipment from the official Canon USA website (((Redacted))) ). He exclaimed No, they don't, they are extra. I said, bull they are listed as standard by every competitor and the canon web site and he said that's not how they sell them and that they are extra.
He then said, it's no problem with the exchange, complained about how much money he was loosing and gave me exchange #EX37419 and would email me the new invoice. He also said if there's a problem that I could reach him directly by calling the Customer Service department and punching extension #229.
Shortly afterwards he e-mailed an invoice (see attachment F) that removed the Sigma lenses I received and replaced them with (1) Canon Zoom Super wide Angle EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS Autofocus lens and (1) Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens.
These lenses, once again were not what I ordered! The EF lens is a cheaper, slower lens and it's not what came with the image stabilizing package. I once again called Manager Daniel at the above listed extension #229. I have my number blocked so there is no way he could have known it was me but he picked up the phone and rudely stated, Now what do you want, I don't have time for this. I told him bluntly that these are not the lenses I ordered and wanted what I ordered or else I would return the package for a refund. He stated, Listen, I don't have time for this, I'm loosing money on this deal and I'm transferring you to our customer service department. I said, I thought you were the Manager of the customer service department and the next thing I knew, Kevin sounding exactly like Manager Daniel came on the line and asked if he could help.
I said, Yes. I don't want the lens package that was offered by Manager Daniel and want to exchange them for exactly what I ordered with the Image Stabilizing package. He said, Fine, but it would cost me a 10% restocking fee. I told him No it wouldn't, as I was promised by Manager Daniel that the exchange would be free. He stated, No it isn't free but he would send the lenses for an additional $30.00 but I would have to return the camera body with the lenses and that they would then send me the IS package. I asked, Why would I want to send the body back, as that is exactly what I ordered? He said it was part of the more expensive package with the magnesium alloy frame (FALSE STATEMENT: Canon only makes the camera with a magnesium alloy frame. This can be verified on the Canon web site).and that they would exchange it for the cheaper plastic frame model.
I said, What?!... Are you serious? If that's the case I'm returning the entire package for a refund. He stated that I could not return the camera package without a Return Authorization Number and then said, OK, that he would waive the $30.00 fee and that he would send me the EF lenses for the exchange. I said, NO! That's not what I ordered, I wanted the IS lenses that were listed in the IS package. He then told me that they don't stock those lenses. I asked, Then why are you selling them on your web site?.
I stated bluntly that I wanted to return the package for a refund and asked for a Return Authorization Number. He said fine, but I would have to include a check for $181.00 with the camera package as a restocking charge. I said, are you crazy, I paid with a credit card. He said, yes, but if I wanted to return the package I would still have to include the check and he refused to give me the Return Authorization Number. I then told him that I would dispute the charge on my credit card and that I would report this to the NY Attorney Generals office and he said fine and hung up.
I immediately called my credit card company and disputed the charge. I also was concerned about misuse of the card now that they had my security code so I canceled the card and had it replaced with a new number. (There were several on-line complaint references to mysterious overseas charges appearing on their credit cards after dealing with Sonic Cameras).
I later checked on-line for reviews of this company and much to my dismay found hundreds of negative references to a bait and switch company. I also found references of them doing business on the internet under different company names and after Googling the Canon camera (Canon EOS 40d) discovered them also operating under the name of The Camera Professionals (www.thecameraprofessionals.com). Further Googling under Camera Professionals complaints revealed identically negative reviews and listed their address as 1151 McDonald Avenue, Brooklyn, New York (800-496-0227). There's also a good chance they use the Company name Shop Digital Direct (www.shopdigitaldirect.com ) and 1-way Photo (www.1wayphoto.com ) (800-728-9461) as they have roughly the same prices, the same plan of below market prices and free shipping and their graphic tools are identical.
Googling these sites for complaints (Shop Digital Direct complaints and 1way photo complaints also produced hundreds of the same bait & switch internet complaints including my particular complaint about sending cheaper products and not telling you that they don't include the batteries or chargers (even though they come standard with the camera body) until after the purchase.
One internet complaintant (((Redacted))) listed 1-way photo in a complaint with the NY better Business bureau as the following:
Additional Business Names:
1 Way Photo
J & V, Inc
Jack Silver Photo
5409 18th Avenue
Brooklyn , NY 11204
Additional Phone Numbers:
I have not found an address yet for Shop Digital Direct but they require sales tax for a NY purchase so I assume they are definitely located in NY. Another internet complainant (http://thoughts-of-dave.blogspot.com/2008/07/website-confirms-that-shop-digital.html) lists the following for Shop Digital Direct:
Shop Digital Direct can be traced to the same address as Photo Dynasty, Mr. Accessory, d.b.a. J and K Cameras, Inc., jandkcameras.com, Best Price Cameras, BestPriceCameras.com, Enterprise Photo, EnterprisePhoto.com, Razz Photo, RazzPhoto.com, Photo Dynasty, and PhotoDynasty.com .
And finally here is a website that has really done it's homework against these guys.
All you have to do is Google them and you get hundreds and hundreds of complaints.
It is anybody's guess as to how many different company names these scam artists are operating under. These people are crooks and need to be shut down and prosecuted. I will gladly travel to New York to testify. Thank you for your attention to this matter and please feel free to contact me at any time to verify this information.
I have also discovered that these scam artists are not authorized Canon dealers and the warranty is probably worthless.
I also have reported Sonic Cameras to the New York Better Business Bureau who also have a long history of complaints on these scam artists.
The Better Business Bureau
257 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10010-7384
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
U.S.A. CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report.